Social capital Institutions

Posted October 1999

Rural household income strategies and interactions with the local institutional environment: a methodological framework

by Kirsten Appendini, Monique Nuijten and Vikas Rawal
Rural Institutions and Participation Service (SDAR)
FAO Rural Development Division
Summary overview of a paper (forthcoming) written for the FAO/SDAR Programme on Rural household income strategies and interactions with the local institutional environment, 1998-1999. The authors express their indebtedness to the FAO team involved in the project, particularly Robin Marsh and Norman Messer as well as the country teams co-ordinated by Vasant Ghandi in India, Raul García Barrios in Mexico, and Bart Pijnenburg in Mozambique. The opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the people who collaborated on the studies nor those of FAO. For further information contact

Objectives of a methodological framework

Local institutions and their possible role in development is a much discussed theme in development policy; even more so under the present trends of macro policy reforms under liberalisation and decentralisation. However, these discussions tend to focus on the way in which institutions contribute to the achievement of collective goals in the community. Much less attention is paid to the way in which individual households are embedded in multiple institutional settings at the same time. In addition, little attention is paid to institutional forms which are not characterised by collective goals but which are better described as clusters of relationships that have developed over time and which have turned into practical rules structuring the access to resources.

The research programme undertaken by FAO/SDAR on rural household income strategies and interactions with the local institutional environment aim to focus on both the household and local institutions in order to explore the income strategies of rural households and the manifold ways in which households - and members of the household - are linked to different institutional settings. The purpose of this pilot project is to contribute to policy recommendations oriented towards strengthening the institutional environment of poor households. Hence the outputs are aimed at researchers, development practitioners, government planners and the population of rural communities who are working with rural institutions and poverty reduction.

Two major documents are the result of the pilot stage of the above mentioned Project: A Methodological Framework and a Policy Document. In this paper we will present a short overview of the main methodological points discussed and the conclusions derived from the pilot study summarised from the document on Rural household income strategies and interactions with the local institutional environment. A methodological framework.

The purpose of the methodological framework is to provide insights for determining the linkages between household strategies and the local institutional setting. The results presented should be seen as a reference document for diagnosis, project formulation and impact analysis. We integrate cross-disciplinary understandings and chose for a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The purpose of attacking development problems in their complexity and addressing the different elements of causal relations asks for such a multi-dimensional approach. Our aim has not been to dictate methodological straightjackets to study these issues but rather to provide insights that policymakers and policy oriented researchers can use to conceptualise and study institutional problems. This may help them to frame development issues more accurately and think of flexible solutions that are relevant in specific contexts.

We propose an analytical and methodological framework for the analysis of institutions and their relation to household income generating strategies that is able to deal with heterogeneity and complexity. We think in terms of a conceptual framework rather than a model for the study of institutions and the linkages with household income generating strategies.

The methodology of the research is directed towards identifying the heterogeneity among households, identifying key institutions in relation to access to resources and other income generating activities, and the study of institutional dynamics and institutional processes of inclusion and exclusion. On the basis of this information it can be determined what the important institutions are for the income generating activities of different categories of households, and which institutional forms could be strengthened or modified through the formulation of policy recommendations.

Three countries were chosen for the pilot research project: India, Mexico and Mozambique. All are countries that have undergone processes of structural adjustment over the past decades but in very different circumstances, hence a cross-continental range of very different historical and socio-economic contexts were covered. Within each countries a number of communities were chosen (see box). Research was carried out by national country teams during 1998-1999.


Banaskantha District (North). A semi-arid climate, with relatively dry land of which 30% is under irrigation. There is a variety of food crops crops; in parts of the district cotton and vegetables are grown. The district has reasonably good infrastructure and market development. There is a large number of co-operatives. Villages selected were: Rampura Vadla and Malan.

Kheda District (Central). A sub-humid climate, and an irrigated area of 56% . Principal crops are rice, pearl millet, maize, cotton, tobacco, banana and potato. The district has good infra-structural development (highways and railways). There are a number of co-operatives and two university campuses. Villages selected were: Malawada and Piparia.


