Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Tuesday, November 8 - 9:00 a.m.
Research Hall, Room 161

Atesmachew Hailegiorgis
CSS PhD Student
George Mason University

Title: Computational Modeling of the Effects of Climate Change and Land Acquisition on Household Dynamics in Southern Ethiopia

Abstract: The current surge in large-scale land acquisition in developing countries is a complex socio-natural systems problem that is also emerging as a global policy issue. Significant areas of land are being leased out to agri-business enterprises based in both poor and industrialized countries. The resulting expansion of large-scale land acquisition can potentially contribute to the rural economy by creating jobs, developing infrastructure, and transferring technologies. But it can also negatively affect rural households, because most large-scale land acquisition—combined with ongoing effects of climate change—affect rural peoples’ agro-pastoralist livelihood by limiting their access to resources, eventually leading them to dispossession and displacement. Although agent-based models have been previously proposed for modeling complexity in human-environmental systems, so far the influence of large actors such as enterprises and their interactions with local households has not been addressed and remains poorly understood. This study applies an agent-based modeling approach that will explicitly represent major actors (enterprises, households, and institutions) to understand their interactions and dynamics with the environment in a representative region of Ethiopia (South Omo). Anticipated results include (i) improved understanding of dynamic interactions between rural households and enterprises; (ii) new scenario analyses on consequences of different actions of actors on the land (biophysical environment) and feedback from these consequences; (iii) deeper understanding of the impact of climate change on ecosystems and local communities; and (iv) new scientifically informed perspectives on the science-policy debate on this significant development issue.