Socioeconomic module
Entry costs
Collective action
Knowledge & attitudes

Management and socio-economics of tsetse control

Investigating Collective Action

An accurate and useful picture of a community’s potential for collective action can only be gained from careful and well-resourced participatory study. Such a study is likely to use:

• Group discussions

• Participatory diagramming exercises, and

• Semi-structured interviews with key informants.

The last is important because large open discussions may be dominated by the most powerful interests in the community and relay their view about how institutions should work in principle, rather than the views of the less powerful about how institutions work in practice.

Some of the key issues for study will be:

Social, economic and cultural homogeneity has been identified as an important variable in determining the potential for collective action (e.g. by Kamuanga 2003). Forms of wealth ranking and similar exercises can help in determining whether there are widely divergent interests within a programme area.

The existing patterns of institutions
Existing institutions (in the broad sense of both organisations and patterns of behaviour) will greatly affect the potential for collective action on tsetse control. Relevant institutions will include both formal/governmental and traditional institutions, and institutions for general community government, natural resource management, collaboration in herding or other forms of labour, and income-generating activity, as well as organisations that seem to have a religious, cultural or solely social function. In general, demonstrated collaboration or collective action in another field makes it more likely that collective action can be used in tsetse control, even if the same institution is not involved. Various forms of participatory diagramming can be used to understand the role of institutions better. Matrices and ranking exercises can show the relative valuations and priorities people assign to institutions, generally and for specific needs. Venn diagrams may be useful in visualising the relative importance of institutions and the linkages between them.

The size of existing institutions is also an important variable to consider, as some authors (Kamuanga 2003) consider that tsetse control is best organised through small groups (less than 20 members) that can ensure effective collective action. However, if the most important existing institututions are on a larger scale, it may still be preferable to organise tsetse control through them.

Spatial issues
Because tsetse control must operate over a defined area, the spatial aspect of institutions is very important, and can be investigated using participatory mapping. For example, in Konso, Southern Ethiopia, men of a single village may maintain fora (lowland cattle camps) in different areas, and a fora may contain men from many different villages. Furthermore, while there is a defined Konso grazing territory, Konso people are increasingly grazing their cattle in areas associated with other ethnic groups, sometimes alongside those groups, sometimes not. So the potential for collective action within Konso society (which is considerable) may be insufficient to allow effective collective action for tsetse control in those areas.

While it should not be assumed that collective action can only be stimulated by threat of sanctions, it is interesting to investigate what sanctions people consider they can or could use against those who fail to comply. For example, in Handeni, Tanzania, cattle-owners talked about passing formal bye-laws through the local government system to give livestock committees the power to fine those who did not regularly dip cattle, but it was unclear if this was legally or politically feasible. More convincingly, some spoke of not allowing non-dippers to herd with other members of the community, a very powerful sanction as it means effectively a suspension of labour-sharing arrangements.


DFID (1999) Sustainable Livelihoods Guidance Sheets 4.9 Livelihoods Assets I, 4.10 Livelihoods Assets II and 4.11 Policy, Institutions and Processes. Available in pdf format here or rtf format here.

Kamuanga, M (2003) Socio-Economic and Cultural factors in the Research and Control of Trypanosomiasis. PAAT Technical and Scientific Series 4, FAO, Rome.

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