Villages in the South. Maputo Province and Gaza Province where crop production is more hazardous and where animal production and off farm employment are important. The gathering of natural resources (firewood, charcoal, wild fruits, etc.) is part of income strategies. Villages selected: Massoane and Djavanhane.

Villages in the North. Tete Province and Netia Nampula Province, that are more dependent on crop production including cash crops. Villages selected: Banga and Netia.


Three communities in the Sierra Juarez of the State of Oaxaca belonging to the District of Ixtlán were selected: Ixtlán de Júarez, Macuiltianguis and Capulalpam. All three villages have a similar eco-agrological environment as they are situated in the forest highlands, as well as socio-economic organisation based on common property tenure and collective management of the forest resources; subsistence agriculture and high incidence of national and international migration.

The first need for carrying out the field research is to have clear definitions of the central concepts used. Different disciplines have different approaches to the concept of institutions, organisations and what to focus on and how to study them; the term local is also approached in various ways as is the understanding of 'strategies'. We have come to the following working concepts for the purpose of the research:

Central concepts


Institutions are cognitive, normative, and regulative structures that shape social behaviour and attribute meaning to it. Institutions are transported by various carriers, such as cultures, structures, and routines (adaptation of Scott, 1995: 33).

Institutions can be classified according to: relations of production (land tenure, labour relations, credit); main socio-cultural divisions (gender, caste); governance (panchayat, ejido, traditional authorities).


The organisation is a specific type of institution that is set up around technologically defined procedures that help to insure reliable performance and that specify means-ends relations in a rule-like manner that helps to ensure accountability ( adaptation of Scott, 1995: 48, 49).

Organisations can be classified in many ways for example according to: whether they are directly related to production (milk co-operative, producers' association), indirectly related to production ( rural agricultural labourer service groups, solidarity committees); related to general welfare (migrant networks); private firms (a commercial bank); social, religious or educational (foot ball club, church group).

Organising practices

Organising practices refer to the different action patterns and strategies that people follow to sustain and develop their daily subsistence and other life projects. Organising practices can develop into established patterns (processes of institutionalisation) and in this way give rise to the emergence of institutions.

Local institutional context

The local institutional context refers to the specific manifestation of institutions in the geographical area under study, even though these institutions may cross the boundaries of this area. Hence, it comprises those institutions that play a role for the households in the area under study.

Household income generating strategies

The specific use of assets and resources that lead to a combination of productive activities that determines the monetary and non-monetary income of a household and that helps them establish a degree of food security, social security and possibilities for socio-economic development.

Outline of the methodology

When we talk about the institutional context in which rural households operate, we refer to the dynamic institutional arrangements which influence their access to different resources and services which are essential for their income generating strategies. We are interested in determining how different types of households rely on different institutions to support their claims to these resources and goods. Most of all, we want to find out how the institutional settings in which poor households operate differ from those of other categories of households in order to understand processes of exclusion.

Hence the central questions which direct the methodology are:

These central questions refer to two levels of information: the institutional and the household. Next we need a methodological approach that will enable us to capture data at each level as well as on the interaction between households and the institutional setting. A methodology can only be elaborated in relation to the specific themes one is interested in and the specific field situation. Thus there is no general model about how to study the relevant institutional settings of rural households. Yet, some general guidelines can be presented.

We have proposed a multidisciplinary approach combining qualitative and quantitative methods, a combination of

  1. a diagnostic study of the community
  2. a household survey and
  3. study of selected institutions

1) On the basis of the community diagnosis one gets a first view of the socio-economic situation and the differentiation between households. One elaborates a first analysis of the existing institutions and institutional potentials and / or bottlenecks which are most relevant in the specific context. A choice is made of the institutions that will be studied in more depth. Hence the aim is to provide a view of:

2) A household survey is then developed which focuses especially on the household income generating strategies and the relation to the institutional setting. Part of the survey is dedicated to the analysis of certain institutions. The purpose of the household surveys:

Quantitative data on the institutions related to income generation activities are collected to support other material on institutional interrelationships collected through preliminary community-level appraisal, selected interviews, case studies, etc. What kind of information needs to be collected through questionnaires, if this is needed, depends on the specific institutions one chooses to study.

