DSI Research Agenda

  • Population and Gender Studies
1.1.1Background Information
High Population growth rate brought about by high fertility is a daunting challenge to sub- Saharan Africa in general and in Tanzania in particular. Slowing population growth and reducing fertility in Tanzania needs a comprehensive understanding of underlying causes of growth and its relationships to cultural drivers specific to the Tanzanian society. While population study is concerned with the population variables which are mortality, fertility and migration; understanding the relationship between population variables and their linkage with social, cultural, economic, political, biological, genetic, and geographical factors is crucial. Population study thus includes both qualitative and quantitative aspects of human population.
Population and gender issues are intrinsically linked to food security and development in general. Gender equality is acknowledged as being a key to achieving the other MDGs goals. Yet, discrimination against women and girls – including gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health inequities and harmful traditional practices – remains the most pervasive and persistent form of inequality. The broad and deeper understanding of how gender relations structure a society’s social institutions in ways affecting the definition and realisation of its population’s development goals needs analysis and examining gender-related obstacles and opportunities in a range of development contexts.
While progress in promoting gender equity has been made, further efforts to advance the status of women and other disadvantaged groups are needed if they too are to benefit from a demographic dividend. Helping women and couples achieve their desires for smaller families will enhance gender equity and provide multiple societal benefits, including fewer people in poverty, higher per capita income, and less pressure on Tanzania’s fragile natural resource environment. While focusing towards sustainable utilization environmental resources for development, gender aspects need to considered. This calls for more information on the major components of population change and their linkages to gender.
The goal is to document gender disaggregated social and demographic processes in view of better understanding of the issues which will lead to more effective measures for dealing with them.
  • Policy Analysis and Strategic Studies
1.2.1Background Information
Having good policies and implementing the same in such a way that they lead to desired socio-economic development are two different things. After the Tanzania Development Vision 2025 (TDV 2025) was promulgated in 1999 with an ambitious goal to make abject poverty a thing of the past by 2025, there have been medium term strategies to realize TDV 2025, particularly the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) whose heyday was 2000/01 to 2003/04, the First Phase of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP I, 2005/06 – 2009/10) and the Second Phase of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP II, 2010/11 – 2014/15). There are also a number of sectoral policies and strategies. Knowledge of the policies and strategies, their implementation, and reasons for success and/or failure of some of them has potential to inform plans to improve them for national development.
1.2.2 Goal
The goal of this research agenda item is to analyse public, social and sectoral policies and strategies with their linkage to governance and socio-economic development so as to obtain empirical information on which to base suggestions for improvement of policies and strategies, suggesting others for repeal, and formulation of some others in view of national, regional, and international events, to speed up Tanzania’s development beyond TDV 2025.
  • Natural Resources Assessment and Management
1.3.1 Background
Access, management and control over natural resources are central issues to the livelihoods of people all over the world. DSI’s research agenda focuses on diverse issues such as livelihoods and land use change, agriculture, natural resources governance, energy, environment, cultural and social impacts of community activities on natural resources for sustainable development. Sustainable development will depend on conservation-oriented natural resource management. These resources include land and soil, water, plants, and animals. Although the details of natural resource management and their application to agricultural challenges may depend on science, it is also the case that economic and social policies have a large role in providing incentives as well as disincentives for managing natural resources in ways that are both sustainable and profitable. Successful management also needs to be considered at multiple levels: from the human scale of the household and small farm to larger arenas such as watersheds. Thus, most aspects of natural resource management need to be considered from both local and global perspectives.
DSI’s Research Topics under Natural Resource Management Theme
DSI’s research agenda under natural resources incorporate thematic topical areas that are important in establishing sustainable agriculture and natural resource management systems. Some of these important themes have been the subject of in-depth studies.
  1. Sustainable Agriculture: Farmers are 'stewards' of our natural resources. They do not only utilise soil, water and ecosystems to produce food and fibre but also manage, preserve and improve them for future generations. In this role they face a challenge to balance use of natural resources for economic production while maintaining the value and productivity of land, water and ecological systems (ecosystems) and resources in the long term, both on and off-farm. DSI focuses on research that will provide a holistic solution to natural resources management for sustainable agriculture and hence sustainable development via:
  • Research in managing natural resources and climate change in agriculture
  • Provision of education and training opportunities for rural development specialists with bachelor, master and doctoral degrees
  • Advisory services to farmers and various stakeholders in addressing and adapting to climate change and its impacts on agriculture
  • Advising the government from an agriculture perspective on natural resources management for sustainable agriculture.
  1. Policies and Practices for Natural Resource Management: It requires proper understanding of policies and practices for solving problems and issues associated with managing the natural resources to achieve both environmentally and socially sustainable development. Natural resource management issues have been at the centre of policy debates as well as environmental justice movements. Development requires not only better global economic conditions but also a cleaner environment, with sustainable use of natural resources such as land, water, soil, energy and minerals and their security at both the global and national levels including availability, affordability and accessibility to all. Natural resource exploitation and economic activities have played a role in fuelling many violent conflicts. Trans-boundary environmental and economic cooperation, and transparent natural resource management, can be operationalized to support governance processes and also promote peace. DSI’s research agenda on this theme is on key policies and practices related to natural resource management for sustainable development.
  • Natural Resources and Sustainable Development: Natural resources-nature and scarcity; issues and challenges; concepts of environmental and natural resource economics; issues of market efficiency; equity issues; use of economic instruments; natural resource accounting and valuation; models of resource depletion – exhaustible and renewable resources.
  1. Governance of Natural Resources: Challenges to the governance of trans-boundary resources; Local governance institutions for sustainable natural resource management
  2. Natural Resources, Political Economy and Conflict Issues: Resource curse; winners and losers in natural resource development: cases of conflict; measures for internalizing the environmental externalities and other social costs created on account of extraction/use of natural resources
  3. Climate Change and Natural Resources: DSI is committed to a number of priority areas in climate change and natural resources management, such as adaptation to and mitigation of climate change impacts and research aiming at promoting educational initiatives and support mechanisms to increase the capacity of people to be involved in the management of natural resources in a changing climate.
  • Adaptation to Climate Change: Research activities aiming at increasing the resilience and incomes of livestock producers in areas facing increased pressure on natural resources and changing climate and variability. Research aiming at working with herders to understand how they make decisions to move livestock in order to assist them in managing their herds for better productivity
  • Climate Change for Agricultural Development: Agriculture is a major economic driver in the Tanzanian Development Agenda, particularly with respect to provision of rural livelihoods, income, food and nutrition sovereignty and poverty and hunger reduction. Thus DSI is committed to conducting researches aimed at improving knowledge and capability among farmers and increase infrastructural capacity to measure climatic parameters and relate them to agricultural production and productivity in the country.
The goal is to contribute in establishing sustainable agriculture and natural resource management systems through in-depth studies and training.
  • Development Planning and Management
    • Background Information
The contribution of research in rural development and planning cannot be over emphasized. The main goal of research is to serve as an instrument through which to improve rural people’s living standards by stimulating growth and increased productivity in critical productive sectors of the rural economy. The rural sector in Tanzania hosts a large segment of the population and employs over 70% of population in the agricultural sector. However, most of the crops produced undergo minimum processing and value addition. In this view, the drive to achieve rural development which is intended to improve livelihood of the majority Tanzanians will not be realized if we do not overcome the development challenges facing the rural communities such as provision of social services, poverty reduction, improvement of infrastructure, income inequality reduction, equipping rural people with entrepreneurship skills and rural industrialization, to mention a few. In this context, rural development planning in Development Studies Institute of the Sokoine University of Agriculture is focused more on strategic decisions to intervene these challenges through research.
1.4.2 Goal
The goal is to stimulate growth and increase productivity in critical productive sectors of rural economy through proper rural development planning in order to address poverty and improve peoples’ wellbeing.
Specifically the rural development planning research agenda in DSI is focused on the following key research areas.
  1. Productivity growth in the rural sector, income inequality and provision of social services;
  2. Rural industrialization and the role of institutions in rural development;
  3. Entrepreneurship, SMEs, technology innovation, trade and market linkages in the rural sector; and
  4. Poverty reduction, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and post Millennium Development Goals: which way forward?

