Relationships between institutional success and length of tenure in a Kenyan irrigation scheme
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Sch Geog & Dev
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CitationWashington-Ottombre, C., & Evans, T. P. (2019). Relationships between institutional success and length of tenure in a Kenyan irrigation scheme. International Journal of the Commons, 13(1), 329-352.
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AbstractIn a context of higher reliance on irrigation schemes to ensure food security, it is crucial to understand institutional success of water resource management. In addition to other factors explored in great depth by the CPR literature, the actions of long-term appropriators contribute to the success of institutions. However, only a limited amount of work has attempted to examine the actual relationship between length of tenure and institutional success. To examine these relationships, we analyze a long-enduring CPR, the Mwea irrigation scheme (MIS) in Kenya, a network created in the 1950s and whose appropriators have held different lengths of tenure. We explore payment of operation and maintenance (O&M) fees of 71 irrigation units over two consecutive years. We examine 422 household surveys in eight out of the 71 irrigation units on the practice of institutions. We find that length of tenure impacts institutional success by influencing the behaviors of appropriators. Appropriators with longer tenure promote institutional success by provisioning the resource in a more sustainable manner through achieving high payments of O&M fees. Relatively dissatisfied with the implementation of the rules, they use formal and informal means to criticize institutions and to promote institutional change and adaptation. In contrast, appropriators with shorter tenure achieve lower payments of O&M fees, they complain less, and are more satisfied with the existing implementation of the rules. They are satisfied with the status quo. Hence, it is through the pressure of experienced appropriators that institutions such as the MIS evolve and adapt to become more successful.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsU.S. National Science Foundation [SBE1115009]