Dr Lora Forsythe
+44 (0)1634 88 3067
Lora has worked with the Natural Resources Institute since October 2008. During this time she has worked as a gender and livelihoods specialist on a wide range of research and consultancy projects. Lora's expertise lies in understanding the socio-economic and cultural dynamics of rural livelihoods, applied in a variety of development contexts, including value chain development, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource rights, and project monitoring and evaluation. Her research focus is on value-chain development of staple crops and its impact on rural livelihoods.
Lora's key skills are mixed-method qualitative and quantitative research (e.g. longitudinal interviewing, in-depth case studies, grounded theory approaches), gender and diversity analysis, participatory methodologies (e.g. focus groups, role plays, workshops), participatory social auditing to stimulate shared learning, capacity strengthening, evaluation methodologies (including large surveys) and impact assessments.
Lora also contributes her expertise to teaching and learning activities at the Institute within the UK and internationally, including Master's programmes, facilitating departmental contributions to the NRI seminar series, delivery of short courses, Training of Trainers, and supervision of post-graduate students.
Lora was also awarded the University of Greenwich’s Outstanding Achievement in Research Award in 2018.
She has long-term experience in India, and undertaken short-term projects throughout Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa), Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica), and South America (Bolivia and Colombia).
Lora's main research interests are in relation to the socio-economic, cultural and gender dynamics of rural livelihoods. This encompasses developing rights-based methodologies and mixed methods to understand and address inequitable social norms and power relations in a number of different development contexts, in particular value chain development and land and natural resources rights.
Lora is also interested in using her expertise for monitoring and evaluation and impact assessments, in order to help foster learning-oriented, equitable, accountable and transparent organisational cultures.
Leader of Work Package on understanding the drivers of trait preferences and the development of multi-user Root Tuber and Banana (RTB) product profiles, as part of the RTB Products for End User Preferences (RTBfoods) Project (2017 - present). The work package involves interdisciplinary teams of food technologists, economists and gender specialists in conducting innovative research along RTB value chains to help inform breeding priorities. The project scope includes the study of cassava, yam, sweet potato, plantain and tropical potato value chains across Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Uganda. Profiling the preferences of value chain actors with their gender-differentiated trait and product preferences, in addition to examining household decision making in relation to varietal preferences, is expected to support breeding programmes in improving the adoption of new varieties and to help ensure food security and income generation across sub-Saharan Africa.
Using Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to understand the relationships between labour-saving agricultural innovations, women’s time use and maternal and child nutrition outcomes in Uganda (2016 – present). Gender Lead for the study of the impact of labour-saving technology on women’s time use and nutrition outcomes, and the effectiveness of different ICTs in measuring time use and lifestyle data in the context of agri-nutrition interventions. Two inter-disciplinary digital tools, GPS wearable cameras and interactive voice response diaries will be trialled for use in Uganda. The research is being conducted in partnership with the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine.
Evaluation of Oxfam’s Female Food Hero project in Ethiopia (2016 – 2017). Designed and led an advocacy evaluation of Oxfam's Female Food Hero project in Ethiopia. The evaluation involved interviews with female food heroes, policy makers and local stakeholders. A contribution tracing approach was used for the methodology. A paper and blog about conducting advocacy work in closed-political contexts is under development and will be presented at the American Evaluation Association Annual Conference in late 2017.
Gender-Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) programme (2016-2017). Trainer, lecturer and mentor for conducting gender-responsive research in agriculture, in order to improve the outcomes for smallholder women farmers, entrepreneurs and farmer organisations.
Gender and Livelihoods Researcher, Optimising Cassava Processing Technology, in partnership with CIAT, IITA and CIRAD (2014-present). Qualitative research on the socio-economic and gender impacts of enhancing cassava processing technology conducted under the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) in Nigeria. This work complements research undertaken in Cassava Growth Markets and C:AVA projects (described below).
Work Package Leader (Gender and Livelihoods), European Commission, Cassava Growth Markets (2012 - 2017), Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda. Work Package leader on 'maximising gender and livelihood impacts of value chain development of cassava'. Country focus: Nigeria, Uganda and Malawi. This work package will provide insights into possible shifts in power relations and access to resources as market-led innovations enter the value chain. This work also aims to collect good practice on making markets work for the poor. Research is mixed-method.
Lead researcher (land rights and governance papers), Researcher (resilience) on Gender and Drylands Development: Empowering Women for Change series (2015), UNDP and UNCCD. The UNDP Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) commissioned an extensive review of research on three key topics relating to dryland women's empowerment, namely land rights, governance and resilience. The findings were presented at the UNCCD Conference of Parties (COP) 12 in Ankara, Three thematic papers were produced, as well as accompanying policy briefs and an overall synthesis paper.
Gender and Diversity Specialist, Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) Project, Nigeria and Ghana (2013-2014). Providing expertise and backstopping support for a comprehensive gender and social difference situational analysis in Nigeria and Ghana, and contributing to strategy development for yam value chains in the two countries.
Gender and Diversity Specialist, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Cassava: Adding Value for Agriculture (C:AVA) Project (2008 - 2014), Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana. Delivered the gender and diversity component of the C:AVA funded by the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation. Work included the development of research methodologies, conducting gender and diversity audits of implementing partner organisations and delivery of capacity-strengthening to partners.
Gender and Diversity Specialist, DFID/ combined European donors and MCA / MCC, Community Land Initiative (2008-2014), Mozambique. Technical assistance in gender and community engagement, including development of a gender and diversity strategy, delivery of community engagement training, and development and management of a cascading training of trainers programme for service providers and communities.
