University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings

Professor Henny Osbahr

  • Co-Head International Development Department
  • Programme Director MSc Applied International Development

Areas of interest

I am an interdisciplinary geographer with interests in:

  • The dynamics of agricultural innovation processes and rural information services to support climate change adaptation, improved communication for rural development and food security for marginalised livelihoods.

Current activities in this area:

I am leading a collaborative research initiative with Tokyo University of Agriculture and Hokkaido University, Japan, exploring communication for agricultural innovation and food security approaches from case studies across SE Asia; I am leading the Social Science component of a research project explaining communication and gendered narratives of agricultural innovation resulting from the zero-budget natural farming approach in India; I am part of a project enhancing agricultural productivity for indigenous people exposed to cyclones in the Philippines, with my contribution on livelihood and dietary diversity transitions. I am also interested in participatory social methods and the integration of these approaches within interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research that builds resilience in practice, for example, through the use of a participatory climate services and use of open access weather information platforms by NGO and government 'science interpreters'.

  • The role of knowledge systems in shaping decision-making, agency and the governance of natural resources.

Current activities in this area:

Social Science lead and Deputy PI for a £3m study enhancing understanding of the role of decision-making and local perceptions of livelihood trade-offs in the use of agricultural microplastics for horticulture production, food security, income and sustainable development, and the implications for technical innovation and behaviour change across difference contexts (China, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Vietnam); using political ecology frameworks to reveal local perceptions of risk and the gendered nature of access and control over resource use (e.g. for soils in India and water use by smallholder farmers in West Africa, commercialisation of water for horticulture in Uganda); Co-production of knowledge for learning by farmers, policy and practice institutions in India and implications for behaviour change; evaluation of indicators for assessment in soil management or food security; role of culture, local knowledge and perceptions in livelihood risk reduction (in the Philippines, Ghana); use of participatory visual methodologies (e.g. photovoice in India).

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD students:

  • Arisa Takagi - Farmers' decision-making for adoption of innovations that support agricultural adaptation to climate change in Kenya
  • Punam Behl - Identifying mechanisms that facilitate the effective uptake of agroecology approaches by smallholder women farmers in India (Principal Supervisor, with Sarah Cardey)
  • Clark Ke Liu - The dynamics of returnee migrants in China within rural innovation and entrepreneurship (Principal Supervisor, with Alex Arnall)
  • Pamela Eleazar - Analysing how communication affects knowledge-sharing practices between sugarcane family farmers and extension workers in Batangas, The Philippines (Second Supervisor, with Sarah Cardey)
  • Al Hassan Cisse - The synergies between agricultural interventions and social protection to address climate change adaptation and food security in Senegal (Principal Supervisor, with Andrew Ainslie)
  • Young Kafwembe - Narratives of microfinance and women's empowerment under rural transitions in Zambia (Principal Supervisor, with C.S. Srinivasan)

Recent PhD supervision:

  • Babra Kuvuta - Assessing the role of social ties and peoples' attitude to environmentally-induced resettlement in Malawi
  • Raj Pandey (awaiting viva) Addressing climate change through forest carbon management and community projects in Nepal
  • Aaron Alesane (Reading 2020) Participation in microfinance programmes and poverty reduction in client livelihoods, the case of northern Ghana
  • Rinchen Lama (Reading 2020) Negotiating Vulnerability: Context and Agency in Hydropower Development in Eastern Himalayan region of India
  • Louise Abongu (Reading 2020) Farmers' adaptation and resilience to climate change in Cameroon
  • Yoshie Yageta (Reading 2020) Local knowledge and soil fertility management in Kenya
  • Laura Imburgia (Reading 2019) Women and water governance in Ethiopia and Argentina)
  • Ibok Otu (Reading 2019) Index for assessing vulnerability to food insecurity in Nigeria
  • George Dakurah (Reading 2019) Food security, farmer decision-making and climate change in northern Ghana
  • Bismarck Guba (Reading 2019) Seasonal rural-rural migration as a livelihood adaptation strategy to mitigate livelihood threats among rural households in northern Ghana
  • Sarrok Talhada (Reading 2018) Large-scale investments, agriculture and local livelihoods in Mozambique
  • Mark Neuse (Reading 2018) Too much success? Unintended outcomes of Ethiopia's State-led development
  • Sam Poskitt (Reading 2018) Environmental management using scenarios
  • Sonali Pradhan (Reading 2018) - Vulnerability and adaptation of coastal India: an integrated livelihood and development policy approach
  • Mackenzie Dove (Reading 2017) Determinants of food insecurity and reduced market potential: the influence of changing climates on small scale producers in Rwanda and Ethiopia
  • Richard Bwalya - Assessment of factors influencing household food security in Zambia (Split Commonwealth Scholarship with University of Zambia)
  • Damodar Pant (Reading 2016) The role of migration and remittance on livelihoods in Nepal
  • Esther Oenga (Reading 2015) Women's opportunities in the Kenyan soapstone industry
  • Hamza Adam (Reading 2014) Rural livelihood diversification and women in northern Ghana
  • Chandni Singh (Reading 2014) Understanding the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of Indian farmers (Rajasthan) in the context of water scarcity
  • Sidiqat Aderinoye-Abdulwahab (Reading 2013) Access to Extension Services, Gender Issues and Economic Empowerment of Pastoralists' Women of Northern Nigeria
  • Debodayita Raha (Reading 2012) Women and rural development in India: public-private partnerships in Rajasthan and Orissa, India
  • Aman Ramali (Reading 2011) Incentives for water pricing in north Africa
  • Naser Farid (Reading) Drivers of food security in monga-prone less favoured north-west Bangladesh: analysis and implications for policy making
  • Fidea Mgina (Reading 2011) Economic reforms and their impact on small farmer credit needs and food security in Tanzania
  • Sarah Cardey (Reading 2009) NGO Communication and HIV/AIDS vulnerability in Uganda
  • Isaiah Okeyo (Reading 2009) Land, gender and livelihoods: contestations and negotiations of land rights of women in different subject-positions in Luo land of western Kenya
  • Florence Crick (Oxford 2007) Adaptive strategies to drought in Niger and South Africa


