Blueprints resembling Ostrom’s (1990) design principles have been used in Namibia’s northern Kunene to instruct pastoral communities in managing boreholes in their localities. However, these blueprints are only marginally adopted by local agents, and consequently, Ostrom’s design principles do not fully apply. Water shortages are not the immediate outcome of these circumstances as, due to the individual commitment of mostly young men, communal water supply is maintained, especially in emergency cases. By drawing on aspects from the anthropology of ethics and human behavioral ecology, this paper offers an explanation as to why these individuals “volunteer” to keep the pumps running in their communities. It discusses whether rules and sanctions in the Ostromian sense are the only drivers for people to commit themselves to others and the common good.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.