Josefine Greber – The Human Security Profile of January 2019

This is a post from The Human Security Angle: the newsletter of the Master’s programme in Human Security at Aarhus University.

Josefine, why did you decide to study human security at Aarhus University?

During my Bachelor’s in Political Sciences, I studied and worked in Southeast Asia for a year. This experience made me want to continue my studies in a more international context and get deeper insights into the field of development cooperation. The Human Security Master’s programme was perfect for this. The programme is interdisciplinary and therefore allowed me to deepen my knowledge about the most pressing challenges in international development. Additionally, studying with people from around the world and with various backgrounds further enriched my studies.

Josefine Greber

Where did you do your work placement, and what did you learn?

For my fieldwork, I decided to go back to Southeast Asia, specifically Cambodia. During a previous internship, I had learned about land conflicts taking place in the country. I wanted to research the effects these conflicts had on small scale farmers’ food security. I partnered up with the German non-governmental organization, Welthungerhilfe, and the Cambodian Human Rights Organization, Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, who were both interested in my findings for their own work. I conducted my research in the Northeastern province, Ratanakiri, where several indigenous groups live and suffer heavily from large scale land acquisitions. I visited three different villages where over 40 families welcomed me into their homes and shared their stories with me.

A village representative took me back to the main highway via a tarmac road leading through a palm oil plantation. The former forest land used to belong to the villagers and had recently been given to a Vietnamese company by the government. The road – even though at this time being the only proper road to the village – was not always accessible to the villagers because the company would sometimes not let them pass. The villagers were struggling to sustain their livelihoods after the loss of their land.

What are you doing at the moment?

I just completed a German postgraduate study programme in International Cooperation for Sustainable Development. The programme is for graduates interested in working in the field of development cooperation, providing them with the practical skills, for example, learning how to implement a training workshop. The most important part of the program is a six months project. For my project, I worked with a team for the German development agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), in the scope of their ‘One World – No Hunger’ initiative in the Maritime region in Togo and the Eastern province in Zambia. We researched the food security situation of women of reproductive age and infants and developed recommendations with a focus on behavior change for the improvement of the GIZ interventions.

Visiting a school field in the Maritime region in Togo together with my research assistant and several villagers. The GIZ is teaching locals how to plant soy and nutrient rich vegetables like sweet potatoes to enable them to diversify their diet.

What have you taken with you from your human security studies?

The human security approach taught me a more holistic way of thinking that has immensely added to my work ever since. Also, it was great to have such an extended period of time for my fieldwork and my thesis, allowing me to really dive deep into my topic. Lastly, I really valued the close exchange with the professors at Moesgard.

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