A boy sits among the bushes in Namibia

Research

More than 100 LSE researchers focus on African countries, across a wide range of social science disciplines

Research Projects

Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID)
Launched on 1 April 2017, the Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) is funded by a five-year grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to research governance in fragile, conflict-affected, and impoverished areas in Africa.

The research looks at how government officials, political institutions, legal mechanisms,  families, clans, religious leaders, aid agencies, civil society, rebel militia and vigilante groups contribute to the actual experience and practice of governance, by sharing the experiences of affected populations, particularly marginalised and excluded groups.

Countries included in the research programme are those involved in prolonged conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, but also the now relatively peaceful states of Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The common denominator of the research locations is the informal or semi-formal nature of public authority, or the presence of so-called “twilight institutions” such as those associated with rebel groups, border trade networks, and diverse international actors.

The Centre will be led by Professor Tim Allen and hosted at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa.


 

Building suburbia: housing and the middle classes in Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam, a city of 4.3 million people, has one of the fastest rates of urbanization in the world (UN-Habitat 2014). The city is experiencing rapid residential growth on its outskirts as people who can, acquire land and build houses. As they do so, they are building new suburbs – low-density residential neighbourhoods far from the city centre – about which little is currently known. From 2015-2018, this research, funded by LSE STICERD and LSE RIIF Seed Fund and conducted by Dr Claire Mercer in LSE's Department of Geography and Environment, sets out to address the following quetsions: who lives in these suburbs? How are suburban landscapes planned and built? And, what are the emerging social, cultural, political and economic dynamics of these spaces?


 

Deconstructing Notions of Resilience: diverse post-conflict settings in Uganda

Deconstructing Notions of Resilience: diverse post-conflict settings in Uganda will explore practices of resilience by reviewing the existing literature and through fieldwork in three post-conflict settings in Uganda: pastoralist Karamoja; areas affected by the LRA insurgency; and West Nile, which hosts and has hosted multiple waves of refugees from South Sudan.

This IGA-Rockefeller-funded research project began in January 2017 and will take place over two years. Professor Tim Allen is the Principal Investigator.

 



Improving Adolescent Access to Contraception and Safe Abortion in sub-Saharan Africa: health system pathways

This three-year research project, funded by MRC/DFID from 1 April 2017, aims to establish how the implementation of contraception and abortion services for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa can be improved. It will do this by comparing services in three countries: Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia. These three countries represent a range of abortion legal frameworks, from least restrictive (Ethiopia) to most restrictive (Malawi). The research will generate new evidence by collecting data from two groups: adolescents seeking either safe abortion or post-abortion care at facilities; and key informants involved in the implementation of contraception and abortion services for adolescents.

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Dr Ernestina Coast of LSE’s Department of International Development is the Principal Investigator of this project with IPAS.


 
MEDIAFRICA: New Media Practices in a Changing Africa

New Media Practices in a Changing Africa is a multi-disciplinary project, involving 8 researchers and 7 institutions in 5 countries with funding from the Research Council of Norway, FRIPRO programme.

Over the course of three years, this comparative research project will carry out pioneering and innovative research on the social effects of the rapid spread of new media in Africa. Featured country case studies include Botswana, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. With practice theory as an analytical foundation, the aim of the project is to generate knowledge that is useful for understanding the social and economic developments that Africa is currently going through.

Dr Wendy Willems of LSE’s Department of Media and Communications heads up the Zambia research team.

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The Politics of Return

Central Africa has witnessed prolonged and repetitive forms of displacement for many, many years. In 2015, the UNHCR described forced displacement figures related to this region as 'immense'. To date, international organisations have prioritised 'going home' as the most durable solution to this crisis. Processes of 'return and reintegration' represent a huge practical and policy challenge for world governments and are therefore a critical international policy issue. The Politics of Return research project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, aims to study precisely these dynamics in the central and eastern African countries of Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan through an inter-disciplinary, multi-sited ethnography of 'return'.

Professor Tim Allen is the Principal Investigator of this project which is hosted at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa at LSE.

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Spatial Inequalities in African Political Economy

This project aims to identify and interpret political-economy causes and effects of spatial inequalities in East and West African countries, focusing on both urban-rural and cross-regional inequalities. Although these patterns of inequality are of obvious policy and political salience, they are very poorly understood in the academic and policy literatures. 

Do political and institutional causes contribute to these disparities in ways that have gone unnoticed in existing studies, and that may be amenable to reform? And do high levels of inequality in Africa help to produce political effects that scholars have attributed to other, more uniquely African cultural sources (such as ethnicity), therefore causing policy-makers to miss the positive and negative lessons of the experiences of highly unequal countries around the world? 

This project, led by Professor Catherine Boone in LSE’s Departments of Government and International Development and supported by LSE RIIF Seed Fund, addresses both these questions. Our findings will draw Africa-focused scholars and policy-makers toward more theoretically-informed, broadly comparative, and policy-relevant analyses of the causes, effects, and litigators of spatial inequality. 

 


 

Trajectories of Displacement: A multi-disciplinary exploration into return and social repair after mass displacement in northern Uganda

Northern Uganda experienced one of the world’s most notorious instances of forced displacement after the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency from 1986 to 2006. Northern Uganda displacement was notable for its duration – in some areas for well over a decade – and that for the first 16 years of the conflict, there was virtually no humanitarian assistance to the affected population, which only began in earnest after 2003. For the following ten years, while the population was displaced and later, from 2007, returning to and re-establishing their homes, large amounts of international funding were spent.

Now external interest has waned and most aid agencies have withdrawn. What has happened to the population after the war has been overlooked. This research project aims to correct this deficiency through understanding displacement and return through the perceptions and understandings of the people concerned. This is a 20-month project funded by a ESRC-AHRC research grant from the Global Challenges Research Fund.

Professor Tim Allen is the Principal Investigator of this project which is hosted at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa at LSE.

Research Expertise

Over 100 researchers at LSE work on Africa in a wide range of social science disciplines including anthropology, development studies, economics, geography, health, international relations, politics, social policy and social psychology.

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