In many developing countries, poverty is still a predominantly rural phenomenon. Therefore, fostering rural development is one of the greatest challenges for development policy, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our research focusses on the welfare of poor rural households that are often highly vulnerable. Their vulnerability can be due to a wide range of factors, including climate change, volatile prices for the commodities they produce, and competing uses of the resources they rely on. Ongoing research projects deal with issues related to land and water use:
- Effects of large-scale land acquisitions in Africa
The phenomenon of so-called „landgrabs" has lately received considerable media attention. The term encompasses public and private investment in the purchase or lease of large-scale agricultural land in less developed countries. Our research analyzes how these investments affect the welfare of the local population. We investigate, for example, whether local smallholders experience positive productivity spillovers from large commercial farms, and whether large-scale land acquisitions deteriorate the social capital of local communities.
- The Water-Food-Energy nexus
In this joint project with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), we analyze the challenge of increasing food security and reducing poverty in the face of rapid water and energy development in the Eastern Nile river basin. The research will integrate various modelling tools and approaches to develop policy options for reducing the costs of trade-offs and promoting synergies across the water, energy and food security nexus at the local and regional level.