Elizabeth Ngutuku

Elizabeth Ngutuku

Research Officer

Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa

Room No
Connect with me

English, Swahili
Key Expertise
Social Protection, Sexual and reproductive Health, Education

About me

Elizabeth ( Eliza) Ngutuku

Is a Researcher at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa (FLIA). She graduated Cum laude with a PhD in Development Studies in 2020 from the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS-EUR). Eliza's PhD research, 'Rhizomatic Cartographies of Children's Lived Experience of Poverty and Vulnerability in Siaya, Kenya', explored children's complex lived experience of poverty and vulnerability in Kenya. She also holds a Master of Arts degree specializing in Women, Gender, and Development also from ISS-EUR.

Eliza has over 20 years of experience, working on multidisciplinary issues on children and youth development in eastern Africa. Some of the issues she focuses on are child poverty and vulnerability, education for marginalized children and youth, social protection, sexual and reproductive health and rights, youth activism and young people's experience in conflict situations.

Her practice involves critical interdisciplinary research on voice and lived experience at the complex interstices of representations in policies and practice. Eliza's work investigates children and young people's lived experience within the context of poverty, vulnerability, conflict, activism, citizenship claims-making, and contestations on their sexual and reproductive health and rights. She explored lived experience not as intersectional but as an assemblage, complexly entangled with diverse structural processes, various intervention processes, and children and young people's emergent agency.

As a researcher at the FLIA's Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) project, she has carried out various research, including the research project 'Beyond colonial politics of identity: being, becoming and belonging as an adolescent girl among the Kamba and Luo in Kenya'. This research explored how the imperial imaginaries and practices affected the ways of being an adolescent but also unearths other place-based understandings around which the experience of adolescent girls in rural colonial Kenya was enacted. The research was at re-reading and (re)gendering the dominant stories about the Other in Africa and also furthers Eliza's long-term commitment to the need to engage the global scriptedness of interventions on children and development, identities, health and well-being in Africa.

More recently, she completed two research projects under CPAID which explored, the role of grassroots actors in addressing violence against children in Kenya and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Uganda. Drawing on her experience as a coordinator of a grassroots community of practice and in conscientizing grassroots actors, the research explored the complex and messy forms of agency as these actors are incorporated into larger violence intervention chains. By going beyond perspectives that tend to focus on exploitation, the research contributes to Africanist debates about agency, subjectivity, politics, social movements and solidarities during moments of precarity. Eliza is currently designing a transdisciplinary research on the Sexual and Reproductive Health of youth of East African origin in London and the voice of children and youth in discourses of environmental Sustainability.


In 2022-2023, Eliza was a lecturer in the LSE MSC course in Human Security. Since 2023, she has been part of the faculty in the CPAID course in humanitarian protection implemented with partners in Africa. She is also a guest lecturer on education policies in Africa in the LSE MSC course in African development and the Master of Advanced Studies in Children's Rights at the University of Geneva. In 2020, she co-convened the postgraduate diploma course in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights led by ISS-EUR and Makerere School University School of Public Health targeting African practioners and researchers. She has also worked as a graduate teaching assistant in the ISS-Erasmus University M.A Research Methodology Course, 'Qualitative Interviewing' and several other courses. While a doctoral researcher, she was a fellow in the four-year capacity-strengthening project on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Uganda, a Dutch-funded project led by ISS-EUR, 2016-2020. In line with my philosophical orientation to children's voice, she has also designed a course on 'Post Qualitative Research with Children and Youth'.

As a scholar-activist, Eliza has been part of a movement advocating for decolonizing knowledge and leveraging local knowledge in African development issues. In 2008, she has co-founded and was the Executive Director of Roots and Wings Research and Development Organization (Previously Nascent Research and Development Organisation), an institution working in eastern Africa and that leverages local knowledge and perspectives in research and development processes. As the executive director, she was a principal investigator in many organizations' research-funded programmes and collaborated with think tanks, universities and children and youth-focused foundations. Eliza has also carried out extensive innovative research with young people as peer researchers in Africa, including with young people with disabilities. As a research mentorship advisor in Eider Africa, an organization developing research leaders in Africa, she regularly mentors researchers from Africa.

