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Research projects

Securing land rights in sub-Saharan Africa: A critical examination of new approaches to tenure reform in practice (2015-2018)

Margareta Espling and Robin Biddulph

Provision of tenure security in sub-Saharan Africa has been a key development challenge since colonial times. Today, however, only a small minority of the population have statutory land rights and 90% of Africa’s rural land is undocumented and access is commonly granted via diverse community based, customary, tenure arrangements. During the past decade the challenge of tenure insecurity has become more pressing in sub-Saharan Africa because of increased competition for land as a result of steeply rising global demand for food, biofuels, forest products and minerals.

In the late 1990s Tanzania and Mozambique both passed new land laws as the first step in national processes of land tenure reform which decentralise responsibility for land administration. The promise of these reforms is that they combine recognition of customary tenure systems with the facility to grant individualised, state authorised titles. Customary tenure systems are valued because they are adapted to local livelihoods and the multiple land-uses these imply. Individualised, state-authorised titles are valued because they are seen as crucial building blocks towards individual capital accumulation and the development of a market economy. It is anticipated that the decentralization of responsibility for land administration to local level may enable communities not only to defend their livelihoods, but also to negotiate with companies seeking to develop their land commercially.

The approach embodied in the Tanzania and Mozambique land laws is now gaining wider currency, particularly in the form of the Community Lands approach. This is widely supported as an approach for improving tenure security for communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, a decade and a half after the land laws were passed in Tanzania and Mozambique, implementation is still slow and uneven in both countries. This poses questions about whether the promise of these cases of enlightened legislation can be realised in practice. The purpose of this research project is therefore to critically assess the claims made for the Tanzania and Mozambique land reforms.

The research in Mozambique is being carried out by Dr Margareta Espling and by Dr Lasse Krantz, a research associate at the Human Geography Unit. The research in Tanzania is being conducted by Dr Robin Biddulph and Dr Ellen Hillbom (an associate professor of Economic History at Lund University).

Social Enterprise in Scandinavia and Southeast Asia: new and different? (2015-2018)

Robin Biddulph and Johan Brink

Since the founding of Ashoka in 1980, social enterprises have been vigorously promoted around the world. Proponents see social entrepreneurs as persistent, creative innovators who can address social problems in ways that achieve scale and reach superior to traditional business, state or third sectors. However, there are also concerns that rather than a natural ‘partnership’ between business and social goals, there are often tensions and trade-offs necessary which can undermine the social value of an enterprise.

This project is inspired by two fundamental and related questions, one relating to innovation and one to geography. Social enterprise is promoted as fundamentally innovative, with iconic success stories, such as that of Grameen Bank and group-secured loans, mobilized to illustrate this. We are interested in exploring how innovative social enterprises really are. Geographically, we see social enterprise as a phenomenon with Anglo-American roots that is travelling into very different institutional and societal contexts. As such, we are interested in the extent to which the degree of innovativeness is related to contextual factors.

Our objective is therefore to investigate the travels of social enterprise beyond its Anglo-American origins, and in particular the extent to which these travels yield products and practices which are new, innovative and add value. In order to realise this objective we aim to conduct case study research of social enterprises in two sharply contrasting regions where significant concentrations of social enterprises are seeking to address social and economic exclusion. In Scandinavia, the city of Gothenburg has the largest concentration of social enterprises in Sweden; we will focus on those social enterprises in the peripheral suburb of Bergsjön and other marginalized wards in north-east Gothenburg. In Southeast Asia, the city of Siem Reap has the largest concentration of social enterprises in Cambodia; we will focus on those social enterprises which seek to enable the local poor to derive benefits from the tourism boom. In both regions we will contact and survey all the relevant social enterprises and then develop detailed case studies of five social enterprises in each city. These will focus not only on current practices and impacts, but will also compare these to arrangements before the introduction of social enterprise. We will thus examine social enterprises not only on their own terms but in the context of shifts in the local social economy.

