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Further research interests (Tony Binns)

Community-based development and institution building in post-apartheid South Africa and post-conflict Sierra Leone

This on-going project in South Africa started in 1996, in collaboration with the Department of Geography at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape Province. Initial funding was from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, but Tony was then awarded a Leverhulme Study Abroad Fellowship (UK) in 2000-2001 to develop this work further. The project is concerned with seeking to identify and monitor grassroots development initiatives which might lead to job creation and poverty alleviation. Consideration is given to the possibility of replicating successful initiatives and identifying the most appropriate sources of possible external funding for such initiatives. Several papers have been published and three conferences held (Grahamstown - July 1999; Sussex - April 2000; Matjhabeng – July 2002). In July 2003, Tony was awarded a British Academy (UK) grant for research on: 'Evaluating institutional development in South Africa’s west coast region', in which post-doctoral fellow David Bek (Coventry, UK) was the Research Assistant. From 2010 a new element of this research has focused on the dynamics of small town development in the Amathole region of Eastern Cape Province, in collaboration with Phila Xuza (ASPIRE, Eastern Cape) and Etienne Nel (Otago). This work was supported by a grant from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Tony was principle investigator in a collaborative research project in Sierra Leone (2008–2011), funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and the British Council under the DelPHE scheme. The research, titled 'Urban and peri-urban agriculture in Freetown: Food security and income generation in post-conflict Sierra Leone', evaluates the significance of urban and peri-urban agriculture for both income generation and food security in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Collaborators include Paul Tengbe and colleagues from the Department of Geography, Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone), Roy Maconachie (Bath University, UK), Kenneth Lynch (University of Gloucestershire, UK) and Alec Thornton (ADFA/UNSW, Australia). Otago MA student Hana Cadzow investigated the role of women in urban agriculture in Freetown.

Resource-based conflict, institution building and local development in northern Nigeria and Sierra Leone

This research, in conjunction with the Department of Geography at Bayero University, Kano (Nigeria), examines the origins and nature of conflict as pressure on natural resources increases in the Hadejia-Nguru wetlands, located in semi-arid north-eastern Nigeria. Doctoral student, Simon Milligan, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, undertook a detailed study in the area, examining the nature, and possible resolution, of conflict over resources among pastoralists and cultivators. Babatunde Omilola’s doctoral research focused on the impact of small-scale irrigation investment on poverty reduction in northern Nigeria.

With support from a British Council Higher Education Link programme with the Geography Department at Fourah Bay College in the University of Sierra Leone, Tony returned 30 years later to the field areas in Sierra Leone where he undertook his doctoral research in 1974. This ongoing research project, titled: 'Reconstruction and development in post-conflict Sierra Leone: Re-building institutions and rural livelihoods in the Eastern Province', is concerned with evaluating post-war reconstruction and development in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, after a decade of violence and dislocation during the civil war. The research has been supported by a grant from the Nuffield Foundation (UK). Post-doctoral fellow Roy Maconachie has assisted in this project and a number of papers have been published. Otago PhD student, Jerram Bateman, worked on community-based development in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.

Prospects for horticultural exports under trade liberalisation in adjusting African economies

This collaborative project, initially with Coventry University, was funded by the UK Overseas Development Administration (now DfID), and examined export-orientated horticultural production in Kenya and The Gambia. Workshops were held in Nairobi and London, and a final report was submitted to DfID. More recently, collaborative research with Etienne Nel (Otago) and David Bek (Coventry, UK) has focused on evaluating the complex linkages and benefits of community-based production and export of red-bush (rooibos) tea and wild flowers from the Western Cape Province of South Africa to UK.

Community-based development in the Pacific region

A collaborative project on the role of the church in development in Samoa, with Alec Thornton (ADFA/UNSW, Australia) and Maria Kerslake (National University of Samoa), was funded initially through a University of Otago Research Grant. Key informant interviews and questionnaire surveys have examined the position and role of churches in a number of Samoan communities, in the context of community development and poverty alleviation. Papers have been published on this research.

Otago PhD student Shawn Shen investigated climate change adaptation and migration in Tuvalu, whilst Anita Latai (Otago PhD and National University of Samoa) undertook detailed interviews in a number of Samoan communities to understand local perceptions and resilience in the context of climate change. Sam McLachlan (Otago PhD student) investigated in a number of Pacific countries the effectiveness of a community-based development initiative sponsored by New Zealand based NGO, Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA).