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Prof Mafa Hara



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Professor Mafaniso Hara joined PLAAS in 2000. He has more than 30 years experience working as a social scientist with focus on rural fishing communities in both inland and coastal contexts. His current research interests are in integrated resource governance, marine resources conflicts, ecosystem services from public dams in South and climate change adaption in southern Africa. His work has particularly focused on looking at social issues affecting fisheries and natural resource dependent communities. Since joining PLAAS, he has co-ordinated a number of regional collaborative research projects on fisheries and commons governance.


Prof Hara emphasises that approaches to protecting valuable commons assemblages must also protect – or at the very least avoid exacerbating – vulnerable marginal livelihoods dependent on these. His research has also looked at the nature and viability of livelihoods based on fisheries and natural resources. Linking to other PLAAS research on food security and food value chains, his work looks at how small-scale fishers and small rights holders in industrial fisheries can better integrate into agro-food value chains in South and southern Africa through formal and informal markets, and how this can help improve regional food security.


He notes that climate change increasingly impacts on natural resources leading to variability in the populations of many of the species and ecosystem services that such natural resources provide. Therefore, Prof Hara also focuses his research on how local communities are coping and adapting with such impacts.

Research Focus

Fisheries and coastal livelihoods; natural resources and ecosystems management; rural development; poverty


  • PhD on user participation in fisheries in the south-east arm of Lake Malawi, University of the Western Cape, 2001
  • MSc, Humberside College of Higher Education, 1990
  • BSc, University of Malawi, 1981
  • BA (Hons) in Sociology, Stellenbosch University, 2010

Selected Publications