School of Social and Political Science

Jean-Benoit Falisse

Job Title

Senior Lecturer in African Studies and International Development

JB Falisse

Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

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Country (Address)


Post code (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

My research revolves around three areas:

- Community participation social accountability in so-called 'fragile' environments. A substantial part of my research has focussed on health facility committees in Eastern DR Congo and Burundi (with, among others, Léonard Ntakarutimana, Hugues Nkengurutse, and Patrick Mirindi). I have also been involved in projects looking at primary school education in Eastern DR Congo (with Anders Olofsgård, Marieke Huysentruyt, and Kamala Kaghoma, and, more recently, the BRICE Project: Strengthening Quality Learning Environments and Education Systems in DRC and Niger). My interests in this fields have gradually shifted to 'grassroots' data production and use in the context of social accountability mechanisms.

- The livelihoods of displaced people, and their interactions with mobility, health, and education. This includes past field research with returnees in Burundi (with René Claude Niyonkuru) and refugees in Tanzania (with Clayton Boeyink) and work as a co-I in the UKRI GCRF Development-Based Approaches to Protracted Displacement project (2020–23) on improving healthcare at the intersection of gender and protracted displacement amongst Somali and Congolese internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees in eight field sites in Somalia, Eastern DRC, Kenya, and South Africa. I am also the academic lead of Foundations for All, an action research project on widening participation in higher education via blended learning (together with the Refugee Law project at Makerere University and the Centre for Civic Engagement and Community Action at the American University of Beirut).

- The political economy of health reform and health governance. My past fieldwork has looked at the implementation of performance-based financing schemes as well as the control of the African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in DR Congo (with Alain Mpanya). More recently, I have been leading the Covid-19 response governance mapping initiative (funded by CovidAction and SFC-GCRF - see website the many brilliant colleagues involved in this work), and I have been a co-investigator on the African Elections during the Covid-19 pandemic project led by Thomas Molony.

I am interested in the development of social science research methods, and my research has used interviews, survey data, archival research, and experiments (and often a mix thereof). At the EFI, I am a co-convener of the Galvanized seminar series, connecting researchers in the sciences, engineering and the arts.

My current PhD students work on youth in refugees camps in Malawi (Joshua Anderson-Rose, International Development), teachers in refugee camps in Ethiopia (Sarah Austin, Education), girls education in Rwanda (Sangwon Park, International Development), and persons living with disabilities in Ghana (Francisca Adom-Opare, African Studies).

Past PhD students:  Kevin Zapata (Social Policy, 2021, From PROGRESA to PROSPERA : understanding change and stability in Mexico's conditional cash transfer programme), Megan Douglas (International Development, 2021, Pursuing the Good Life: displacement, inclusion, and wellbeing among Congolese in Nairobi, Kenya), Annet Nakyeyune (International Development, 2021, Understanding diffusion and adoption of improved cookstove technologies in Uganda through the innovation system perspective), Clayton Boeyink (2020: The politics and practices of refugee self-reliance in trifurcated states of north-western Tanzania) and Boel McAteer Türkmenogülu (2020: Gendering self-reliance: Constructing the ideal refugee wo/man within livelihoods support for displaced Syrians in Turkey).


I am a lecturer at the Centre of African Studies and a fellow of the Edinburgh Future Institute (EFI), where I am co-directing the MSc Data, Inequality and Society.

At the School of Social and Political Science, I used to convene the courses Displacement and Development, Politics and Theories of International Development, and Analysing Development and I was the inaugural director of the MSc International Development (online). I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and completed PG certificates in Academic Practice and Digital Education (both at Edinburgh).

My background is in development studies and economics (DPhil, Oxford and MA, Sciences Po), history (MA, Louvain), politics (undergraduate, St Louis - Brussels), and philosophy (undergraduate, Louvain). Prior to joining the university, I was working for the United Nations and international NGOs in the African Great Lakes region. I have continued advising international and local organisations since.

Staff Hours and Guidance

Wednesday PM - please drop me an email, other times are possible.

