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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

Why isn’t tech for accountability working in Africa?
I. de Lanerolle / South African Institute of International Affairs 2017
Expanding mobile networks and falling costs could transform communication between African citizens and governments. So far, however, attempts to harness new technologies to improve transparency and accountability in Africa and...
Community-level perceptions of drivers of change in nutrition: evidence from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa
N. Nisbett; M. van den Bold; S. Gillespie / Global Food Security - journal 2017
Changes in the immediate, underlying and basic determinants of nutritional status at the community- and household-level are a logical and empirical prerequisite to reducing high levels of undernutrition in high burden countries. ...
Rethinking infrastructure in Africa: a governance approach
T. Corrigan / South African Institute of International Affairs 2017
Infrastructure deficits have long been recognised as being central to Africa’s developmental malaise. This paper looks at the state of the continent’s infrastructure, with a focus on the actions that governments can take to ...
Economic integration and development partnerships: Southern perspectives
Research and Information System for Developing Countries 2017
As part of its work programme on capacity-building among developing countries on global and regional economic issues RIS has been conducting its flaghship Capacity-Building Programme on International Economic Issues and Develo...
Older people in situations of migration In Africa: the untold migration story
HelpAge International 2017
Older people in Africa are involved in all aspects of the migration chain: they are voluntary or forced migrants themselves, they shape the migration experience of others by funding youth migration and being involved in the decision-m...
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...
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