This project brings together two newly established ARUA centres of excellence – on climate change and inequalities, respectively – with world-leading expertise from the United Kingdom (UK) to form a network for research at the nexus of climate change, inequality and poverty.

The research aims to generate evidence on, and knowledge of, how African societies can design and implement climate action to improve sustainable livelihoods and reduce both poverty and inequality. The project will generate robust evidence and insights on the two-way synergies and trade-offs that can play out between climate change action and multidimensional poverty and inequality.

This evidence will help policy and practice decision-makers understand how climate change actions can be socio-economically transformative.

The context

Agenda 2030 of the United Nations sets out ambitious challenges for society to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While all SDGs are important in Africa, those related to poverty (SDG 1, 8), inequality (SDG 5, 10) and climate change (SDG 13, 7) are especially relevant. Africa has some of the highest global poverty rates, levels of inequality, climate vulnerabilities, and shortfalls in energy access.

Making substantial progress on all these SDGs will require action in any single SDG domain that maximises synergies and co-benefits and avoids as much as possible negative trade-offs for the achievement of other SDGs.

The research and research network

The TSITICA project aims to build an African-led transdisciplinary research team that will generate high-quality evidence and understanding of how climate change action can leverage sustainable development outcomes in Africa.

The project’s main objective is to generate evidence on, and knowledge of, how African societies can design and implement climate action to improve sustainable livelihoods and reduce both poverty and inequality. The second objective is to build a network of African-UK researchers who can bring deep disciplinary expertise to bear on this interdisciplinary problem.

The network of African-UK researchers can bring deep disciplinary expertise to bear on this research question. The first building blocks of this network involve bringing together two ARUA centres of excellence: the African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research and the ARUA Centre of Excellence for Climate Development (ARUA-CD), each with strong teams in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. The network further incorporates academics from four different universities in the UK, namely University of East Anglia, University of Manchester, University of Bristol and London School of Economics.

To address the climate-poverty-inequality nexus in Africa, the interdisciplinary research team that was established brings together expertise in development economics, livelihoods, poverty and inequality, climate policy and governance, energy and mitigation, and adaptation. The research questions will be addressed through comparative research from Ghana, Kenya and South Africa to synthesise commonalities and differences across these different contexts.

In this way, TSITICA aims to lay the foundations of an inclusive, transdisciplinary, pan-African network of researchers and practitioners on climate change and inequality. This will consolidate and increase research capacity for the analysis of climate action, social inequality, sustainable livelihoods and the relationships between them.

The research approach is multi-scale and multi-dimensional, seeking to understand:

  • the political, economic and policy context within which transformative climate actions are enabled (or prevented);
  • how socio-economic and climate change policies have affected livelihood trajectories of different groups in society;
  • the potential outcomes from climate change actions, with a focus on how these outcomes vary across social groups, especially between men and women, but also social differences such as education, income, and land tenure;
  • how existing climate actions are working (or not) to build sustainable livelihood trajectories for communities;
  • understanding the countrywide social and economic benefits of different climate actions when applied at scale.

This transdisciplinary approach will be used as a model to impact future research design and create meaningful intellectual collaboration, hereby enhancing the research capabilities of the disciplines involved and facilitate South-South learning inclusively.

Potential of the research

The project will involve close collaboration with leaders in policy and practice, and also with communities, so that their needs and priorities inform the research, and so that the research in turn shifts their thinking and actions. This work, therefore, will guide research, capacity building and policy agendas for climate change and poverty and inequality more effectively, especially through a series of scoping and synthesis workshops.

Collaboration with practitioners in government, the private sector, and civil society to drive the desired changes in thinking and practice will help meet TSITICA’s ultimate goal of contributing to improved livelihoods and equitable benefits from climate actions for the most vulnerable.

Project team

The TSITICA research team comprises scholars from the University of Ghana, University of Nairobi, University of Cape Town and, from the UK, the University of Bristol, the University of East Anglia, the London School of Economics, and the University of Manchester.


The project is made possible with the support of African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). ARUA’s partnership with UKRI which was established in 2018 with the aim to address the SDGs, strengthen Africa-United Kingdom research collaborations, and enhance research capacity across the African and UK research communities.

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