For large parts of its post-independence history, Burundi has suffered from prolonged bouts of civil conflict. More recently, a political crisis has rocked the country, leaving it internationally isolated and forcing over 400,000 to flee, mostly to Tanzania and Rwanda. Led by Ghent University and the SSRC, CPAID’s research in Burundi will focus on forms of public authority that enable social and economic life under conditions of high political volatility.
Central African Republic
The CAR has seen widespread ethnic and religious violence in recent years, with a number of armed groups continuing to destabilise the country in its north and east provinces. According to some estimates, over 50 per cent of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance. CPAID’s research agenda in this fragile context will benefit greatly from the experience and networks of Tatiana Carayannis, one of the word-leading authorities on the CAR.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Despite a substantial wealth of natural resources, the DRC remains one of the world’s poorest countries, having suffered long decades of civil war and foreign interventions. Currently home to at least 1.6 million IDPs alongside a host of refugees from neighbouring countries, this turbulent socio-political space provides a fertile ground for investigating the always changing dynamics of the constitution and contestation of public authority.
Even though Ethiopia has long been regarded as a beacon of stability and growth in the Horn of Africa, recent popular protests and the violent response by the government have cast doubts on the sustainability of Ethiopia’s developmental state model. CPAID’s initial research programme in Ethiopia will therefore focus on forms of public authority that merge patrimonial and illiberal characteristics with long-term state-oriented developmental aspirations.
In many respects, Kenya has been one of Africa’s top economic showpieces. However, ethnic tensions are continuing to destabilise some regions of the country and have left thousands of people internally displaced. Among other things, CPAID will investigate how public authorities in Kenya are responding to and attempting to prevent violence.
Public authority and governance on all levels in Sierra Leone have been decisively shaped by a devastating civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002 and, more recently, by the effects of the Ebola outbreak between 2014 and 2016. Based out of Njala University, CPAID’s work in Sierra Leone will investigate how local people and communities constitute and understand public authority in relation to this recent history.
Because of its protracted history of civil war and the limited reach of its formal state institutions, Somalia has long featured prominently in the debates on ‘failed states.’ The country is therefore a prime case for CPAID’s research agenda, which aims to move away from the assumption that only Western-style formal state institutions can provide the governance structures necessary for economic and social life.
After decades of civil war, South Sudan become independent in 2011 and had the opportunity to build its own state structures for the first time. Throughout decades of war, the Sudanese state had have limited public authority in South Sudan. However, despite this absence of the formal state, there was order and governance in the South. In December 2013, large scale civil war erupted in South Sudan. Armed violence has killed hundreds of thousands, displaced millions and violated previous codes of war. This context makes CPAID’s work on South Sudanese public authority both vital and fraught. Due to the current level of violence throughout the country, much of the initial research will need to be undertaken among refugees in Sudan and Uganda. However, some research will still be conducted in South Sudan and will focus on public authority in the context of peace building and alternative epistemologies.
Even though observers have recently noted Sudan’s partial progress in resolving its long-standing internal conflicts, many Sudanese continue to suffer from the consequences of violence, displacement and corruption. Identifying paths of inclusive growth through understanding how different forms of public authority affect local populations is CPAID’s primary goal in Sudan.
Although Uganda has been relatively peaceful for the past decade, many people still suffer from the consequences of a 20-year-long civil war in its northern regions. In recent years, the country has also struggled with an unprecedented influx of refugees from South Sudan. CPAID will make use of its researchers’ extensive experience on Uganda and partner with Gulu University to research local understandings of public authority.