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Co-operation in Risky Environments: Evidence from Southern Ethiopia


  • Nancy McCarthy
  • Abdul B. Kamara
  • Michael Kirk


The semi-arid and arid rangelands of Sub-Saharan Africa are characterised by high variability and by heavy reliance of herders on access to common resources, predominantly pasture and water. In these systems, the capacity of the community to co-operate over resource management is critical and the effectiveness of management has a direct impact on exploitation rates and land allocation patterns. In this paper, we develop a model to capture the impact of climatic variability on capacity to co-operate and on resulting land use and allocation patterns, and apply the model to data collected from communities located on the Borana Plateau in southern Ethiopia. Results indicate that rainfall variability has a negative impact on stock densities, consistent with risk-averse producer behaviour, but has no statistically significant impact on land allocation patterns in this marginal area. Furthermore, co-operation has a direct negative impact on stock densities and land allocated to private pastures. The results support the hypothesis that individual incentives to overgraze and encroach on common pastures can be mitigated in communities with high co-operative capacity. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Nancy McCarthy & Abdul B. Kamara & Michael Kirk, 2003. "Co-operation in Risky Environments: Evidence from Southern Ethiopia," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(2), pages 236-270, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:12:y:2003:i:2:p:236-270

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    Cited by:

    1. Swallow, Kimberly A. & Swallow, Brent M., 2015. "Explicitly integrating institutions into bioeconomic modeling:," IFPRI discussion papers 1420, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Hurst, Matthew & Jensen, Nathaniel & Pedersen, Sarah & Shama, Asha & Zambriski, Jennifer, 2012. "Changing Climate Adaptation Strategies of Boran Pastoralists in Southern Ethiopia," MPRA Paper 55865, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Fekadu Beyene, 2015. "Determinants of food security under changing land-use systems among pastoral and agro-pastoral households in eastern Ethiopia," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 1163-1182, October.

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