Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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New Zealand Aid and Dairy Development in Sri Lanka

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posted on 2021-12-08, 16:49 authored by Edwards, Jasmine

New Zealand’s aid investment in dairy development is seen, on the one hand, as a means to improve economic, health and food security issues in developing countries. Dairy development, further, is linked to New Zealand’s trade interests and supports industry expansion strategies that target the market potential in developing countries. On the other hand, it is argued that dairy consumption and production should be reduced to respond to climate change and potential negative health impacts in countries with traditionally low dairy consumption. The potential impacts of dairy development on sustainable development are complex, interconnected and contradictory. Moreover, local and gendered understandings of the impacts of dairy development are underrepresented in literature.   Drawing on a sustainable livelihood approach and gender lens as a theoretical framework, this research explores smallholder farmers’ views through a case study of a New Zealand-funded aid project in Sri Lanka, the Wanni Dairy Project, which is increasing dairy production to improve rural livelihoods. In doing so, this thesis considers the multiple impacts of dairy development on sustainable livelihoods. In particular, it explores understandings of social, gender and environmental factors. Data was collected during five weeks of qualitative, case study research (using interviews, photovoice and observation methods) with female, conflict-affected farmers in Sri Lanka and stakeholders in dairy development.   This thesis contends that better understandings of the impacts of dairy development and aid can be valuably informed by local perspectives. It highlights the inherent connectivity between social, environmental and economic factors of the Wanni Dairy Project, and areas of dissonance between local understandings of the impacts of dairy development and global discourse on sustainable development. Specifically, this thesis draws attention to the diverse impacts of increasing income, health factors, and cultural and religious factors; it highlights women’s independence, empowerment and agency, and ongoing inequities; and it addresses environmental impacts, climate change, and the implications of scale. This research, therefore, contributes to the information upon which development policy-makers and practitioners – government, development organisations and private sector actors – can base effective and sustainable development policy and practice.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Stupples, Polly