IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Collective action in space: assessing how collective action varies across an African landscape


  • Swallow, Brent M.
  • Wangila, Justine
  • Mulatu, Woudyalew
  • Okello, Onyango
  • McCarthy, Nancy


This paper develops and applies a new approach for analyzing the spatial aspects of individual adoption of a technology that produces a mixed public-private good. The technology is an animal insecticide treatment called a “pouron” that individual households buy and apply to their animals. Private benefits accrue to households whose animals are treated, while the public benefits accrue to all those who own animals within an area of effective suppression. A model of household demand for pourons is presented. As a private good, household demand for the variable input depends upon output price, input cost, and household characteristics. Input costs for pouron treatments include both the market price of the pourons and the transaction costs that the household must incur to obtain the treatments. Demand also depends upon the way that each household expects its neighbors to respond to one's own behavior. Free-riding is expected in communities with no tradition or formal organization to support collective action. Greater cooperation is expected in communities that have organizations that reward cooperative behavior and punish deviant behavior. Data for estimation of the model were collected for all of the 5,000 households that reside within the study area of 350 square kilometers in southwest Ethiopia. Geographic reference data were collected for every household using portable Geographic Positioning System units. GIS software was used to generate spatial variables. Variables for distance from the household to the nearest treatment center and number of cattle-owning neighbors within a 1-kilometer radius of the household were created. The density of cattle-owning neighbors was used as a measure of the potential benefits from cooperation; this variable was expected to have a positive effect on household pouron demand in communities able to support effective collective action and a negative effect in communities not able to support effective collective action. A set of community binary variables was interacted with the density variable to capture differences between communities. The results confirm the importance of the household-level variables. The results also indicate large differences in ability to cooperate between local administrative units. Everything else equal, the areas least able to cooperate were located farthest from the treatment center, were ethnically heterogenous, and had a different ethnic composition than areas around the treatment centers.

Suggested Citation

  • Swallow, Brent M. & Wangila, Justine & Mulatu, Woudyalew & Okello, Onyango & McCarthy, Nancy, 2000. "Collective action in space: assessing how collective action varies across an African landscape," CAPRi working papers 5, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:worpps:5

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bromley, Daniel W & Chavas, Jean-Paul, 1989. "On Risk, Transactions, and Economic Development in the Semiarid Tropics," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(4), pages 719-736, July.
    2. Jayne, T S, 1994. "Do High Food Marketing Costs Constrain Cash Crop Production? Evidence from Zimbabwe," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 387-402, January.
    3. Echessah, Protase N. & Swallow, Brent M. & Kamara, Damaris W. & Curry, John J., 1997. "Willingness to contribute labor and money to tsetse control: Application of contingent valuation in Busia District, Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 239-253, February.
    4. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2000. "Halting Degradation of Natural Resources: Is There a Role for Rural Communities?," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290612, June.
    5. Nancy E. Bockstael, 1996. "Modeling Economics and Ecology: The Importance of a Spatial Perspective," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1168-1180.
    6. Knox, Anna & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela & Hazell, P. B. R., 1998. "Property rights, collective action and technologies for natural resource management: a conceptual framework," CAPRi working papers 1, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    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. Cardenas, Juan-Camilo & Ostrom, Elinor, 2004. "What do people bring into the game? Experiments in the field about cooperation in the commons," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 307-326, December.
    2. Ratner, B. D., 2013. "Addressing conflict through collective action in natural resource management: a synthesis of experience," IWMI Working Papers H046235, International Water Management Institute.
    3. Pant, Dhruba, 2008. "Implications of bulk water transfer on local water management institutions: a case study of the Melamchi Water Supply Project in Nepal," IWMI Working Papers H041304, International Water Management Institute.
    4. Shiferaw, B., 2008. "Community watershed management in semi-arid India: the state of collective action and its effects on natural resources and rural livelihoods," IWMI Working Papers H043862, International Water Management Institute.

    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:fpr:worpps:5. 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: (). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.