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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

Africa's prospects for enjoying a demographic dividend
D. Bloom; M. Kuhn; K. Prettner / Vienna Institute of Demography 2016
While fertility rates and dependency ratios in Africa remain high, they have started to decline. According to United Nations projections, they will fall further in the coming decades such that by the mid-21st century the ratio of the ...
Conditional cash transfers in Africa: limitations and potentials
O. Akinola 2016
Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) are currently amongst the most popular social protection programmes for addressing poverty, vulnerabilities, and risks of poor individuals, households and communities in d...
Invasive plants and food security in Africa:the potential of Earth Observation Data
T. Landmann / South African Institute of International Affairs 2017
The spread of invasive plant species has serious consequences for Africa. Toxic weeds and harmful shrubs significantly shrink rangelands and lower the productivity of major grain foods such as maize (in some instances by up to...
Climate change adaption readiness: lessons from the 2015/16 El Niño for climate readiness in Southern Africa
A. Benkenstein / South African Institute of International Affairs 2017
Southern Africa is experiencing its worst drought in at least 35 years. The drought is associated with an acute El Niño cycle, a periodic weather phenomenon that affects weather patterns across large regions of the glob...
Still no alternative? Popular views of the opposition in Southern Africa’s one-party dominant regimes
R. Lekalake / Afrobarometer 2017
Dominant party systems in Southern Africa differ widely in the extent and nature of this dominance, in their overall democratic quality, as well as in public attitudes toward the political opposition. But while there is widesp...
Emerging trends in Africa’s electoral processes
I. Bukunle Sanusi; R. Nassuna / South African Institute of International Affairs 2017
The quest for competitive elections in Africa, with the modest gains made since the 1990s towards deepening democratisation, continues to underpin the continent’s efforts to create stable and growing ...
Are Africans willing to pay higher taxes or user fees for better health care?
T. Isbell / Afrobarometer 2016
In many parts of Africa, access to and quality of medical services remain poor. While economic growth in recent decades has fostered improved health care on the continent, weak funding, brain drain of trained professionals, an...
Africa and external actors
Centre for Conflict Resolution, University of Cape Town (UCT) 2016
The Cape Town seminar in August 2016 brought together about 30 key scholars, policymakers, and civil society activists to assess bilateral and multilateral relations between Africa’s traditional and non-traditional actors...
South Africa's trade and investment relationship with the United States post-AGOA
Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies, South Africa 2016
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been recognised as the  cornerstone of America’s engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa for the past 14 years. It is therefore central to an  understanding of the South Afri...
India-Africa seed sector collaboration: emerging prospects and challenges
T.P. Rajendran; A. Kumar / Research and Information System for Developing Countries 2016
India-Africa seed sector has promises for improving trade with various African nations. This discussion paper analyses the external orientation of the Indian seed industry, institutional architecture for enabling trade of vege...
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