The political economy of entitlement to resources in Tanzania

In rural Tanzania, local level institutions governing entitlement to resources for agricultural use and the resulting resource allocation are a function of the local power structure, rooted in political, socio-economic or gender privileges. Unequal distribution, less secure entitlement to water and land for less powerful agents are the consequence. And this is potentially a relentless source for local resource conflicts. Moreover, this kind of institutional arrangement induces resource insecurity for a large share of producers. Their need for self-insurance then leads to sub-optimal productivity. Persistent economic inequality and possibly an obstacle to endogenous growth follow.
More specifically, this project will focus on the following issues:

  • What are the valid institutions for appropriation and for enforcement of entitlement to water and land in a ‘traditional’ irrigation system in rural Tanzania?
  • Do relatively powerful agents exercise power to influence institutions for appropriation and for enforcement of entitlement to land and water? And does scarcity exacerbate this?
  • Do land and water insecure smallholder farmers forsake high yielding production choices to self-insure for these risks? And what is the welfare cost associated to ex-ante management of these resource insecurity risks?

The project will combine comparative case studies, experimental evidence and formal hypothesis testing using both qualitative and quantitative data collected during extensive fieldwork and from secondary sources. Local expertise will be integrated in the research project

  • Funded by MICROCON (2007-2011)