Seed funding grant for Farafina Institute and its research network partners

Research project titel: "Transformative Social Change and Resource Governance in African Resource-Rich Economies of the Gulf of Guinea - A comparative perspective on Angola, Nigeria, DR Congo and Côte d'Ivoire".

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                                                                                     Picture: Coraid                Picture:UN NEWS/allafrica.com

In the framework of the call for proposal of the Transformations to Sustainability Programme initiated by the International Social Science Council (ISSC), Farafina Institute and its Knowledge Network Partners have been selected for a grant funding of up to € 29,916. This first grant is intended to enable social science researcher and their knowledge Partners to respond meaningfully to the next Programme's call for Tranformative Knowledge Newtwork proposal (mid-December 2014) with a possible 3 grants of €300,000/year over 3 years.

The Programme is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and serves as a contribution to Future Earth. Additional support for seed funding is provided by the Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences (SSEESS)."

Contact: Dr. Kocra Lossina Assoua ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )
              Dr. Dr.-Ing. Uchendu Eugene ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )
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Read the call for proposal

Research Project titel: "Transformative Social Change and Resource Governance in African Resource-Rich Economies of the Gulf of Guinea - A comparative perspective on Angola, Nigeria, DR Congo and Côte d'Ivoire".

Short Project description

Today's globalized world is characterized by increasing interconnection, interaction and rapid fast-paced change that do not only create new opportunities, but also impact people's livelihoods and increase vulnerability and risks with spillover effects on global scale. Indeed, it is widely acknowledged that global dynamics condition the dynamics of social change to the extent that endogenous and exogenous dynamics interact in a "grey area of turbulence and uncertainty" where all kinds of forces and pressures influence processes of social development (Scholte 2005; Chase-Dunn and Babones 2006). Thus, as boundaries between environment, society and economy become fluid (Wilkinson 1991), examining the interconnection and relationship between these three areas as well as their convergence in a context of changing dynamics is instrumental in inquiring whether a society is on the right development trajectories. While the relevance of such a requirement has been recognized and sufficiently explored by an abundant theoretical and empirical literature (West 1994; Humphrey et al. 1993), the essential question of what and how transformative social change really happens remains unanswered.

This is especially true for African resource-rich countries of the Gulf of Guinea which vulnerability to negative effects of environmental has been sufficiently demonstrated (International Crisis Group 2012: 3). While most of them are hugely endowed with natural resources such as oil, gas, diamonds, gold and relatively rich in wildlife capital and ecological reserve, they face extreme poverty due to elite capture of natural resource revenues (Africa in Fact 2012). Moreover, rapid population growth, changing demography structure, and a high rate of urbanization coupled with economic growth create social conflicts and environmental risks. In addition to these endogenous social pressures, African resource-rich countries face the influence of tremendous exogenous forces that increase their vulnerability too. For example, the increasing demand for natural resources from industrial countries coupled with recent economic development in China, India and Brazil places additional stress on natural environments and lead to increasing scarcity of all natural resources in the region. In that regard, it is interesting mentioning that while the Gulf of Guinea has been ranked by the US congress1 since January 2002 as "an area of vital interest" for the USA, the International Crisis Group labeled it as the "new danger zone" (International Crisis Group 2012: 3). The paradox of these statements alone shows the complexity of the challenge and risk this region has to face or are exposed to in the future. Under these circumstances, how can transformative social change be accomplished and which suitable political informal and formal mechanisms and processes are needed to advance transformations toward sustainability?

The challenge is to use the available resources in a more sustainable manner, ensuring better and more equitable returns to people while at the same time minimizing the negative effects on the environment with spillover effects on global scale and reducing the risk of social conflicts. As literature on resource driven conflicts in Africa points out, conflict escalation generally stems from the lack of or unequal access to resource which is determined by social and political power structures that benefit more from the social status quo (Halleson 2009a; 2009b). In this context, social change and transformation are perceived differently by competing actors as change or transformation entails risks as well as opportunities.

Our key argument is that social crises and conflicts stemming from these conflicting and competing interests provide the most potential for transformative change and resolution exist, laying a basis for future sustainable social and economic development. However, how these competitions and interactions are played out and resolved in the absence of an adequate governance framework and mechanism in resource rich countries of the Gulf of Guinea (Mane 2004) and to what extent they influence or shape trajectories of transformative change remain the central question and lie at the heart of resource governance. A best way to address these questions is to examine interacting stakeholders' perception of social equality, justice and environmental risks which may inform their resource governance practices and influence their attitude toward transformative social change. In that regard, going beyond formal governance structures and exploring the dynamics and anatomy of informal governance mechanisms and processes that underlie social dynamics in these countries will provide new perspectives on trajectories and challenges of transformative social change. This will not only contribute to explore possible policy frameworks and institutional settings of natural resource governance, but also enable cooperative solutions for sustainable and efficient management and appropriately shared socio-economic benefits between local, national, and external stakeholders.

Additional information