Read SPARC resources as we create, distil, evaluate and share evidence and best practice on research and policy that aims to support pastoralists and farmers in dryland areas.
SPARC is a research-into-action programme that aims to help people living in the drylands to better cope with crises and increase their resilience to recurring shocks and protracted crisis and conflict.
While the research agenda of SPARC is always evolving, the programme’s research focuses on a number of interlinked themes:
Reframing aid and resilience
How can aid best support and improve pastoralists’, agro-pastoralists’ and farmers’ resilience in a sustainable way? Although ‘building resilience’ now attracts huge investment, little is known about the impacts of most externally funded resilience-building efforts on food security and poverty.
SPARC research has shed some light on the barriers to anticipatory action and resilience-building efforts in regions like the Horn of Africa, where crises are complex, protracted and set across wide geographies. Find out more about our research on aid and resilience here.
Supporting livelihoods and markets
Livestock marketing and trade are critical elements of pastoral livelihood systems and are becoming an increasing focus of investment and aid interventions. But while selling livestock from the drylands can be lucrative, marketing can also be hit by shocks, such as livestock disease, drought and Covid-19-related restrictions.
SPARC researches the structure, functioning and performance of livestock supply chains to understand: how can we better understand pastoral markets and support them to become more effective, economical, equitable and resilient? Find out more about our research on livelihoods and markets here.
Understanding land dynamics and conflict
Understanding land dynamics is central to supporting drylands communities. SPARC looks at natural resource management in dryland regions, and particularly tenure and rangeland governance in pastoral areas, to improve programming and policy making. This includes looking at the causes and dynamics of conflict over natural resources. Find out more about our research on ‘Land and conflict’ here.
Promoting innovative solutions
Innovative approaches and solutions, including technological innovations, can play an important role in improving the lives and livelihoods of people living in the drylands. SPARC studies social technologies, digital services in relation to livelihoods, markets and land, and innovative approaches to governance in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, which often fly under the radar of investors. Find out more about our research on innovations for resilience here, and browse some key innovations in dryland regions on our Innovations Dashboard.
Working in a changing climate
Climate change is already posing increasingly intense disruptions to lives and livelihoods in the drylands of Africa and the Middle East - yet these areas often receive the least climate finance, despite having some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable people and households.
SPARC looks at how transboundary climate adaptation and mitigation risks can be managed in the drylands, and how to scale up climate action in fragile and conflict-affected areas. Find out more about our research on climate change here.
Looking at how gender and social dynamics impact lives and livelihoods
In the drylands of Africa and the Middle East, gender, age, ability, class, education, language and sexuality shape people’s lives, livelihoods and vulnerabilities in profound ways. SPARC research looks at how policies and investments can be designed to take into account these dynamics so that they do not reinforce existing inequalities and the marginalisation of particular groups. Find out more about our research on gender and social dynamics here.