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Helpless in Fighting Free-Riding: The Influence of Exogenous Factors on Collective Action for Small-scale Aquaculture in the Mekong Delta of Cambodia and Vietnam

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Werthmann, Christine
Conference: Design and Dynamics of Institutions for Collective Action: A Tribute to Prof. Elinor Ostrom, Second Thematic Conference of the IASC
Location: Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Conf. Date: 29 November - 1 December
Date: 2012
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8636
Sector: Fisheries
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): collective action
field work
free riding
action research
Abstract: "A collective approach for small-scale aquaculture was implemented by The WorldFish Center in the Mekong Delta of Cambodia and Vietnam in order to test whether such a communitybased approach can be a successful measure to improve food security and to reduce poverty in the respective communities. Research was conducted during and after the implementation of the project in order to understand the factors enabling or disabling successful collective action. Action Research was applied in four case study villages, a socio-economic survey was implemented and three field experiments were conducted during the field work in 2006 and 2007. In three of the four case study sites, the fish culture project was discontinued after the first trial. In the discontinuance analysis, several reasons for the reluctance to continue were detected, including technical and natural reasons as well as free-riding by non- and project members. The survey reveals that the project is implemented in an institutional environment that does not necessarily support those kinds of collective approaches. Finally, the field experiments show that the farmers, compared to a control group, do actually cooperate and trust each other and it must be concluded that it is rather the exogenous factors including property rights, rules of resource use and technical reasons why the project turned out not to be sustainable."

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