Development Corridors Partnership

  • Thorn, Jessica Paula Rose (Researcher)
  • Marchant, Robert (Co-investigator)
  • Olago, Daniel (Co-investigator)
  • Munisihi, Pantaleo (Co-investigator)
  • Sandbrook, Chris (Co-investigator)
  • Yilong, Xu (Co-investigator)
  • Conway, Declan (Co-investigator)

Project: Research project (funded)Research

Project Details


Partners from Tanzania, Kenya, China and the UK are coming together to build capacity so development corridor decision-making can be based on sound scientific evidence and effective use of planning tools and procedures.
Funded by the UK Research Council’s Global Challenges Research Fund the Development Corridors Partnership began in October 2017 and will end in December 2021. The Partnership will build capacity to address concerns about development corridors by encouraging scientific collaboration and stakeholder engagement in key issues of corridor planning and management.

Layman's description

Development is occurring rapidly across Africa which makes it difficult to ensure that current and future planning and management does not compromise conservation objectives. To guarantee that development is sustainable in the long-term, we must anticipate changes in land use, ecosystem service provisioning, and livelihoods. This is a daunting task, particularly as we live in an uncertain world where social and environmental changes are unpredictable. In addition, stakeholders’ priorities are often conflicting, which means trade-offs need to be made in land management decisions (e.g. food vs. energy needs). One way to approach these challenges is to use participatory scenario planning to model different socio-economic, climatic and environmental futures, and changes in land use, at local, regional and national scales.

Participatory scenario planning allows us to assess the cumulative social and environmental impacts of development. It uses current and alternative development pathways to see how they will each affect diverse, plausible futures, which allows decision-makers to make better-informed decisions. Working with and providing learning opportunities for stakeholders is a key part of this process.

In the Development Corridors Partnership, we use participatory scenario planning to systematically investigate the potential impacts of development corridors in Kenya and Tanzania, to ensure infrastructure investment is sustainable and resilient.

Dr Jessica Thorn (University of York), with the University of Nairobi Institute of Climate Change and Adaptation, African Conservation Centre, and Sokoine University of Agriculture College of Forestry and Natural Resources, facilitate our scenarios workshops. These workshops bring together researchers, community and non-governmental organisations, businesses, donors, and government officials, working across scales and sectors. Jessica and the team are investigating the impacts of the Standard Gauge Railway and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania as case studies of controversial, current and important development corridors. As of August 2019, workshops have been held across Kenya in Mombasa, Voi, Nairobi, Suswa, Naivasha, and Kisumu; and in Tanzania, in Ifakara in the Kilombero Valley. Our findings are triangulated using in-depth key informant interviews, household surveys, and field visits – examining multiple data sources to validate results, and gain a more detailed understanding of findings.

Key findings

As a result of these workshops we will co-produce recommendations to address failures and present new opportunities to contribute to: national development agendas, such as the Vision 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals,
the African Union Agenda, environmental safeguard mechanisms of contractors (e.g. Chinese) and donors (e.g. World Bank, African Development Bank), and
future Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and Belt and Road Initiative investment guidelines.

The process itself also builds the capacity of key decision-makers in strategic foresight, and medium- to long-term vision building, aimed at present day decisions and mobilizing long-term joint actions.
Effective start/end date1/01/1831/12/21