Module Convenor for IDM096 Addressing Poverty and Inequality (20 credits) and AP3ID3 Dissertation (40 credits), with contributions to AP1ID1/2 International Development (20 credits)

Research centres and groups

  • Visiting Professor, Hokkaido University, Japan (since 2015)
  • Visiting Professor, Interdisciplinary Research and Training Institute, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda (since 2014)
  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy (Advance HE)
  • Member of Editorial Board, CABI Agriculture and Bioscience (since 2019)  

Research projects

Current and Recent Research:

  • Do microplastics undermine food security and sustainable development in less economically developed countries (NERC GCRF), with Bangor University, University of Bristol and case study partners in China, Vietnam, Egypt, Sri Lanka and India (2021-2025)
  • Scaling out innovation lessons in Zero Budget Natural Farming (KfW) with RySS in India (2021-2022)
  • Innovation, gender and Zero Budget Natural Farming Research Initiative in Andhra Pradesh, India (UoR GCRF) (2018-2020)
  • Sustaining and innovating marginalised rural livelihoods in SE Asia (ESRC-AHRC SSH Japan-UK (2019-2021) with Tokyo University of Agriculture and University of Hokkaido, Japan
  • Local approaches to supporting agricultural productive and managing impacts of climate variability and change in indigenous communities in Aurora Province, Philippines (Newton Agham Fund) £100,000 (2018-2021)
  • Building understanding of climate variability into planning of groundwater supplies from low storage aquifers in Africa (BRAVE phase II) Ghana and Burkina Faso (NERC-DfiD) (2015-2020) (£1.4m and £6800 for impact)
  • Network for Interdisciplinary Partnership on Mineral Sector Development, Social Equity and Inclusion in Africa (Global Challenges Research Fund) £23,400 (2018-2019)
  • Adaptive Social Protection - Information for Enhanced REsilience (ASPIRE) in Senegal, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania (DFID) £830,000 (2017-2019)
  • Exploring diversification in food crops in Borneo, Malaysia (Crops for the Future Research Institute, Malaysia) (UK FCO) 2018
  • Enhancing Resilience to Agricultural Drought in Africa through Improved Communication of Seasonal Forecasts (ERADACS) (Global Challenges Research Fund) Case focus in Ghana (GCRF) (£157,910) (2016-2017)
  • Scaling up climate services for farmers in Africa and South Asia (USAID) (2014-2015) (PDRA Dr Graham Clarkson) (£150,000)
  • Developing and applying learning frameworks to support Climate Smart Agriculture projects in Africa. Phase II: Supporting the Rockefeller Foundation Climate Change Units in East and Central Africa (Rockefeller Foundation) (2012-2014) (£426,000)
  • Institutional learning and agricultural innovation for food security: understanding perceptions of climate risk in Uganda (Walker/ASACERA/ICRISAT) (2009-2012)
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change: building social-environmental resilience in practice, University of Indonesia (British Council) (2012)
  • Farmer decision making, climate change adaptation and agricultural innovation, Sudan (ASACERA-World Bank, SMA) (2009-2010)
  • Assessment of institutional learning and climate change adaptation support in UAE, Qatar and Oman (British Council) (2009-2010)
  • Rural livelihood transformations, climate change and environmental resilience in Uganda (British Council) (2005-2009)
  • Integrating climate change and DRR in Bangladesh (British Red Cross) (2008)


Henny has a BSc in Geography, MRes in Environmental Sciences and PhD in Geography from University College London, where she studied the governance of natural resources and rural livelihood strategies in Niger. She worked as a Senior Research Associate (2002-2005) on climate change adaptation in Southern Africa at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, based at the University of East Anglia, University of Sheffield and University of Oxford, as a Research Officer for the African Environments Programme and Tyndall Research Fellow at the University of Oxford (2005-2007). She joined the University of Reading in 2007, becoming Co-Head of the International Development Department in 2019. She is part of the Global Development Research Division.

Henny has worked as a consultant for DfID on Adaptation and DRR, the UNDP on Adaptation Mechanisms with coordination of case studies in Kenya, Egypt, Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico, and for the EC Development Directive/VARG (World Bank, DIFD, Red Cross Climate Centre, UN agencies, OECD) on Climate Change Adaptation, DRM and Poverty Reduction to support the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Climate Change and Development (with case studies in Africa, Asia and Latin America). She is also a regular panel reviewer for the Research Council of Norway, the Innovation Research (RCUK, ESRC) and The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and was a Visiting Examiner at University of Leeds. She has been a visiting academic since 2015 on a summer school Program to Foster Pioneers to Transform the Populations-Activities-Resources-Environments (PARE), hosted and delivered by Hokkaido University, Japan, and including students from Thailand (Kasetsart University, Chulalongkorn University, SIIT/Thammasat University, Mahidol University) and Indonesia (IPB University, Bandung Institute of Technology, Gadjah Mada University).