An interdisciplinary team of researchers has jointly elaborated the overarching research project, titled Rural transformations and the scramble for land in the Great Lakes. This project studies the role of smallholder agriculture in the Great Lakes Region’s development process.
• Global drivers of change – the neoliberalization of agriculture, land grabbing and climate change – have shaped and continue to shape agrarian transformations that currently take place.
• These global drivers interact with local drivers of change specific to the Great Lakes Region, more specifically: the extreme demographic pressure in a context where ethnic, economic and political cleavages have been anchored in the social tissue through multiple conflicts and severe forms of violence.
• We aim not only at describing the relations between global and local drivers of change, but also the way in which they interconnect with development policies (agrarian and land policies specifically) in Rwanda, Burundi and eastern DRC.
Furthermore, we study how these policies and drivers of change interact with peasants’ livelihood strategies in the context of increasing social differentiation in the rural milieu. We analyse smallholders’ bargaining positions in the various arena (specifically with regards to their access to land), and focus in particular upon the resistances strategies they develop (potentially in interaction with the civil society) in reaction to the development policies.