ARES-CCD projects

Projects on Natural Resources Management

Validation of Indigenous Maps of Forest Occupation and Exploitation by finely classified Satellite Imagery (2000 - 2003)

Research Project for Development (RPD, ARES-CCD)

 Partner institutions:

Building Local Capabilities through Participative Water Resources Management in the Philippines (2005 - 2008)


Research Project for Development (RPD, ARES-CCD)

Partner institutions:

Establishing Strategic Research Partnerships to Strengthen Local Governance in Land and Water Management for Greater Human Security in Mindanao (2010 - 2014)


Research Project for Development (RPD, ARES-CCD)

Partner institutions:

Local Adaptation, Resilience and Interpretation of Socio-Natural Hazards, and Environmental Management in the Philippines (2014 - 2019)


Partner institutions:

Social Justice Implications of Land Use Change in the Philippines Uplands : Analysis of Socio-Economics Drivers and Impacts on the Land and its People

Research Project for Development (RPD, ARES-CCD)

Partner institutions:

Despite reported economic growth for the Philippines in the last decades, increasing poverty has become a major concern with a high relative proportion of the poor belonging to the agriculture sector. Corn is the 2nd major agricultural crop in the Philippines, which has posted increasing production trends in the last 12 years. But despite this reported growth, families engaged in corn production are among the poorest in the agriculture sector.

In the Philippine uplands, high yield variety (HYV) corn production has increased substantially in recent years. Rise in HYV corn demand from a growing livestock sector has transformed the landscape that can scarcely support this type of crop. This shift in land use is having profoundimpacts on the socio-economic dynamics of upland communities. Low maintenance HYV corn has attracted small upland farmers due to the promise of high returns, despite many risks such as climate, pests, and environmental factors resulting in crop failures and eventually, an endless cycle of debt.                                                                                                                                                                           

The specific point being addressed in this project is how decisions are made within households. This is important in that the more a situation is precarious and vulnerable, the greater the chance that decisions are ill-founded, giving rise to adverse consequences in terms of human development. Effects are manifested not only in the socio-economic and cultural situations of the farmers, but also in the local environment in which they live. Land use transformation is thus a major concern since it potentially brings about land degradation, especially in highly intensive agriculture as HYV corn.

The central scientific issue being addressed by the project is a thorough understanding of the social, economic, and cultural drivers and the resulting impacts of this shift to HYV corn. To address this main issue, the project will resort to different scientific disciplines, each addressing more specific scientific questions related to the main issue: development economics, social and political philosophy, social anthropology, and geomatics.

The project aims to provide tools to tackle negative impacts of long-term land use change due to high input crops in the uplands. More specifically, our specific objective is to enhance well-informed decision-making among actors – farmers, traders, civil society and policy- makers – involved in land use change due to HYV corn. By achieving this objective, our project will promote the establishment of an equitable and environmentally responsible agriculture – and therefore livelihood – in the uplands. The overall objective is to contribute to the sustainable development of upland communities and foster social justice awareness.

Four results are targeted to allow us to achieve the specific objective. First result will generate high quality scientific knowledge about the drivers and risk affecting decision- making in HVY corn agriculture as well as the impacts in terms of social justice and land use change. Second result aims to significantly enhance the academic capacities of the Philippine partners to understand this problematic as well as the provision of tools to tackle it. Third result seeks to raise awareness on the issue among the local population, local and national authorities, and civil society. Lastly, the project strives to achieve the project goals through efficient and effective management that complies to ARES-CCD procedures to guarantee optimal support for the project’s implementation.

Essays on agricultural productivity and intrahousehold dynamics in the Philippines

Thesis, Ludovic Bequet (Economy, UNamur)

The first chapter, Biotech Crops, Input Use and Landslides, Case Study of Herbicide Tolerant Corn in the Philippine Highlands, documents an increased likelihood of landslides on plots planted with GM corn, further increasing the risk associated with this variety. This result is based on recall data covering ten years and obtained thanks to an original survey method. Over the period, 35% of plots have been hit at least once by a landslide. Surprisingly, the probability of experiencing a landslide in a given year is 4 percentage points higher on plots planted in GM corn compared to alternative corn varieties. Contrary to our initial belief, this difference is not explained by differences in plot characteristics - e.g. GM corn being cultivated on steeper plots. Indeed, when controlling for plot fixed effects, the landslide probability is 6.3 percentage points higher with GM than non-GM corn. This increase is similar in magnitude to that observed between other crops and non-GM corn. I find evidence that heavy herbicide users are more likely to be affected by landslides and that herbicide is used more intensively when GM corn is cultivated. This suggests that the increased probability of landslides is driven by the heavier use of herbicide, which destroys all plant cover and leaves the soil unprotected against heavy rains.

The second chapter, Agricultural productivity and land inequality, Evidence from the Philippines, studies how the introduction of GM corn impacted the landholding inequality in the country. Although this question was at the heart of the LUCID project, the data collected in the Upper Pulangi only covered a small geographical area and excluded large farmers, making it inadequate to address it. Instead, I use three waves of the Census of Agriculture and Fisheries (CAF) covering the period 1991-2012. Thanks to the extensive coverage, I was able to study the evolution of landholding inequality at the level of the municipality, something that had never been done before in the economic literature over an entire country. Results show an increase in in[1]equality following the introduction of GM corn in 2003. Such a temporal correlation, however, does not indicate that GM corn are responsible for this increase as it may have been caused by many other factors. In order to identify a causal effect, I use exogenous variations in local soil and weather, creating differences in the impact of the new technology. I therefore compare the evolution of landholding inequality between municipalities that largely benefited from the new technology and those where yields only marginally increased. This approach allows me to address the question without observing actual adoption and having to deal with the endo[1]geneity of this adoption – an increase in inequality being possibly a cause and a consequence of GM corn adoption. Results show that landholding inequality increased more in municipalities that benefited more from the new technology, an effect driven by the last decile of the distribu[1]tion. Furthermore, while land inequality, is not associated with any adverse effect on a range of socio-economic indicators, it is positively correlated with terrorist activity.

Thesis of Ludovic Bequet

Sharing norm, household efficiency and female demand for agency in the Philippines

DeFiPP Working Paper - February 2022 by Jean-Marie Baland, Ludovic Bequet, Catherine Guirkinger and Clarice Manuel

Sharing norm, household efficiency and female demand for agency in the Philippines, co-authored with Jean-Marie Baland, Catherine Guirkinger and Clarice Manuel, studies intra-household dynamics among couples who responded to the LUCID survey. It is based on the striking observation, during the early phases of the project, that women in the Philippines enjoy a high level of empowerment within the household. They are generally in charge of the money and expect their husband to hand over all his earnings, giving him some pocket money for his daily expenses. Furthermore, other institutional features including the stability of unions makes this setting ideal for efficient cooperation between spouses. We run a lab-in-the-field experiment, playing variations of the Dictator and Trust Games between couples and document a large level of inefficiency in their decisions. Couples leave on average 46% of potential earnings on the table and women are particularly inefficient. Lack of trust can only explain a small proportion of this inefficiency. Instead, we argue that this reveals a strong, latent demand for agency by women who express a strong preference for hidden money over (larger) transfers from their husband as the latter involve an implicit control over their use. These findings challenge a naive view of female empowerment that solely focuses on the apparent control over household resources.

Download the full version of the paper: DeFiPP Working Paper