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Anna Wolkenhauer
Anna Wolkenhauer
Anna Wolkenhauer from InIIS covers Alex Veit until the end of March 2021 in project B09. We introduce her in a brief interview.

You had your defence in mid-September. How did it go, can we congratulate you?

Yes, you can! I won't have the title (PhD) until the publication of my monograph, but the defence went very well.

It's probably impossible, but still: Can you explain in a few sentences what your dissertation was about?

In my dissertation I investigated the question of how social policy and state formation are connected in the age of "Neoliberalism 2.0". During my work and research in Zambia, which now extends over many years, it became clear over time that exciting dynamics could be at work here. I interviewed government officials, social policy recipients, as well as people from civil society and international organisations in order to better understand the complex effects of the new social policy programmes on the state. In a process of qualitative analysis, I have identified various mechanisms by which statehood spreads from the centre to the periphery of the country, which manifests itself, for example, in the discursive involvement and bureaucratisation and standardisation of the population, as well as in political connections and possibilities of exerting influence. However, a certain ambivalence can be observed: In this expansion of statehood, the ideological and practical boundaries of the state, which are perceived as natural, are already built into it.

In the coming months you will stand in for Alex Veit (temporary professor in Marburg) in the CRC project B09 "The Rise, Decay and Renaissance of Social Policy in Africa". What tasks will you be taking on in the project?

I will contribute my results from Zambia for comparative discussions with the other country studies of the project and I will also contribute to publications.

What classes will you be taking over in the winter semester?

I will offer a BA seminar on "Politics in the Rural Area" as well as an tutorial on the lecture "International Relations".

What are your professional and career plans for the next few years?

I'm just starting to take a closer look at politics in rural areas and its interaction with state social policy. I am interested in the question of how changes linked to the globalisation of agriculture and the neo-liberal turn in social policy affect the way political participation and political self-image are perceived in the countryside.


Contact:
Anna Wolkenhauer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67463
E-Mail: anna.wolkenhauer@uni-bremen.de

The dataset, to which Nils Düpont of CRC 1342 contributed, gathers information on political positions of parties since 1970, according to which ruling parties in democracies are becoming more illiberal, with the US Republicans among the leaders.

According to the "V-Party Illiberation Index", the Republican Party has since 2006 gradually abandoned the idea of upholding democratic norms. The illiberal swing in 2016 was so strong that the Republicans' campaign rhetoric has since been closer to that of the AKP in Turkey and Fidesz in Hungary than to the average ruling parties in democratic countries around the world.

Although the Republicans under Trump are an extreme example, it is representative of a trend: according to the V-Party Illiberation Index, the ruling parties in democracies worldwide have become more illiberal on average over the past decades. This means that they tend to feel less committed to pluralism, tend to demonise political opponents, ignore minority rights and even encourage political violence.

The dataset "Varieties of Party Identity and Organization Dataset (V-Party)" was compiled by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg and comprises data on 1560 elections and 1955 political parties worldwide between 1970 and 2019. 665 international country experts have analyzed and coded the political positions of the parties over the entire period using 30 indicators.

The V-Dem Institute has summarized the most important results from the analysis of the V-Party dataset in a short report: V-Dem Institute Briefing Paper #9.

The entire dataset can be downloaded free of charge.

Information about the participation of Nils Düpont and the CRC 1342 in the production of the V-Party dataset can be found here.


Contact:
Dr. Nils Düpont
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57060
E-Mail: duepont@uni-bremen.de

Gabriela Molina León, Michael Lischka
Gabriela Molina León, Michael Lischka
Gabriela Molina León and Michael Lischka asked 20 social scientists how thematic maps should be designed for their purposes. They presented the study at the IEEE Visualization Conference.

