Living the Everyday

Health-seeking in times of sickness and epidemics at Uganda's borders

Hosted by LSE’s Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa in partnership with Muni University and the University of Gulu, Uganda

LSE Principal Investigtor: Tim Allen
Co-investigator: Grace Akello
Co-investigator: Georgina Pearson
Post-doctoral researcher: Liz Storer
Project associate: Jimmy Odaga

How can we better understand health-seeking practices along the borders of Uganda-DRC and Uganda-South Sudan?


'Living the Everyday' principally addresses how social relations and everyday life affect knowledge and the management of sickness. The project contributes to policy approaches focused on containing epidemic diseases, including Ebola, across national borders.

Based in the West Nile sub-region of Uganda, research will be conducted on the borders of Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda-South Sudan. These borders have come to the attention of international experts, under the guise of Ebola-preparedness efforts, following the spread of the epidemic from North Kivu, DRC. Little is known about everyday social relations, movement and health-seeking in and across these spaces. In response, Living the Everyday employs the Institute’s extensive interdisciplinary expertise in the region, along with developing new partnerships, to provide much needed, urgent perspectives on health-seeking.



Tim Allen

Tim Allen is Director of the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa and Professor of International Development at LSE. He is currently the PI for the five-year ESRC-funded Centre for Public Authority and International Development.



Grace Akello

Dr Grace Akello is a Visiting Professor at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa and researcher at Gulu University. Grace focusses on how young people in complex emergencies and the context of HIV/AIDS prioritise and manage their health complaints. 



Georgina Pearson

Georgina is a research fellow on the LEAD Project and is a Clinical Lecturer in Public Health in the Population Health Research Institute at St George’s, University of London. She leads the project research on the Uganda-South Sudan border.



Liz Storer

Liz Storer is a PhD student in the Department of International Development, LSE. She is currently based in Arua, West Nile where she researches how individuals and groups in the region define wrongdoing, injustice and danger. She leads the project research on the Uganda-DRC border.




West Nile is an understudied and historically marginalised region in Northern Uganda, which has come under scrutiny following the Ebola outbreak in neighbouring North Kivu, DRC in 2018. This outbreak has implications for West Nile, due to the continual movement of goods, people and information across borders with the DRC and South Sudan. For public health response efforts, the everyday dynamics of these movements are highly important but little understood. Beyond official check-points, the borders are largely unpoliced, and before the 1950s they were mostly not demarcated.

The research is hosted within LSE’s Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa in partnership with Gulu and Muni Universities in Uganda. The researchers use their extensive experience in the region to map health-seeking on borders to better inform public health responses to epidemic threats. The project begins by targeting specific spaces to map how borderland collectives respond to such threats in the context of everyday life with reference to wider struggles with affliction and patterns of movement.

In the context of health-seeking in the region taking place at the intersection of biomedical, customary and Christian ideas of healing, the project examines a) how people living directly on an unpoliced and demarcated national border formulate knowledge about the origins, cause and treatment of sicknesses, and b) how borderland locations affect care-seeking choices.

Aims and objectives

The research examines complex routes of medical therapy according to those who live at the borderlands and documents how the border affects plural health-seeking behaviours. Interdisciplinary in scope, the project adopts medical, anthropological and geographical methods and theories to offer novel perspectives on health-seeking. Our intended outputs will inform academic scholarship and policy debates about epidemic responses, including and beyond Ebola.

Principal project aims:

  • To better understand health-seeking practices along the borders of Uganda-DRC and Uganda-South Sudan.
  • To explore how knowledge is produced in relation to Ebola and other emergent afflictions, in relation to biomedicine and notions of intra-personal responsibility.
  • To ground research in local conversations and processes of health-seeking.
  • To locate present therapy-seeking within historical trajectories of border movements and flows of knowledge.


Journal papers

Working papers






The Centre for Public Authority and International Development explores how forms of public authority shape and are shaped by interlocking global challenges with risks and opportunities for development and inclusive growth.


Muni university logo

Muni University is a degree-awarding institution licensed and supervised by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education, focussed on teaching, scholarship, research and innovation.


Gulu university logo

Gulu University provides skilled human resources in education, health, agriculture, technology, peace and security. A pillar of academic and sustainable development, it strives to transform communities and conserve biodiversity.

British Academy

The British Academy's Knowledge Frontiers programme supports projects that engage with questions concerning the relationship between expertise, public understanding and policy delivery, highlighting the importance of collaboration.


 Photo credit: UN Photo/Martine Perret