Understanding Institutional Arrangements for Community-Based Natural Resource Management in the Mekong Delta of Cambodia and Vietnam: A Mixed Methods Approach

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"This thesis focuses on the institutional arrangements that influence the management of land, water and fisheries in the region. It is assessed how property rights influence the natural resource use and how collective action can contribute to the sustainable management of land and water. The research was conducted in a community-based fish culture project that functions as a reference frame. This aquaculture project was implemented in the Mekong region by the WorldFish Center from 2005 until 2010. The aim was to test, whether community-based aquaculture can increase the food security of local communities. The thesis also addresses the question whether such a community-based approach can be successfully introduced in the described complex system of property rights. The underlying theories for this dissertation are New Institutional Economics and Game theory. As a framework for the analysis the Institutional Analysis and Design Framework is used. Further, the dissertation draws upon findings from other scholars in the realm of public goods and common-pool resources. The research uses as a mixed methods approach and contains qualitative as well as quantitative results. In four case study sites, action research was conducted along with the aquaculture project implementation. Further, a socio-economic survey was implemented, providing information about different livelihood aspects of a large amount of households. Based on the findings of both these methods, hypotheses in regard to resource users behaviour towards natural resources were elaborated. Those were then tested using the methods of experimental economics. The implementation of the community-based project faced several challenges and the pilot phase was discontinued by most of the villages. The results presented in this thesis show that reasons for this cannot be seen in the low willingness for cooperation of participants, but rather in the underlying property rights on natural resources. Due to a missing legal base as well as other informal regulations, the project members had no possibility to exclude other local users from the project sites and thus to protect their investments in material and fingerlings. Recommendations mainly focus on the decentralisation of land and water management in the region."
resource management, institutions, aquaculture