Choropleth maps (also called areal density maps - e.g. population density maps) are a common means of presenting research results visually. There are a number of variables that influence the appearance of the map, including the type of projection, the scale, the centre of the map and the colour scheme. Gabriela Molina León and Michael Lischka, in collaboration with Andreas Breiter, conducted a survey to find out which variants of thematic maps social scientists prefer for their work. For this purpose, the 20 participants had the opportunity to customize a thematic map according to their needs and preferences using the variables mentioned above.

In a short interview, Gabriela Molina León and Michael Lischka explain their findings, which they presented on 28 October 2020 at the IEEE Visualization Conference (a preprint version of the article, which will be published in the Conference Proceedings, is available here).

The most popular world maps - at least in Europe - use the so called Mercator projection. It was invented in the mid-16th century, and is still widely used today (with some variations) e.g. in news programmes. Is it time for a new type of world map if it comes to social policy research?

Michael Lischka: It's not time for a new kind of world map, but you should be sensitive to the properties of a map if you understand it as an information medium. Every map is an attempt to depict a three-dimensional object (globe) in two dimensions. A direct transfer of all properties is simply impossible, so every world map projection is a compromise. Accordingly, better or worse decisions can be made depending on the purpose of map use. Basically, one can distinguish between maps that preserve one of three properties at a time: areas (equal-area projections), angles (conformal) or distances (equidistant). Since we were not concerned with distance measurements at any point, we excluded equidistant maps from the beginning.

Conformal projections make sense when it comes to navigation. In small map sections, angle and area fidelity are almost identical to reality. This is a great advantage especially for route planning (e.g. google maps), road maps, air and sea traffic. But on a global level you see strong size distortions. Since you just mentioned Mercator: This projection represents spatial units larger the closer they are to the poles. Thus, Russia, Canada, the USA, China and Europe appear to be much larger. Especially since Europe lies in the centre of the representation and thus appears dominant compared to Africa. This may also make sense in a Eurocentric news coverage. Some news formats even have sections like "Europe and the World". But such a projection cannot be used for research that includes countries of the 'Global South' on an equal footing. At least not if maps are used as an information medium to disseminate knowledge. Projections offer a perspective on the world.

For choropleth maps, equal-area projections are generally recommended. Can you briefly explain why?

Lischka: Equal-area maps correctly represent the size of land masses and spatial units. On the negative side, the shape of the land masses inevitably get distorted. But if you colour countries based on certain data without showing their correct area, you lose the possibility to compare countries regarding the density of the shown variables. The representation of the correct relative areas is therefore an essential property of maps to be able to make reliable comparative statements between world regions and countries. The simplest examples are population density, forest coverage and agricultural use. Information of this kind on maps that are not true to area can lead to misinterpretations by the viewer.

Since equal-area maps can distort countries to such an extent that they cannot be recognized, maps that strike a compromise between area size and shape are often used. For example, the Winkels-Projection, which is used in German school atlases. World maps of this kind offer both area fidelity and the recognition of spatial units due to their shape.

You studied the preferences of social scientists. How does their favourite choropleth map look like and why?

Lischka: For their own research projects, the Equal Earth projection was the dominant choice among the social scientists that participated in our study. They had a whole conglomerate of reasons – ranging from 'aesthetically appealing' to 'looks right', 'true to form' and 'true to area'. In the end, the first task of our study aimed at the individual needs of the researchers. Some of them focused their research on certain regions of the world, so they used the zoom function and paid close attention to the recognition of the respective region.

Figure 1. Choropleth map of the world, using the Equal Earth Projection

Figure 1. Choropleth map of the world, using the Equal Earth Projection

For the best presentation of research on the Global South, the Gall-Peters projection prevailed in our study, but only by a narrow margin. Actually, the distribution was very balanced. This small deviation is probably due to the instructions for task two we gave the participants and the claim to the map mentioned there. Gall-Peters most obviously distorts the country shapes and shows a rigorous coordinate system that demonstratively suggests fidelity to the area size. The researchers did not know that all projections that we offered them were equal-area and thus decided 'in the sense of objectivity', partly against aesthetic convictions and recognition value.

