UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Scarce land, diverse livelihoods: tracking 35 years of change in central Mali

22 March 2018, 5:30 pm–8:00 pm

UCL ISR March 2018 GL

On Thursday 22 March, UCL ISR will be hosting a public lecture to be delivered by Camilla Toulmin, Senior Associate at the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED).

Event Information

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UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


225, Central House, University College London, 14 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0NN

The West African Sahel is usually seen by governments, donors and the media as on a one-way route to impoverishment and desertification. Yet over the past 35 years, Dlonguebougou, a small mud village in central Mali, has experienced remarkable socio-economic change. 

Camilla Toulmin, Senior Associate at the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED), will present insights from her longitudinal study on what has happened to land, livelihoods, climate and people, since 1980. Toulmin will discuss the role of villagers in delivering extensive economic investment and growth in Dlonguebougou which has seen combined household assets rise to upward of $600,000 – a sum which has multiplied by 5 times since she first visited the village in 1980. The lecture will also chart the shifts in markets, politics, governance and social institutions which have underpinned the diverse economic pathways followed by different village households.

After looking back over 35 yearsToulmin will then look forward to the considerable challenges ahead, for the village and wider region, and implications for government and donor policyShe argues for a rooted, decentralised approach to building greater transformative and resilient growth in the region.

 About the speaker

Camilla Toulmin is just completing a longitudinal study of her doctoral field site in Mali, thanks to a fellowship from the Open Society Foundation.  An economist by training, she was Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) until 2015, and is now Senior Associate at IIED, Professor at Lancaster University and Honorary Research Fellow at Oxford University. Her research over 35 years covers how people deal with multiple risks and uncertainty, such as governance, climate, and demography, and the complex shifts in land rights and tenure.