Our work crosscuts five areas of activities:

  • Building the evidence-base for understanding prosperity and peace pathways
  • Co-creating locally appropriate prosperity-peace pathways: what is needed to achieve SDGs 1 and 16 locally?
  • Local Citizens Labs: Chad, Niger and Nigeria
  • Lake Chad Conflict and Environment Observatory
  • Making it happen: evaluating opportunities and capacities for pathways implementation

Funded by a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship, the Prosperity and Peace Pathways Project seeks to create a system of interlinked research and learning spaces to reveal the foundations of citizens' preferences and strategies for meaningful and non-violent interactions and peaceful development.

We use coordinated local citizens (learning) labs, a conflict and environment observatory, multi-country surveys and participatory scenario-based forecasting and backcasting approaches to understand and co-create locally valid, locally owned and locally sustained prosperity and peace pathways in countries facing interrelated risks of violent conflict and climate change.

We work across the Lake Chad region, building the capacity of a new generation of young academics in conflict, peace, environment and development research, while also bringing together science, society and the state in a reciprocally useful way to advance innovative approaches to knowledge co-creation and change-making. Our local citizens labs in Chad, Niger and Nigeria serve as a “one-stop-shop” for knowledge innovation and operationalisation of the Sustainable Development Goals related to prosperity, climate and peace. Our vision is to “contribute to the REDUCTION of all forms of violence in the Lake Chad region”

Why prosperity and peace nexus and pathways?

The proposition that prosperity and peace should go together is well established in the literature. Mainstream theoretical perspectives suggest that the pursuit of prosperity and peace can involve interconnected socio-economic, ecological and governance challenges that entangle competing interests, norms, values, priorities and memories of historical past. As such, research on prosperity and peace must incorporate a diversity of perspectives, worldviews and knowledge systems. Moreover, developing prosperity-peace pathways relies on knowledge that crosscuts livelihoods, social justice and human security; and implementing them must be underpinned by functional relationships between citizens, communities and states, mediated by institutions. This adds an additional layer of complexity for policymakers in fragile countries who must align short-term priorities to protect lives and livelihoods with long-term prosperity and peace challenges. It also involves engaging with the inherent uncertainty of climate change. The uncertainty, complexity and contestation related to violence and poverty reduction make operationalising climate change, prosperity and peace a particularly wicked problem for policymakers. Wicked problems like this cannot be tackled by scientific methods alone or through top-down governance models. Consequently, the traditional ‘puzzle-solving’ method to problem-solving and scientific research is inadequate in the face of interlinked violence-poverty challenges. Yet, co-creating pathways towards prosperity and peace remains urgently needed. In considering pathways towards peace and prosperity, new forms of knowledge mobilisation and policymaking are needed.

Why the Lake Chad region?

There is a long-standing, and recently revived, state of insecurity in the Chad, Niger and Nigeria Lake Chad Basin areas in Africa, driven by both insurgent conflict and extreme poverty. As such, these areas provide a dynamic test bed of broad relevance for investigating mainstream peace-prosperity nexus and pathways. They are also among the least developed locations globally, with Niger being the poorest country in the 2018 UN Global Development report; highly vulnerable to acute water shortages and violent conflicts; and characterised by weak local justice systems and a national governance structure that enshrines inequality. Currently, how persistent droughts, increasing livelihood underperformance and pervasive conflict economies have become entangled in the current challenges of insurgent conflicts in the lake’s territory is poorly understood. There is a need to understand this to be able to identify sustainable and inclusive peace and prosperity pathways that will benefit the many millions of cultivators, pastoralists and fishermen who live in the region and depend on the lake’s resources. Similarly, little is known about what happens after an insurgent struggle ends, in particular, how strategies for conflict prevention/transformation, community reconstruction and livelihood rehabilitation might prevent localised crime and grievances amongst former occupation or ethnic- related enemies, or even amongst former allies. There is a need to better understand local arrangements for positive peace negotiations and economic recovery action plans to enable the development of evidence-based sustainable and inclusive prosperity solutions.

