Heidelberg University

Semi-arid areas in transition:
Livelihood security, socio-ecological variability and the role of development interventions in East Africa (SAAT I)

Principal Investigator / Recipient of grant:

Project Group:
    Dr. Boniface Kiteme - Director of Center for Training and Integrated Research in Arid and Semi-arid Lands Development (CETRAD), Nanyuki (Kenia)
    Dr. Chinwe Ifejika Speranza - Center for Training and Integrated Research in Arid and Semi-arid Lands Development (CETRAD), Nanyuki (Kenia)
    Prof. Dr. Elias Ayiemba - University of Nairobi, Department of Geography (Kenia)
    Prof. Dr. Francis K. Lelo - Egerton University Nakuru, Faculty of Environmental Studies and Natural Resources, Njoro (Kenia)
    Prof. Dr. Zebedayo S.K. Mvena - Sokoine University of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Education and Extension, Morogoro (Tansania)
    Prof. Dr. James Ngana - University of Dar es Salaam, Institute of Resource Assessment (Tansania)
    Dr. Davis Mwamfupe - University of Dar es Salaam, Department of Geography (Tansania)
    Prof. Dr. Urs Wiesmann - Universität Bern, Geographisches Institut, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)(Schweiz)
Duration: 2008 - 2013
Funding: Volkswagen Foundation

Selected Publications

The project dealt with livelihood strategies in semi-arid regions of East Africa that are exposed to global climatic change and undergo rapid transition due to migration, changing access-regimes, resource use conflicts, increasing relevance of centre-periphery asymmetries, and limitations in governance. It comprised two subprojects: The first focused on vulnerability, resilience and adaptation processes of rural poor under these dynamic conditions. Special emphasis was thereby put on the importance of multi-strategies including their multi-locality and on aspects of gender and generational divides in a livelihood perspective. Building on these insights, the second subproject examined the role of development interventions from a livelihood perspective and identified structural and procedural properties important in approaches to reduce poverty and enhance the resilience and adaptive capacities of the rural poor. The project was based on case studies in four regions of Kenya (Kibwezi/Makueni Corridor and Laikipia Region) and Tanzania (Dodoma/Singida Corridor and Pangani Region) and applied a comparative approach.



Collection of charcoal in Laikipia (M. Nüsser 2009).

  • ULRICH, A., 2014. Export-oriented horticultural production in Laikipia, Kenya: Assessing the implications for rural livelihoods In: Sustainability, 6: 336-347.
  • OGALLEH, S., VOGL, C., EITZINGER, J., HAUSER, M., 2012. Local perceptions and Responses to Climate Change and Variability: The case of Laikipia District, Kenya. In: Sustainability 4: 3302-3325.
  • OGALLEH, S, A., VOGL, C., and HAUSER, M., 2012. Reading from farmers' scripts: Local perceptions on climate variability and adaptations in Laikipia, Rift Valley Kenya. In: Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 3 (2): 77-94.
  • ULRICH, A., IFEJIKA SPERANZA, C., RODEN, P., KITEME, B., WIESMANN, U., NÜSSER, M., 2012. Small-scale farming in semi-arid areas: Livelihood dynamics between 1997 and 2010 in Laikipia, Kenya. In: Journal of Rural Studies 28, 241-251.
  • IFEJIKA SPERANZA, C., KITEME, B., AMBENJE, P., WIESMANN, U., MAKALI, S., 2009. Indigenous knowledge related to climate variability and change: insights from droughts in semi-arid areas of former Makueni District, Kenya. Climatic Change 100: 295-315.
  • NÜSSER, M. (2009): Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya: Colonized Mountains and their Rediscovery as Symbols of Global Climate Change. In: Geographische Rundschau - International Edition 5 (4): 26-32 & supplement (map).
  • Further Information
    Volkswagen Foundation
    'Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa'

    (M. Nüsser 2000)