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.