Clémence de Wouters

Clémence de Wouters
Personnel Type

Hi, my name is Clémence de Wouters, I am 24 years old and I come from Belgium. I am a second year student in the ICP Master of Science in Sustainable Development at KULeuven. I first completed a bachelor’s degree in management and business engineering but then I realized I needed to move toward something more concrete, something that was more connected to nature and people. After taking a gap year and traveling abroad, I thus changed direction. This master program now offers me the chance to follow complementary courses in the fields of environment, geopolitics, economics and social sciences. It has enabled me to acquire an overall view of the global trends governing our societies and to better understand the challenges that await us in the face of climate change.

My stay in Kampala takes place as part of my internship and my final dissertation. The latter aims to understand to what extent urban agriculture in Kampala can contribute to food security and dietary diversity. I will also analyze alternative agriculture practices embraced by Kampala’s urban farmers. To achieve my goals, I will conduct interviews with local households and food vendors in order to understand the food consumption pattern in Kampala. This research is placed in the context of the larger program called Food4Cities that explores food system transformations in rapidly changing African cities. My internship will consist in gathering additional data intended for this program.

Agriculture is in my opinion a crucial sector in the fight against poverty and climate change. It lies at the center of our daily lives and impacts us all, either in negative or positive ways. Food is at the intersection between biodiversity, global warming, poverty, health, urban planning, etc. This is the reason why I think this topic is so interesting and why I want to dive deeper into it. I hope to be able to better understand the stakes behind food production in Kampala and consequently propose sustainable solutions that can ensure food security in the city region. In the meantime, I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to discover Uganda and its capital.

I am now living in Utrecht, The Netherlands and completing my Geography Master’s in International Development at Utrecht University. My field study research in Uganda is in collaboration with the Urban Action Lab and will look at the differentiated impact of development corridors on local communities. Inherent to most large-scale infrastructure is the displacement of local populations. This fact, coupled with an increased interest in development corridors from the international development community and investors mean that the implications for the livelihoods of local communities is of paramount importance. Development corridors are thought to be a means of sustainable development and economic growth, with benefits expected to trickle-down. However, these benefits are not shared equally. While local communities are often considered as homogenous groups, individuals within a community are positioned very differently to benefit from development corridors and in their capacity to cope with displacement and pursue sustainable livelihoods.

As such, the objective of my research is to explore how the experiences of local communities affected by the construction of the Kampala Jinja Expressway are differentiated by power-dynamics during the pre-displacement phase. I aim to give voice to the diversity of interests and aspirations within a local community, understand how people have been included in project planning and contribute to an understanding of livelihood restoration that considers the complexity of local needs. This research will be qualitative and allow for the social impacts of displacement to be analyzed from the bottom-up perspective of intra-community local stakeholders.