The Role of Common Pool Resources in Economic Welfare of Rural Households

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"Several studies have shown that rural households use common pool resources (CPRs) extensively to meet their daily economic, spiritual and social needs. However, most household income and expenditure surveys in the developing world do not capture the contribution of the CPRs to the household income. This paper examines the role of CPRs in the welfare of rural households. We use a case study of rural households in Botswana to quantify the contribution of CPRs in household income. Our main objective is to show that CPRs have a significant contribution to welfare of rural households and hence their sustainable management can serve as a potential poverty alleviation strategy. Any economic analysis of rural households that does not capture the contribution of CPRs to household income may not be accurate since a significant source of economic value is ignored. An attempt is made here to examine the economic contribution made by CPRs to rural household welfare, as well as assess CPR commodity utilisation by different income subgroups by computing income shares of major income sources of rural households, and by correlating environmental use to the demographic characteristics of users using a sample of 500 rural households. Our findings show that the level of dependence on CPRs increases as a household becomes more economically marginalised. The more marginal a rural community, the greater is the proportion of its income from CPRs. Data indicate that sub-marginal and marginal rural households receive 18 to 51 percent of their income from CPR produce. As poverty increases, women become more prominent in ensuring the survival of households by assuming greater responsibility in providing food commodities from forests and CPRs. Therefore, CPRs play a major role in economic welfare of rural households and hence the need to ensure their sustainable management."



common pool resources--case studies, income distribution, forest products, poverty, rural affairs, households, economic development, indigenous institutions