The central research question in this doctoral thesis is how the institutions governing access to – and the use of – communal grazing land were adapted in the course of the 40 years. What mechanisms allowed for adaptation of the rules and norms guiding the use of communal grazing land? How did the community manage to be responsive to the changes both within the community (e.g. demographic change, resettlement programmes) and outside the community (e.g. policy, markets, drought) In other words: what allowed some communities to strengthen both their shock resilience and their adaptive resilience?
An aspect that will receive particular attention in this research is how gender issues influenced the adaptation process. Indeed, a dynamic perspective shows that gendered roles and rights are shaped by as well as shape governance regimes. On the one hand Amhara women tend to have lower endowments (right of ownership) and lower entitlements (actual access), which can increase the vulnerability of women’s livelihoods. On the other hand the recognition of the vulnerability of women’s livelihood (e.g. after a drought or civil war) may shape the management regime by triggering community and policy initiatives.
Therefore the goal of the research is to select a case-study community which currently manages their communal grassland sustainably, and to understand how the co-management regime has evolved in response to various shocks and pressures in the last 40 years, putting special emphasis on how this adaptation process has been shaped by evolving gender roles.
Expected output: The insights derived from past adaptations may help in understanding how institutions need to be structured to allow adaptations to a wide variety of future challenges (e.g. climate change, demographic growth, changing diets, new lifestyles and consumer expectations). Similarly, investigating how current institutions are gendered, and how the differential treatment of men and women hinder or strengthen the resilience of the co-management of the communal grazing land helps to devise strategies to enhance gender equality by highlighting its benefits for the sustainable use of natural resources.
The results of this doctoral research project should thus contribute to identify levers that communities can use to respond to change and to reorganize, while taking into account the new opportunities and constraints. Moreover it should generate insights on how gender disparities can affect the resilience of social ecological system.
Project duration: Oct. 2011 - Oct. 2014