Knowledge for a sustainable world

Research Group:
Centre for Society Environment and Development

Current and recent research projects, and projects with a strong research component, include:

  • Risk-Contingent Credit in Kenya (2108-22)
    IFPRI has been implementing an innovative market-based risk financing solution, Risk-Contingent Credit (RCC) to help agricultural risk management and limited access to credit for smallholder maize farmers. NRI has collaborated with IFPRI on this strand of research, contributing in incorporating weather and remote-sensing data into insurance contract design, and to design and implementation of a rigorous impact evaluation.
  • RTBFOOD - Breeding Root, Tuber and Banana Products for End User Preferences (2017-22)
    NRI is a partner in this programme, led by CIRAD and funded by a consortium led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, managing a major work package on “Understanding the drivers of trait preferences and the development of multi-user product profiles”, which includes a substantial component of research on gender and food preferences.
  • CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (2017-22)
    NRI is a programme partner in this major global research initiative, strengthening Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning processes and mechanisms, providing expertise on the nutritional contribution of fish, and co-designing complementary research projects with African partners.
  • Diverseafood: Evaluating the potential of multi-trophic aquaculture to improve nutrition and ecosystem sustainability in the UK (2019-21)
    This BBSRC-funded project will explore how a transition to integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems can increase seafood’s contribution to healthy and sustainable diets and lead to environmentally and socio-economically sound production. NRI’s contribution focusses on the socio-economic impact of IMTA and IMTA products, investigating interventions at the levels of business models, regulation and policy, and consumer acceptance. An integrated supply-demand approach will be used to address barriers to aquaculture diversification.
  • FutureDams (2018-2021)
    Proponents of large dam construction emphasize their role in reducing dependency on rainfall and enabling irrigation, providing water and generating hydropower. Opponents argue that large dams lead to displacement of vulnerable populations, and may increase poverty in the districts where dams are built. FutureDAMS, a GCRF project in which NRI is a partner, aims to (a) construct a novel data-set of large dams in India that will be made open access and (b) improve the science and social science foundations of analysis of the economic and developmental impacts of large dams.
  • SENTINEL - Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (2017-2021)
    NRI is a partner in this GCRF project led by IIED. Increasing agricultural production to meet rapidly growing demand for food – a 150 per cent increase by 2050 – while safeguarding vital ecosystem services and promoting social equality, lies at the heart of sustainable development. SENTINEL aims to understand the challenges, trade-offs and synergies inherent in working towards these development goals in sub-Saharan Africa. NRI has a particular role in building capacity of African and UK researchers to co-develop cutting edge and applicable research, while  identifying and addressing capacity gaps in institutions and organisational systems.
  • Upscaling Best Fit Maize-Legume Technologies through Multi-Environment Trials and Farmer Research Networks (2014-21)
    This action research project in Malawi facilitates and appraises agricultural innovation approaches to test, evaluate and adapt promising agricultural technologies through Farmer Research Networks. Options and approaches (including behaviour change) for incorporating legumes into the diets of under-5 children, mothers and people affected by HIV/AIDs will be developed. Policy-makers will be actively engaged through Parliamentary Committees and workshops, and a set of preferred best bet technologies for different socioeconomic and agro-ecological environments will be scaled out to 30,000 farm families in the intervention areas and beyond.
  • Marketing the Endangered Indigenous Yams of Madagascar (2018-2020)
    Madagascan native yam species are threatened by harvesting for food and habitat loss. We are partners with the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in a project aiming to protect and enhance conservation successes via improved food security, nutrition and livelihoods through providing business models at multiple scales, sustainable value chains, markets for processed tubers and nutritional information to guide policy.
  • Agricultural innovations, women's agency and time use and maternal and child nutrition outcomes (2016-19)
    This is a suite of projects in a rural area of Uganda, funded by DFID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We are assessing the feasibility of innovative digital tools (life-logging GPS-linked wearable cameras and computerised interactive voice response diary via mobile phone), and analysing the data collected to: determine the impact of labour saving devices on maternal food choices; examine factors influencing these food choices and how they interact; develop a model to predict how dynamic interactions among women's time use, the external food environment and personal food environment influence food choice to inform agricultural project intervention design and impact evaluation.
  • Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement Programme (CIRCLE) (2015-19)
    NRI leads the Quality Support Component of this DFID-funded programme which supports African early-career researchers in climate-related fields to spend a year in another African institution. NRI has provided specialist advisers to support and backstop the research of 35 CIRCLE Fellows, largely on field-based social-scientific investigation of climate impacts and adaptations in rural communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana.
  • Assessing the social, economic and environmental impact of Voluntary Sustainability Standards in Cotton (2015 - 2019)
    NRI is working with three consortium partners in India to design and implement the impact evaluation of the Better Cotton Initiative project using experimental (randomised control trial) approaches.
  • Optimal Packaging of Insurance and Credit for Smallholder Farmers in Africa (2014-17)
    This ESRC-DFID research project studied the demand for and supply of packages (credit + insurance + agricultural inputs) in order to identify optimal packages that lead to higher agricultural productivity amongst small-holder farmers in Africa. The research employed experimental games, interviews and randomised control trials, as their primary methodology.
  • Accessible Systems to Manage Risk in Family Agriculture in Africa (FARMAF) (2011-16)
    This project enhanced access to and use of effective farm risk management tools by smallholder farmers in Tanzania, Zambia and Burkina Faso, in order to reduce the exposure of smallholder farmers to downward shocks, improve access to credit and capacity to invest in yield-enhancing technology as well as strengthen their capacity to better manage the marketing of agricultural produce.
  • Supporting Smallholder Farmers in Southern Africa to Better Manage Climate-Related Risks to Crop Production and Post-Harvest Handling (2013-16)
    NRI facilitated multi-stakeholder learning processes for reducing climate risks through improved smallholder post-harvest management, for this collaborative project to increase food security in Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The project identified, analysed and documented community hazards, vulnerabilities and coping response mechanisms, and developed, within the innovation systems framework, risk reduction methods and technologies for use in crop production and postharvest handling.
  • Innovative finance in scaling up technology to reduce waste and spoilage in food value chains in Africa (2014)
    This project assessed gaps in the supply of finance for uptake of technology to reduce waste and spoilage, identified financial innovations which can fill this gap, and assessed their feasibility.
  • Climate Learning for African Agriculture (2011-13)
    This two-year research project studied the extent to which principles of climate-compatible development have been incorporated into the strategies and practices of African agricultural research and extension services. NRI collaborated with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, and the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services, to lead a continent-wide survey, in-depth learning exercises in four countries (Benin, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Uganda), and action-oriented dissemination of results to stakeholders.
  • Assessing the potential of farmer exchanges based on climate analogue analysis (2012)
    NRI worked with the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) to pilot methods for farmer–to-farmer exchanges using participatory learning approaches and the CCAFS spatial climate analogue tool. The aim was to assess how adaptive capacity may be strengthened through visits by farmers to areas which are thought likely to represent their future climate and farming systems. The project facilitated exchanges between different zones of Tanzania, and between Ghana and Burkina Faso.
  • Gender in cassava value chains (2008 - )
    Understanding gender and social difference dynamics in cassava value chains, along with work identifying socio-economic impacts with cassava market development, value chain upgrading and technology development, given cassava's important role in food security and women's livelihoods. This work is focused on Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda for the Cassava: Adding Value for Agriculture (C:AVA) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Cassava Growth Markets project funded by the European Commission.