Project B09 (2022-25)

Social Policy and Rural Development in Africa

In the first phase of the project, we investigated the historical dynamics of social policy making in the fields of food, health and education in six African countries (Egypt, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda). One central finding of this research is that welfare statism across Africa has mainly been an urban phenomenon and that modern social policies have been firmly segmented and favour the welfare interests of formally employed male workers in public and private sectors. While this welfare state segmentation and its political and socioeconomic legacies have been well researched in past years, much less is known about social policy measures in rural spheres in Africa.

Therefore, in the second phase, we address this knowledge gap and explore the role social policy plays in rural settings in the Global South in general, and in African countries in particular. The main question driving our research is: Which social policy measures have been developed to address the rural social question in African countries? By exploring it we aim to establish the relevant causal dynamics and determinants of coverage and generosity in rural social policy making.

Based on the concept of “coupled arenas” in internationalized politics, we systematically investigate the interplay between international discourses, domestic politics and local implementations of rural development ideas. First, we highlight the socio-economic changes of the countryside and the transformative dynamics of agrarian policies in Botswana, Mozambique, Morocco, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia to spell out the demand for social policy responses to tackle rural poverty and exclusion. Second, we comparatively analyse the policy solutions developed in rural development policies in these countries since 2000.

Regarding research design and methodological orientation, the project comprises case analysis, process tracing and case comparisons. As to the empirical material under investigation, it covers public documents and archival resources, descriptive statistics and primary data generated in field research, expert interviews and ethnography.