Dynamics of Common Pool Resource Management in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

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Development Southern Africa


Politics and Government


This paper discusses the historical dynamics of common pool resource use and management in the floodplain of the Okavango Delta by comparing Ikoga and Seronga, two multi-ethnic villages located along the Delta panhandle. During colonial and post-colonial times, many local institutions for managing and using common pool resources were dismantled. Despite this trend, open access has not led to overuse of common pool resources. The paper argues that despite the marginality of the area there is relatively little interest in the commercial use of common pool resources since the diamond industry and tourism provide a relatively high income. While Ikoga residents fail to capture gains from tourism, in Seronga some gains do come from community-based natural resource management. However, these gains, or the failure to receive them, can lead to conflicts that take an ethnic shape when local elites benefit differently and inequalities are perpetuated.