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Vertical Collective Action: Addressing Vertical Asymmetries in Watershed Management

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Cárdenas, Juan-Camilo; Johnson, Nancy; Rodriguez, Luz Angela
Conference: Workshop on the Workshop 4
Location: Indiana University Bloomington
Conf. Date: June 3-6, 2009
Date: 2009
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/173
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Africa
South America
Subject(s): collective action
game theory
Abstract: "Watersheds have the characteristic of connecting people vertically by water flows, making relationships among users of water more complex. The location of the people along the watershed defines their role in the provision and appropriation of water. Verticality in watersheds thus imposes a challenge to collective action. This paper presents the results of field experiments conducted in four watersheds of two different countries: Colombia (South America) and Kenya (Africa). We recruited around 639 watersheds inhabitants from upstream, midstream and downstream locations in these basins and conducted field experiments to study the role that location and verticality plays in affecting cooperation at the provision and appropriation decisions. Two field experiments were conducted: the 'Irrigation Game' a new experimental design that includes the provision and appropriation nature of the resource, and the 'Water Trust Game' an adaptation of the Trust Game where we explicitly announce the actual location upstream or downstream of the two players. The results show that reciprocity and trust are very important motivations for upstream-downstream cooperation and that the role of upstream players has important implications in water provision decisions. Results from both experiments suggest that the lack of trust from downstream players towards upstream players restricts the possibilities of cooperation among the watershed users."

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