Figure 2. Choropleth map of the world, using the Gall Peters projection

Figure 2. Choropleth map of the world, using the Gall Peters projection

It is not only the type of projection that makes for a "good" choropleth map of the world - what about colours?

Gabriela Molina León: There are well-known tools that recommend and let you test multiple colour schemes for choropleth maps, such as Color Brewer. Therefore, we selected the five colour schemes of our study according to its recommendations.

Since the choropleth map of our study visualised life expectancy data, we used sequential scales. When choosing a colour scheme, the data determines what type of scale fits best: if the visualised variable encodes two opposite directions (e.g. negative and positive temperature values), then a scale with diverging colours (e.g. from dark red to dark blue) is most suitable. If the data is categorical, a categorical scheme is recommended.

For the case of sequential scales, it was recently confirmed that readers tend to associate darker colours with higher values, so we favoured colour schemes that follow this association.

What were the colours of choice among the scientists you worked with?

Molina León: The yellow-green-blue colour scheme (YlGnBu, available at https://observablehq.com/@d3/color-schemes) was the most common scheme chosen. From the 40 maps created by the researchers, 23 used this scheme.

Interestingly, they mentioned something in their reasoning that we did not expect: They wished for a gray colour scheme (or one that would look good in grayscale) because they often do not have the option to use colours in their publications.


Contact:
Michael Lischka
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57061
E-Mail: lischka@uni-bremen.de

Gabriela Molina León
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57067
E-Mail: molina@uni-bremen.de

In a three-day CRC/ERC workshop, international researchers are discussing the influence of political practices and structures of European colonial powers on the development of social security in the Global South.

In her keynote at the start of the workshop "Colonialism and Social Protection" on 26 September, Gurminder Bhambra from the University of Sussex spoke about the varieties of European colonialism, which at the beginning had been shaped mainly by trade interests. From the middle of the 17th century, the focus had shifted to the expansion of the conquered territory. The prosperity of the European nation states - then as today - was based on colonialism, says Bhambra, which is still the root of global inequalities today. With regard to the colonial powers, she considers the term nation state to be inappropriate, imperial states or colonial empire more accurate.

Bastian Becker of SOCIUM explained in a presentation why an actor-centred research approach can provide important insights. After all, colonialism had been influenced by various actors at different levels (both within the colonies and on a transnational level).

Michele Mioni of SOCIUM explained the influence of Great Britain and France as well as international organisations on social policy in the (former) colonies after 1945. Mioni said that although the colonial powers and the IOs (ILO and UN) had different socio-political views, there had also been cooperation.

Jessica Lynne Pearson of Macalester College outlined colonial health policy. The first public health programmes were mass vaccination and mother-child programmes. In general, the focus of colonial health policy had been on prevention.

Marlous van Waijenburg of Harvard Business School analysed the fiscal policy of the colonial powers. One aim was to cover the costs of social policy programmes in the colonies through local taxes. The result was a wide range of different taxation systems within the colonial states, but taxation of labour (including forced labour) was typical.

The workshop "Colonialism and Social Protection", organised by Carina Schmitt, will enter its second round on 2 October and will end with a third session on 9 October.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Carina Schmitt
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58603
E-Mail: carina.schmitt@uni-bremen.de

Son and her co-author Reimut Zohlnhofer received the JCPA Best Comparative Article Award for their paper on the statistical analysis of privatisation and the role of the indicators chosen in the process.

In their paper "Measuring Privatization: Comparing Five Indicators of the Disposition of State-Owned Enterprises in Advanced Democracies", published in Volume 21:4 of the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Son and Zohlnhofer examine the use of indicators to determine privatization.

In the scientific literature, numerous such indicators are circulating, most of which are treated as equivalents. However, little attention is paid to whether they actually match each other closely. In their paper, Son and Zohlnhofer state that the correlations between these indicators are alarmingly low. As a consequence, it has been shown that the results of statistical analyses can differ significantly depending on which privatisation indicator is used. Son and Zohlnhofer therefore suggest that the different indicators should not be considered as equivalents but as measurements of different aspects of privatisation.

