Her research focuses on understanding the – often conflictive – relations between humans and the environment and its implications for practitioners in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. Recently, she has explored opportunities and conflict potentials of introducing a circular economy in Meknès, Morocco. She found that a circular economy should not only aim to prevent environmental damage and to be economically viable, but also needs to consider social inequalities and cultural particularities of local communities. In the past, she has studied the governance mechanisms in Egyptian irrigated agriculture and the possibilities and limitations of technical and institutional reforms promoted by development organisations. She has shown that these often reinforce marginalisation processes among smallholders instead of counteracting them. Currently, she works on the links between food insecurity and violent conflict and recent attempts to tackle crises in conflict settings by improving the links between humanitarian assistance, development cooperation and peacebuilding (HDP Nexus).
Research Topics / Key Expertise
Human-environmental relations, political ecology, and theories of space
Rural transformations and agricultural development
Natural resources management and governance of resources
Food insecurity and violent conflict
HDP Nexus and humanitarian assistance
Qualitative research methods
Countries Of Expertise
- South Sudan
Birgit has a PhD in human geography and several years of professional experience in humanitarian aid. For the past fifteen years, she has been researching and working on various countries in the MENA region and sub-Saharan Africa, mainly on food (in)security and sustainable resource management.
She joined BICC in November 2019 as a senior researcher for a project on sustainable transformation processes in rural Morocco (I-WALAMAR). For three years, she explored the socio-economic sustainability and potential risks of introducing new technologies and agricultural practices that aim for introducing a circular economy in the olive oil industry in Meknès, Morocco. The project brough her back to Morocco after more than a decade, where she conducted research for her Master thesis on the potentials for a “sustainable range management of a pastoral-nomadic group in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco”. After that, she lived and conducted research in Egypt for several years for her PhD on the governance of water in Egypt’s agricultural sector and its impact on socio-spaces, with a focus on the role of the international development cooperation.
She has also worked in the humanitarian department at Caritas Germany in Freiburg for more than three years, where she coordinated emergency and transitional aid projects in South Sudan and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Building on this practical experience, She is currently part of a research project at BICC on how the links between humanitarian assistance, development cooperation and peacebuilding (HDP nexus) can be improved. For this project, she conducts research in three localities in South Sudan. Besides that, she is working on the links between current food crises and violent conflict.