In the Lake Chad region, it is critical that Boko Haram-damaged communities start to develop simple but effective approaches for building social cohesion through the multiple opportunities available from a range of sources, including from international humanitarian and development actors. While scientific understanding of the politics and arrangements that shape the operations of these actors in the lake environment remains very superficial, there is a need to better define these to identify good practices currently in place that encourage coherent poverty reduction and social cohesion responses. The ongoing dialogue, information sharing and alliances amongst various stakeholders, including the regional stabilisation programme involving UNEP and the national governments of Chad, Niger and Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, to address insecurity, underdevelopment and environmental challenges in the Lake Chad region, offer a unique opportunity for innovative peace-prosperity research that supports policy and decision makers in sustainable and equitable prosperity planning.

The Prosperity and Peace Pathways Project is organised around three core themes: (B)uilding the evidence-base for understanding prosperity and peace pathways; (C)o-creating locally appropriate prosperity and peace pathways (what is needed to achieve SDGs 1 and 16 locally?); (M)aking it happen: evaluating opportunities and capacities for pathways implementation. These themes (B-C- M) are underpinned by our motivation to foster connections, spur innovations and drive transformation through a rich portfolio of engagement with science, society and the state.

Building the evidence-base for understanding prosperity and peace pathways

Prosperity and peace are recognised in the academic and policy circles as intrinsically connected, with prosperity considered as a necessary foundation for peace, and peace recognised as a precondition for prosperity. Yet limited studies exist that comprehensively explore the interlinkages between prosperity and peace through transdisciplinary engagements in regions experiencing increasing climate, conflict and food insecurity risks. In particular, the specific characteristics of the prosperity-peace nexus, such as the bidirectional linkages and nexus dynamics, as well as the role of specialty agency (i.e., those who dynamically influence the nexus), remain under-examined. Due to the broad connotations of prosperity and peace, and the diverse ways in which their related concepts and theories are articulated, previous studies have typically examined and measured the specific components/dimensions of prosperity or peace separately, but not prosperity as a component of peace and vice versa. The urgency to accelerate actions towards prosperous, peaceful and just societies calls for a profound transformation in the ways academic, policy and public discourses frame and pursue prosperity and peace goals: from a focus mainly on material wealth and conflict avoidance, to one that emphasises sustainable wellbeing, happiness, positive (inner and outer) peace and harmonious living, especially in countries that have less of prosperity and peace. Under this workstream, the Prosperity and Peace Pathways project will establish the evidence base for understanding prosperity and peace nexus and pathways by systematically (i) identifying and analysing the drivers, dynamics and challenges of violent conflict; (ii) identifying cross-scale conflict prevention and mitigation processes and how such processes can foster peace-prosperity; (iii) unpacking peace-prosperity dimensions, challenges and implications for livelihoods; and (iv) investigating the politics of knowledge on peace-prosperity relations in fragile settings.

Co-creating locally appropriate prosperity-peace pathways: what is needed to achieve SDGs 1 and 16 locally?

This workstream focuses on ‘co-creation practices’ and ways to co-create prosperity and peace pathways in crisis contexts. In doing this, we aim to deliver an innovative model of collaborative (vertical and horizontal) learning (experiential and experimental) based around the development of Transboundary Citizens Learning Alliances (i.e., Local Citizens Labs in Chad, Niger and Nigeria), providing distinct triple-loop learning labs' for understanding, co-creating and evaluating peace-prosperity pathways, and offering a nationally appropriate mechanism for localising peace-prosperity related SDGs.

