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Africa South of Sahara

Spotlight series: Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)

The dynamics of poverty and agro-food systems are a focus for research and policy engagement institute PLAAS, one of the content partners working with Eldis to showcase Southern produced research.


Land is hot property, especially in Africa where there has been a rapid growth in land-based investments and a rising concern about land grabs. It is estimated that 70 per cent of the land which has been part of large-scale transnational land deals in recent years have been in Africa, as international buyers seek to take advantage of cheap land in the face of rising demands to meet food and energy needs. But this scramble does not always benefit the people living on or off the land.

These are some of the issues being grappled with by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), which focuses on the dynamics of chronic poverty and structural inequality in Southern Africa. Through its research, policy engagement, teaching and training, the emphasis is on the restructuring and contesting land holding and agro-food systems and the analysis of marginalised livelihoods in Southern Africa.

Latest Documents

Hard times: the world economic crisis and emerging capacity challenges fo Africa
G. Kararach / African Capacity Building Foundation, 2010
The world economy has changed significantly in recent times. With greater financial globalisation, there emerged a mistaken perception that 'fathomless' capital was a pattern of this 'new world'. It soon became apparent that the recen...
The last golden land? Chinese private companies go to Africa
J. Gu / Institute of Development Studies UK, 2012
A new dynamic presence is spreading rapidly and widely across Africa: that of Chinese private enterprises. For these firms, Africa is ‘the last golden land’ of economic opportunity. Based on the most extensive survey to da...
Regionalism and economic integration in Africa: a conceptual and theoretical perspective
D. Sakyi; E.E.O. Opoku / African Capacity Building Foundation, 2014
A well-established strand of the literature on regionalism and economic integration has made clear that economic, geopolitical, and socio-cultural relationships across the globe, for which Africa is no exception, have been changing ra...
Chinese agriculture development cooperation in Africa: narratives and politics
L. Buckley / Institute of Development Studies UK, 2013
Chinese agriculture engagements are redefining the 'aid‘ landscape, moving from a paradigm of development assistance to one of development cooperation mixed with investment. China‘s leadership asserts that this approach in...
Tales of shit: community-led total sanitation in Africa
P. Bongartz / International Institute for Environment and Development, 2010
This particular issue of Participatory Learning and Action focuses on community-led total sanitation (CLTS) in Africa.  After its successful introduction in Asia, CLTS was piloted in some countries in sub-Saharan Afri...
Higher education and economic growth in Africa (2006)
K. Gyimah-Brempong; O. Paddison; W. Mitiku / Journal of Development Studies, 2006
This paper uses panel data over the 1960–2000 period, a modified neoclassical growth equation, and a dynamic panel estimator to investigate the effect of higher education human capital on economic growth in African countries. ...
Universities and economic development in Africa
N. Cloete / Centre for Higher Education Transformation, 2001
This study attempts to address the gaps in research on the characteristics and dynamics of the relationship between higher education and development, and the contextual and institutional factors that facilitate or inhibit these relati...
Mainstreaming climate information into sector development plans: the case of Rwanda’s tea and coffee sectors
P. Watkiss / National Environment Research Council, UK, 2015
This report demonstrates the use of climate information in assessing adaptation needs and implementation of adaptation interventions. It provides an outline of the change in thinking that is happening as adaptation moves from t...
Test it and they might come: Improving the uptake of digital tools in transparency and accountability initiatives
C. Wilson / Institute of Development Studies UK, 2016
Information and communications technologies (ICTs) and data play an increasingly visible role in transparency and accountability initiatives (TAIs). There has been little research on how the selection of ICT tools influences the succe...
Men and women of words: how words divide and connect the Bunge La Mwananchi Movement in Kenya
N. Kabala / Institute of Development Studies UK, 2016
How does a movement for social justice, whose members are mainly drawn from the lower economic strata of society, build and sustain its power in the face of co-option, and social and geographical division? Members of the Bunge La Mwan...
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