Averting a “Tragedy of the Commons” in Maasai Land: Exploring Predictors of Communal Land Degradation and Developing Pathways to Change in Northern Tanzania
Extensive land degradation presents a critical threat to society welfare in many East African countries. Vital livelihood-providing ecological systems have been brought to a tipping point by soil erosion, undermining food security and thwarting economic development of pastoralist communities. One factor that severely exacerbates the rates of land degradation is the so called “tragedy of the commons”– a lack of concern for communally shared land and consequent use of suboptimal land management practices. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the research team aims to address this dilemma in one of the strongly affected countries – Tanzania. It will collect evidence of communal land degradation and develop an evidence-based model that brings together physical and socio-psychological determinants of erosion on communal land. It will then facilitate exchange between local and academic knowledge, enhance public understanding of the problem, and provide space for developing community-owned solutions.