The jury explained its decision to award the prize to Son and Zohlnhofer with the following words:

"'Measuring Privatization' by Son and Zohlnhöfer takes comparative policy analysis seriously and advances the field by shedding light on the multiple dimensions of different dependent variables/indicators that often have been seen as substitutes for each other. The authors highlight the importance of choosing the right indicators to explain phenomena that analysts seek to understand. They illustrate why scholars using large-N data sometimes end up with inconclusive or mixed results when they ignore this fundamental issue. More importantly, this study of state-owned enterprises has implications for other sectors and comparative approaches to important policy issues. The focus on indicators is widely used in comparative policy analysis, and this article contributes to the policy literature on privatization and to the development of methods in the broader field of comparative policy studies."


Contact:
Keonhi Son
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58541
E-Mail: son@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Alex Veit (photo: Caroline Wimmer)
Dr. Alex Veit (photo: Caroline Wimmer)
The co-director of project B09 will join the Center for Conflict Studies for the next six months. His work with CRC 1342 will remain unaffected.

Dear Alex, you are going to be a substitute professor at the University of Marburg - congratulations! Who are you covering for there?

Alex Veit: Thank you! I am standing in for my colleague Thorsten Bonacker at the Center for Conflict Studies.

For how long?

From October to March next year, i.e. for the winter semester. 

What are your plans for the time at Center for Conflict Studies?

I will be teaching the introduction course in peace and conflict research as well as seminars on humanitarian military interventions and on political economy and social movements in the Global South.

Regarding research, I look at the internationalisation of governance in Africa through the involvement of international actors in core governmental tasks. Key questions are: How can the role of international organisations, bilateral donors and development agencies in the organisation of security, welfare and development be understood theoretically? What effects does the powerful position of international actors have on the relationship between states and their citizens? And what conflicts arise from the internationalisation of governance, what patterns of conflict resolution can be observed?

What does all this mean for your work here at the CRC?

The research in project B09 will of course continue, in the current phase mainly by preparing publications.


Contact:
Dr. Alex Veit
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67471
E-Mail: veit@uni-bremen.de

Kristin Noack, Dr. Anna Safuta
Kristin Noack, Dr. Anna Safuta
In a podcast interview, Anna Safuta and Kristin Noack analyse the working conditions of migrant live-in care workers in Germany, who in a legal grey area have become a pillar of long-term care.

Anna Safuta and Kristin Noack of project B07 are investigating the transnational provision of services in long-term care. With the feminist Lila Podcast they talked about the situation of mainly Eastern European women who provide long-term care in an estimated 300,000 German private households - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, up to three months in a row.

"The working conditions of the carers are difficult due to their permanent availability, rest periods can hardly be respected and it is difficult to separate themselves from their work," says Kristin Noack. 90 percent of the employment relationships are not regular, the carers are mostly registered as self-employed or as sent workers. "This leads to legal problems," says Noack: for example that minimum wages are not paid or the maximum working hours are exceeded.

The Covid 19 pandemic, during which migrant carers had problems entering Germany due to quarantine regulations, brought this otherwise hardly visible segment of the care industry into focus. And with it the poor conditions under which the women work. "Feminists are talking about these issues for decades," says Anna Safuta, "but it took a pandemic for this to be recognized: Migrant care work takes place unnoticed, is undervalued and underpaid". Demographic and socio-economic change has been taking place for many years and migrant carers are oine solution for the resulting challenges - "but at what costs?", Safuta asks. "Care needs are not private problems for families to solve by exploiting underpaid migrants." The working conditions of migrant live-in carers should be regulated and normalised at national and European level, says Safuta.

"The system of 24-hour care is obviously not sustainable," says Noack. It has to be combined with outpatient care services provided by other providers, neighbourhood assistance and also work by family members. Some initiatives in this direction already exist.

