Collective action around common resources could help vulnerable communities

Some of the practices of microfinance institutions have been shown to increase indebtedness as well as economic and social vulnerabilities. Shutterstock

Two separate economic studies point to a grim current economic reality in South Africa. Close to 3 million jobs lost due to the COVID-19 lockdown in April were not recovered again by June 2020. Also by June, one in every two households living in shack settlements did not have enough money to buy food at the end of the month.

As the financial situation worsens around the country and the government battles to reignite the economy, the time has come to look at other ways of stimulating development and assisting communities most at risk.

One area that is showing promise is collective action and entrepreneurial activity involving common resources. These resources are called the commons. They refer to shared, accessible and collectively owned assets. The concept of commons has a long history and has enjoyed renewed interest lately. Many common-pool resources already exist – like water and land. But there are more that can be pooled and shared collectively, like open-source software and energy production.

Commons can be managed and used by social entrepreneurs to generate income to boost local development and create jobs. The aim is not necessarily to make a profit, but to help all members of a community share a resource equally and equitably. Read more…

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