3) Separate studies are made of institutions. An important part of the links between household income generating strategies and local institutions will not be captured in the diagnostic study and household survey. This part should be carried out through separate studies. As qualitative research is time-consuming only few institutions can be studied in this way. In every situation it must be decided which institutions are the most relevant to be studied and a special research plan has to be developed for each of them. One can decide to study, for example, those institutions that have come up as important for the activities of certain categories of households (labour exchange arrangements, a co-operative). It can also be useful to study in detail the processes that lead to the exclusion of certain groups of the population from an important production organisation. In this way one can try at a later stage to influence these exclusion processes in a policy oriented project. In many situations it will be important to study the underlying conflicts and tensions in local organisations or around land tenure arrangements, before introducing projects oriented towards conflict resolution and new forms of management. Qualitative methods for the study of institutions was used:

Combining qualitative and quantitative research methods

By combining qualitative and quantitative research methods in the study of household income generating strategies and their linkages to rural institutions the following was accomplished:

Quantitative methods

  1. to show the distribution of households according to a household typology
  2. to show the way household economies are built up / the different income generating strategies
  3. to demonstrate the role certain institutions play in the economy / strategies of the poorer households (land, co-operatives, role of forestry enterprise, etc.)
  4. to quantify some aspects of certain institutions (knowledge of the rules of the organisation, participation in labour exchange networks, membership of the co-operatives)

Qualitative methods

  1. to present a more dynamic view of life in the villages and of the relations between different socio-economic strata
  2. to present examples of specific households, their histories, activities, views on the situation
  3. to get more insights into the way these institutions actually play a role in the household income strategies / the combined influence of these institutions on household economies, possibilities and limitations institutions imply for households
  4. to provide a more complete view of the working institutions, taking into account the historical perspective and power relations.

Summary of household income strategies and institutional linkages

As an example of some analytical results derived from the methodological approaches referred to in this paper, the following cases from each country are illustrated below:

Institutions related to the access and use of resources and how they change over time: Mexico. The indigenous community is an overarching institutions which rule rights to, and management of, productive resources. Being a member of the community means having access to resources with rights and obligations (and sanctions) to cropland, grazing land, forest and water. Access and use of resources have changed over time, as have the norms regulating them, whether formally or in the daily practices of the members and their families. Particularly migration has been an important element of adaptation of institutional practices.

Two main questions are related to access and use of resources:

Share-cropping is an example of collecting quantitative data on institutions related to property rights. In the communities studied 10% of all households were found to be involved in sharecropping, and sharing tenure arrangements in livestock was 5%. Sharing arrangements were most important in Capulalpam, followed by Macuiltianguis, in Ixtlán only a few cases were found. The reasons for sharing arrangement are various. In about one fourth of the cases, failures in livestock and farm equipment markets are observed. For example, to have an ox-plow is expensive in terms of time and money for a family. When traction is needed in times of preparing the land for cultivation it is difficult to find a tractor or ox-plow, sharecropping is a way to overcome this difficulty. One part provides the land and the other the ox-plow or the tractor. It is important to notice that the owner of the land also provides grass fodder (zacate) to secure feed for the animals during part of the year.

In other cases, households will enter into a sharecropping arrangement because of lack of family labour. Labour has become scarce as opportunity costs have risen due to migration, and employment opportunities in the trade and commerce sector. So sharecropping is an arrangement in which a household with enough land can come to an agreement with a household in which labour is not scarce. An advantage is also that monetary costs are reduced and there is less need for supervision of labour (a transaction cost).

Sharing arrangements may also be the case in livestock rearing. This is mainly due to an increase in robbery and labour scarcity, with a sharing arrangement for the caring of animals the supervision costs are avoided. Another case for co-operation may be when family and friends who have labour but no financial capital to buy animals. In all cases, the animals graze on common lands, which hence favours these types of inter- household arrangements.

