I am a lecturer at the Centre of African Studies and a fellow of the Edinburgh Future Institute (EFI), where I am co-leading the development of 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.
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), the identity of Congolese displaced people in Nairobi (Megan Douglas, International Development), the political economy of biofuels in Uganda (Annet Nakyeyune, African Studies), girls education in Rwanda (Sangwon Park, International Development), person living with disabilities in Ghana (Francisca Adom-Opare, African Studies), and the politics of conditional cash transfers in Mexico (Kevin Zapata, Social Policy).
Past PhD students: 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).