Agglomeration payments for catchment conservation and improved livelihoods in Malawi

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Biodiversity and Conservation


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Planned Impact

A central premise of this work is that careful engagement of policy stakeholders will lead to uptake of the research products, and an influence on the structure of agricultural programs in Malawi. Though our direct role ends at uptake, it is implied that such influence will lead to improved livelihoods in rural communities in Malawi through the provision of well-designed incentives that encourage ecosystem service-enhancing land-use practices. The ASWAp program through within which we are operating has itself 19000 intended beneficiaries - we hope that the results of our pilot research within ASWAp may have reach at this scale in future programs. Beyond this key set of direct stakeholder impacts, we anticipate a range of other broader impacts from the project.
First, while the project is not aimed at providing studentships, our team at Lilongwe University will recruit current graduate students to the enumerator team, possibly providing opportunities for publication and thesis development, but more directly building skills in field methods, randomized control trials, and impact evaluation among the next generation of Malawian agricultural research professionals.
Second, this project will be an important case study showing a route to which landscape-wide impacts can arise from individual choices and therefore an important way into protecting "the commons". Thus, there is another class of indirect user - the global community of people with an interest in encouraging sustainability (sensu stricto). Through publication in the academic and grey literature, we expect our work to build upon the global understanding of harmonizing livelihood provision with ecosystem function.
Description Paying for ecosystem services schemes improve their efficiency when you (a) pay a land manager, (b) pay the land manager for each neighbour when they also comply. PES schemes can also be used as a mechanism to transform the system from unsustainability to sustainability, and act as a temporary incentive structure during the transformation.
Exploitation Route PES schemes are growing in importance, globally, and our results have generated some interest both in the developing world, and in the developed world. For example, I have discussed these results within the CAP reform debate in the EC.
Sectors Environment