Work in Progress

Grabbed Trust? The Impact of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions on Social Trust in sub-Saharan Africa

with Cécile Richetta, Mario Krauser and Alexander Leibik

The livelihoods of rural populations in sub-Saharan Africa are closely tied to small-scale farming and other types of land use. In recent years, private investors as well as governments have shown a growing interest in large-scale acquisition of arable land across the continent. While authors have started to analyze the local economic and environmental impacts of such investments, their socio-political as well as psychological consequences remain poorly understood. This paper investigates how changes in land ownership patterns caused by large-scale land acquisitions affect the level of interpersonal trust among rural communities. We maintain that the transition from community and individual-smallholder land ownership into large-scale investor property has a negative impact on this particular dimension of social capital. To test our hypotheses, we connect respondents from Afrobarometer rounds to georeferenced information on the location of land deals. Our regression analyses show that the global land rush indeed disrupts local social fabrics and social cohesion by reducing particularized and generalized forms of trust. Employing a difference-in-difference strategy, we find that trust in relatives is particularly affected by large scale-land acquisitions. In addition, our models reveal that the decline in trust is considerably stronger among women compared to men.

Climate Shocks and Food Resilience: Assessing the Effectiveness of Adaption Strategies for Smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa

with Roos Haer and Marcel Birulés

Around one in nine people are undernourished worldwide. Climate change will increasingly affect food and nutritional security by impacting agricultural production. Scholars and policymakers alike have identified various adaptation and coping strategies to mitigate climate vulnerability. So far, however, we lack systematic evidence on whether some of these proposed strategies indeed reduce smallholders’ vulnerability and ensures nutritional security. Focusing on selected sub-Saharan African countries, such as Tanzania, our paper assesses the extent to which particular agricultural practices (including crop diversity, integration of crops and livestock, agroforestry), job diversification and local institutional conditions (including access to common land and different tenure systems) increase household’s nutritional resilience. For this purpose, we rely on a difference-in-difference approach combining georeferenced climate information with survey panel data from the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS). Our preliminary results indicate that increased crop heterogeneity, the integration of crops and livestock as well as the combination of particular crops with fruit trees may be an affective strategy to promote smallholders’ resilience to climate variability.

Land Grabs and Livelihood Conflicts: Analyzing the Effects of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions on Intercommunal Violence

with Cécile Richetta

Intercommunal violence between non-state actors such as farmers and herders are on the rise within various African countries. Pressures on land and land-related resources due to privatization, urbanization, agropastoral expansion, mining activities, climate change, agricultural intensification and misguided land tenure policies are believed to fuel agropastoral violence. This paper investigates the extent to which large-scale land acquisitions exacerbate conflicts involving pastoralists in Western, Central and Eastern Africa. We maintain that the so-called land rush increases the risk of conflicts between pastoralists groups and with their neighboring farming communities by sharpening land scarcity, promoting water shortage, disrupting transhumance routes and hampering traditional conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms. Relying on geocoded information on land deals as well as different data on intercommunal violence for the period 2007-2019, we apply advanced spatio-temporal modelling to test whether large-scale land acquisitions indeed intensify agropastoral clashes as assumed. In addition, we assess whether land deals targeting common land and taking place in agropastoral frontiers are particularly likely to spur livelihood conflicts. Our paper makes two important contributions to an emerging literature: it is the first systematic attempt to quantitatively test the impact of large-scale land conversions on violence involving pastoralists and farming societies. In addition, it explores particular conditions under which this type of intercommunal violence becomes more likely.