Welcome to PLAAS

PLAAS does research, policy engagement, teaching and training about the dynamics of chronic poverty and structural inequality in Southern Africa, with a particular emphasis on the key role of restructuring and contesting land holding and agro-food systems in the subcontinent and beyond. Our focus is on the analysis of marginalised livelihoods in Southern Africa, especially of subsistence and smallholder farmers and farm workers, of coastal and inland artisanal fisheries and fishing communities; and of informal self employment in rural and urban areas.

Research Areas


Our research covers diverse areas, ranging from land and tenure reform,  land investment and agro-food restructuring, fisheries and ecosystem management, to social protection and informal self employment. In all this work, our key focus is on the causes and dynamics of inequality and structural poverty, on the economic and social agency of poor...

Latest Publication

Working Paper 53: Farming styles, livelihoods and social differentiation of smallholder farmers

This article focuses on the socio-economic differentiation of smallholder farmers in New Forest Irrigation Scheme. Smallholder irrigation schemes are seen as a way of alleviating poverty and contributing to economic growth. Although smallholders are lumped together as a homogenous group, the study of New Forest Irrigation Scheme shows diversity...

Upcoming Events

There are currently no events.


Why the Traditional Courts Bill is problematic

Many parts of the Traditional Courts Bill are outdated and problematic, says social justice activist and public policy expert Sindiso Mnisi Weeks. Weeks says legislation needs to be updated to be more consistent with the constitutional era and to recognise traditional forums as they exist today.