Productivity is another reason for sharing arrangements in livestock rearing. It was observed that households with large herd seek sharing arrangements within communities in which the ecological conditions are more favourable and productivity can double. For example, ranchers from Macuiltianguis engage in sharing arrangements with households in the lowlands 30-40 kms from the village, where the grasslands are much more productive than in the Sierra. Also a cow may have two calves per year, while in the mountains they only have one.

Hence, sharing arrangements in agriculture and livestock allow households to enter institutional arrangements that enable them to compensate for market failures related to animals, equipment, labor and the credit market. It also allows to reduce risks in situations of uncertainty, for co-operation between kin and to take advantage of extra-local productivity.

Many rules of community related institutions have been relaxed in practice or simply are not well defined. One example is that of the rights to abandoned croplands. According to the agrarian law, the household loose the right to crop land if it is not cultivated. But in response to the question on what the consequences were if a plot was not cultivated, 69% of the households in all three villages replied that 'nothing happens'; 17% responded 'the plot is lost and assigned to another community member'; other responses were 'if the plot is abandoned for five or more years, it is lost'; 'nothing happens if one performs a cargo'; 'Nothing, if the plot is fenced' (Macuiltianguis); 'if trees are planted on the plot is becomes part of the community forest lands' (Ixtlán).

Hence there are different practices in the villages, according to the economic strategies. In Macuiltianguis, where livestock is an important income source, agricultural plots are not lost if fenced for grazing (privatisation); in Ixtlán some plots are turned over to the forest for commercial exploitation (collectivisation). However institutional 'flexibility' and changing organisational practices are not always smooth, conflicts and the erosion of institutions may be part of these processes. To trace this, however we turn to qualitative information. (CRIM/UNAN/UABCH, 1999: chapter V).

Household typologies and the identification of different income strategies


Household typologies in Mozambique were identified using the total annual household income as the classifying variable. We shall illustrate the use of this variable in identifying income strategies of households in the village of Massoane in Maputo province in southern Mozambique.

Massoane: Average annual household income in Massoane in 1997 was about 1,911 million Meticais. The data on household incomes in Massoane show very high disparity in income within the village. The lowest 25 per cent households earned only about 2 per cent of the income of the village while over 64 per cent of the income was earned by the households in the top quartile of income. The Gini coefficient of household incomes was about 0.61.

Table 1 shows the average income and the proportion of household income deriving from different sources of income. Table 2 shows the proportion of households in different income quartiles that have income from each source of income. Looking at the village as a whole, on average, about 39.4 per cent of the household income come from salaries, about 16 per cent come from remittances from migrants and about 11 per cent from fishing.

The picture, however, is somewhat different when we look at the number of household earnings from different sources of incomes (Table 2). Remittances contributed to incomes of over 40 per cent of the households, salaries to the incomes of about 24 per cent and fishing to about 16 per cent of the households.

Agriculture in the southern part of Mozambique is primarily subsistence-based cultivation. It is noteworthy, however, that even after including value of home consumption in agricultural income, the income from agricultural production constituted only 3.6 per cent of household incomes. The low levels of agricultural income in Massoane are related to setting up of an eco-tourism resort by a private company in the forest near Massoane. The company drew a fence around the forest that alienated the villagers from the forest. Moreover, while drawing the fence, some elephants were left outside the forest causing major destruction of crops in Massoane. Nothing was done about these elephants in the subsequent years and the destruction continued. As a result, many fields remained either uncultivated or were destroyed by the elephants.

Tables 1 and 2 also show that there were significant differences in the income profile of the households in different income quartiles. In value terms, remittances were the most important source of income for the two bottom quartiles. On average, these remittances constituted about 47 per cent of the income of the households in the lowest quartile and about 67 per cent of the income of the households in the second quartile.

Salaries and pensions were the single most important source of income for households in the top quartile. Over 44 per cent households had members who have salaried jobs. In value terms, salaries constituted over 58 per cent of the household incomes.