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Kangamina S, Falisse J-B, Baba A, Grant L, Pearson N, Way Y et al. Conflict, epidemic and faith communities: Church-state relations during the fight against Covid-19 in north-eastern DR Congo. Conflict and Health. 2022 Nov 9;16:1-8. 56.
Boeyink C, Falisse JB. Class in camps or the camped class? The making and reshaping of socio-economic inequalities in the refugee camps of north-western Tanzania. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 2022 Oct 12.
Baba A, Grant L, Pearson N, Wild-wood E, Falisse J, Way Y et al. Engaging faith communities in public health messaging in response to COVID-19: Lessons learnt from the pandemic in Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo. Frontiers in public health. 2022 Sep 13;10.
Falisse J-B. La mise en œuvre de la Gratuité de l’enseignement primaire en contexte de crise. Covid-19 et réforme de l’enseignement au Sud Kivu, RD Congo. Journal on Education in Emergencies. 2022 Jul 23.
Falisse J-B, Mpanya A, Surur EI, Kingsley P, Mwamba-Miaka E, Palmer J. Health work and skills in the last mile of disease elimination: Experiences from sleeping sickness health workers in South Sudan and DR Congo. Global public health. 2022 Jun 24.
Chaara I, Falisse J-B, Moriceau J. Does legal aid improve access to justice in ‘fragile’ settings? Evidence from Burundi. Journal of Peace Research. 2022 Apr 1.
Falisse J-B, Mpanya A. Clinical trials as disease control? The political economy of sleeping sickness in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1996-2016). Social Science & Medicine. 2022 Apr;299. 114882.
Falisse JB, McAteer B. Visualising policy responses during health emergencies. Learning from the COVID-19 policy trackers. Convergence. 2022 Mar 21;28(1):35-51.
Falisse J-B, Leszczynska N. Do anti-corruption messages improve public service delivery? Insights from a lab-in-the-field experiment in Burundi. The Journal of Development Studies. 2022 Jan 15;58(1):96-114.
Boeyink C, Ali-Salad MA, Baruti EW, Bile AS, Falisse JB, Kazamwali LM et al. Pathways to care: IDPs seeking health support and justice for sexual and gender-based violence through social connections in Garowe and Kismayo, Somalia and South Kivu, DRC. Journal of Migration and Health. 2022;6. 100129.
Al Dahdah M, Falisse J-B, Lurton G. Ignorance et santé globale: Stratégies et acteurs de la réponse à la Covid-19 dans des pays dits des Suds . Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances. 2021 Dec 2;15(4).
Reinders S, Dekker M, Falisse J-B. Inequalities in higher education in low‐ and middle‐income countries: A scoping review of the literature. Development Policy Review. 2021 Sep;39(5):865-889.
Falisse J-B, Nkengurutse H. Citizens committees and local elites: Elite capture, captured elites, and absent elites in health facility committees. European Journal of Development Research. 2021 Aug 23.
Falisse J-B, Macdonald R, Molony T, Nugent P. Why have so many African leaders died of COVID-19? BMJ Global Health. 2021 May 17;6(5):1-6. e005587.
Panman A, Madison I, Kimacha N, Falisse J-B. Saving up for a rainy day? Savings groups and resilience to flooding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Urban Forum. 2021 Apr 29.
Wood AK, Symons K, Falisse JB, Gray H, Mkony A. Can lecture capture contribute to the development of a community of inquiry in online learning? Distance Education. 2021 Feb 1;42(1):126-144.
Falisse J-B, Ntakarutimana L. When information is not power: Community-elected health facility committees and health facility performance indicators. Social Science & Medicine. 2020 Nov;265. 113331.
Falisse J-B. Beyond the travelling model? Strategic usage and hybridisation of performance-based financing (PBF) in health in Burundi. Politique Africaine. 2020 May 14;156(4):83-100.
Falisse J-B. Au-delà du modèle voyageur ? Usage stratégique et hybridation du financement basé sur la performance (FBP) dans la santé au Burundi. Politique Africaine. 2020 Apr 20;156(4):83-100.
Falisse J-B, Mwamba-Miaka E, Mpanya A. Whose elimination? Frontline workers' perspectives on the elimination of the Human African Trypanosomiasis and its anticipated consequences. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2020 Jan 1;5(1).
Falisse J-B, Nkengurutse H. From FM radio stations to Internet 2.0 overnight: information, participation and social media in post-failed coup Burundi. In Dwyer M, Molony T, editors, Social Media and Politics in Africa: Democracy, Censorship and Security. 1 ed. London: Zed Books. 2019
Falisse J-B. “Playing for Change, Singing for Peace”?: Music, Dance, and Peace in the African Great Lakes Region. Arts and International Affairs. 2019 Feb 28;3.3-4.1.
Falisse J-B, Masino S, Ngenzebuhoro R. Indigenous Medicine and Biomedical Health Care in Fragile Settings: Insights from Burundi. Health Policy and Planning. 2018 May;33(4):483–493. czy002.
Bertone MP, Falisse J-B, Russo G, Witter S. Context matters (but how and why?) A hypothesis-led literature review of performance based financing in fragile and conflict-affected health systems. PLoS ONE. 2018 Apr 3;1-27.
Falisse J-B, Ndayishimiye J, Kamenyero V, Bossuyt M. Performance-based financing in the context of selective free health-care: an evaluation of its effects on the use of primary health-care services in Burundi using routine data. Health Policy and Planning. 2015 Dec;30(10):1251-60.
Falisse J-B, Niyonkuru RC. Social engineering for reintegration: Peace villages for the ‘uprooted’ returnees in Burundi. Journal of Refugee Studies. 2015 Sep 30;28(3):388-411.
Witter S, Falisse J-B, Bertone MP, Alonso-Garbayo A, Martins JS, Salehi AS et al. State-building and human resources for health in fragile and conflict-affected states: exploring the linkages. Human Resources for Health. 2015 May 15;13:33.
Falisse J-B, Niyonkuru RC. Peace villages for repatriates to Burundi. Forced Migration Review. 2013 May;43:14-17.
Falisse J-B, Meessen B, Ndayishimiye J, Bossuyt M. Community participation and voice mechanisms under performance-based financing schemes in Burundi. Tropical Medicine and International Health. 2012 Apr 19;17(5):674-682.
Falisse J-B. Artsen Zonder Grenzen België als apolitieke organisatie: MSF Belgium as apolitical organization (1985-1988). Brood Rozen: Tijdschrift voor de geschiedenis van sociale Bewegingen. 2011;16(4):26-53.
De Cannière E, Falisse J-B, Gillet C, Vermeyen D. Camilo Torres Restrepo (1929-1966), le 'curé-guérillero'. Essai sur la construction des figures de héros et de martyrs’. In Sappia C, editor, A l’Image d’Oscar Romero. Héros, Prophètes et Martyrs d’Amérique Latine. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Academia Press. 2009. p. 195-220
Falisse J-B. Entrepreneurs humanitaires: Médecins sans frontières Belgique, genèse d’une ONG atypique, 1980-1987. Cahiers d'Histoire du Temps Présent (now Journal of Belgian History). 2009;2009(21):11-54.