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Research Projects

Current Research Projects

The food-energy-water nexus in the Blue Nile Mountains of EthiopiaP1140702.JPG

The department of development geography launched a new research project for the years 2017-2019 with support of the DFG and the Belmont Forum as part of the program “Mountains as sentinels of change. The mountains of Ethiopia are often called the "water tower of Africa," giving rise to major transboundary rivers. Rapid hydropower development in these mountains is quickly transforming them into the "power plant of Africa" as well. Under changing climate, rapid national economic growth, and steadily increasing population and land pressures, these mountains and their inhabitants have become the focal point of a multi-scale food-energy-water nexus with significant implications across East Africa. The core objective of the study is to identify emerging pressures in this rapidly changing tropical mountain system. The research team is composed of researchers from Ethiopia, Germany, USA and Italy with expertise in social-ecological systems analysis, livelihoods risks and social resilience strategies, East African ecology and agronomy, hydropower development, agricultural economics, and the climate and hydrology of the Ethiopian highlands. The approach will yield new insights on adaptation strategies in tropical mountain environments. The livelihood risks and adaptation component of the project is led by Professor Detlef Müller-Mahn with an assistance from postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Million Gebreyes. This research component uses case study based qualitative research approaches, which are carried out together with a number of PhD and Master students from Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar University. read more



The project´s focus is to highlight in which ways the global concept of ´Adaptation to Climate Change´ is taken up by different actors and institutions in the Eastern African context. In this context, ´Adaptation to Climate Change´ is understood as a travelling idea which "travels" not only between different countries but also between entities with different objectives and interests. For further and more detailed information, please visit our project website:  



Building resilience through translocality. Climate change, migration and social resilience of rural communities in Thailand (TransRe).

Climate change and migration are drawing increasing interest from researchers and policy makers, as well as from the general public. Much attention has been given to climate more

Trans-local relations and the reorganization of socio-ecological systems in Kenya and South Africa (B4). Subproject in the DFG research unit "Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems (SES) of African Savannas" (FG 1501). 

The central aim of project B4 is to understand the impact of human migration on the social-ecological systems (SES) in migrants’ home areas... read more


B1_project imageRCR (B1)

Violent Regulation and Social-Ecological Transformation of Wetland Ecosystems in East Africa. Subproject in the DFG research unit "Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems (SES) of African Savannas" (FG 1501).

The sub-project seeks to understand the dynamics of transformation of social-ecological systems of two exemplary wetland ecosystems in East Africa... read more


As part of the interdisciplinary Research Unit FOR 1501, subproject B3 deals with Global economic influences and local labor relations in the reorganization of an agro-industrial center in Naivasha/Kenya. The major focus of the geographical part is the Global Value Chains of the booming cut flower industry and its influence as a main driver of the social ecological system at Lake Naivasha.
Theo-Project-IKIndigenous Knowledge Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Rural Communities Adjacent to River Basins
The research project focus on investigating the contributions of indigenous knowledge (IK) on climate change adaptation in Tanzania with specific focus on communities adjacent to Ngono River Basin.

Failing Seasons, Ailing SocietiesFailing Seasons, Ailing Societies - Climate Change and the Meaning of Adaptation in Ethiopia

Temperature increase and changing rainfall patterns have been widely observed and well-documented consequences of global climate change. However, the consequences at the grassroot level remain under researched. What are the impacts on agrarian production and local livelihoods? How are commun...