Dam viewed from above

Rediscovering the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

A few months ago, I presented the findings of a new book, The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Power, Politics and Justice, to an International Water Association conference on the same topic at Salerno. To my great surprise, I was the only social scientist out of 200 participants. Nexus approaches help to bridge the separate domains of water,…

Farmers with irrigation channels

Irrigating Africa: can small-scale farmers lead the way?

by Ian Scoones, Felix Murimbarimba and Jacob Mahenehene We often hear that irrigation in Africa is too limited, and that the key to a “green revolution” on the continent is to expand to levels seen in Asia. But what if there is much more small-scale, informal irrigation in Africa than we thought? Could this be…

farmers in dryland landscape

Five problems with ‘integrated assesment’ models, and what to do about them

What are the most appropriate ways of understanding changes in natural resource change in rural areas, particularly in the context of climate change? How can we make use of data that is patchy and uncertain? How can models help decision-making about future management? These questions are at the heart of three recently published journal articles…

Milk market

Pastoralist milk is a viable commodity. What enables it to flourish?

Pastoralists’ integration into market dynamics is mostly addressed through the lens of trade in meat products, involving male traders. Pastoral milk, mostly traded by women, is often ignored. But good production of healthy milk is definitely the best way to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of a pastoral system at whatever level. Milk is central…

Could Kenya’s local flour mills be an early warning system for famine?

By Fred Ajwang, Relational Pathways project In the Relational Pathways project, we have been exploring how rural people relate to technology in their everyday lives. This has included fieldwork in a part of Kenya called Machakos. One upshot of rural fieldwork is how easily one can slip in and fit into the community. And so,…

What can transdisciplinarity give back to communities?

By Simone Omori, Leandro Giatti and Saurabh Arora The water-energy-food and environment nexus (w-e-f-e nexus) is a matter of understanding and acting on interdependent areas of activity. By directing attention to connections that are often overlooked in disciplinary research and siloed policymaking, the w-e-f-e nexus can be used to address the socio-ecological scarcities and vulnerabilities created…

Enabling Innovations

At the launch of STEPS America Latina in 2015, one of the themes that we focused on at our opening event was what we called ‘enabling’ innovations. These are new institutions, policies or technologies that are not only, themselves, a novel way of doing something or of solving a problem, but that also encourage and…

Bioleft open seeds transference. Photo: Ana María García.

From digital commons to nurturing social relationships: How to practice open source ideas with seeds?

What happens when you try to transfer open source ideas beyond the digital world? In Argentina we organized a workshop on open hardware and immediately afterward an event on open seeds. Some of the difficulties involved in transferring open source ideas from virtual to more material settings, and from communities of practitioners comfortable with networked, digital culture, to those that are less so, were readily apparent.

Creating bridges in Xochimilco through the “Pathways to Sustainability Game”

By Beatriz Ruizpalacios, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, Hallie Eakin, J. Mario Siqueiros-García, Rebecca Shelton, Pathways Network The urban wetland in Xochimilco, Mexico City, and the traditional agricultural areas within it, are undergoing rapid change and degradation, driven in part by the lack of regulation of urban growth near and within the wetland ecosystem. Strategizing on the best…

group discussion

Endings and beginnings: project-based work within wider transformations

by Adrian Ely and Elise Wach Since 2016 we have been involved in a small-scale project, as part of the broader ‘Pathways Network’, that has explored how to move towards more sustainable agri-food systems in Brighton and Hove.  The project’s focus has been evolving on the basis of changing circumstances, knowledge and ideas – a…