The project will be implemented between 2016 and 2019, with the research in Cambodia conducted by the project leader Dr Robin Biddulph, and the research in Sweden conducted by Dr Johan Brink (who, as a senior lecturer at the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the Department of Economy and Society)

Land tenure reform and land use changes: the case of Musanze District, Northern Rwanda

PhD project: Emmanuel Muyombano

A land tenure reform programme was introduced in Rwanda after the amendment of the Constitution in 2003, and comprised mainly a land registration and titling programme and a land use programme. The PhD research project included studies on both these programmes in Musanze district in northern Rwanda.

First, the early effects of the land registration and titling programme on tenure security and agricultural investment as experienced by smallholder farmers were studied, mainly focusing on tenure security, the collateral value of land and the local land market.

Secondly, the land use consolidation programme was studied and its early effects at household level, as experienced by small-scale farmers. Key research themes included the provision and use of agricultural inputs, the participatory aspects in decision-making and differences in the implementation. It also analyses the effects on livelihoods of vulnerable groups, people with limited or no land with a focus on food security and the role played by farming cooperatives.

Gendered livelihood practices and everyday lives: perspectives from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2016-2020)

PhD project: Elizabeth Dessie

More than half of the world’s population growth will be accounted for by cities in the coming decades. Sub-Saharan Africa stands at the centre of these rapidly increasing urbanisation rates. In Ethiopia, one of the booming economies of the continent, urbanisation is largely fuelled by rural-urban migration. With the number of rural men and women moving to the capital, Addis Ababa, on the rise, the ability of the city to accommodate the needs of a growing urban population is being tested. Driven by ambitions of a better life, many rural-urban migrants are instead faced with precarious living conditions, limited employment opportunities, little support in securing livelihoods and setting foundations for prosperous futures.

This PhD project explores the everyday lives of these new urban residents in the city, examining the challenges they face in making ends meet and understanding how these strategies translate into gendered livelihood practices. Using a qualitative approach informed by a critical analytical framework, the study hopes to contribute to a growing body of research dedicated to situating knowledge of urban poverty and gender in the everyday lived experiences of urban women and men.

The uneven geography of teachers – (im)mobility, intervention and struggle (2018-2021)

PhD project: Sara Falkensjö

In education teachers play an important part in the transferring of knowledge. However, in poor and/or rural areas globally there is a lack of teachers, as those qualified often come from and/or prefer to remain in more privileged urban areas. This is argued to have played part in the proliferation of so called low-fee private schools (LFPSs), in e.g. Kenya, where this study will take place. These chains of for-profit private schools for low-income families get around the lack of teachers by hiring local youth, whom they supply with tablets with scripted lessons to follow, and pay a fraction of the salary of a public teacher. This leads to questions of replaceability of teachers, social justice and sustainability. This project aims to map and further understand the geography of teachers in the context of marketization, by incorporating social relations, and structural and physical conditions in the inquiry.

Completeted projects

The pursuit of results in Swedish development cooperation - from ownership to donorship? (2013-2017)

PhD project: Therese Brolin

Over the last decade the focus on results (monitoring and evaluation) has increased immensely within the international development cooperation, leading to stronger demand for accountability and aid effectiveness, but also to a change of focus: from an emphasis on development cooperation owned and driven by partner countries, towards one where results of development cooperation are to be measured against, and attributed to, donors’ development objectives. With Sweden as an example, and with theories derived from political geography, the research explores how the increased pursuit of results is influencing the relationship between a donor country and developing countries.

Reimagining ’the political’ in a post-political aid landscape. The new aid architecture and the case of the education sector in Rwanda, 2013-2016

Jonas Lindberg, in collaboration with Beniamin Knutsson (Faculty of Education)

Governments worldwide, together with representatives for the private sector and civil society, have committed themselves to a ‘new aid architecture’, a global partnership for development built on consensus and coherence between development ‘partners’. Yet, recent research indicates that aid fragmentation is actually worse than ever and there are reasons to suspect that many problems that obstruct implementation are rooted in the post-political logics that underpin the new policy agenda. The aim of this project is to elaborate and employ a new methodology to the study of ‘the political’ in the new aid architecture, with special focus on aid to the education sector in Rwanda. Key to the new methodology is to find ways of understanding and visualizing political tension in environments where such tension is not supposed to exist. The project will produce knowledge on ’the political’ in a global aid landscape with strong post-political features and offer new understandings of the difficulties of implementing the new aid architecture. (Swedish Research Council, 2013-2016)

Mass Tourism in Impoverished Settings (2012-2015)

Robin Biddulph

This project aims to investigate the potential of the mass tourism industry to enable sustainable development. Globally tourism is expanding its share of the world economy, and is also expanding to new destinations which are more and more frequently in impoverished settings in poor countries.

