By Jake Lomax, Vane Aminga & Matthew Osborne

In response to climate change, significant volumes of aid have been either allocated, re-allocated, or redefined to support developing countries’ adaptation efforts (Donner et al. 2016). Just as aid has long created winners and losers (Gibson et al. 2005), the same is true of development aid projects to support climate change adaptation projects.

Eliye mini-grid in Turkana County, Kenya

As such it is important to understand the political economy of such projects (see e.g. Sovacool and Linnér 2016, Chu 2016, Chu et al. 2016). An influential typology for analysing the political economy of adaptation projects was proposed by Sovacool et al. (2015). This sets out four types of change process: enclosure, exclusion, encroachment and entrenchment (4Es hereafter), by which certain groups or actors may benefit from adaptation systems at the expense of others. These all describe processes by which the system changes, and how relative benefits accrued change as a result. The 4E typology is one of the analytical frameworks used by the Conflict Prevention and Low-Carbon Development research project led by SEI.

The argument of a recent working paper under this project's first work package is that the analysis of system dynamics is usefully situated in an analysis of the system structure. And hence we should improve our understanding of how frameworks for analysis of systems dynamics, such as the 4Es, may be combined with tools for analysing system structures, such as system mapping.

The paper sought to illustrate how one approach to system mapping can be combined with the 4E typology of processes. This serves to set the 4E processes in the context in the actions, actors and resources that comprise the existing system, and thus helps to connect the 4E processes to observed empirical reality.

The paper describes experience gained from analysis of the solar electricity system in Turkana, Kenya. The social system was mapped to present the sequential set of actions that comprise the social system, then the 4Es were analysed in the context of this system map. An example is provided of how this mapping informs construction of causal pathways from adaptation projects through to impact. The implications for operationalizing the 4Es are discussed alongside possible insights into the nature of the 4E framing.

Access working paper on the Stockholm Environment Institute website:

Cite the paper: Osborne, M., Aminga, V. and Lomax, J. (2020). Causal pathways in the political economy of adaptation projects Experience from mapping the solar electricity system in Turkana, Kenya. SEI Working Paper. Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm.

While low carbon development has galvanised many governments and regions to tackle climate change, there are security concerns that are often overlooked. Problematising low carbon development can help us question the assumptions about climate threats and how we deal with them. While low carbon development such as renewable energy development might bring about new economic opportunities, it’s worth looking carefully into new security concerns that may emerge as well as old concerns that become further entrenched.

The recent publication by Dr Naho Mirumachi uncovers five dimensions of climate security that is worth examining in more detail: spatially uneven effects of low carbon development; violent imaginaries of the global south and the production of ‘ungoverned spaces’; non-violent yet harmful instances of conflict; marginalization and dispossession; depoliticized, techno-managerial effects of resilience.

Read the full article here:

Lake Turkana Wind Power turbines in Loiyangalani, Marsabit county, Kenya. Oct. 2018. Photo: Galgallo Guyo (Local project RA in Kenya)

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

This three-year grant was awarded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS) to support research that investigates the changing livelihood conditions around the Omo-Turkana Basin—a lake basin which supports over 5 million people.

Dr Matthew Osborne, SEI research fellow, along with Dr Naho Mirumachi, King’s College London, will lead a multidisciplinary research team with individuals from institutes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom who will document changing livelihood conditions and monitor impacts of renewable energy projects on peace and security.

The project seeks to develop tools to build policymakers’ and implementers’ capacities to implement conflict-sensitive renewables development.

As well as academic partners, the project includes civil society, governmental and multi-lateral partners, including: Turkana University and Turkana Pastoralist Development Organisation (TUPADO).