New video: Zambia's informal timber trade

Over the past few years, informal trade in mukula, a valuable hardwood similar to rosewood, has improved livelihoods for rural Zambians who harvest and sell the wood. But logging is increasingly tightly regulated as the environmental costs of the trade in mukula become clearer, which has implications for those who depend on it as a source of cash income. 

In a new video commissioned by DEGRP researchers at IIED, loggers share how the mukula trade has benefited them, and reflect on the challenge of safeguarding livelihoods while protecting the forest. 

Find out more about this research project

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New book: Agriculture, Diversification, and Gender in Rural Africa

Researchers from DEGRP agriculture project Gender and pro-poor agricultural growth: non-farm/farm linkages and village dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa have just published an open access book Agriculture, Diversification, and Gender in Rural Africa. 

Based on findings from longitudinal research in 6 African countries - Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique - the book explores how smallholder farmers' livelihoods have changed over time, with a special focus on how changes have affected male- and female-headed households differently. 

For more information about the book, and to download it free of charge, visit the Oxford University Press website


New video: Zambia's cotton at a crossroads

Cotton growing is an important income-generating activity for Zambian smallholder farms, who use it to earn cash to pay for school fees, housing, and other necessities.

But the Zambian cotton industry is now plagued by persistent low productivity, with the practice of 'side-trading' - farmers and cotton companies trading with each other illegally, outside of or breaking formal contracts - a key challenge. 

A new short film commissioned by researchers at IIED looks at the practice of side-trading in the cotton industry, interviewing cotton farmers and cotton industry officials for their views on what can be done to resolve the issue. 

Find out more about this research project

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Photo-stories on the informal natural resource trade and agriculture in Zambia

Researchers from DEGRP's China-Africa call have recently published two photo stories on informality in the Zambian natural resources and agricultural sectors, based on research conducted in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI). 

The first photo story, on illegal logging, looks at the challenge of simultaneously preventing deforestation and safeguarding the livelihoods of the many rural Zambians who rely on logging as an important source of income.

The second photo story addresses the problem of side-selling in the Zambian cotton sector, reflecting on how it might be resolved to the mutual benefit of both cotton growers and the cotton industry. 

Find out more about this research project

Documentary on effect of social ties on smallholder agriculture

Researchers from DEGRP call 1 agriculture project Which farmer(s) should we target? have recently collaborated with the N2Africa initiative to create a documentary and website sharing their experiences of engaging in participatory research with a farming community near Lake Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Conducted in 2016 as a follow-up to the project's original 2014 investigation of the effect of social ties on seed sharing, this research made use of forum theatre techniques and interviews to gain an even deeper understanding of how cultural norms and social relationships affect access to and the spread of agricultural technologies. 

Watch the Share the Seed documentary

New book: Agricultural Supply Chains, Growth and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

Researchers from DEGRP project Agricultural Supply Chains, Growth and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa have just released a book of the same name base on their research findings. 

Part of Springer's Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series, the book investigates if and how agricultural market structures and farm constraints affect the development of dynamic food and cash crop sectors, and whether these sectors can contribute to economic transformation and poverty reduction in Africa. 

Looking at six African countries, it investigates crop supply chains; develops new analytical tools for assessing the poverty effects of value chains; and examines the constraints faced by poor households engaged in commercial farming. 

The book is available to order in hard copy and as an e-book via the Springer website. 

Building economic opportunities for a better future

 Sheila M'Mbijjewe, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Kenya c. DEGRP/AERC

Sheila M'Mbijjewe, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Kenya c. DEGRP/AERC

On 28 and 29 October 2016, DEGRP, the Overseas Development Institute and the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) co-hosted a conference in Nairobi, Kenya exploring how to boost inclusive economic growth in low-income countries. 

Over 100 researchers, policymakers and business representatives came together to discuss how agriculture, financial sector development, and innovation - the three core areas covered by DEGRP research - can be harnessed to build better economic opportunities for all. 

