Research topic: Africa
The world’s largest and most populous continent after Asia, Africa faces some of the world’s most intense development challenges.
Photo: Kristin Alfsen.
A continent with great challenges
Africa’s recent history has been marked by political instability, violence and authoritarianism, with post-colonial struggle, ethnic tensions, famine, civil war and environmental challenges all impeding social and economic development. High levels of illiteracy, malnutrition, poor water and sanitation and dismal health indicators make for the worst human development indicators in the world.
Cultural richness and immense diversity
But although Africa is often spoken of in terms of crisis and a place of failure and insurmountable problems, it is also a continent of cultural richness and immense diversity. Some countries are making great strides economically. Many more states are democratically governed than was the case twenty years ago. The rate of HIV infection appears to be stabilising and child mortality appears to be declining while primary school completion is improving. Today, Africa is a continent whose economic and social orders and governance structures are undergoing extremely complex transformations.
SUMs research on Africa
Capturing these transformations lies at the heart of SUM’s Africa-related research. Drawing on approaches from anthropology, sociology, political science, ecology and biology, SUM researchers are currently involved in projects in Kenya, Burkina Faso, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Malawi. Our research covers topics ranging from the challenges of implementing renewable energies and the socio-cultural aspects of energy, biodiversity, livelihoods and food security, to studies of governance and aid policy and global health issues including immunization, reproductive health and health system development. We are also involved in projects to foster research and academic cooperation between Norwegian and African educational and research institutes.