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Group-based approaches to sustainable management of communal land among East African pastoralists

Project Description

Land degradation is a critical environmental problem that affects many areas across the world. In addition to economic costs, it has a significant impact on resilience and wellbeing of many communities whose livelihoods are strongly connected to the land health through agriculture and pastoralism. While a considerable effort has been made in the past to understand physical process behind land degradation, there is less research exploring the interaction between communities that occupy the affected areas and their environment, and almost no research addressing socio-psychological aspects of such interactions. This project will aim address the existing gap by exploring socio-psychological aspects of implementing sustainable solutions for the land degradation problem on Maasai land. Its main aims will be to understand group processes behind the existing approaches to management of communal land, co-develop (where possible) sustainable alternatives, and test group-based approaches to implementing these within Maasai communities.

The project will be theoretically grounded in the existing research on social dilemmas, collective action, self-categorization approach to cooperation around shared resources, and norm-based behaviour change. It will include a qualitative stage, where the main aim will be to understand processes driving current land management practices and their interaction with the rangeland environment. This will be followed by quantitative work to understand predictors of willingness to change practice. Finally, we will aim to co-develop and test an intervention that would aim to promote sustainable land management approaches.
This is an interdisciplinary project co-supervised by a social psychologist and a rangeland ecologist. It will involve working in the field (with Maasai communities in Northern Tanzania), hosted by the partner University (NM-AIST). It will suit a candidate familiar with both qualitative and quantitative psychology research methods, interested in interdisciplinary research, open to the idea of working in the field (and able to travel to Tanzania for field work), and excited by the opportunity to make real impact.


Funding Notes

There are additional costs associated with this self-funded project. The project will involve field travel and candidates are asked to consider how they could fund this. There would be approximately four trips to Tanzania, 3-4 weeks long. The cost of four-week trip is approximately £3500.

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor, Dr. Anna Rabinovich

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