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Threatened common property resource system and factors for resilience: lessons drawn from serege-commons in Muhur, Ethiopia

Mengistu Dessalegn, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)


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This ethnographic case study of serege-commons, communal pasture and forest in Muhur, Ethiopia, demonstrates the socially complex nature of the common property resource (CPR) system, including the factors behind its resilience and sustained operation. It reveals the multifaceted and interacting local processes that maintain the commons in the face of political economic processes that challenge common property management. The study shows how CPR use, crop cultivation, alternative livelihood strategies, out-migration, collective herding practices, management practices, and alternative sources of compliance interact, and these interacting processes reinforce each other and maintain a resilient CPR system. This study argues that there is not one single cause for sustainable CPR regimes. Instead, the resilience and sustained operation of the CPR system are due to a mix of interdependent elements and inter-reinforcing linkages related to CPR operations, and their interactions within complex social-ecological systems.

Key words

common property resource (CPR); complex social-ecological systems; Muhur; resilience; serege-commons

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087