The Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights


The main goal of the CGIAR’s Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi), funded by Germany and other donors, is to reduce poverty by identifying effective policies and practices to enhance the use collective action and property rights in order to build secure assets and income streams for and by poor people. Since 1996, CAPRi has functioned as an inter-center initiative involving all 15 of the CGIAR centers and over 400 national agricultural research institutes and universities in developing and industrialized countries. The primary purpose of this work is to provide policymakers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and community groups with knowledge of the factors that strengthen the rights of poor people to land and water resources, and to promote more effective collective action.


  1.  CAPRi’s work on securing access to natural resources involved an action research initiative, carried out by Worldfish, to strengthen collective action in addressing natural resource conflict in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake. As a result of this work, in October 2010 the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, and Fisheries transferred a 2,684 ha commercial fishing concession to community access. Another outcome was the resolution of a complex boundary dispute between community fishery organizations in neighboring provinces.
  2. Over the course of several years CAPRi has developed a strong partnership with the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), an Indian NGO. FES staff contributed to the writing, editing, and final revisions of Resources, Rights, and Cooperation in 2009. When FES launched a major 2011 initiative to promote awareness of commons-related issues and strengthen the rights of users of common pool resources, they drew heavily upon CAPRi support and CAPRi materials. Among the initiative’s achievements were the establishment of a working group on the commons and the adoption of a Commons Strategy by the State of Rajasthan. Both initiatives marked a break from past policies of treating the commons as wastelands; this shift strengthened property rights over the commons, as well as the government’s recognition of the need to strengthen collective action to manage the commons.
  3. CAPRi’s 2011 sourcebook, Resources, Rights and Cooperation, has been a popular resource for practitioners and educators – including a  Nobel Laureate who used the book in her seminar.
  4. The book Collective Action and Property Rights for Poverty Reduction: Insights from Africa and Asia, was published in 2011. This compilation presented nine case studies linked through a conceptual framework showing the importance of collective action for risk reduction and marketing, in addition to natural resource management.