Local Citizens Labs: Chad, Niger and Nigeria

Local citizens labs are the project’s strategic in-country citizens hubs for collaborative (vertical and horizontal) learning (experiential and experimental) and knowledge innovation in Chad, Niger and Nigeria. The Labs’ programme is framed around ‘co-creation practices’, focusing on co-creating pathways of change needed to provide desirable peace, prosperity and stability for the Lake Chad region. As we work to establish and coordinate research and learning spaces in each project country, the citizens labs will enable connection of local actors that are less likely to work together on climate change, peace and prosperity issues, enabling local resource users, community leaders and stakeholders, and peace and development actors to collaboratively unravel the foundations of citizens’ preferences and strategies for both human wellbeing and meaningful and non-violent interactions. In-country lab management committees work to co-design, facilitate and ‘co-own’ specific in-country collaborative learning and knowledge innovation processes, acting as beacons for local engagement and prosperity-peace pathways implementation. Our citizens learning labs aim to achieve two key goals:

  • Support the development of deliberative scenarios that describe the potential future peace- prosperity status for the Lake Chad region, targeting context-relevant issues across different prosperity and peace dimensions and deriving desirable pathways of change.
  • Serve as a network of one-stop shops for localising SDGs 1 (no poverty) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institution) in the region.

We are pursuing these goals by: THE CITIZEN LAB

  • Working across a diverse set of local stakeholders to co-create and
    promote visions of prosperity and peace, and pathways to achieving
    both goals simultaneously.
  • Delivering core, context-specific and locally relevant teaching modules
    for introduction in local schools.
  • Signposting and synthesising evidence for use in policy and practice.
  • Promoting and maximising value from new, existing and novel data generated through our
    Lake Chad Conflict and Environment Observatory.

Lake Chad Conflict and Environment Observatory

This work stream aims to develop and deliver a Conflict and Environment Observatory to foster enhanced decision making on connected climate, peace and prosperity agendas with impact stories from the Lake Chad Region. Violence and environmental damages in the region have created unprecedented challenges for decision makers and development actors who are constantly being asked to make many varied and complex peace-conducive and climate-friendly decisions in quick succession. The range and urgency of evidence they require is continuously growing – and it is not easily accessible. This presents a challenge in developing/implementing needs-based interventions to help vulnerable communities on the frontlines of interacting social and environmental disasters. Our Lake Chad Basin Conflict and Environment Observatory will achieve three goals:

  • Track, document, monitor and evaluate the interactions of conflicts, climate risks and food-water-land scarcities in the Lake Chad region.
  • Create new socio-economic, political, cultural, psychological/philosophical and ecological narratives on climate conflict events, including narratives on drivers, dynamics and challenges of violent conflict and opportunities for peace throughout the project life cycle.
  • Generate new knowledge and capacity to strengthen resilience and improve environmental sustainability and peace

Our monthly factsheets provide reports on conflict and environmental events and trends across the region

We intend for the observatory to serve as a decision-support tool, contributing to ongoing early warning and early actions systems in the region, fostering peace-conducive recovery through link with relevant national/regional government departments and agencies and helping to create knowledge for climate-friendly peacebuilding and human development across the region.

Making it happen: evaluating opportunities and capacities for pathways implementation

This workstream explores the opportunities and capacities of state actors and the institutional environments to implement the prosperity and peace pathways developed in this project, supporting capacity building for evidence-based regional policy-making and cross-scale implementation. We will map specific prosperity and peace indicators to monitor over the short-to- long term and possible drawbacks relating to the use of the pathways within the national policy space, and assess whether the pathways can lead to too much complexity and be difficult for actors to implement and how to address these. We will investigate whether past and ongoing development measures aligned with the cocreated pathways – asking what worked, what did not work and why, and what can be improved now.