Migration has continued after the population returned to the village after the War. Not everyone returned, and families have ties in South Africa, Swaziland which were the main places where refuge was taken. Formerly only men went to work in South Africa leaving their wives and family in the community, they had to send money to support their families. Now, men prefer to take their wives with them and only the elder and children are left. Migration is both a response to the precarious situation of the village due to the vulnerability of agriculture, but also means a lack of human resources within the village to confront and solve the conflicts with the Maputo Reserve and the Tourist Company. Individual strategies, rather than a common or collective action has been the response.

The research identified the need for developing mechanisms to support villagers and smallholders to defend their rights to access to land and water against companies that try to obtain concessionary rights over large tracts of land (Mozambique Household Survey, 1999; UEM, 1999).

Table 1. Mozambique: Average and percentage of household income by sources of income, Massoane
Quartile of incomeAverage household income Agricultural production Salaries Pensions Remittances Wage labour Artisans Selling animals Selling drink Construction of houses Carvao Construction materials Fishing Mfuma Honey Others All
Lowest 25 per cent 154.3 21.2 13.0 0.0 46.7 0.6 0.0 4.2 0.0 3.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 7.1 0.0 4.0 100.0
25 to 50 per cent 589.9 0.0 2.8 0.0 66.7 5.7 4.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 18.8 0.2 0.0 0.6 100.0
50 to 75 per cent 2047.9 7.5 6.1 28.5 16.8 0.0 0.0 4.6 0.5 3.1 4.1 11.7 17.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0
75 to 100 per cent 5049.7 1.9 58.1 5.6 9.7 0.0 3.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 6.6 9.2 0.7 4.4 0.0 100.0
All 1911.6 3.6 39.4 11.0 16.6 0.44 2.7 1.3 0.14 0.9 1.1 7.4 11.8 0.6 2.8 0.1 100.0
Note: Income from agricultural production was computed from data on agricultural production and costs of agricultural production.

Table 2. Mozambique: Percentage of households by income quartile and source of income, Massoane
Quartile of income Agricultural production Salaries Pensions Remittances Wage labour Artisans Selling animals Selling drink Construction of houses Carvao Construction materials Fishing Mfuma Honey Others
Lowest 25 per cent 20.0 20.0 0.0 40.0 10.0 0.0 10.0 0.0 10.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 20.0 0.0 20.0
25 to 50 per cent 11.1 11.1 0.0 44.4 22.2 11.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 11.1 11.1 22.2 0.0 11.1
50 to 75 per cent 33.3 22.2 11.1 55.6 0.0 0.0 33.3 11.1 11.1 11.1 22.2 22.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
75 to 100 per cent 11.1 44.4 11.1 22.2 0.0 22.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 11.1 33.3 22.2 11.1 0.0
All 18.9 24.3 5.4 40.5 8.1 8.1 10.8 2.7 5.4 2.7 10.8 16.2 16.2 2.7 8.1
Note: The proportions in this table do not add to 100 percent because most households can have more than one source of income.

Studying Institutional Processes

India: the dairy co-operative

The dairy co-operatives in Gujarat have played an important role in the expansion of availability of milk and dairy products in India. The village co-operatives are linked to the markets through district-level co-operatives. The co-operatives have developed modern systems of veterinary care and artificial insemination and provide services to a large number of milk producers at very low prices. The co-operative sector has a dominant market share in milk and milk products, and has maintained it even in the face of competition with the private sector. Being economically viable institutions, these co-operatives also often take up other tasks of rural development.

Milk is an output that is produced everyday and a good arrangement for the marketing of the milk assures families of a daily income. Women are increasingly involved in the management of dairy co-operatives. Several dairy co-operatives exclusively led by women. In the following example refering to the Malan Milk Producer's Co-operative Dairy the research pointed to some of the problems of exclusion in this organisation and also how the interlinkage of different institutions determines the access to resources and income generating activities .

Table 3 shows that membership of the co-operative differs among different groups of the village population. Upper caste Hindus participate most in the dairy co-operatives; over 46 per cent of the members of the Dairy come from 20 per cent upper caste Hindu households of the village. On the other hand, only 5.4 per cent of the members come from 20 per cent households belonging to the scheduled castes.