The entire interview with Anna Safuta and Kristin Noack can be listened to on the "Lila Podcast" website (issue of 24 September 2020, from minute 35:00).


Contact:
Kristin Noack
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58604
E-Mail: knoack@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Anna Safuta
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58597
E-Mail: anna.safuta@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
CRC member Heinz Rothgang welcomes the Federal Government's legislative proposal. However, the jobs could only be filled if the federal states changed their binding quotas for highly qualified staff.

The Federal Government has adopted a legislative proposal under which 20,000 additional positions for auxiliary staff in full-time inpatient care for the elderly in Germany are to be financed by the nursing care insurance scheme. This is not intended to increase the contribution of those in need of care.

CRC member Heinz Rothgang, who together with colleagues has developed a procedure for the standardised assessment of personnel requirements in care institutions, evaluates the proposed legislation positively: "It is a first step - no more and no less. The proposal itself is good and sound for now," he said in an interview with buten un binnen. However, the new assessment procedure revealed that a total of 100,000 additional full-time jobs will be needed in long-term care nationwide, which corresponds to an increase in personnel of one third compared to today. "We need about three to four percent more skilled workers in Germany," said Rothgang, "but 70 percent more auxiliary staff.

The planned financing of the 20,000 auxiliary staff positions via the long-term care insurance scheme is a necessary precondition, but regulations at state level stand in the way of practical implementation. "In almost all federal states ... we demand a skilled labour share of 50 percent of the nursing staff. If a facility falls below this level, legal action and even closure is looming," Rothgang said in an interview. The federal states will therefore have to change these regulations, otherwise there is a risk that the positions will not be filled.

Rothgang does not expect the quality of nursing care to decline if the ratio of skilled staff falls: "If auxiliary staff is added without cutting jobs for skilled staff, this should not lead to disadvantages. If additional unskilled workers take the pressure off the skilled workers, this will result in an improved quality of care - with a decreasing ratio of skilled workers".

The final report of the project for the development and testing of the scientifically based procedure for the standardised assessment of personnel requirements in care facilities was approved and published on 23.09.2020.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58557
E-Mail: rothgang@uni-bremen.de

Nate Breznau and Felix Lanver researched data on the introduction and development of work-injury policies in 186 countries. The corresponding codebook has been published as a technical paper.

The Global Work-Injury Policy Database (GWIP) provides data on the introduction and development of work-injury policy in 186 independent nation states. Work-injury policies are also historically known as "workmen’s compensation" and sometimes "accident insurance". The data are available via Harvard Dataverse.

The Technical Paper provides the codebook for the GWIP. Several aspects of this research are confounded by terminology, therefore Breznau and Lanver provide theoretical definitions and justifications of coding decisions in addition to the hard codes.


Contact:
Dr. Nate Breznau
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
E-Mail: nbreznau@uni-bremen.de

Clement Chipenda, PhD
Clement Chipenda, PhD
An interview with our Fellow Clement Chipenda about the social impact of the land reform in Zimbabwe, the consequences of the pandemic-related lockdown and his current research with our colleague Alex Veit.

About 20 years ago Zimbabwe has started the so-called fast-track land reform programme, redistributing about 7 million hectares of land. For a start, let’s recall what the motives for this programme had been.

Officially, the motive behind it was to reverse the legacy of colonialism. When colonialism ended in 1980, the number of white commercial farmers was about 6000. They owned 15 million hectares of prime agricultural land. At the same time almost a million black households were confined to communal areas, i.e. areas or former native reserves that were set aside during colonialism. The motive for the reform was officially, to try to redistribute the land equally. There had been attempts to do so in the decades after independence, but the area having been redistributed was very limited. Around the year 2000, when the fast track land reform programme began, only 75000 families have been resettled. In 1982 the target had been to resettle 182 000 families.

