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Creating Common Grazing Rights on Private Parcels: How New Rules Produce Incentives for Cooperative Land Management

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Lesorogol, Carolyn K.
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1356
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): privatization
land tenure and use
Abstract: "Privatization of common lands shifts legal authority for land use decisions from communities to individual land owners. In so doing, privatization may undermine systems of rules regulating access to and use of common resources, such as grazing land among northern Kenya pastoralists. This study of privatization of pastoral land among the Samburu finds, however, that while individual land owners do claim a high level of autonomy over decision-making regarding their land, new social norms have emerged following privatization that promote the continued accessibility of private land for livestock grazing by neighbors herds. These new rules stipulate, for example, that land owners who refuse others access to grazing on their property will not be allowed to graze their livestock on any privately owned land in the community. "In this way, communal sanctions are used to enforce cooperation in maintaining shared grazing rights, even on private parcels. Furthermore, these rules have differential effects on land owners depending on the number of livestock they own. Those with many livestock requiring greater access to pasture are encouraged to keep their land available to others, while those with few livestock may benefit by enclosing their land and leasing it for cultivation or grazing. Private ownership coupled with such norms regarding access creates varied incentives for land owners resulting in new patterns of land use. The emergence of new norms demonstrates the presence of institutional innovation at community level in the face of de jure shifts in ownership originating from national level policy. This case illustrates the important role of social sanctions in establishing and maintaining cooperation, and the dynamic interplay of public and private realms in Samburu land management."

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