Evaluation Team Leader, ActionAid, Evaluation of Women's Rights to Land Project (2013), India, Sierra Leone and Guatemala. The programme aimed to support women's movements from marginalised communities, including indigenous women in Guatemala, Dalit women in India, and women living with HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone, to improve their access and control over land. The programme ran from 2010 to 2013 was funded by the EC.
Evaluator, IDRC and CIDA, Mid-term evaluation of the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) (2012). One of three team members undertaking an evaluation of CIFSRF, providing funding to Canadian and Southern partners to develop projects in research for food security and nutrition in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The mid-term evaluation examines programme strategy, programme management and project progress.
Lead Researcher, McKnight Foundation, Beliefs and taboos of bambara groundnut (2012), Malawi. Study on the beliefs and taboos of bambara groundnut and gender issues in Malawi to inform bambara value chain project interventions in Southern Africa, including the collection of data on the uses of bambara, local recipes, and developing a community engagement strategy.
Project leader, Concern Worldwide, Farming for Impact (2011), Rwanda. Project leader and led researcher on a study on promising practices supporting resource-poor and vulnerable smallholder farmers to improve food security and reduce poverty in Rwanda. Resulting in publication and a presentation in UK parliament.
Project leader, DfID, Women's Participation in Higher Education for SCARDA (2010-2011). Work for Strengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research and Development in Africa (SCARDA) also included a gender and diversity mainstreaming review of project activities.
- Bechoff, A., Forsythe, L., Tomlins, K. and Martin, A. (2020) Women eat more rice and banana: the influence of gender and migration on staple food choice in East Africa. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. ISSN 0367-0244 (Print), 1543-5237 (Online) (In Press).
- Kawarazuka, N., Prain, N., Forsythe, L., Mayanja, S., Mudege, N., Babini, C. and Polar, V. (2018) Gender in Agricultural Mechanization: key guiding questions.
- Forsythe, L., Njau, M., Martin, A., Bechoff, A. and Tomlins, K. (2017) Staple food cultures: a case study of cassava ugali preferences in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Natural Resources Institute and CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB). RTB Working Paper.
- Forsythe, L., Posthumus, H. and Martin, A. (2016) A crop of one's own? Women's experiences of cassava commercialization in Nigeria and Malawi. Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security, 1 (2):2. pp. 110-128. ISSN 2413-922X (Online)
- Forsythe, L., Martin, A.M. and Posthumus, H. (2015) Cassava market development: a path to women's empowerment or business as usual? Food Chain, 5 (1-2). pp. 11-27. ISSN 2046-1879 (Print), 2046-1887 (Online) (doi:10.3362/2046-1887.2015.003)
- Gender and Drylands Development - Empowering Women for Change Series:
- Nelson, V., Forsythe, L., and Morton, J. (2015) Synthesis of thematic papers from the series 'Women's empowerment in the drylands. UNCCD and UNDP, Greenwich.
- Forsythe, L., Morton, J., Nelson, V., Quan, J., Martin, A. and Hartog, M. (2015) Strengthening dryland women's land rights: local contexts, global change. UNCCD, UNDP, Greenwich.
- Forsythe, L., Morton, J., Nelson, V., Martin, A. and Hartog, M. (2015) Gender and drylands governance: Empowering women for change. UNDP, UNCCD, Greenwich.
- Nelson, V., Morton, J., Forsythe, L., Martin, A. and Hartog, M. (2015) Achieving dryland women's empowerment: environmental resilience and social transformation. UNCCD, UNDP, Greenwich.
- Forsythe, L., Manda, M. N., Mwangwela, A.M. and Bennett, B. (2015) Beliefs, taboos and minor crop value chains: the case of Bambara Groundnut in Malawi. Food, Culture and Society, 18 (3). pp. 501-517. ISSN 1552-8014 (Print), 1751-7443 (Online) (doi:10.1080/15528014.2015.1043112).
- Forsythe, L. and Wellard, K. (2014) Final Evaluation for Women's Right to Land Project for ActionAid.
- Forsythe, L., and Willoughby, R. (2011) Farming for Impact: A case study of Smallholder agriculture in Rwanda. Concern Worldwide.
- Forsythe, L., Kaitano, V. and A.M. Martin (2010) Gender and Diversity Audit Malawi.
- Forsythe, L., Mangheni, N. and Martin, A.M. (2010) Women in Higher Agricultural Education, RUFORUM.
- Forsythe, L., Martin, A.M. and Stathers, T. (2010) Gender and Diversity summary recommendations for the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative.
- Forsythe, L., Martin, A.M. and Stathers, T. (2010) Gender and Diversity summary report for the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative.
- Forsythe, L., Shayo, R. and Martin, A.M. (2010) Gender and Diversity Audit, Tanzania. C:AVA and GLCI Projects.
- Kopiyo, G. and Forsythe, L. (2010) Great Lakes Cassava Initiative Gender and Diversity Audit Kenya.
- Mangheni, M., Ekirikubinza- Tibatemwa, L. and Forsythe, L. (2010) Gender issues in agricultural education within African universities. Gender Background Paper for the Ministerial Conference on Higher Education in Agriculture in Africa.
- Mukasa, B. Forsythe, L. and Martin, A.M. (2010) Gender and Diversity Audit Report for Great Lakes Cassava Initiative and Cassava: Adding Value for Africa. Uganda.
- Forsythe, L., Abdulsalam-Saghir, P. and Martin, A.M. (2009) Gender and Diversity Audit Nigeria.
- Forsythe, L., Quartey, Q., and Martin, A.M. (2009) Gender and Diversity Audit Ghana.