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Managing common pool resources in the Kafue Flats, Zambia: from common property to open access and privatisation


  • Tobias Haller
  • Harry Chabwela


Governing common pool resources in floodplains is a challenge due to high variability between seasons. Nevertheless, the case of the Kafue Flats in southern Zambia illustrates how local groups (Ila, Balundwe and Batwa) have developed common property institutions governing access to fisheries, wildlife and pasture. After the colonial and post-colonial periods these institutions were altered or eradicated by state control. State institutions have failed for the following reasons: complex economic and political processes and lack of knowledge have made state management ineffective; local rules have been eroded or severely altered by more powerful actors; immigrant groups (seasonal fishermen, commercial hunters, absentee herd owners) have increased their bargaining power as citizens; and neither local nor state institutions are enforced due to limited state capacity. This has led to open access situations and partial privatisation, both of which are major causes of unsustainable use of the commons.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Haller & Harry Chabwela, 2009. "Managing common pool resources in the Kafue Flats, Zambia: from common property to open access and privatisation," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(4), pages 555-567.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:26:y:2009:i:4:p:555-567
    DOI: 10.1080/03768350903181340

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