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Exercise research questions

Exercise 2
Formulate research questions for each of the problem statements given below.
Select for each problem statement the best research method (qualitative or quantitative).
Problem statement 1: Groundwater management
The use of groundwater resources by farmers in north China has increased over the last decades. In
some regions excessive groundwater use has become a threat to the sustainable agricultural
development and ecosystem. Falling groundwater tables increase the costs for groundwater pumping
and keep the natural vegetation from reaching the groundwater. Some scholars argue that local
communities have the ability to manage common pool resources and avoid depletion. Whether or not
villages can manage resources in a sustainable way depends on the characteristics of the resource.
When farmers use groundwater from aquifers with low storativity and high transmissivity their pumping
can easily affect the water level of the aquifer. In north China some villages share the use of such
aquifers, while other villages are single users of such aquifers. Theory on common pool resources
suggests that competition amongst villages over one aquifer increases the rate of pumping.
Based on Huang et al. 2013
Problem statement 2: Small irrigation reservoirs
Small reservoirs are often an important source of irrigation for impoverished agricultural communities in
sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore investments in small irrigation dams are seen as a useful contribution to
agricultural development by states and donor agencies. However, many studies show that lapses in the
planning of small dam rehabilitation programs often cause costs to rise and implementation to be
delayed. Corrupt practices during the project planning, tendering and administration are held as one of
the major obstacles to the sustainability of investments in small reservoir projects. Yet, there is still little
empirical evidence on the ways corruption affects development projects.
Based on Venot et al. 2011
Problem statement 3: Land property rights
Secure property rights are viewed as an important element conductive to economic growth. Holders of
property rights can enjoy the benefits from investments without being challenged by outsiders or state
agents. In China rural land property rights have traditionally been insecure and threatened by increased
pressure on land in peri-urban areas. In 2003 the rural land contracting law (RLCL) has been passed. The
law requires compensation for farmers’ individual loss of land and strictly prescribes the conditions
under which administrative land reallocation is feasible. It is expected that the RLCL has decreased the
number of “illegal” land reallocations and increased the compensation received by those who had land
Based on Deininger and Jin 2009
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