Dr. Leigh Brownhill, Research Associate (2010-15)

B.A. (1990) University of Massachusetts ; M.A. (1995) Univeristy of Guelph; Ph.D. (2006) University of Toronto.

Leigh Brownhill was a Research Associate at the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill. She is the author of Land, Food, Freedom: Struggles for the Gendered Commons in Kenya, 1870-2007 (African World Press, 2009). As a co-founder of First Woman: The East and Southern African Women's Oral History and Indigenous Knowledge Network, she has recorded the life stories of elderly women in Kenya since 1994. She is active in the National Farmer’s Union in Canada; is the eco-feminist editor at the journal Capitalism Nature Socialism; and has taught and published on the subjects of gender, climate change, food sovereignty and social movements.

Project Website:

Enhancing Ecologically Resilient Food Security through Innovative Farming Systems in the Semi-Arid Midlands of Kenya

The project engages a multi-disciplinary team of researchers with farmers and other stakeholders in the semi-arid counties of Makueni, Machakos and Tharaka-Nithi in the Eastern Province of Kenya in a participatory process of evaluating agricultural and livestock practices. The purpose is to facilitate adoption and scaling up of best practices for enhancing the resilience of farming systems. The project contributes to the development goal of enhanced food and nutrition security through (i) a better understanding of food systems and drivers of food insecurity;(ii) an increased adoption and scaling up of appropriate agricultural practices; (iii) an increased household consumption of high-value traditional crops; (iv) enhanced participation of smallholder farmers into local and external input and output markets; (v) a better informed policy development process that can contribute to the formulation of effective sustainable food security policies and provide an enabling environment for agricultural innovation.

Funded by: International Development Research Center (IDRC) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) (2011-14).

Project Publications:

Njuguna, E., Brownhill, L., Kihoro, E., Muhammad, L.W. and Hickey, G.M. (2016). Gendered technology adoption and household food security in semi-arid Eastern Kenya. IN: J. Parkins, J. Njuki and A. Kaler (Eds.), Transforming Gender and Food Security in the Global South. London, UK: Earthscan.

Brownhill, L., Njuguna, E., Bothi, K., Pelletier, B., Muhammad, L.W. and Hickey G.M. (Eds). (2016). Food Security, Gender and Resilience: Improving Smallholder and Subsistence Farming. London, UK: Earthscan.

Brownhill, L., Moturi, T. and Hickey, G.M. (2016). Accountability and citizen participation in devolved agricultural policy-making: Insights from Makueni County, Kenya. IN: L. Brownhill*, E. Njuguna, K. Bothi, B. Pelletier, L.W. Muhammad and G.M. Hickey (Eds.), Food Security, Gender and Resilience: Improving Smallholder and Subsistence Farming. London, UK: Earthscan.

Hickey, G.M., Pelletier, B., Brownhill, L., Kamau, G.M. and Maina, I.N. (2012). Challenges and opportunities for enhancing food security in Kenya. Food Security 4(3): 333-340.

Brownhill, L. and Hickey, G.M. (2012). Understanding the barriers to effective food security policy in Kenya using interview triads: A case study application. Food Security 4(3): 369-380.