Trialing a common pool resource game in Madagascar

We used an adapted version of Bell et al’s (2015) NonCropshare game with Malagasy farmers. amazing to use tablets in a remote setting with no internet and often no poer (charged mostly through solar power) to allow them to play an interactive land-use decision game.


Here’s an abstract of the paper I’m working on:

The worlds’ wetlands are degrading at an alarming rate threatening the livelihoods people depending on their ecosystem services. Pesticide use in developing countries is increasing despite the severe ecological-and human-health effects. To our knowledge few attempts have been made to understand the dynamics of the cooperative behavior required to ensure the continued provisioning of wetland ecosystem services amongst multiple land-users. We looked at the effects of two treatment types compared to a control designed to mimic nudges used by conservation practitioners: subsidies such as payments for ecosystem services, and the formation of local institutions to govern natural resources and the peer pressure to cooperate. Participants were invited to play an interactive, tablet-based, decision making game in combination with a detailed household survey. The framed field experiment allowed participants to make multiple-land use decisions, such as planting rice, providing ecosystem services or using pesticides, which had consequences on the potential points scored both for themselves and their fellow players.  A similar score could be achieved either through cooperative or defective land-use decisions. We found that nudges in the form of subsidies significantly increased co-operative behaviour and decreased defective behaviour. Peer pressure did not significantly increase the provision of ecosystem services across the landscape, however it did increase cooperative behaviours between players. Though game-playing can mimic real life, there are often many barriers to achieving success in conservation projects with multiple stakeholders. However understanding the nudge(s) required to incentivise the adoption of more sustainable practices in developing countries is essential to ensure the long-term health of wetlands and the people that depend on them.