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Chair of Developement Studies: Professor Dr. Beate Lohnert

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Zucker Gruppe Forschung


Here some of our research topics are listed. For further projects please see our German Information in projects as well as our working group on development studies

Research Projects

  • Project period: 2018– 2021
  • Project staff: John Ebotui Yajalin

Project Description

Migration, whether internal or international remains an important theme in development discourse across the globe. Whereas a plethora of literature abounds on the causes and the socio-economic effects of these movements, very little is known about the consequences of migration on political participation. This is particularly the case of migrants moving into urban slums in developing countries.  Key questions such as: how do migrants in urban slums initiate, organize, and demand development from local government authorities and the state? What is the nature of migrants’ neigbourhood associations in urban slums? What are the channels used by migrants in urban slums to demand for development? These key questions remain unaccounted for in the migration literature. Meanwhile, evidence suggests that more than half of the urban growth in developing countries is accounted for my internal migration and many of these migrants move into urban slums. This study therefore fills this gap by exploring how migrants moving into urban slums in Ghana initiate, organize and demand for development through their neighbourhoods associations.

  • Project period: 2015– 2018
  • Project staff: Benedict Arko

Project Description

The study explores development as a process of translation within actor-networks. This is
done by examining the translation and adaptation of discourses of local economic
development from the epistemic and practice communities of the global north to a regional or
local setting in the south. The burgeoning practice of local economic development in sub-
Sharan Africa and the paucity of the research of the subject in the region provides an
opportunity to deepen understanding and break new frontiers of knowledge on development
as an exercise in translation. The study therefore explores the potential of translation theory
as conceptualized by Michel Callon combined with Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory to
contribute to the knowledge in this domain. Taking a cue from the call by proponents to use
empirical case studies to deepen understanding of this ‘black box’ of local economic
development in the context of localities in sub-Saharan Africa, the study takes the case of the
first two districts to implement the very first local economic development intervention in
Ghana known as the Ghana Decent Work Programme implemented on the initiative of the
International Labour Organization from 2003 to 2009.

Financial strategies of marginalized urban inhabitants and potentials of microfinance in sub-Saharan AfricaHide
  • Full Title: Financial strategies of marginalized urban inhabitants and potentials of microfinance in sub-Saharan Africa - focal point: (negative and positive) impacts on social capital- target group: financially excluded
  • Project period: 2014-2015
  • Project staff: Christoph Koch

Project Description

Social capital is a pivotal issue for the livelihood strategies of marginalized inhabitants in urban areas in Africa. Microloans have an impact on social capital (as shown in the hitherto research). Additionally missing social and human capital can be a crucial access barrier for potential microfinance clients.
The research aim is to analyse the complexity between social capital, access to microcredit as well as livelihood strategies from a socio-scientific point of view. As yet microloans were analysed as strategy for improved housing. Moreover the social coherence in the tension-filled area between trust, peer monitoring and peer pressure was explored within multiple formal and informal microcredit groups.
The prosecution of the project shall expand the findings by outsiders’ perspectives. Target group will be persons who are (voluntary or marginalized) not in any credit group. These financially excluded will be traced and interviewed (from a research-team including GEFA-students), to analyse their point of view on microfinance supply. In the established research areas present facilities for formal and informal loans are already know. Thus annexation to hitherto surveys can be assured. Main objective is to detect why some inhabitants do not become members in microfinance groups – in spite of several possibilities for microloans are nearby – and how social capital makes a difference.

Completed Research Projects since 1997

​Changing food consumption practices in the mid-sized city context of EthiopiaHide
  • Full title: ​Food – Space and Society: „Changing food consumption practices in the mid-sized city context of Ethiopia – the case study Mek’ele“
  • Project period: 2013-2018
  • Project staff: Barbara Degenhart
Financing housing space for urban marginalised groups and potentials of microfinancingHide
  • Full title: Financing housing space for urban marginalised groups and potentials of microfinancing for sustainable slum restoration – the case of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (DFG)
  • Project period:  2010-2013

Project Description

During the last decades many different approaches have been used in sub-Saharan Africa to upgrade urban living and housing conditions for the population on a low income. Due to the moderate success of these approaches, one can find an increase in microfinancing programmes focused particularly on housing upgrades. The primary aim of this research is to compare different types of (micro) financing for housing that are available for urban marginalised groups. This shall be done through an integrated analysis of the urban accommodation crisis in Dar es Salaam including political, socio-economical and cultural influences. Our particular interest is the impact of micro financing on the social capital of households. Strategic concepts for housing suppliers to urban marginalised groups will be developed afterwards. This will reflect the different ways of financing and include a variety of basic conditions so that it can then be transferred to other sub-Saharan cities.

