Launched in 2014, AGORA has been working to investigate the political, social and economic constraints which hinder the adoption of sustainable land management techniques and to fight land degradation. Biophysical and socio-economic aspects of land degradation were addressed from a landscape perspective which acknowledges different scales of connectivity in a landscape, e.g. via resource flows, institutions, or social processes.
The Global Soil Forum and partner organizations in north-east Tanzania and south-west Malawi worked to help improve land management situations by facilitating dialogue among and between local researchers, decision-makers, non-governmental organizations, and land users. The goal was to jointly produce more equitable solutions to land degradation by incorporating scientific knowledge from different disciplines, as well as first-hand knowledge from local people, in a transdisciplinary multi-stakeholder process meant to facilitate better-informed decisions.
Among other things, the research found that farmers, given their economic situation and resource endowments, and in the absence of support, often cannot apply the land management techniques that they deem most attractive. Hence, they have to resort to less attractive, but feasible techniques.
Beyond that, our work in Tanzania found that the lack of coordination of the various land management stakeholders was a major problem that stakeholders wanted to address. The relevant stakeholders embarked on a deliberative process that led to the establishment of a stakeholder forum at the district level for a better coordination and joined forces to support more sustainable land management. In Malawi, AGORA focused on testing and raising awareness of specific sustainable land management techniques, which the farmers appreciated.
The project ended in January 2017 but the Umsambara Ecological Forum continues as an important institutional innovation promoting local level coordination of all actors, now and in the future.
Project period: 2014-2017
Project manager: Judith Rosendahl, Jes Weigelt
Partner: International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Tanzania; Total Land Care (TLC), Malawi; Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources (LUANAR), Malawi
Workshops / Events
- 2012: Global Soil Week Session on Sustainable Land Management. As a consequence, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and IASS develop a proposal for a research project called “AGORA – Acting Together Now for Pro-poor Strategies against Soil and Land Degradation”
- October 2013: The Global Soil Week Session on “Integrating Knowledge Systems for Sustainable Land Management” discusses the question of different forms of knowledge about SLM – scientific, indigenous, etc. – and how to integrate them
- April 2014: AGORA Inception workshop in Lushoto, Tanzania
- January 2015: AGORA Planning meeting and meeting with external SLM Malawian stakeholders in Lilongwe, Malawi
- Stakeholders from Malawi take part in the Global Soil Week and contribute to the session on “Mitigation and adaptation to climate change through sustainable land management. Global and national perspectives on challenges and opportunities”
- January 2016: AGORA meeting in Lilongwe (Malawi): partners agree on strategies for improving sustainable land management in Tanzania and Malawi