There have been frequent calls for the economic growth generated by mass tourism to be harnessed to stimulate sustainable development, but the structural tendencies of the industry – with economies of scale and vertical linkages favouring transnational business operations who can squeeze the profit margins and wage levels in mass tourism destinations – have meant that these calls have not translated into effective action. Meanwhile, there has also been criticism that advocates of sustainable tourism and pro-poor tourism have typically engaged in consultancy work and have neither conducted long-term studies nor submitted themselves to academic scrutiny in mainstream academic journals. In the mid-1990s Angkor received less than 100 000 visitors per year; today it receives over 3 million, yet Siem Reap province continues to be one of the poorest provinces in a very poor country.

A three-year tracking study using primary qualitative and secondary quantitative data, the project will examine the impacts of the mass tourism at the Angkor temple complex on the impoverished rural districts of surrounding Siem Reap and evaluate whether more sustainable, pro-poor outcomes might be realistic.

Corruption and Conflict. Connections and everyday consequences in Sri Lanka (2009-2012)

Jonas Lindberg

In collaboration with Dr. Camilla Orjuela (School of Global Studies), this project is an attempt to understand the interlinkages between corruption and armed conflict, and the consequences of these interlinkages for people´s everyday lives. The project draws on a literature review, a national-level case study, as well as field-work in two localities in Sri Lanka (Batticaloa and Hambantota). (Sida 2009)

Tracing the innovations of societal entrepreneurs (2009-2011)

Jonas Lindberg

In collaboration with Dr Karl Palmås (Chalmers), Dr Otto von Bush (School of Design and Crafts), and social entrepreneurs Annika Axelsson and Karin Stenmar at Dem Collective, this project is an attempt to understand how social innovations, generated by social entrepreneurs, spread across society, replicating themselves into producing wider change. In focus for the research project is the social enterprise Dem Collective and their activities in Sri Lanka (e.g. fair trade and ecological clothing). (KK-stiftelsen, 2009-2011)

Tracking Women´s Livelihoods in Urban Mozambique (2008-2010)

Margareta Espling

This longitudinal study of individual women, with inter-generational aspects, was carried out in three urban areas in Mozambique, Maputo, Beira and Montepuez. The main aim of this project was to study individual women’s livelihood strategies over 10+ years, with particular focus on livelihood diversification and women’s participation in social or economic reciprocity networks. An additional aim of an inter-generational character was to include the women’s children, to see how their livelihoods had developed since leaving their mothers’ household, with particular focus on kin relations and exchange of resources. With a focus on poverty, it is of importance to find more information about how women and men act and strategize to mobilise and access resources to support themselves and their households in a context of social change and economic hardship. The overall methodology was qualitative, combining techniques for data collection through i) a small-scale survey, ii) focus groups, iii) semi-structured interviews, and iv) observations.

Diversifying within or away from poverty? Understanding implications for wellbeing of rural livelihood diversification. Cases from southern Sri Lanka (2007)

Jonas Lindberg

With examples from different localities in rural Sri Lanka, the study aims to better understand under what conditions rural livelihood diversification leads to ways out of poverty and when it does not. (Adlerbertska Forskningsstiftelsen, 2007)

Regional development in an open economy. A comparative study of Hambantota and Gampaha Districts, Sri Lanka (2005-2006)

Jonas Lindberg

Together with the departments of Geography and Economics at the University of Kelaniya, the GIS-centre, Lund University, and the Dep of Economics, Gothenburg University. (Sida, 2005-2006)

Page Manager: Kajsa Folmeus Strandberg|Last update: 1/21/2019
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