Policy research

Research on policy issues enables Practical Action to generate information and knowledge, through analysis of its own work and the work of others, allowing Practical Action to demonstrate and advocate the key role that technology change has for enhancing and sustaining the livelihoods of women and men living in poverty.

Agriculture and soils in carbon trading (PDF, 62k)
In the negotiations and debates on climate change there has been growing emphasis on enabling agriculture to be included in carbon trading, particularly through carbon credits for 'soil carbon sequestration' - locking carbon into soils through the introduction of new uses for land. Yet while this approach may provide opportunities for commercialization and profit, it risks undermining the livelihoods of poor farmers and should not be confused with proven strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilient food systems and empowering rural communities.

Biodiverse agriculture for a changing climate (PDF, 329k)
Climate change will bring enormous and unpredictable changes to agriculture which will affect global food supplies and disproportionately impact on the poor. Emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture, largely from intensive systems, contribute significantly to global warming. This paper, prepared in collaboration with Barbara Dinham (Director, Pesticide Action Network UK 2000-2006), explores biodiverse agriculture as a realistic and proven alternative to industrial methods of production. Practiced by millions of small-scale food producers and organic growers, biodiverse agriculture can limit and adjust to climate change while replenishing the natural resources on which food production depends.

How to Engage with GATS: Practical Action and service provision for the poorest (PDF, 3Mb)
We believe that the GATS process as it stands does not have the potential to develop appropriate, poverty-focused services. This policy document, commissioned by Practical Action from Dr Jonathan Cloke of Newcastle University, details the concerns we have over the existing GATS process, especially with respect to the most vulnerable sectors in the socially structured poverty that exists in the global south: women, indigenous peoples, Dalit communities etc.

Energy poverty: the hidden crisis (PDF, 2.5Mb)
International development agencies, donors and governments in low-income countries need to make energy access for the poor a priority if they are meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and eradicate poverty. This briefing paper looks at the existing barriers to energy access and the sustainable solutions that could overcome them. Read as web page | download PDF

Energy poverty and renewable energy technologies in South Asia February 2009
Practical Action South Asia published two research studies on Renewable Energy Technologies and Energy Poverty in South Asia, ahead of a three-day workshop on the hidden energy crisis in South Asia.

Definitions and status of energy poverty in Sri Lanka
Practical Action South Asia's Pro Poor Policies and Practices in Services team conducted a dialogue based study during 2008 to define what is meant by the Level of Energy poverty in Sri Lanka and the number of households falling below the energy poverty line.

Renewable Energy Technologies - field study
This study on renewable energy technologies and related actors in the field was conducted by Mr M.W. Leelarthne of the National Engineering Research Center Sri Lanka in January 2009. All files are available for download.

Bridging the funding gap to ensure energy access for the poor (PDF, 259k)
Presented at "Financing energy access for the poor", a Practical Action event at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) 15, New York 2007.

Decentralised energy schemes: the option for most rural poor
Presented at Small is beautiful: making decentralised energy a reality, a side event at the the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) 14, New York 2006.

Energy options for the poor in Africa and Latin America 27-28 March 2006, Brussels
Practical Action organised a two-day workshop, making a call for decentralised energy options to be at the top of the European Commission's agenda to combat poverty in rural areas of Africa and Latin America. The workshop report and all presentations are available to download.

Past research

The following papers remain online for archive purposes, but should not necessarily be taken as indicative of current Practical Action work.

Response to the Commission for Africa's Action for a strong and prosperous Africa, Consultation Document December 2004
On 11 November 2004 the Commission for Africa published its consultation document, Action for a strong and prosperous Africa. Practical Action's response suggested six points for attention: Support the development of Africa's scientific, technological and skills base; Support Africa's ability to adapt to climate change and foster global policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; Address the needs of urban slum dwellers; Support small scale agriculture; Make markets work for the poor; Deliver pro-poor services.

Making knowledge networks work for the poor 2002-4
Practical Action has a mission to make knowledge networks work for the poor. We are looking for participation in the creation of a global knowledge network to improve access to information on technology for poverty reduction.

In 2002, Practical Action hosted two workshops, in South Africa and the UK, to debate the role of networks on appropriate technology and how to better communicate such information.

Understanding livelihoods that involve micro-enterprise: markets and technological capabilities in the sustainable livelihoods framework 2002
The paper discusses practical tools that could help practitioners use sustainable livelihoods approaches in enterprise development programmes

Knowledge and information systems of the urban poor 2002
A Practical Action research project examining how the urban poor obtain information, and how development agencies can help to strengthen their knowledge and information systems.

Knowledge and information systems policy paper ~51K
Knowledge and information systems full report ~ 500K

Living with Wildlife 2002
Read about Practical Action's research on sustainable livelihoods for park-adjacent communities in Kenya.

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