The myth of ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ in sustaining water resources
Anabo, Ayele Hegena
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With growing concerns regarding natural resources security over the last fifty years, a range of movements, including the notion of the tragedy of the commons suggest how to enhance sustainability of natural resources. A case in point is the discourse on the necessity of introducing regulatory and market schemes for the challenges to the sustainability of the commons. This article, inter alia, highlights the literature on the tragedy of the commons, in order to understand its theoretical and practical strengths, and examine the applicability of its core ideas to current issues of water security. As contemporary water security problems are interconnected and complex, the article challenges the adequacy and effectiveness of coercive regulatory arrangements to individual water users’ behavior in sustaining water security. It also examines the variation of new initiatives (in natural resources management) from the traditional perspectives of the tragedy of the commons. It is argued that introducing coercive regulatory institutional arrangements is not by itself sufficient because water security may require comprehensive regulatory and non-regulatory institutional arrangements at national and transnational levels (supplemented by comprehensive implementation strategies) to address a range of water pressures.