About Katherine Snyder
I began my career focusing on how ideas about development shape everyday life in rural Tanzania. As Tanzania underwent the transformation from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy, I focused on how these political shifts affected social change in rural communities and in national narratives. While on a Fulbright grant to teach at the University of Nairobi in 2005, I decided to stay on in Africa and carry out more applied work. I ran a small NGO in northern Tanzania that worked on community-based natural resource management and land rights for pastoralist communities. From there, I moved to Malawi to take up research again focusing on small-scale fisheries and farming communities who had adopted aquaculture. From fish, I moved to water in Ethiopia and concentrated on institutional analysis and livelihoods at the landscape scale. Moving south to Kenya, my research focus turned to land degradation issues. All my work in Africa over the last decade has been in multidisciplinary and multistakeholder teams. I am excited to take up the director position of the master's program in development practice to train a new generation of practitioners who will bring new ideas and approaches to their work around the globe.
Areas of Study
Sub-Saharan Africa: Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi and Ghana.
Improving livelihoods in landscapes in the Volta Basin through strengthening farmer-led approaches to ecosystem-based management (2014-2016) (International Center for Tropical Agriculture, University for Development Studies - Tamale, Ghana, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), ACDEP (The Association of Church-based Development NGOs).
The livelihoods and agro-ecosystems on which farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists in the Volta Basin depend are under considerable pressure. This multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary project uses landscape-level analysis to assess the underlying diverse drivers of ecosystem change to identify specific entry points for project interventions. This analysis, and all project activities, are done through engagement with local communities and other relevant stakeholders in government and civil society to understand local perceptions of landscape changes and livelihood priorities and to address key barriers to improved landscape management. By taking a holistic approach and working closely together with a range of stakeholders, the project aims to design strategies that are widely applicable and have a high likelihood of triggering long-term positive impacts. Our approach to landscape productivity is holistic and thus includes livestock production, non-timber forest products, soil and water management, crop production and marketing.
AGORA: Acting Together Now for Pro-poor Strategies Against Soil and Land Degradation (2013-2016)
Over 50 years of funding and projects have been focused on solving land degradation problems across Africa. However, adoption rates often remain low. Initiatives have not engaged with land users and decision-makers in ways that promote their ownership over the interventions and have often overlooked the social, political and ecological context in which they are placed. The AGORA project addresses these problems in design and implementation, by jointly identifying SLM practices with stakeholders that are adapted to agroecological conditions and workable under the given social, economic and political conditions in two landscapes in Malawi and Tanzania. AGORA’s transdisciplinary research approach is critical for developing the transformative knowledge necessary to support and foster initiatives to restore these degraded rainfed landscapes. (International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies - Germany, Selian Agricultural Research Institute - Tanzania, Total Land Care - Malawi, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Most of my research has been in countries in East and Southern Africa. I have led projects on political change in Tanzania, land-use change and institutional analysis in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Malawi and governance of small-scale fisheries in Ghana and Malawi. I am interested in how global development narratives shape the practice of development on the ground and have an impact on local livelihoods, gender relations and land-use strategies.
The Iraqw of Tanzania: Negotiating Rural Development. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. 2005.
Recent Journal Articles
2016. Snyder, Katherine A., Sriyanie Miththapala, Rolf Sommer and Juliet Braslow. “The yield gap: closing the gap by widening the approach”. Experimental Agriculture.
2015. Cordingley, Justine E., Katherine A. Snyder, Judith Rosendahl, Fred Kizito and Deborah Bossio. “Thinking outside the plot: addressing low adoption of sustainable land management in sub-Saharan Africa”. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 15: 35–40.
2015. Yami, Mastewal and Katherine A. Snyder. “After all, land belongs to the state: examining the benefits of land registration for smallholders in Ethiopia”. Land Degradation & Development, DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2371.
2014. Snyder, Katherine A and Beth Cullen. “Implications of sustainable agricultural intensification for family farming in Africa: Anthropological perspectives”. Anthropological Notebooks.
2014. Snyder, Katherine A., Eva Ludi, Beth Cullen, Josephine Tucker, Alemayehu Belay and Alan Duncan. “Participation and performance: planning and implementation of soil and water management in Ethiopia”. Public Administration and Development, 34(2): 83-95.
2014. Cullen, Beth, Josephine Tucker, Katherine Snyder, Zelalem Lema and Alan Duncan. “An analysis of power dynamics within innovation platforms for natural resource management”. Innovation and Development, 4(2): 259-275.
2011. Snyder, Katherine A. and Emmanuel Sulle. “Tourism in Maasai communities: a chance to improve livelihoods?” Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 19(8): 935-952.
Ph.D. Anthropology, Yale University.
M.Phil. Anthropology, Yale University.
B.A. Sociology, Smith College
Anthropology and Development
Religion, Myth and Ritual
Gender and Development