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The Reality of the Commons: answering Hardin from Somalia

Research reports

Traditional common property systems of managing bush land in Somalia were undermined when legal recognition of the clans was discontinued. The ensuing conflict over resources between urban charcoal traders and local agro-pastoralists was explored in this paper, which reported on a UK-funded forest inventory that quickly developed into a study of land tenure in an area where people depended on tree fodder to feed the livestock that were the mainstay of their livelihoods. Elders recalled the effective traditional systems of allocating grazing and tree-cutting rights within and among villages. Both villagers and project staff believed that re-establishing and supporting customary common property rights, which could control the activities of charcoal traders, would be the best means of sustaining food supply from a region of national agricultural importance.

Gill Shepherd