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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

Youth in Tanzania’s urbanizing mining settlements
D. Bryceson / World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) 2014
Over the last fifteen years many African countries have experienced a ‘mining takeoff’. Mining activities have bifurcated into two sectors: large-scale, capital-intensive production generating the bulk of the exported minera...
The flow of IWRM in SADC: the role of regional dynamics, advocacy networks and external actors
Synne Movik; Lyla Mehta; Emmanuel Manzungu 2016
This article explores the entry and spread of IWRM in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It traces how the idea of IWRM was promoted and sustained throughout the region by mapping key events, actors and networks...
The State of African Cities 2014: re-imagining sustainable urban transitions urban transitions
United Nations Human Settlements Programme 2014
The overarching challenge for Africa in the decades to come is massive population growth in a context of wide-spread poverty that, in combination, generate complex and inter-related threats to the human habitat. The ...
China’s African infrastructure projects: a tool in reshaping global norms
R. du Plessis / South African Institute of International Affairs 2016
The resilience of China’s investments in African infrastructure has been called into question in the light of its own economic slowdown. The substantial reduction in Chinese demand for African commodities has resulted in ...
On becoming a responsible great power: contextualising China’s foray into human rights and peace & security in Africa
South African Institute of International Affairs 2016
The deepening of China’s engagement with Africa has also prompted the broadening of its interests on the continent. This has resulted in China’s expansion into increasingly riskier territories, which means there is a greater...
South Africa in Africa: the dilemmas of foreign policy and human rights
Centre for Conflict Resolution, University of Cape Town (UCT) 2016
The Centre for Confl ict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, and the Johannesburg-based Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) hosted two public dialogues in Cape Town, one on 11 April 2016 on “South Africa in Africa: National ...
Values, culture and the ivory trade ban
Y.-S. Wu; S. Rupp; C. Alden / South African Institute of International Affairs 2016
The new reality of a world without ivory trade demands a re-examination of human values towards both elephants and ivory and what each has come to represent. The closure of the world’s largest ivory markets (US and China), in lin...
Understanding gender in community-based adaptation: practitioner brief
CARE International 2015
Accessing weather forecasts, having control over land, being able to influence decision-making processes, being backed by a community group, or being literate and educated are examples of the human and material resources throu...
Re-thinking the application of sustainable use policies for African elephants in a changed world
South African Institute of International Affairs 2016
Despite increasing calls to recognise the intrinsic value of biodiversity, the need to incentivise people to choose conservation as a competitive form of land use through a sustainable use (SU) approach remains the de facto and de jur...
Election quality, public trust are central issues for Africa’s upcoming contests
Afrobarometer 2016
Nothing kindles democracy’s energies, anxieties, hopes, and frustrations like an election. The quality of an election can spell the difference between a cooking fire and an explosion. If a successful election can calm and focus a...
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