Table 3. Participation of different caste groups in Malan Milk Producers' Co-operative Dairy
  Membership in dairy
  Number of persons Per cent

Scheduled castes



Scheduled tribes



Other backward castes



Upper caste Hindus









Source: Collected from Malan Milk Co-operative Dairy by the country team, India (Rawal, 1999).

The qualitative research showed some of the mechanisms why certain sections of the rural poor have not been able to participate in this institution. Being a relatively dry agro-climatic zone, the most important constraint to ownership of cattle in Malan is access to fodder. Access to fodder appeared to be closely linked to access to land, and in turn, to caste relations. Ownership of land in Malan is concentrated and people belonging to the Patel caste own most of the land in the village. Sharecropping, often concealed, is prevalent. People who do not own or sharecrop land, do not have access to fodder. The scheduled castes are almost all landless labourers. Hence, large number of households belonging to certain lower castes do not have cattle because they have no way of accessing fodder.

Several groups in the village possess cattle. As owners of large amount of land, the Patels have enough fodder and usually own a large number of milk cattle. The second group that owns cattle are about 50 households belonging to the Rajput caste. These are small to medium landowners who obtain fodder from their own fields. The third group that owns livestock comprises approximately 250 of the 400 households belonging to the Thakur caste (grouped under other backward castes in table 3). These households work as sharecroppers on the lands owned by Patel households and are able to access at least part of the fodder grown on the fields they cultivated, hence being able to rear livestock. The fourth group consists of about 100 Muslim households who own small amounts of land. Some of them also work as sharecroppers. The fifth group that owns livestock are the households belonging to the caste Nai. Members of these households work primarily as barbers. This caste follows common rules decided among the barbers in about 180 villages in the area. Under these rules the upper caste patrons are divided among all barbers and each barber provides services to only specific patrons. These services also include certain religious rituals. In exchange these patrons are required to provide certain amount of grain and fodder to the barbers. It is through this tradition that these barbers have access to fodder and are able to rear livestock. Apart from these five groups the rest of the villagers own almost no milk cattle.

Active participation in the dairy co-operative was also studied. It was found that the poor face important barriers to active participation in for example membership in the managing committee and decision making. Some of these barriers are illiteracy among scheduled castes and tribes, in particular among women, and caste barriers that are central to local political and power relations in rural areas of Gujarat. ( Rawal, 1999).

Conclusions and directions for policy.

In this project, cross-disciplinary understandings were integrated and it was decided to use methodological pluralism. Diagnostic studies were supplemented by both qualitative and quantitative measures to distinguish different household income generating strategies and to study the working of institutions. The purpose, scope and limitations of each of the methods used were discussed. It is obvious that the methods for field research and the analytical possibilities for examining the data collected are vast. One of the conclusions of the research is that one should creatively combine several methods of collecting information to come to grips with the complexity of institutional linkages in rural societies. The flexible methodological framework that was presented in this document, should be adapted to the specific local conditions where the research is carried out. We saw that in relation to the different field situations, the three country teams adapted the methodological framework in various ways. For example, there were variations in the way the teams collected the income and expenditure data for each economic activity. The teams also differed in the indicators used to define typologies of household. Yet, the aim was the same; to find the relevant indicators for distinguishing different socio-economic groups and identifying the poorer strata of the population. Another conclusion of the project is that multiple stages of research are required. The research teams need to go back and forth, and need to have the possibility to adapt the research plan if they feel this is necessary. For example, it happened in several of the research projects that the importance of a certain institution only became clear at a later stage of the research. It might be necessary then to include an extra round of surveying or include another type of research method in order to study this institution.

One of the biggest constraints of policy oriented research is obviously the time constraint. Because of the limited time for the carrying out of field research detailed data gathering is often sacrificed. However, poor data lead to an erroneous diagnosis and bad recommendations for policy. Although this always remains a dilemma this can to a certain degree be resolved by a good focus of the research. It is preferable to have good, focused research on a selected theme than to have a lot of poor data on a broad range of subjects. Taking an 'open perspective' can easily lead to a widespread span of possibilities and to an 'inventory of organisations' rather than a focus on the working of the relevant institutions. In other words, the objectives of the study in terms of institutions of interest and development intentions, should be clearly identified. This crucially determines the methodology adopted and will give the necessary focus to the research.

