Category Archives: Alumni

Pamela Tom-Jack (2014 – 2016), MA, Univ. of Ottawa

MA, Major Research Paper (Graduate School in Public & International Affairs): The Evolving Geopolitical Relations of Nigeria and China: What is the impact of the Nigeria-China trade and direct investment on the Nigerian economy?

This paper examines the growing economic relations between Nigeria and China with the aim of providing more information on the true impacts of their bilateral trade expansion on the Nigerian economy, both at the domestic and international level through the lenses of authors of various literature reviews.
In order to perform this assessment, this paper will examine the history of Chinese penetration into Nigeria and its industries in comparison to other Western investors. This research evaluates current trade statistics between both countries. Data was collected mainly from secondary sources.
Nigeria and China have had a longstanding relationship founded on a strategic partnership to promote a South-South cooperation, development and growth of their economies. The conclusion is that there is a neo classical dependency theory that Chinese growth and development model is beneficial for the Nigerian economy and China’s expansion in Africa is not a new form of colonialism. However, Nigeria needs to create more employment opportunities for its local population by reducing the number of the Chinese workers through a process of skills and acquisition transfer.


John-Eric Teehan (2014 – 2015), MA, Univ. of Ottaw

MA, Major Research Paper:  Towards a New Green Revolution? Exploring Competing Approaches to Food Security In the Aftermath of Malawi’s Agriculture Success Story. (Jan. 2014 – Dec. 2015)

In Sub-Saharan Africa, most of the workforce is employed in agriculture and the majority of the poorest households depend on farming for their livelihoods.  In Malawi, low food production has led to chronic food crises and famines as domestic food production collapsed nationally in 1992, 1994, and 2004. In response to these shortages a Fertilizer Input Subsidy Program (FISP) was introduced in 2005 by the Government of Malawi to increase the ability of small-holder farmers to generate yields and improve food security nationwide. Hailed as a prime example of the “New Green Revolution” and often viewed as a success story, this paper analyzes FISP’s challenges and limitations. It reviews FISP within the context of a food security theoretical framework, and explores alternative and experimental policy interventions for achieving food security, including agroecology and social protection programs. Specifically, this research paper argues that while the implementation of FISP increased food availability at the national level, it did not fully address issues of food access, utilization, financial and ecological sustainability, and beneficiary targeting.  Therefore, FISP constitutes only a partial solution to food insecurity in Malawi. A multipronged, balanced approach that includes agroecological initiatives and social protection programs that target different groups with different interventions could provide a more effective, efficient, and holistic approach to food security.

Download the full Major Research Paper here.

Olga Gurts (2014 – 2015), MA, Univ. of Ottawa

MA, Major Research Paper:  Who profits from ecosystem services? The winners and losers of forestry PES schemes in Costa Rica and beyond. (Dec. 2014 – Aug. 2015)

olga dnABSTRACT:
Costa Rica’s National Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) program has been hailed as an example of a successful application of market-based conservation to increase forest cover. The theory and application of PES has greatly evolved since its inception in the mid-1990s, but many questions remain unanswered including the real environmental and social benefits derived from PES schemes, particularly effects on the poor and landless. Using a thorough literature review of forest cover and watershed PES case studies in Costa Rica and other countries in Latin America, this paper reveals that PES benefits have, in most cases, been beneficial as a form of income diversification for larger landowners with insignificant benefits for participants at the very bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. Suggestions for evolution of the PES framework include incorporation of greater and more diverse incentives, social and environmental targeting as well as improving awareness of PES effectiveness at the local level. More broadly, the PES framework has been useful in testing the grounds for market-based conservation with state participation while promoting a culture of sustainable ecosystem use within socioeconomic boundaries.

Download the full Major Research Paper here.

Maurice Mukoie Dikaya (2014 – 2015), MA, Univ. of Ottawa

MA Major Research Paper (MRP):  Du doMauriceuble usage du mécanisme REDD+ : Lutte contre le changement climatique et la pauvreté rurale. (Feb. 2014-June 2015)  [= “On the twin uses of the REDD+ mechanism: Fighting climate change and alleviating poverty”]

Le fléchissement des aides publiques au développement (APD), la pauvreté rurale et l’effet amplificateur du changement climatique sont parmi les facteurs qui enferment le milieu rural dans les trappes à pauvreté. La question est de savoir si l’initiative REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) peut adresser ces trois défis à travers les revenus de la compensation des coûts
d’opportunité? Et comment? En découplant une variable environnementale (lutte contre la déforestation et la dégradation des forêts) d’une variable développementaliste (lutte contre la pauvreté), ce mémoire examine la REDD+ pro-pauvre ou d’investissement comme un outil de justice et d’éthique environnementale. La REDD+ devra permettre de lutter contre la pauvreté rurale grâce aux revenus de la compensation des coûts d’opportunité qui peuvent – être ensuite utilisés comme intrants pour des projets de lutte contre la pauvreté rurale. En s’attaquant à la pauvreté rurale, la REDD+ s’attaque à l’une des causes indirectes de la déforestation et la dégradation des forêts rurales. Mais pour atteindre ces objectifs, il faut relever certains défis notamment: l’effet rebond, l’adéquation d’échéances, le calcul des coûts d’opportunité et les défis liés à la gouvernance notamment l’incitation à la corruption.

Download the full Major Research Paper here.  For more information contact me or Maurice himself (on LinkedIn or on Twitter @lubefu2011).