Senior policy officials and business representatives present included: Sheila M’Mbijjewe, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya; Admassu Tadesse, President and CEO of PTA Bank; H.E. Kerfalla Yansane, Senior Minister, Office of the President, Guinea; Njuguna Ndung’u, Former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya; Linda Kwamboka, CEO of Mfarm Ltd; Pete Vowles, Country Director, Department for International Development, Kenya Office, Sheriffo Bojang, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Gambia; and Keith Jefferis, Director of Econsult Botswana.

DEGRP speakers included: Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Francesco Cecchi, Julius Gatune, Cesar Revoredo Giha, Hans Komakech, and Cyriaque Hakizimana on agriculture; Victor Murinde, Johan Rewilak, Ricardo Gottschalk, and Peter Knaack on finance; and Atonu Rabbani, Bansi Malde, Samuel Wangwe, Maureen Mackintosh, and George Essegbey on innovation. 

To find out more about the conference, browse our selection of conference materials below. 

Conference materials 

Event listing

Conference videos

Photo gallery 


DEGRP speaker presentations (zip file)

Keynote speech transcription: Admassu Tadesse

Keynote PowerPoint: Sheila M'Mbijjewe

Selected media articles: 

Chinese national oil companies in Africa | Videos

DEGRP China-Africa project Chinese national oil companies and the economic development of African oil producers has released a set of short video clips about their research, available as a playlist on YouTube.   

Featuring interviews with researchers and members of the project's international advisory network, the videos set the scene for the project's research on the interaction between China’s oil interests and African state and non-state actors in Ghana, Angola and Sudan.

The clips include commentary on: 

  • Key players in Africa's oil sector;
  • main drivers of Chinese presence in the sector;
  • the potential development impact of Chinese engagement; 
  • governance issues; and
  • the links between the oil sector and development finance.

For more about the project's aims and collaborators, visit the Open University project page. 

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DEGRP research findings in Tanzanian government plan

Research findings from a DEGRP innovation project have been included verbatim in the Tanzanian government's new five-year development plan, released in June.

The project, lead by Maureen Mackintosh of the Open University, studied the supply chains of essential medicines, medical equipment and supplies from local industries, and imports into the health systems in Tanzania and Kenya. 

The findings, taken from a report by project researcher Paula Tibandebage of Tanzanian research organisation REPOA, suggest that a revitalised local pharmaceutical industry in Tanzania could contribute to improved health system performance and accessibility and, ultimately, inclusive economic growth. 

Prior to this, the project won recognition for its contribution to policy change from UKCDS, who included it in their list of the top 20 most impressive examples of UK research contributing to global development

For more about the role and impact of the DEGRP research in Tanzania's new development plan, visit the Open University website. 

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New policy essays: China-Africa: a maturing relationship?

 c. UNIDO/flickr

c. UNIDO/flickr

The latest set of DEGRP policy essays explores the implications of changing China-Africa relations for African economic growth and development.

Based on discussions at a China-Africa event co-hosted by DEGRP and SAIIA in Johannesburg in December 2015, the essays feature contributions from DEGRP, SAIIA and ODI researchers as well as speeches from Justin Yifu Lin, ex-World Bank Chief Economist, and Helen Hai, UNIDO Goodwill Amabassador and CEO of Made in Africa initiative. 

They examine a diverse range of issues, including:  industrialisation, employment dynamics, conservation, governance, and peace and security. 

Download the essays

For more information about the DEGRP/SAIIA event, as well as video, presentations, and links to media, visit the event listing. 

Stakeholder engagement in Uganda: From findings to recommendations

Arriving at policy recommendations from research findings is no simple task, and ensuring those recommendations are relevant is more complicated still. 

Researchers from DEGRP project "A behavioural economic analysis of agricultural investment decisions in Uganda" were well aware of this when they embarked on their research in February 2012. To ensure their recommendations were as useful as possible, they incorporated various stages of stakeholder engagement into their research, holding consultations at local and national level over the duration of the project.

The results of this engagement - how it informed their thinking and final policy advice -  have been written up in a detailed report, featuring a step-by-step visualisation of each phase of consultation and how it influenced their research. 