As you mention, the former attempts to redistribute the land had more or less failed: Why did the government in 2000 decide to push for this definite cut with the post-colonial system and pushed for the full implementation of the land reform?

The ruling party was facing increasing political opposition at that time. And there was also disgruntlement because veterans that had fought in the war, ordinary citizens and peasants were also demanding land - it remained the unfinished business of the liberation war. The process of the land reform started with farm occupations. The government initially enforced the law and was trying to evict the people occupying the farms. But in the end the pressure became too high so that the government also came on board and began to spearhead the land reform. These were the motives, but it was politically motivated and different people give different interpretations of the reform.

How is your take on the outcomes, 20 years later?

Usually people are analysing it in terms of its impact on the economy and the agricultural output, the analysis is always production oriented. The pressure to do so is made even worse because agriculture is key to the country's economy. But there are many bottlenecks and challenges in place. In terms of production you find that some people are not being as productive as they had been expected to be, but this is because of different challenges, e.g. expertise, lack of access to finance and markets and this is combined with other factors like droughts, climate change effects, obsolete infrastructure which make people conclude that the outcomes are bad. There are however other outcomes which are 20 years later can be seen as being positive, people now have access to a productive resource the land and associated access to natural resources which they never had before, they now have shelter and other numerous social reproduction and protection outcomes which have in different ways transformed people’s lives. Unfortunately, 20 years after the reforms, Zimbabwe has a serious food deficit, and at the moment 60% of the population needs support in terms of food. It’s a consequence of a combination of different factors but in such a situation the reforms are blamed. That's why you see different government initiatives to cover some of these production and food deficit gaps. But it is always a challenging situation.

In what respect has the new government’s policy changed?

The new government has a different approach to dealing with the land reform. The former administration was looking at the political context – for them the land had to be returned to the indigenous people as a final phase in the decolonization process.

The new government identified agriculture as the main driver for the economic development of Zimbabwe as a whole. Its approach is more or less along neo-liberal lines. They want to make agriculture profitable; the land should be productive. For the past year, we have read media reports on senior government officials’ threats that if resettled farmers are not productive, the land could be taken away from them. You need to understand that the land is owned by government, not by the individual who only has usufruct rights over it so the owner which is the government can withdraw those rights at any time. The government has also been encouraging peasants to find investors interested in assisting financially, so there is a huge difference between the old and news administrations when it comes to policy.

Do you see international investors coming into Zimbabwe already?

I don’t think the environment at the moment is conducive for investors, there are too many uncertainties, economic instability, bad publicity, political polarisation and sometimes policy inconsistency. These are the conditions which the country needs to get corrected if investors are to come and investors always look for a stable environment and I don’t think our country offers that at the moment. There is the question of tenure security. Reports of evictions, farm invasions, lack of respect of court orders and the rule of law make investors shy away from investing on the land as they see that there is no tenure security. People only invest, if they know that their investment is guaranteed, an unstable economy does not provide such guarantees. I think, as a country we still have a long way before those guarantees of investment security are made, the general situation in Zimbabwe is not yet stable enough for international investors. They are many who are interested but I think they are waiting by the side-lines and will move when the situation stabilises, for now I think the country is attractive to investors who just want to make a quick profit but leave no long term development.

You have studied the land reform intensively during your PhD. What was your focus?

I looked at the land reform as a social policy. My thesis was framed around the question how the land reform had affected people's livelihoods fifteen years after. I was trying to move away from the old debates that were solely focusing on the production questions, human rights violations and how the land reform processes were supposed to have been undertaken. My focus was to try and see if it is possible to look at land reform as a social policy instrument that is comparable to other social policies like pensions, social grants, education and other social welfare interventions. In this context, I was saying that giving people land, which is a productive a resource or currency, can be compared with for example social grants. My basic logic was thus, land as a redistributed resource should have outcomes that improve the welfare and livelihoods of people. If you look at any social policy it should have social protection outcomes, it should contribute to redistribution of resources and social cohesion and I felt that land, if redistributed, can have these outcomes. My focus was thus on individual households as I felt that at this level the outcomes were more evident. That's why I was looking at the household instead of the entire agricultural sector. I then proceeded to explore the idea that if land reform is a social policy, to what extent has it improved peoples’ livelihoods? What are the challenges? What are the small things that it has contributed to peoples’ lives? This was within the broader context of looking at how it had enhanced the welfare and wellbeing of peasant households.