Mohamed Noorani (2013-2014), MA, Univ. of Ottawa

Mohamed Noorani
Mohamed Noorani

MA Thesis: To Farm or Not to Farm? Rural Youth Perceptions of Farming and their Decision of Whether or Not to Work as a Farmer: A Case Study of Rural Youth in Kiambu County, Kenya.

Read the full thesis here (pdf file).

Mohamed was in Kenya from Feb.-May 2014 to study how youth in central Kenya perceive and engage with agriculture.  He was particularly interested in those who are approaching (or returning to) agriculture as an entrepreneurial opportunity.  Mohammed worked in conjunction with FarmShop (, a Kenyan NGO.

For more information contact me or Mohamed himself (through LinkedIn).


The present study examines rural youth perceptions of farming and their decision of whether or not to work as a farmer by paying special attention to personal career aspirations, social (peer and parental) influences, and structural (land, finance, market, and agricultural education) constraints as the “push” and “pull” forces of farming. Interviews were conducted with 59 youth in six villages of Kiambu County, Kenya. Findings revealed that non-agricultural career aspirations, such as engineering and teaching, may create the desire to migrate away from farming. While many youth held negative perceptions of farming, which were reinforced through peer and parental influence, a sub-set of youth expressed a passion for farming and considered farming an attractive career path. However, the existence of structural barriers and the difficulties in overcoming them, especially access to land, limited their participation in farming.

Eunice Njoroge (2011-2014), MA, Univ. of Ottawa

MA, Major Research Paper (International & Public Affairs) Urban agriculture as a livelihood for Urban Poor: Opportunities, Obstacles, and Policy Implications for sub-Saharan African Cities.


Urban Agriculture (UA) serves as an essential livelihood strategy for urban households across Sub-Saharan Africa. In the context of worsened economic conditions triggered by the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) of the 1990s, and rapid urbanization witnessed over the past 20 years; there has been increased rural to urban migration across African cities, diminished economic opportunities and consequently rising urban unemployment and poverty. The poor urban dwellers residing in informal settlements have resorted to UA as a way to ameliorate against the growing food insecurity and to generate income to meet their other household needs such as healthcare, education and housing.
In spite of the benefits of UA to poor households, they face obstacles such as prohibitive local policies preventing access to public land the most need resource for this practice. Furthermore severe weather conditions compounded by poor infrastructure are threats to the potential of UA to meet the livelihood needs of the urban poor.
The purpose of this paper is to make a contribution to existing studies, by analyzing the general trends in UA across Sub-Saharan Africa, to uncover the major issues which policy-makers ought to pay attention to, in order to promote viable urban farming among the lowest socio-economic group across the region. To achieve this objective, the paper first examines the contribution of UA to urban households, then goes further to reveal the policy and environmental obstacles to UA. This research paper thus makes a contribution to the broader topic of sustainable livelihoods, which is key to Africa’s long-term development.
The key findings of this study are first, UA does make a contribution to the livelihoods of the low income groups residing in urban areas, who have no formal employment, this comes in the form of meeting their nutritional needs and in some cases provides a means of income generation. Secondly, in many cities, UA faces major obstacles in the form of prohibitive laws which makes access to land difficult. Thirdly, UA provides some benefits to the urban environment in the form of producing green areas that regulate humidity, conserve soil as well as produces recyclable organic waste. The paper concludes by providing policy interventions in three broad areas namely: land use, food security and agriculture and; environment and health.

Lynsey Longfield (2013-2014), MA, Univ. of Ottawa

MA Thesis:  Challenges and Opportunities Shaping Smallholders’ Engagement with Formal and Informal Markets for Food and Livelihood Security: A Rift Valley, Kenya Case Study Analysis. (Jan. 2013-Aug. 2014)

Thesis available from UofO here.

Lynsey’s project addresses whether and how smallholder farmers in the Eldoret-Kitale corridor of Kenya are effectively able to gain access to supermarkets and other formal markets.  For more information contact me or Lynsey herself (through LinkedIn).


This case study analysis looks at four communities in Rift Valley, Kenya including Matisi, Moi’s Bridge, Sirende and Waitaluk.  The research focuses on the role of markets in achieving food and livelihood security for the smallholders in these communities and smallholders’ perceptions of the roles of the Government of Kenya and other institutions in facilitating market access. The largest challenges to market participation, as reported by the smallholders in the studied communities, include low yields, weather inconsistencies, and lack of land.  In terms of the Government of Kenya, many smallholders noted the benefits of participating in groups as they are subsequently offered training or field days and subsidies.  A significant group of respondents did comment on their lack of interest in joining similar groups as they were seen as unstable or corrupt.  The potential roles of formal and informal markets to increase food security were also analyzed.  All smallholders wished to be participating in informal markets, but twenty-five percent were constrained by the lack of surplus produce.  Similarly, although many reported their desire to be participants in formal markets lack of surplus produce, price fluctuations, inconsistent weather patterns, transportation costs and post- harvest losses or food waster were recognized as significant barriers.  In order to mitigate these constraints, most smallholders recommended subsidies on inputs and the overall restructuring of markets.  It is recommended that organizations and governments implement a livelihood diversification policy program or initiative to diversify and intensify agricultural activities and other non-agricultural activities.  This case study analysis demonstrates the need to recognize the importance of local contexts, specifically Rift Valley as much of the research done in Kenya is found in Nairobi and surrounding areas and cautions labeling communities as food secure based on favorable conditions.