Monash University
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Property rights and benefit sharing: a case study of the Barotse Floodplain of Zambia

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posted on 2017-02-23, 01:52 authored by Chomba, Machaya
The study sought to expose the underlying complexity of benefit sharing of ecosystem goods and services among multiple actors, using the Barotse Floodplains located in Zambia as a case study. This was based on the premise that an appreciation of theories on property rights has not been adequately used to understand and implement benefit sharing arrangements for natural resources governance. The study involved developing a conceptual framework as an analytic tool to better examine the complexity of benefit sharing from the perspective of bundles of property rights. Benefit sharing was conceptualized as the creation and regulation of relationships between decision making and benefit distribution processes. This framework highlighted the role of rights at the operational and collective levels in enforcing allocation of ecosystem goods and services as well decision making processes among actors. The design of the study was descriptive, longitudinal and qualitative. The temporal dimension of the study was between 1936 and 2012 categorized according to eras that were defined by existing benefit sharing authority – traditional, state and collaborative. Data collection techniques used in the study included in-depth interviews and documentary sources. Thematic analysis using QSR NVIVO software was used for coding and data analysis. The study revealed an overwhelming variation of benefit sharing outcomes between eras as a result of varying configuration of bundles of property rights. The variation in eras illustrates a critical relationship between the establishment and enforcement of bundles of property rights and benefit sharing outcomes. This consequently provides insights into the consequences of failing to recognize, establish and enforce bundles of rights in benefit sharing arrangements. In this way, the case study illustrates how property rights offer a theoretical perspective through which to better understand benefit sharing arrangements involving socio-ecological systems. This is especially the case in contexts in which utilization of a shared ecosystem services is susceptible to externalities that make governance difficult and complex.


Principal supervisor

Bimo Nkhata

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Monash South Africa. Faculty of Arts. School of Social Science



Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts