Table 4. Examples of successful collective actions.


Characteristics of success

Example 1: Agricultural Cooperatives, Area 2 (Khomele, South Africa)
After 1996, agricultural extension services established agricultural projects. These endured with clear rules, structures, regular meetings, and charismatic leadership. With the introduction of Participatory Service Policy Delivery in 2004, extension officers get trained alongside local ‘para-extensionists’. Benefits include access to weather forecasts, subsidized training on irrigation, advice on stock breeds, and crop. The village has been able to substitute dependence on the informal economy for the security of the association and increased commercial production. Groups have initiated access to land elsewhere for grazing livestock and growing cash crops, allowing farmers to make use of diversity in landscape and climate, including exploiting the South African land reform system. Positive reinforcement through new systems of natural resource governance consolidate networks of dependency, i.e., evolution of traditional arrangements, allow entrepreneurs to flourish, and grow new comanaged multistakeholder projects. • Mechanisms to link formal and informal institutions with cross-scale linkages, including flow of information and credit

• Importance of rules and structures for participation and self-organization

• Strong local support and leadership

• Development of local ownership through shared knowledge production with extension officers and local decision making

• Equitable benefits, thus community happy to adapt their traditional arrangements for working together

• Inclusive networks, especially capturing key agents and entrepreneurs

Example 2: Horticultural Projects, Area 3 (Mcitsheni village, South Africa)
In 1994, agricultural extension officers gave credit to initiate horticultural projects to help smallholders adapt to a changing regional economy and unreliable intra-annual rainfall. The projects were popular, and 83% of our sample participated, mostly with women. The groups drew on existing friendship networks to establish committees, membership responsibilities, and penalties for nonparticipation. Projects have diversified the local crop base, e.g., potatoes compensate for damaged maize harvests. Vegetables are sold in nearby towns and profits reinvested, which has encouraged competition with established commercial outlets. In 2004, some projects sought business training from extension officers, which has initiated improved marketing. Motivated by success, remittances are invested in labor and irrigation pumps. • Converted exclusive friendship informal networks into inclusive and equitable formal associations

• Clear common purpose, with importance of rules and structures for participation and self-organization

• Mechanisms for access to credit and information from the Extension Service

• Development of local ownership through local decision making, e.g., investment options for financial returns

• Diversified risk

Example 3: Maize Cooperative, Area 3 (Mcitsheni village, South Africa)
Established in 2001 by men who had returned from laboring on commercial farms. No formal mechanisms existed to stimulate innovation prior to their experimentation of short-growing resilient varieties and planting densities. These aimed to minimize risk to increasingly variable weather and benefited from shared resources and mechanization. Soil conservation practices, e.g., contour stone bunding, was introduced for the first time by over a third of those interviewed; fields are vulnerable during heavy rainfall before planting or after harvest. Since 2003, collective crop sales had allowed them to compete with larger landowners. • Importance of key agents and leadership to initiate, trial, and diffuse knowledge on new technologies

• Formalized exclusive friendship networks to form a cooperative

• Reinforced enthusiasm for self-organization through financial rewards

• Economies of scale and equitable benefits

Example 4: Farmers Associations, Area 4 (Nwadjahane, Mozambique)
Traditional leadership in Nwadjahane took advantage of changes in regional governance, increasing interaction with ‘new leaders’. A number of farming associations have been initiated in the last 10 years by agricultural extension officers and NGOs, creating ‘para-extensionists’ to transfer information. A system of multilevel comanagement has promoted collective social resilience to climate disturbance and change (Osbahr et al. 2008). Forty-five percent of respondents now use more resilient types of cassava, beans, maize and rice than 10 years ago. Although traditional exchange systems are more numerous and pronounced than the South African locations, partly a result of limited external intervention, associations have membership rules and regular meetings that complement cultural norms and allow flexible self-organization. Even large associations have delivered opportunities for vulnerable individuals, and particularly women. • Importance of local leadership and ability to act on opportunities

• Development of bridging relationships with actors and institutions outside the village (cross-institutional mechanisms to access information and credit)

• Formal structures reinforced cultural norms

• Development of local ownership and self-organization through coproduction of knowledge and local decision making

• Equitable benefits (mechanisms for diffusion of innovative practices)