Dr Uche Okpara

Director of the Prosperity and Peace Project
UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellow
Senior Lecturer in Climate Change, State Fragility and Conflict in the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich, UK

Dr Mukhtar Bello
Post-Doctoral Researcher

Dr. Mukhtar Bello is a postdoctoral researcher on the Prosperity and Peace Pathways project in charge of research activities in the Diffa Region of Niger Republic. He is currently based at the Centre for Dryland Agriculture and the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria. He holds a PhD in Political Science (with specialisation in counterterrorism and human rights protection in conflict situations) from the University of Gezira in Sudan and an MSc in International Relations from Zirve University, Gaziantep Turkey.

Dr Sulaiman Yunus
Post-Doctoral Researcher

Dr Sulaiman Yunus is a postdoctoral researcher on the Prosperity and Peace Pathways project in charge of research activities in the Nigeria territory of the Lake Chad region. He is a member of the Association of Nigerian Geographers, and currently based at the Centre for Dryland Agriculture and the Department of Geography, Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria. He holds a PhD in Human Geography from Bayero University Kano and an MTech in Remote Sensing & Geographic Information System from SRM University in India. He has diverse research interests around a central theme of human geography and its link with risk and disaster management for sustainable development and has publications in these areas. He has strong skills in remote sensing and use of geographic information system applications in urban studies.

Rejoice Wadiam Papka
PhD Researcher

Rejoice Papka is a PhD researcher on the Prosperity and Peace Pathways project, working on the nexus of climate change, prosperity and peace and the usefulness of socioecological systems framework in advancing understanding of the environmental consequences of violent conflict. Rejoice Papka studied for her BSc in Policy and Strategic Studies at Covenant University in Nigeria and MSc in Strategic Studies and Management at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. She worked for several agricultural and development-facing NGOs before joining the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich for her PhD in Development Studies. Her PhD work seeks to deepen understanding of how interlinked nature-society systems across the Lake Chad region are both positively and negatively impacted by institutions, livelihood arrangements, conflict dynamics and climate change.

Dr Koïbé Roméo
Research Associate

Dr Roméo holds a PhD in Public Law (with specialisation in human rights and the social protection of victims of climate hazards) from the University of Paris Nanterre in France. He was formerly a Lecturer and Researcher in Protection of Human Rights, Migrants and refugees Protection and International Humanitarian Law at the University of N’Djamena, Chad Republic. As a former employee of the UN and France Embassy in Chad, he worked on different human rights and social protection assignments in partnership with researchers and development practitioners in Asia, Europe and Africa, as well as universities in the UK, France, Cambodia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon. He has over 10 years’ experience of conducting research on peace, development, security and peace in the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa.

University of Greenwich MSc students supervised by Dr Uche Okpara working on projects related to different thematic areas of the Prosperity and Peace Pathways Project in the 2022/2023 academic year

1. Zainab Eniola Abdul Wahid O – “A climate for social cohesion: the links between climate change and peace” – Zainab Eniola explores how climate change affects/enables peace and what that means for conflict preventing in fragile settings.

2. Kolade Oladeji – “Conflict Economies in the Sahel” – Kolade is working to understand the drivers, nature, dynamics and dimensions of conflict economies and what the impacts are for ongoing efforts to resolve and manage violent conflict

3. Oladipupo Ogunro – “Understanding the environmental consequences of violent conflict in Northern Nigeria” - Oladipupo wants to understand how violent conflict drive ecological damages and undermine environmental protection

4. Larzboy Monye Iwuamadi – “Environmental stewardship in fragile and conflict affected settings”- Larzboy explore the concepts, theories and practice of environmental stewardship and whether and how stewardship could foster prosperity and peace in divided societies

Partners and Collaborators

Institutional affiliations of partners and collaborators associated with the Prosperity and Peace Pathways Project

Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, UK

University of Diffa, Niger Republic

University of Maiduguri, Nigeria

University of N’Djamena, Chad Republic

Lake Chad Basin Commission, N’Djamena, Chad Republic

Bayero University (Centre for Dryland Agriculture)

The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria

The Conflict and Environment Observatory, UK

Abbasad Initiative for Sustainable Development, Borno State, Nigeria