The project integrates social science research on institutional and political structures and bio-economy with research on organic agriculture, land management and functional ecology. ECOSOLA addresses these aspects in the city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and in the Western Cape Region, South Africa. ECOSOLA’s goal is to promote local structures in order to preserve essential ecosystem functions and create livelihood opportunities for the poor and disadvantaged within the cities. Areal plans for future development which combine different types of land use in urban areas will be developed and proposed.
The close relationship to planning practice as well as the interlinking of research and teaching are of special importance. Through lectures, summer schools and seminars, the project contributes to the improvement of the postgraduate education. Research results will be incorporated new study modules and enrich existing study programs at the three partnering universities.
The following research questions build the core of ECOSOLA’s scientific approach:
- What are the current socio-economic, legal-institutional, agricultural and ecological conditions and challenges for farming inhabitants of urban and peri-urban areas with particular reference to the gender and youth issues, and to social networks in addressing food security and non-food production at the community level? What hindrances do deficient infrastructures and non-existent or undocumented rights to the land impose?
- How can local governance, legal land tenure and urban environmental planning as well as self-organised initiatives contribute to establishing resilient institutional structures in urban areas? How can urban agriculture be integrated in urban planning and contribute to the provision of multiple ecosystem services, including species conservation and firewood extraction?
- How can local varieties (including wild growing plants) and organic production patterns contribute to dietary diversity and food security, as well as for non-food production for vulnerable communities? Which ecologically-compatible, low-tech and affordable interventions work for small-scale farmers and local community-based initiatives to increase yields, conserve soil and water resources, decrease post-harvest losses and reduce market risks?