I am a senior researcher at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security in Bonn (UNU-EHS). Currently, I am also working part-time at the University of Hawaii, with Prof Maxine Burkett, in a research project about migration-environment linkages in the Pacific. I am a human geographer by training (Master’s and PhD), and my research is about the impacts of climate change, adaptation, migration, environmental change, livelihoods, resilience and rural development. I study these topics with a people-centred perspective. I have extensive fieldwork experience, mostly in Ghana (5 years), but also in Burkina Faso, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Marshall Islands and Bolivia.
A key feature of my research is the use of a mixed-method approach, combining qualitative and quantitative research tools and data, such as questionnaire surveys, life histories, focus group discussions, PRA tools, text mining, population census data, remote sensing, and spatial analysis using GIS software.
At UNU-EHS, I lead the institute’s work on loss and damage from climate change in vulnerable countries as well as a 5-year research-to-action project about livelihood resilience in Bangladesh (the Gibika project) and the annual Resilience Academy.
I studied at the University of Amsterdam (human geography) and three months at the University of Sussex (migration studies). My Master’s thesis (2002) and PhD thesis (2011) were published as books by the African Studies Centre Leiden. Five chapters of my PhD thesis have been published in international journals, like International Migration, Environment and Urbanization, Africa, Forced Migration Review and Hommes et Migrations. [link to my publications]
From 2008 to 2012 I worked as researcher in the Participatory Assessment of Development (PADev) project at the University of Amsterdam and as research consultant. Among my clients have been the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam, the United Nations University (UNU) in Bonn, CARE International, DFID Ghana and the Foresight programme of the UK Office for Science. From 2006 to 2009 I worked as a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam where I taught human geography and courses on environment and international development. [link to my projects]
I have also been active as documentary film maker. My first, award-winning, documentary was screened at over twenty prestigious international film festivals worldwide. My second documentary received a nomination for the Holland-doc Jury Award of the Dutch Film Festival, and has been watched more than 2.5 million times on youtube. [link to my video work]
Personal life: I have an 8-year old son. I like playing soccer, all other ball-games and hiking. Favourite mode of transport: bicycle. I like trees, and a dream I have for my retirement is to buy an degraded, treeless piece of land and bring back life to it. A new hobby I have is my communal vegetable garden and using kitchen waste for making compost with worms (vermiculture).