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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

Mineral governance barometer - Southern Africa
R. Alence; R. Mattes / Southern African Resource Watch 2017
Southern Africa is endowed with lucrative mineral resources such as diamonds, gold, copper, coal, platinum, and uranium.  This rich endowment can be a major asset in the quest for inclusive and sustainable development, yet mining...
A practical agenda to reducing technical barriers to trade in SADC
C. Wood / Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies, South Africa 2017
Technical regulations refer to product and process specifications, whether voluntary (standards) or legally required (compulsory specifications). This policy brief provides context for technical regulation in the Southern Afric...
Innovative risk finance solutions – Insights for geothermal power development in Kenya and Ethiopia
Paula Rolffs; J. Richardson; A. Amin / Climate and Development Knowledge Network 2017
Geothermal development is on the rise in many regions of the world. However, the high costs of field development, coupled with the high risks associated with resource exploration and drilling, still pose a significant barrier to ...
Can the APRM be an effective tool to monitor Agenda 2063 and the SDGs?
T. Corrigan; S. Gruzd / South African Institute of International Affairs 2017
Monitoring and evaluation has emerged as a central concern in development thinking. Both the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the AU’s Agenda 2063 represent responses to Africa’s developmental defic...
Africa’s climate: helping decision-makers make sense of climate information
Climate and Development Knowledge Network 2017
African decision-makers need reliable, accessible, and trustworthy information about the continent’s climate, and how this climate might change in future, if they are to plan appropriately to meet the region’s develo...
Africa's prospects for enjoying a demographic dividend
D. Bloom; M. Kuhn; K. Prettner / Vienna Institute of Demography 2016
While fertility rates and dependency ratios in Africa remain high, they have started to decline. According to United Nations projections, they will fall further in the coming decades such that by the mid-21st century the ratio of the ...
Conditional cash transfers in Africa: limitations and potentials
O. Akinola 2016
Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) are currently amongst the most popular social protection programmes for addressing poverty, vulnerabilities, and risks of poor individuals, households and communities in d...
Invasive plants and food security in Africa:the potential of Earth Observation Data
T. Landmann / South African Institute of International Affairs 2017
The spread of invasive plant species has serious consequences for Africa. Toxic weeds and harmful shrubs significantly shrink rangelands and lower the productivity of major grain foods such as maize (in some instances by up to...
Climate change adaption readiness: lessons from the 2015/16 El Niño for climate readiness in Southern Africa
A. Benkenstein / South African Institute of International Affairs 2017
Southern Africa is experiencing its worst drought in at least 35 years. The drought is associated with an acute El Niño cycle, a periodic weather phenomenon that affects weather patterns across large regions of the glob...
Still no alternative? Popular views of the opposition in Southern Africa’s one-party dominant regimes
R. Lekalake / Afrobarometer 2017
Dominant party systems in Southern Africa differ widely in the extent and nature of this dominance, in their overall democratic quality, as well as in public attitudes toward the political opposition. But while there is widesp...
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