It is probably hard to generalize the outcomes in this respect. But if you try to sum it up: What are the effects of the land reform on the household level?

I cannot generalize it for the whole country but only for the area that I was studying which is a district called Goromonzi in Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe. Even the area that I was studying has its own dynamics - for example it has fertile soils, favourable climatic conditions and is one of the best regions in the country so if you compare it with other areas even those nearby land reform outcomes differ. These factors contribute to how the landform has impacted on households. I was doing a comparison with people that live in the former reserve areas. In terms of production, the beneficiaries had slightly higher returns, because their counterparts live in poor areas with poor soils and lower rainfall. They also have better access to inputs, extension services and irrigation infrastructure so returns are higher.

In terms of marketing the beneficiaries of the land reform were better off because they have developed their own unique agricultural marketing networks and have support from the government and private companies some of whom they have contract farming arrangements, so this has contributed to improved incomes. And in terms of social protection, the land had actually become an asset that they could better use to protect themselves from risks and shocks compared to those who have smaller pieces of land or who did not have any land at all.

And there were also social and cultural dimensions to the reform. By having land, they actually have a place to stay, and I like to refer to it as a rural home. Members of the family who are facing challenges, even if they live in urban areas, have a place to go to in case of crisis like unemployment and poverty. Another dynamic that I was observing: People are practicing their traditional rituals at their places; they are having places for burials of their loved ones. These are aspects that are being ignored in the general narrative of the land reform but for African people traditions, culture and the linkage between the people and the land is something that is of much importance. The approach that I used in my thesis was not something conventional hence there were a lot of questions, but I think the logic was acceptable and was awarded the PhD. Since the award in 2019, I think the idea of land reform as a social policy instrument is becoming acceptable, I have even published some articles on it.

Let's look at the very recent situation - how does Covid-19 affect the rural population, especially with respect to food security?

Due to Covid-19, a lean 2019-2020 agricultural season and drought in Zimbabwe it is estimated that about 8 million people will be in need of food aid this year. The pandemic has disrupted agricultural production, planning for this season and the markets. Farmers and rural residents cannot go about their normal businesses and routines because Zimbabwe has been in lockdown since April, initially for two weeks but now the lockdown is indefinite. Movement is restricted, agricultural markets were initially closed but now partially opened. In many ways everyday life is disrupted. It's made worse because many people are employed in the informal sector - so when cities are shut down, it impacts a lot on people's livelihoods, it is difficult to generate income and it disrupts value chains at all levels. In terms of food security there are challenges as people cannot produce or purchase food. Some inputs are not accessible, some imported products have become very expensive, productive activities if not restricted are limited so this impacts in many ways on the food systems. For Zimbabwe, this is in a context where there is high unemployment with many families relying on remittances from other countries, especially from South Africa. When the country faced its own Covid-19 pandemic and closed down, this affected those working and sending remittances here and made sending and receiving money complicated, so Covid-19 had been a challenge.

How do the people deal with this situation in their everyday lives?

