We investigate membrane instanton effects in type IIA strings compactified on\ud rigid Calabi-Yau manifolds. These effects contribute to the low-energy effective action of\ud the universal hypermultiplet. In the absence of additional fivebrane instantons, the quaternionic\ud geometry of this hypermultiplet is determined by solutions of the three-dimensional\ud Toda equation. We construct solutions describing membrane instantons, and find perfect\ud agreement with the string theory prediction. In the context of flux compactifications we\ud discuss how membrane instantons contribute to the scalar potential and the stabilization\ud of moduli. Finally, we demonstrate the existence of meta-stable de Sitter vacua
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