A Regime Shift Analysis of Poverty Traps in sub-Saharan Africa : Identifying key feedbacks and leverage points for change

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper


Smallholder livestock keeping and agriculture systems in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) seem to be caught into poverty traps, in as much as they cannot any longer provide ecosystem services on which local communities depend for their survival. I used a regime shifts framework to carry out a thorough assessment of these two case studies in arid and semi-arid lands and smallholder by identifying relevant traps and alternate desirable regimes. Using systems analysis and modelling, I drew casual loop diagrams of the two case studies, which helped me to identify the feedback loops that maintain the systems in undesirable traps and the external driving forces of change. A set of interventions points or leverage points were identified to change the dynamics of the systems and shift them towards more desirable regimes. Essentially, a structural change of both systems is called for if sustainable livelihoods in the rural areas of the SSA are to be seriously envisaged. Human capital investments present the main opportunity for facilitating escape from poverty by transforming farmers to non-farmers and livestock keepers to non-livestock keepers. 

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