Centre for Development Studies

Youth livelihoods, activism and extractive industry in Sierra Leone

July 2012 - July 2013

Principle Investigator: Roy Maconachie

Funding Body: British Academy

Total Value of Award: £7,000

Project Rationale and Aims:

Over the past decade, neoliberal reforms, soaring commodity prices and heightened global resource demands have led to significant growth in extractive industry investment in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). A surge of investment has triggered a variety of responses in mineral-rich communities – from outright rejection, to protest over labour conditions, to acceptance in anticipation of gainful employment.

This project seeks to understand how changing global-economic patterns and processes are shaping livelihood opportunities for young people in resource-rich SSA. Focusing on the case of Sierra Leone, the research will provide an extended analysis of contrasting youth perceptions of, and responses toward, extractive industry expansion.

The focus on youth, and its heterogeneity as a social category, has important policy implications and will improve understanding of the dynamics and diversity of livelihood strategies in resource- rich developing countries. It will also contribute significantly to an otherwise thin literature on youth mobilisation, chronic poverty and livelihoods in rural SSA.

Dr Roy Maconachie investigates the role of artisanal mining in post-war Sierra Leone.

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Project Outputs and Impact:

A series of diverse outputs will be targeted at a range of dissemination groups in both academic and non-academic arenas. Dissemination mechanisms for research users in Sierra Leone, the UK and internationally will include:

  1. Journal articles - Two articles will be produced for leading international journals within the timeframe of the project, and a third article will be written within six months of the project's end.
  2. Policy and research briefing papers - These will be produced to disseminate research findings to non-academic user-groups. Papers will be produced in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Geography at Fourah Bay College (FBC) in Sierra Leone, and will be written in an appropriate language for the target audience.
  3. Project video.
  4. The PI will place project material together with research summaries, research briefs and updates on a dedicated project website that will be created at the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Bath, to ensure that project outputs are disseminated to as wide an audience as possible. 

  5. A two-day structured workshop to be held in Freetown in January 2013 - This workshop will be designed to facilitate engagement between academia and stakeholders. Invited participants will include: academics, social movement and youth organisations, governmental actors, policy makers and mining company officials. 

For more information about this project please contact:

Name: Dr Roy Maconachie
Title: Reader
Department: Dept of Social and Policy Sciences
Location: 3 East 3.28
E-mail: r.maconachie@bath.ac.uk
Phone: work+44 (0) 1225 384524