Longterm Livelihood Change in Tanzania

Dan Brockington

GSD - Projects - Livelihood Change

How can we track change in poor rural areas where data are scarce? How do we know what general economic growth does to places which are considered rural backwaters? As poorer countries try to transform their economies, and as economies appear to be rebounding across Africa, what is that doing to the rural poor?

This project provides surprising and challenging answers to these questions. It brings together the expertise of a collection of researchers with decades of experience of working in Tanzania, all of whom have faced add deceptively simple task: go back to your study sites, to the places you know well, and the families you first visited and then describe and try to explain the changes you see. The result has been a fascinating compilation of insights and experience into the dynamics of rural societies in Tanzania, which highlights the importance of investments in assets for rural peoples and their success in doing so, largely through their endeavours in small holder farming. Assets are centrally important to the local definitions of wealth across the country. This matters a great deal because rural people’s investment in assets is not counted when poverty lines are calculated. There are sound methodological reasons for this mission but it means that when rural people invest in assets, then that growing prosperity is invisible development data. This project shows what those data can miss. This project published as the edited collection Prosperity in rural Africa?, with Oxford University Press