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Local health and industrialisation in Africa - new book

In collaboration with Palgrave Macmillan, researchers from a DEGRP project on Industrial productivity, health sector performance and policy synergies for inclusive growth have released their project's flagship publication, a book entitled Making Medicines in Africa: the Political Economy of Industrializing for Local Health

Edited by Maureen Mackintosh, Geoffrey Banda, Paula Tibandebage, and Watu Wamae, the book brings together reflections from a diverse group of contributors on the importance of the pharmaceutical industry in sub-Saharan Africa. Against a backdrop of ongoing unmet health needs, the authors aim to find ways to link technological development, investment and industrial growth in pharmaceuticals for improved access to good quality medicines, and - in the longer term - universal access to competent health care in Africa. 

The book is available online open access, and can be downloaded for free. The hard copy will be published on 16 December 2015, and will be available to purchase via Amazon and other retailers. 

China-Africa: a maturing relationship? Growth, change & resilience

 Justin Yifu Lin & Giles Mohan c. SAIIA/Willem de Lange

Justin Yifu Lin & Giles Mohan c. SAIIA/Willem de Lange

DEGRP, ODI, and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) recently hosted a one day workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa to explore key issues influencing Sino-African relations. Held at the same time as the second summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), it provided an ideal opportunity to think about priorities for the next chapter of the China-Africa story. 

As Presidents Xi Jinping and Jacob Zuma engaged in pre-summit talks, participants at the workshop gathered to discuss China's changing role in the global economy; the role of natural resources and biodiversity in China-Africa trade; and the impacts of security and peace on China-Africa relations. 

Speakers included ex-World Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin; UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador Helen Hai; DEGRP grant holders Deborah Brautigam, Giles Mohan, Lina Song, Terry McKinley, and Xiaoxue Weng; SAIIA's Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Daniel Large, Ross Harvey, Yushan Wu, Peter Draper; and ODI's Louise Shaxson and Roger Calow.  

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Raising agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa - Event report

 c. Africa Renewal/flickr

c. Africa Renewal/flickr

What are the main obstacles to higher agricultural productivity?
What are the most promising ways to help Africa’s farmers produce more?

This report aims to shed some light on these questions, bringing together discussion highlights from a panel event held in October 2014, as well as commentary from economist Professor Michael Lipton of University of Sussex. Edited by DEGRP agriculture lead Steve Wiggins, it incorporates viewpoints from: 

Download the report

Event presentations & video
Event Storify

Diffusion of innovation in Low-Income Countries

 From left: George Essegbey, Anne Miroux, Sacha Wunsch-Vincent

From left: George Essegbey, Anne Miroux, Sacha Wunsch-Vincent

On 2 November 2015, DEGRP and the Technology and Management Centre for Development (TMCD, University of Oxford) co-hosted a high-level conference on the diffusion of innovation in Low-Income Countries (LICs). 

Held at ODI's offices in London, the conference brought together guests from government, business, and the academic world to exchange views on innovation and to discuss findings from a DEGRP-funded research project on the determinants and impact of technological innovation in and to Low-Income Countries. 

A blend of speeches, presentations and panel discussion, the event explored factors linked to and affecting successful take up of innovation, addressing issues such as the role of international cooperation, South-South trade integration and knowledge transfer, 'Under the radar' innovation, and policy for the promotion of innovation.

Notable speakers at the conference included: Li Yong (UNIDO), Bengt-Åke Lundvall (Aalborg University), Pierre Mohnen (UNU-MERIT), Raphael Kaplinsky (Open University), Anne Miroux (UNCTAD), George Essegbey (CSIR-STEPRI), Sacha Wunsch-Vincent (WIPO), and Xiaolan Fu (TMCD), as well as ODI's Dirk Willem te Velde.  

Visit the event page for further information, including:

  • Summary of research findings
  • Videos of presentation and panel sessions
  • Speaker slides
  • Keynote speech
  • Event Storify