Photo credit: Bhajani Trishakti, Nepal

Collective action games for groundwater

Groundwater is one of the most challenging common pool resources to govern, resulting in resource depletion in many areas.

Collective action games can not only measure propensity for cooperation but also improve local understanding of groundwater interrelationships.  This improved understanding can stimulate collective governance of groundwater. 

Based on a pilot study in Andhra Pradesh, India, the games developed simulate crop choice and consequences for the local aquifer.  A community debriefing followed the games. The debriefing provides an entry point for further discussions on the interconnectedness of groundwater use.

Though games alone will not end groundwater depletion, they can contribute to social learning about the role of crop choice and collective action, to motivate behavior change for more sustainable groundwater extraction.