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'Because of poverty, we had to come together': collective action for improved food security in rural Kenya and Uganda

  • Elina Andersson
  • Sara Gabrielsson
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 245-262
Publication/Series: International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Volume: 10
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Abstract english

Agricultural productivity in East African smallholder systems is notoriously low and food production faces multiple challenges, including soil degradation, decreasing land availability, poor market integration, disease burdens and climate change impacts. However, recent evidence from an in-depth study from two sites in Kenya and Uganda shows signs of new social dynamics as a response to these multiple stressors. This paper focuses on the emergence of local social institutions for collective action, in which particularly women farmers organize themselves. Although previous research on collective action has largely focused on common-pool resource management, we argue that collective action is one potential pathway to livelihood and sustainability improvements also in a setting of private land ownership. Trust building, awareness raising and actions to improve livelihood security through risk sharing and pooling of labour and other limited assets have given people more time and resources available for diversification, preventative activities, experimentation and resource conservation. It thereby strengthens farmers' capacity to cope with and adapt to change, as well as contributes to the agency at the local level.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • collective action
  • communities of practice
  • food security
  • Kenya
  • smallholder farming
  • Uganda


  • ISSN: 1473-5903
Sara Gabrielsson
E-mail: sara [dot] gabrielsson [at] LUCSUS [dot] lu [dot] se

Associate senior lecturer

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

+46 46 222 16 93

Josephson, 220

Josephson, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund


Short biography

Sara Gabrielsson is an Associate senior lecturer in Sustainability science at Lund University. Sara’s primary research focus is on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and sustainable development in Africa. Sara’s vision isto facilitate the interaction between academia and sanitation practitioners to enable the spread of sustainable WASH from theory to action.

Impact and communication

Policy work
Policy brief: Toward Sustainable Menstrual Health Managemant in Tanzania (PDF)

Capacity building


Land is Life


Menskopp bidrar till bättre skolgång för tjejer i Tanzania, Sveriges radio, 2018 

Menskopp hjälper unga kvinnor i Tanzania få en bättre skolgång, SVT nyheter, 2018

Kära världen, låt oss prata mera om mens!, Debattartikel i Dagens Arena, 2018

Menstrual cups could help girls attend school in Tanzania,, 2018

Menskopp bidrar till bättre skolgång för tjejer i Tanzania,, 2018


"Breaking the Silence" - A film about the challenges with Menstrual Health Management in rural Tanzania

P.O. Box 170, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se