Friday, July 19, 2013

Over one Million Euro for Research Projects in sub-Saharan Africa

Press Release: University of Cologne - Universität zu Köln

In many African countries food production per capita is in decline. Population growth, urbanization processes, soil degradation, resource conflict, globalized manufacturing as well as increasing climate variability are, inter alia, responsible for these trends. The Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Cologne is researching these pressing problems within the framework of five collaborative research projects.

The research projects have funding of 1.1 million Euro and will directly contribute to the work of the UoC key profile area IV: “Social-economic, Cultural and Political Transformations in the Global South.” The projects have a social-economic research focus and are planned to run from three to four years. They take an interdisciplinary approach and will be involved in the training of young academics from Europe and Africa. The new projects will contribute to the understanding of current trends and the identifying of solutions for problems of the future.

Prof. Michael Bollig is participating in an EU funded prestigious Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN). Together with colleagues from Sweden, England, France and Belgium, he is looking at the development and current use of cultural landscapes in East Africa from archaeological, historical and ethnological perspectives within the framework of the project “Resilience in East African Landscapes: Identifying critical thresholds and sustainable trajectories – past, present and future (REAL).” Fragmented land use in North Kenya and the globalization of agricultural products in central Kenya (going on the example of cut flowers) are central themes to the research.

A further project “Local Institutions in Globalized Societies LINGS”, which is analysing the transformation of communal water management in the long term, has also been granted a further phase of project funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

In addition to this, Michael Bollig is involved in the DFG funded interdisciplinary research group “Resilience, collapse and reorganisation in complex coupled social-ecological systems (SES) in Africa (RCR)” (FG1501),

A project that sees natural scientists, social scientists and scholars of cultural studies working together to document and analyze human and natural processes in south and east African Savannahs. Here Professor Bollig is examining, inter alia, the consequences of the rapid expansion of invasive species of plants on existing land use practices and social dynamics in the context of the global floral industry at Lake Naivasha in Kenya. 

Within the framework of the same research group (FG1501), Dr. Clemens Greiner and his colleagues from the Department of Geography at the University of Bonn, has received funding for a working group, which plans to research how migration between urban and rural areas in Kenya and South Africa affects the use of resources in the regions of origin of the migrant workers.

In addition to this, Dr. Greiner is supervising the sub-project “Wetlands in East Africa – Reconciling future food production with environmental protection” a collaborative research project of the funding project GlobE “Securing the Global Food Supply.” The project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is examining the increasing significance of wetlands in drylands and their role for securing food supply in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. 

Academics and scientists from German and African universities are researching agricultural earning potential and the sustainability of existing and future forms of land use. Gender, health aspects, peri-urban land use change as well as the changing institutional architecture are at the focus of the anthropological research.

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