Large-Scale Land Acquisitions and Sustainable Development

Apl. Prof. Dr. Jann Lay
2010 - 2013
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Cooperation partners

Kiel Institute of the World Economy

Environmental ethics department of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (formerly: University of Greifswald)



Research Questions

  • How and between which negotiation partners are lease contracts concluded? What role does the local population play in this, and are local land rights respected?
  • How does the process of acquiring land work?
  • How does the underlying land governance system effect the land acquisition process?

Contribution to International Research
While LSLAs have attracted a lot of media attention, research on the phenomenon is still nascent. Ours is among the first projects to research the phenomenon. Our particular focus is on the processes on the ground, which are not comprehensively understood at this point.

Research Design and Methods
We apply a comparative small-N study with field research in Kenya, Zambia and Mali focusing on particular investment cases provides insights into processes of land acquisitions. Data is collected through expert interviews and focus group discussions.

Preliminary Results
Thanks to in-depth field research, we have gained a better understanding of the processes surrounding LSLAs and the role the land tenure regimes. In particular, we have scrutinized the way land changes hands and the involvement of the local population in decision-making processes. We find that what we can observe de facto is not in line with what the de jure process stipulates. Reasons for these deviations are numerous. To name just a few: poor enforcement of existing laws, contradictions between statutory and customary land laws, powerful position of certain actors.

Research Team

Research Programme