Work in Progress


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.

Access Denied: Land Alienation and Pastoralists’ Conflicts

with Cécile Richetta

Conflicts involving pastoralists in West and Central Africa have been on the rise in the past two decades. Since 2010, more than 15,000 deaths can be linked to farmerherder violence. Pressures on land and landrelated resources due to privatization, urbanization, mining activities, climate change, agricultural intensification, conservation and misguided land tenure policies are believed to fuel agropastoral violence. This paper investigates the extent to which land alienation for largescale commercial and conservation purposes exacerbate conflicts involving pastoralists in Western, Central and Eastern Africa. We maintain that different forms of land alienation increase the risk of conflicts between pastoralists groups and with their neighboring farming communities by sharpening land scarcity, promoting water shortage, disrupting traditional grazing routes, decreasing positive contacts and changing customary norms of dispute resolution. Relying on geocoded information on land use changes as well as data on violence involving pastoralists for the period 20022018, we empirically investigate whether land alienation indeed intensifies agropastoral clashes as assumed. Results from our logit models indicate that particularly the expansion of commercial agriculture instigates pastoralist conflicts Our paper makes two important contributions to an emerging literature: it is the first systematic attempt to quantitatively
test the impact of largescale land conversions on violence involving pastoralists and farming societies. In addition, we uncover that while largescale agriculture expansion is promoted to ensure food security in the continent, it seems to be particularly damaging to pastoralism, a livelihood upon which millions of Africans depend.

Foreign Aid and Deforestation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Comparing the Environmental Impact of Chinese and Western Aid

with Paweł Komendziński

How does foreign aid affect deforestation levels? Although previous research has shown that international assistance may be linked to poor environmental outcomes, we lack a proper understanding on the impact of different donors and aid modalities on forest coverage. Chinese development activities have particularly been associated with negative socio-environmental and political consequences. Does Chinese aid promote more local deforestation compared to foreign aid from other donors? The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive empirical comparison of Chinese and Western assistance in terms of their impact on deforestation in sub-Saharan Africa. It does so by combining geolocated data from AidData with new high-resolution satellite imagery on land use provided by the European Space Agency. Relying on difference-in-differences estimates and a near-exclusive usage of geographically based controls, we are able to compare aid-driven deforestation trends on a 0.1×0.1-degree grid-cell level for the years 2000-2014. Our preliminary results provide some evidence of a poorer environmental record of Chinese aid. However, the effect seems contingent on a series of intervening factors, such as geographical proximity to protected areas, type of assistance (official development-like, less-concessional or other) and the intended purpose of funding (infrastructure improvement, social development projects, support for agriculture).