She is a member of several associations. These include an associate in the Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at the Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala and its satellite centre at Lira University, Northern Uganda, and a member of the African Governance Institute in the Hague. She is also a member of the UN Knowledge Network, which was convened by the Office of the UN Special Adviser on Africa.


Eliza has won several awards for her research.

In 2022, her innovative PhD research on Lived experience of Child poverty was awarded the prestigious Premium Erasmianum Foundation research prize 2022, at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2021, her PhD research was awarded the prize for the best PhD thesis in 2020 by the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities (EGSH) of Erasmus University Rotterdam. She was also twice selected as a Laureate for the CODESRIA Child and Youth Institutes in 2012 and 2015, where she researched youth and political activism and poverty in early childhood, respectively. In 2005, her M. A research that focused on the lived experience of Young mothers in programmes of support in Kenya was awarded the prize for the best Research paper at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam.



Ngutuku, E. 2024. Re-imagining and Repositioning the Lived Experience of Children seen as Outsiders in Kenya. Childhood, 31(1), 30-47. https://doi.org/10.1177/09075682231220866

Ngutuku, E. 2022 Education as Future Breakfast: Children's Aspirations within the Context of Poverty in Siaya Kenya, Ethnography and Education, 17:3, 224-240, DOI: 10.1080/17457823.2022.2071591

Ngutuku E. and Okwany, A. 2017. 'Youth as Researchers: Navigating Generational Power Issues in Adolescent Sexuality and Reproductive Health Research'. Childhood in Africa Journal 4(1). Ohio University Press.


Forthcoming Book: Ngutuku, E. Beyond Multidimensionality, Children's Lived Experience of Poverty and Vulnerability in Siaya Kenya. Routledge Studies in African Development Series. Routledge. The UK

Ngutuku, E. and Okwany A. 2023 Un-scripting African Cultures: Historical Tensions and Contemporary Possibilities for Anthropology in East Africa. In A. Singer (ed). A Touch of Genius: The Life, Work and Influence of Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard. Sean Kingston Press: London. 252-258

Okwany A. and Ngutuku, E. 2023. Leveraging Early Childhood at the Margins in Kenya. In A Pence, H. Ebrahim, O. Barry and P. Makokoro (eds) Sankofa: Appreciating the Past in Planning the Future of Early Childhood Education, Care and Development in Africa. Paris. UNESCO. pp.230– 243

Ngutuku, E. 2022. Genealogy of Policies on Poor and Vulnerable Children and Youth in Kenya. In G. Onyango (ed). Routledge Handbook of Public Policy in Africa.

Ngutuku E. 2019. Beyond Categories: Rhizomatic Experiences of Child Poverty and Vulnerability in Kenya' in K. Roelen, R. Morgan, and Y. Tafere (eds) Putting Children First: New Frontiers in the fight Against Child Poverty in Africa. Ibidem Verlag, Germany. Pp 25 – 47

Ngutuku E. 2018. Small Stories from the Margins: Cartographies of Child Poverty and Vulnerability Experience in Kenya. In (Eds), H. Ebrahim, A. Okwany & O. Barry. Early Childhood Care and Education at the Margins. African Perspectives on Birth to Three. London: Routledge. PP. 16 -30

Okwany A. and Ngutuku E. 2018. Social Protection and Citizenship Rights for Vulnerable Children, A Perspective on Interventions by Non-State Actors in Western Kenya. In (Eds) W. Gregor and N. Awortwi. Non-State Social Protection Actors and Services in Africa. Governance Below the State. Routledge: New York. PP 55-71.

Kamusiime, A and Ngutuku E. 2016. Righting the Future: Engaging with Social Norms to Support Girls' Education in Uganda. In Okwany, A. and R. Wazir, Changing Social Norms to Universalize Girls Education. Garant Publishers Belgium