Livelihood, Management Reforms and Processes of Structural Change

VolkswagenStiftung: Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

Natural resources from forests, savannas, farmlands, wetlands, lakes, rivers and sea waters form the very basis of innumerable livelihood systems in rural as well as urban Africa. A multitude of interconnected processes of climatic, ecological, economic, social and political change have led substantial parts of Africa’s population into a situation where access to these resources is uncertain and their management is difficult. Factors such as decreasing rainfall, population growth, migration, violent conflict, land grabbing, designation of protected areas, industrial mining, factional politics, weak institutions of state governance, and legal insecurity characterise ecological and social reality for many people. In such environments, they have to devise individual as well as collective strategies of procuring and using natural resources as inputs to their livelihood systems. Whilst coping with everyday poverty and dwindling chances of getting access to natural resources, they face the challenge of managing and using them in ways that allow for conservation and regeneration.

Within its funding initiative Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, the VolkswagenStiftung has established a program of Postdoctoral Fellowships on Livelihood, Management Reforms and Processes of Structural Change that promotes interdisciplinary research projects on the above mentioned issues.

These research projects deal with a variety of themes such as the restoration of heavily degraded mining areas in Burkina Faso, changing land use and productivity around Lake Victoria in Uganda, political reform of water and land management in South Africa and livelihood strategies of pastoral nomads in the post-conflict zones of Côte d’Ivoire. (Click here for the full list of research projects.)

The eight projects, starting in early 2014, all combine ecological and socio-political research perspectives in order to understand current dynamics and conflicts as well as the potentials of various systems of resource management and livelihood in Africa. The projects are led by postdoctoral scholars from five African countries and are based in these scholars’ research centers.

Prof. Dr. Eva Schlecht of the Department of Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics and Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Schareika of the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology are coordinating the program. The whole group of researchers will convene regularly at workshops to be held either in the research sites or at Göttingen University.


Starting date: October 1st, 2013


Main Project