Reseach Projects

These are Research Projects currently being undertaken by the Development Studies Institute (DSI) staff and collaborators;

Project Title

Name of project leader

Name of research collaborators

Sponsor/Total budget


Laying the foundation for effective lands-cape level planning for sustainable development in SAGCOT corridor of Sumbawanga agricultural development cluster

Prof. Kashaingili

Dr. Sikira, A.N


Promotion of Ecosystem-responsive integrated urban farming practices in the livestock vegetable, and fish production systems

Prof. Kashaingili

Dr. Sikira, A.N


Value add and marketing of milk for small holders in Tanzania

Prof. Kurwijila

Dr. Sikira, A.N

Worl Bank

A gendered analysis of climate variability impacts and adaptation in Semi-arid area farming systems and natural resources management-Principal Investigator/Project leader

Dr. Urassa, J.K

Dr. Nombo C.I



Global Value Project

Dr. Kenneth M.K. Bengesi

Dr. Carolyne Nombo

EURO 61115

3 years

"Enhancing Sunflower Production for Poverty Alleviation in Mvomero and Kilosa Districts, Morogoro Region".

Prof A.Z. Mattee

Mr. E.T. Malisa


239,963,000 Tshs

Optimizing Income of Local Chicken and Sunflower Smallholder Producers in 9 Wards of Dodoma and Morogoro Regions

Prof A.Z. Mattee

Mr. E.T. Malisa and Mr. Pessa Kussaga

227,883,500 Tshs

3 year

Enhancing climate change adaptation and mitigation capacities of vulnerable communities in eco-villages of different ecosystems of the Uluguru Mountains

Dr. C. Mahonge,

Dr. C. Mahonge, Dr. V. Nsenga, Mr. E.T. Malisa and others

EUR 650,000


(3 year)

Sokoine University of Agriculture-E-learning and Problem Based Learning (PBL) Project

Dr. Anna Temu

Mr. R. Andrew

DKK 603,972.0


(2 year)

“The Influence of gender related factors on access to and follow-through of treatment”

Carolyne Nombo

Dr. Fatihiya Massawe,

Dr. John Jeckoniah and

Ms. Judith S. Kahamba




PhD research project titled: Interplay of formal and informal grassroots institutions for effective land management in the Uluguru Mountains



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