IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Water scarcity, property regimes and irrigation management in Sonjo, Tanzania


  • Tomasz Potkanski
  • William Adams


This article explores the dynamics of property rights in irrigation water in Sonjo, Tanzania. It analyses an unsuccessful attempt by the ruling political group to change the institutional arrangements of water control, to serve better their private goals. This example shows that not all internal institutional innovations in the field of utilising natural resources lead to increased efficiency of the system from the point of view of the whole community. We draw on New Institutional Economics (NIE) and Common Property Resource Management (CPRM) theory to analyse the way in which it was possible that those few within Sonjo society who are formally/nominally 'the owners' of water sought to privatise de facto collective use rights of all community members. We consider why this was done in some, but not all, Sonjo communities, and we describe why this process has eventually failed.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomasz Potkanski & William Adams, 1998. "Water scarcity, property regimes and irrigation management in Sonjo, Tanzania," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(4), pages 86-116.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:34:y:1998:i:4:p:86-116
    DOI: 10.1080/00220389808422530

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Villasenor, JoseA. & Arnold, Barry C., 1989. "Elliptical Lorenz curves," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 327-338, February.
    2. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    3. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Macroeconomic Crises and Poverty Monitoring: A Case Study for India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(2), pages 135-152, June.
    4. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 1996. "How Important to India's Poor Is the Sectoral Composition of Economic Growth?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(1), pages 1-25, January.
    5. Lipton, Michael & Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Poverty and policy," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 41, pages 2551-2657 Elsevier.
    6. Ravallion, Martin, 1990. "Rural Welfare Effects of Food Price Changes under Induced Wage Responses: Theory and Evidence for Bangladesh," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(3), pages 574-585, July.
    7. Kakwani, Nanak, 1980. "On a Class of Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(2), pages 437-446, March.
    8. Sen, Amartya K, 1976. "Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(2), pages 219-231, March.
    9. B. S. Minhas & L. R. Jain & S. M. Kansal & M. R. Saluja, 1987. "On the Choice of Appropriate Consumer Price Indices and Data Sets for Estimating the Incidence of Poverty in India," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 22(1), pages 19-49, January.
    10. Boyce, James K & Ravallion, Martin, 1991. "A Dynamic Econometric Model of Agricultural Wage Determination in Bangladesh," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(4), pages 361-376, November.
    11. Ravallion, Martin & van de Walle, Dominique, 1991. "The impact on poverty of food pricing reforms: A welfare analysis for Indonesia," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 281-299.
    12. Mukherjee, Anindata & Ray, Debraj, 1991. "Wages and involuntary unemployment in the slack season of a village economy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1-2), pages 227-264, November.
    13. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1998. "Why Have Some Indian States Done Better Than Others at Reducing Rural Poverty?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 17-38, February.
    14. Martin Ravallion & Gaurav Datt, 1996. "India's Checkered History in Fight against Poverty: Are There Lessons for the Future?," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-33, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    15. Bell, Clive & Rich, Robert, 1994. "Rural Poverty and Aggregate Agricultural Performance in Post-independence India," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 56(2), pages 111-133, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mul, M.L. & Kemerink, J.S. & Vyagusa, N.F. & Mshana, M.G. & van der Zaag, P. & Makurira, H., 2011. "Water allocation practices among smallholder farmers in the South Pare Mountains, Tanzania: The issue of scale," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 98(11), pages 1752-1760, September.
    2. Mehta, Lyla, 2001. "The Manufacture of Popular Perceptions of Scarcity: Dams and Water-Related Narratives in Gujarat, India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(12), pages 2025-2041, December.
    3. Pieter Zaag, 2007. "Asymmetry and Equity in Water Resources Management; Critical Institutional Issues for Southern Africa," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 21(12), pages 1993-2004, December.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:34:y:1998:i:4:p:86-116. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.