SP5: Food security and livelihoods in restoration landscapes in western Rwanda

Meike Wollni

Rapid deforestation and degradation of the natural environment in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa threaten the livelihoods and livelihood options of the rural population. Rural livelihoods are often closely intertwined with the natural environment, e.g. through agricultural production or the extraction of materials and food. Poor households who lack the resources to invest in their soils and other natural assets can get trapped in a downward spiral of resource degradation and poverty. Against this background, ecosystem restoration can potentially contribute to improved livelihoods and welfare, yet, the links are complex and impacts are likely to vary with restoration type and intensity. Positive effects of forests on nutrition have been established based on satellite data and micro-level consumption data, but the exact mechanisms and impact pathways largely remain a black-box. This sub-project aims to investigate the effects of ecosystem restoration on household welfare, food security and nutrition. More specifically, it will assess (1) restoration effects on agricultural yields, household income and food security at farm and landscape scales, (2) the link between different types and intensities of restoration, livelihood strategies and levels of well-being, and (3) the effects and underlying impact pathways of landscape restoration on nutrition. The analyses will be based on original survey data from a stratified random sample of 600 households located in four districts around the Gishwati-Mukura National Park. The survey will be implemented in close collaboration with SP6 and will collect detailed information on restoration activities (including woodlots, agroforestry, and tree planting in homegardens), agricultural production, and household expenditures and food consumption. The sub-project will employ quantitative analyses and econometric techniques to address the research objectives. We expect to find that landscape restoration, especially older and more diverse restoration sites, are associated with more diversified livelihood options and improved welfare outcomes. We also expect landscape restoration to be connected via various pathways to positive nutrition outcomes. In our analysis we explicitly consider the landscape context, partly using data from SP2, and expect strong synergies between farm and landscape level restoration activities and household-level welfare.