Potential of different housing approaches for urban marginalized groupsHide
  • Full title:​ Potential of different housing approaches for urban marginalized groups -the case of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia (DFG)
  • Project period: 2005-2009

Project Description

The high growth rate of urban population in metropolitan areas of Africa, due to the massive urbanization since the 60s, has led to a high demand for living space. This demand can neither be satisfied through the private housing market nor through intervention of public authorities. The primary aim of this research is to look at the current strategies of housing policy in Addis Abeba, with specific attention to marginalised groups of the population, along with consideration of political, socio-economical and cultural factors through an integrated analysis of the urban housing crisis. Based on this, the project aims to develop strategic concepts for housing suppliers to urban marginalised groups which incorporate different basic conditions, using the example of Addis Abeba, that can then be transferred to other sub-sahara african cities.

Integration of migrants from developing and transformation countries into the housing marketHide
  • Full title:​ Integration of migrants from developing and transformation countries into the housing market: the autonomous region of Murcia in Spain. (DFG)
  • Project period: 2005-2009

Project Description

The majority of African, Latin-American and East European working migrants are surviving below the living conditions of the indigenous population on the Iberian peninsula. The aim of this research was to combine and to broaden existing explanations for inadequate living conditions of migrants from developing and newly industrializing countries in order to adapt these to the situation of South European immigration countries. Parallel to increasing immigration, prejudices against migrants and conflicts between them and local people are accelerating. The project’s intention was to develop an analytical framework to explain the importance of proper living conditions for the social integration of migrants into the receiving country. The importance of the housing conditions of migrants, as a basis of social integration and the social and geographical changes in urban and rural arrangements, have been neglected by housing and integration policies. 

Ethnic businesses in Stuttgart (Department of Geography, University of Stuttgart)2003Hide
  • Project period: 2002-2006

Project Description

Rural-urban interweavements as survival strategy in developing countries (DFG)
Strong social and spatial interactions between urban and rural areas in South Africa constitute a central aspect of the survival of vulnerable groups in cities and rural areas. The survival strategies are based on the translocal social networking of actors. Firstly the research explored social and spatial relationships of the translocal organisation of households. Then, the research concentrated on analysing social mechanisms and dynamics within informal networks of migrants in the city (Amakhaya-Groups). These Amakhaya-Groups are seen to be a sub-structure of translocal communities and an important stabilizer of rural-urban interweavements. The aim was to develop a translocal perspective on vulnerability, as well as engaging with the concept of “social capital” and recent approaches towards networking. The translocal correlations of vulnerable, mobile and socially and spatially networked groups have been neglected by development policies and planning. Therefore this research project served as a drive to further develop policy guidelines by involving South African institutions in a rigorous dialogue.

Segregation and integration of migrants in town-planning conceptsHide
  • Project period: Since 2000
Methodology project: participatory interpretation of high-resolution aerial-photographs to explore social networksHide
  • Project period: Since 1997
Vulnerability to Food Insecurity under the conditions of DroughtHide
  • Full title: Sector Co-ordinator “Vulnerability to Food Insecurity under the conditions of Drought” and formulation of the German contribution for the first United Nations World Vulnerability Report on Natural Hazards (ZENEB/Dept. of Foreign Affairs Germany)
  • Project period: 2001
Homelessness in Osnabrück, Münster and Bremen, GermanyHide
  • Project period: 2000-2002
Causes and impacts of migration processes in urban centres in South Africa (DFG)Hide
  • Project period: 1999-2000
Evaluation of Study and TeachingHide
  • Full title: Evaluation of Study and Teaching 
    (University of Osnabrück, Zentrale Evaluationsagentur der niedersächsischen Hochschulen)
  • Project period: 1998
Reasons for vulnerability caused by changing environments in the rural areasHide
  • Full title: Processes of migration in South Africa: reasons for vulnerability caused by changing environments in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape Province and the metropolitan region of Cape Town
  • Project period: 1997-1998
  • Sponsor:  DFG
Intra-urban migration patterns and consolidation of squatter-householdsHide
  • Full title: Intra-urban migration patterns and consolidation of squatter-households in the metropolitan area of Cape Town
  • Project period: 1997
  • Sponsor:  DFG

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