The experience and skill of the members of the research team are essential for the outcome of the research. A close working relationship between the agencies implementing the development project/ programme and the research team is required. Collecting data on household income/ expenditure is a difficult task and doing research on institutions and the linkages between households and institutions require great analytical skills. The awareness and sensibility of investigators is critical to proper fieldwork and no amount of guidelines is of use if people who do the fieldwork are not sensitive and interested in their work. In many countries highly qualified and experienced research teams are hard to find. The aim of the training of research teams should go beyond the direct aims of the development project/ programme and should be seen as part of local/ regional/ national capacity building. Hence, one should build on possibilities for future research activities and a basis for participatory research. For that reason it is also important to incorporate local people into the team and support capacity building at the level of the communities.

Households operate in multiple institutions at the same time

One of the most important conclusions of the research is that it is the combination of different institutions that determines the claims and access to resources (see also Leach et al. 1997, and Crowley and Appendini 1998). For example, in Mozambique the rights to access to and use of land (land tenure institution) is directly related to a complex set of norms concerning responsibilities and obligations within the family (institution of the family) and an important part of the work on the land is carried out through exchange labour among villagers or through the institution of food for work. This clearly shows that it is the combination of claims, rights and obligations determined by different institutions that make certain economic activities possible. Rights to access land in a Mozambican village would be of little use for the household if it were not combined with the other institutional arrangements. It was also concluded that processes of institutional inclusion or exclusion are determined by the combined working of different institutions. In the case of India, for example, we saw that membership and participation in the dairy co-operative is linked to forms of land ownership and share-cropping arrangements, and caste and gender relations.

Relations between rural households and local institutions

  • Households operate in multiple institutions at the same time.
  • It is the combination of different institutions, which determines the claims and access to resources and the possibility of certain productive activitiesProcesses of institutional inclusion and exclusion are the result of the combined working of different institutions.
  • Institutions often fulfil different functions at the same time: providing inputs for productive activities, providing forms of social security, providing elements which are central to people's identity and meaning in life.
  • Institutional integration differs according to socio-economic strata. The institutional linkages of the poorer parts of the population differ from those of the richer parts of the rural population.

Policy recommendations which can be expected on the basis of this type of research.

In this research project we studied income generating activities and how these are institutionally embedded. We made a socio-economic distribution of the population, focused on the poorer groups and then mapped out potential household income strategies that would increase welfare. Then we looked at the institutional constraints and facilitators of those. One of the main conclusions of the research with respect to policy recommendations is that we have to take into account the combined working of institutions and cannot focus on only one institutions without taking into account linkages with other institutions. On the basis of this type of study the following type of policy recommendations can be expected.

Possible policy recommendations


CRIM/UNAM/CRUCO/UACH. 1999. Estrategias de Ingreso en los Hogares Rurale para Alivio de la Pobreza e Interacciones con las Instituciones Locales: Caso México. CRIM/UNAM/CRUCO/UACH. Morelos.Mexico.

Crowley, E. and Appendini, K. 1998. Rural Poverty: Population Dynamics, Local Institutions and Access to Resources. Document presented to the FAO/ILO/UNFPA thematic workshop on Population, Poverty and the Environment. Rome, October.

Leach, M., Mearns R., Scoones, I. 1997. Institutions, Consensus and conflict; implications for policy and practice. IDS Bulletin 28(4):90 - 95.

Rawal, V. 1999. "Participation of the Poor in Dairy Cooperatives in Gujarat: Studying Exclusion in Rural Institutions". Background paper for the Project on "Rural household Income Strategies for Poverty Alleviation and Interactions with the Local Institutional Environment" FAO/SDAR, Rome. Draft.

Scott, W. 1995 Institutions and Organisations. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.

UEM. 1999.Estratégias de geracao de Rendadas Familias Rurais e Suas Interaccoes Como Ambiente Institucional Local. UEM (Universidade Eduardo Mondale) Faculdade de Agronomia e Engenharia Florestal. Maputo.

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