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In the words of the researcher, Land Rights and Resilience (RARE)

Photo: Courtesy of Iben Nathan

About the research project
There is a growing awareness that land is a crucial asset in climate change adaptation. The Land Rights and Resilience in Kenya project looks into shifting land needs, land claims, and land rights in the context of pastoral and agro-pastoral adaptation in Kenya. It also reflects on how external actors can help secure land access for local communities and thereby resilient rural development.

We asked Associate Professor Iben Nathan to tell us about the research project.

The project is implemented in partnership between the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark, and the University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya, together with Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Denmark, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Roskilde University (RUC).

Associate Professor Iben Nathan

What are the main objectives of your research?
The Land Rights and Resilience in Kenya project investigates the relationship between resilience and land rights in the context of (agro) pastoral climate change adaptation in Kenya. More specifically, it examines how pastoralist adaptation strategies interact with land needs, land conflicts and Kenya’s new land law reforms, and what the implications are for efforts to support community land rights for resilient rural development.

What development changes do you expect to result from your research and through which channels (policy/community/others)?
The development objective is to ensure secure and peaceful access to land for climate change adaptation and thereby strengthen the resilience of all Kenyan citizens. We expect to produce and disseminate insights and increase academic capacities that can help policy makers and practitioners in their attempts to improve land use policies and land use planning. We also expect to prevent conflicting land claims from erupting into violence and land rights to be managed in support of pastoralists’ and other land users’ adaptation.

Why is it important to conduct research in your thematic research area?
The research is important because climate change undermines food security and deepens poverty. It forces local communities to use land in new ways that may contribute to conflict and displacement. Resilient rural livelihoods are therefore key to sustainable development. Research-based knowledge on the relationship between land rights and adaptation is limited and therefore our research contributes to understanding a key element of resilience, which is the capacity of rural communities to adapt. New land uses and livelihood practices require increased focus on land rights, and Kenya has recently introduced new legislation on both land rights and adaptation, making it a perfect case for this study.

What are the mutual benefits of the collaboration for the involved partners of the research project? 
The partners benefit from capacity building, including the training of four Kenyan PhD students. The PhD students benefit from having both Kenyan and Danish supervisors, from the PhD courses, networking, and other activities they experience when they visit Denmark. The Danish researchers gain insight into the Kenyan pastoralist communities’ situation in ways not possible without this close collaboration with our Kenyan partners. All researchers gain from the academic exchanges, research experience and publication options made possible by the grant.

PhDs: Four Kenyan PhDs

Implementation period: 1 November, 2018 – 31 October, 2022

Danida support: 9,999,088 DKK

Find more information about the project at the Danida Research Portal.

And the project website for other information, including publications.

Danida Fellowship Centre administers the development research grants provided by Denmark’s development cooperation, Danida, on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. See all the granted research projects.

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