Farming was declared an essential service, so that the agricultural production wouldn't be disrupted, but it does not operate in a vacuum so what has been happening in other sectors of the economy has also affected the farming and rural communities. They have had to find different ways of coping. But overally, I think the pandemic has negatively affected a lot of people especially those in the informal sector and people living in the urban areas. They have their water bills to pay, they need to pay rent, they need to buy food, some have extended families to look after - how do they manage if they are not able to work? This becomes a challenge and even for those who work, working hours are restricted, customers are forced to stay at home and some trade in imported goods which are not coming as the borders are closed and even when they come the freight charges are exorbitant so it is a big challenge. In this situation people are just trying to make a living but under challenging conditions, it is interesting to note that people are slowly adapting to the ‘new normal’. This challenging situation is made worse because the support system put in place by the government, I feel is opaque and not sufficient. An example is social assistance during Covid-19. Most of the support for social protection from the government is channelled through the social welfare ministry. It has been reported that it will be using its database trying to identify potential beneficiaries. That leaves many people behind as some who are in need now due to the effects of Covid-19 may not even be in that database, making a lot of people fall into the cracks. The amount of money pledged for assistance to vulnerable households by the government has been very little and it is rendered useless by the hyperinflationary environment in the country and currency fluctuations.

Zimbabwe is in lockdown for many months now. Is the population still accepting the restrictions or is there some unrest?

There are mixed feelings indeed. People are tired now, they want to move on with their lives, they want to go out and work, and provide for their families. People want the economy to be opened, especially when they see countries like South Africa systematically lifting restrictions, the feeling is that we need to relax restrictions especially since confirmed positive cases have been low. But people cannot openly express themselves or demonstrate even if they strongly feel that the whole issue is not being handled properly. Interestingly even though people feel that the stringent restrictions should be loosened, there is a fear of Covid -19 hitting the country hard like in other countries so there is always that caution.

Let’s talk briefly about your research project with Alex Veit from the CRC’s project B09, focusing on food security policies in South Africa during the last 100 years. What exactly are you looking at?

Over the past hundred years different schemes were put in place to provide food-related assistance, targeting different demographic populations in the country. During this time, South Africa has undergone political and ideological transitions. We are asking: What has been the trajectory of food security policies in the country over the past century? We then go on to explore the different food security policies that were put in place by successive administrations in order to deal with poverty induced hunger and malnutrition. Of importance is to understand the role played by different actors and to provide an argument using the South African case that food security, which is an overlooked form of public welfare provision, can provide important insight into public welfare as a central aspect of state-society relations.

Our research has interesting cases like the school feeding scheme which we look at in the pre apartheid and apartheid era, which benefitted different demographic groups but was subjected to much racialised and at times shocking narratives. The interwoven interests and agendas of politicians, industrial and agrarian capitalists, philanthropists, religious leaders, African nationalists, trade unions, women’s organisations and other interest groups are looked at in our research which also touches on the food subsidy system. The dynamics of the food subsidy system which played an important role in maintaining the apartheid regimes socio-economic and political cohesiveness, while excluding the African majority, are some of the key issues which we touch in our research. It is an interesting historical research which people should look out for.

I can imagine, the longer you go back in time, the harder it gets to analyse who influenced the political process …

That was indeed one of our challenges. There is not much literature on the specific issues that we were looking for, so are heavily reliant on materials from the archives and media reports. Newspapers were particularly useful in giving up-to-date information on what was occurring at a particular time and what was said by a person even in direct quotes for example in Parliament. We have found this to be very valuable information that has filled important gaps in our research. Searching in archives to try to understand the situation at that time has been very useful and informative. From the 1950s onwards, the material is not that difficult to find. It is the post-First World War period that is a bit challenging. The other factor is that the apartheid government at some point had restrictions on research in areas concerning food and nutrition in African communities - there is a noticeable gap in information. This explains the reason why much literature on some aspects during some historical periods is not readily available. That made our research both difficult and enlightening at the same time and using historical material has made us to understand and appreciate a lot of dynamics that occurred historically in South Africa. Our work is in an advanced stage now, but we are refining some points. We are continuously going back and forth to the archives to make clarifications, follow up on some points. Luckily the archives are digitalised so travel restrictions have not impacted too negatively on this critical aspect of our research.


Contact:
Clement Chipenda
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
P.O. Box 33 04 40
28334 Bremen
Phone: +263 (0)242 306342
E-Mail: clement.chipenda@gmail.com

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