Social cohesion in Africa
The research project identifies different types of social cohesion in Africa and analyses which national and international factors and policies can contribute to strengthening social cohesion and preventing social disintegration. The project examines the interdependencies between social cohesion and development policy and aims to better understand the importance of social cohesion for development in Africa.
Armin von Schiller
Christian von Haldenwang
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
2018 - 2020 / ongoing
Social cohesion – or social solidarity – within societies is a key success factor for sustainable development in Africa. However, social cohesion is also particularly under pressure in African societies. The expected demographic change – more than 2 billion people in 2050 and over 50 percent under the age of 18 – could exacerbate poverty and social inequality, and thereby social fragmentation. Social inequality varies according to African sub regions, but is overall high in international comparison. At the same time, several conflicts – 15 of them with violence of high intensity – threaten to further divide societies. If functioning institutions are missing, the interests of the population cannot be aggregated and low-intensity conflicts further contribute to societies drifting apart. A lack of identification with the community and the nation state reduces the willingness to engage for the society, for example through paying taxes. At the same time, very high social solidarity exists in many countries within specific groups, such as families or ethnic groups.
Overall, current academic debates are not able to paint a holistic picture, from which generalizable findings on social cohesion in Africa or overarching recommendations for the design and implementation of development policies in Africa could be deduced. Against this background, the project aims to generate a better understanding of different types of social cohesion, as well as their causes. The project provides research and policy advice and aims to answer three central questions:
- Which forms and types of social cohesion can be identified in Africa? Is it possible to depict these different types of social cohesion in country clusters?
- Which domestic factors influence the degree of social cohesion? How can policies contribute to the creation and consolidation of social cohesion?
- How and under which conditions can international and transnational cooperation influence the domestic factors that determine social cohesion?
The question regarding the types and causes of social cohesion as well as the implications for development policy are analysed in more detail in five thematic areas:
- Thematic area 1 “Taxes and social security systems” analyses in how far tax and social policy can contribute to strengthening social cohesion in Africa. It takes a closer look at the question, which reforms of social security and tax systems are necessary, in order to improve the acceptance and legitimacy of the fiscal contract between the state and society in Africa, thereby strengthening social cohesion.
- Thematic area 2 “Values, inclusive governance and democracy” analyses the influence cultural factors, such as norms and value-orientation, have on the creation and functioning of political institutions in African societies. It also addresses the question of observable interrelations between political institutions and social cohesion.
- Thematic area 3 “Conflict and societal peace” addresses the question which influence a) external peacebuilding, b) political institutions and c) individual attitudes (regarding these institutions) can have on societal peace and social cohesion.
- Thematic area 4 “Promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises and financial market development” focuses on the question how a financial system must be designed in order to mobilise domestic resources and transform them into domestic investment, particularly in the field of small and medium-sized enterprises, and which interdependencies with social cohesion arise.
- Thematic area 5 „Climate change adaptation and social cohesion“ addresses the question how certain adaptation strategies affect social cohesion in selected African societies.
- Linking social protection schemes: the joint effects of a public works and a health insurance programme in Ethiopia
Shigute, Zemzem / Christoph Strupat / Francesco Burchi / Getnet Alemu / Arjun S. Bedi (2019)
in: The Journal of Development Studies (Online first)
- First peace, then democracy? Evaluating strategies of international support at critical junctures after civil war
Mross, Karina (2019)
in: International Peacekeeping 26 (2), 190-215
- Addressing food insecurity and agricultural production under a changing climate context in Nigeria
Chinedum, Nwajiuba / Chinwe Ifejika Speranza (2011)
Perspectives: Political analysis and commentary from Africa (Heinrich Böll Foundation publication series)
- Cash transfers and food security in Sub‐Saharan Africa
Burchi, Francesco / Giorgio D'Agostino / Luca Pieroni / Margherita Scarlato (2018)
published on South African Journal of Economics 15 August 2018
- Cultural values, attitudes, and democracy promotion in Malawi: how values mediate the effectiveness of donor support for the reform of presidential term limits and family law
Nowack, Daniel (2018)
Discussion Paper 27/2018
- Cultural values, popular attitudes and democracy promotion: how values mediate the effectiveness of donor support for term limits and LGBT+ rights in Uganda
Hulse, Merran (2018)
Discussion Paper 26/2018
- Unbundling the impacts of economic empowerment programmes: evidence from Malawi
Burchi, Francesco / Christoph Strupat (2018)
Discussion Paper 32/2018
- Linking small-scale farmers to the durum wheat value chain in Ethiopia: assessing the effects on production and wellbeing
Biggeri, Mario / Francesco Burchi / Federico Ciani / Raoul Herrmann (2018)
in: Food Policy 79 (August), 77-91