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COVID-19 and the State Fragility Trap

Hosted by the School of Public Policy and the Institute of Global Affairs



Professor Matt Andrews

Professor Matt Andrews

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Dr Nada Eissa

Dr Nada Eissa

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics and Research Associate (NBER)

Dr Abdoulaye Bousso

Dr Abdoulaye Bousso

Director of The Senegal Health Emergency Operations Center


Professor Adnan Khan

Professor Adnan Khan

Professor of Practice, LSE School of Public Policy and STICERD

Over 1.8 billion of the world population live in fragile states that are unable to deliver basic governance. This is expected to rise to over 2 billion, without factoring in COVID-19. All countries are struggling to contain the disease and mitigate its economic, political and social tolls. But the challenge is exponentially more arduous in states which have been stuck in a fragility trap even before the pandemic. Responses have varied across fragile states with some copying more advanced and capable states, embracing expensive and inefficient umbrella lockdowns and others adapting context appropriate mitigation measures.  Fragile states need to be supported in order to avoid getting more stuck in fragility traps, but also emerge more capable and prepared to deal with future pandemics and crises.

Professor Matt Andrews is a senior lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Faculty lead of the Building State Capacity program. His research focuses on public sector reform, particularly budgeting and financial management reform, and participatory governance in developing and transitional governments. Recent articles focus on forging a theoretical understanding of the nontechnical factors influencing success in reform processes. Specific emphasis lies on the informal institutional context of reform, as well as leadership structures within government-wide networks. This research developed out of his work in the provincial government of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa and more recently from his tenure as a Public Sector Specialist working in the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank. He brings this experience to courses on public management and development. He holds a BCom (Hons) degree from the University of Natal, Durban (South Africa), an MSc from the University of London, and a PhD in Public Administration from the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has recently, with the Harvard Kennedy Schools Building State Capability Program, been helping public leaders prepare as best as they can to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Nada Eissa is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics, and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). From 2005-2007, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. Previously, she was on the economics faculty at the University of California at Berkeley, a National Fellow of the NBER, a visiting economist at the IMF and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Professor Eissa’s research examines how tax and transfer policy affects work and family formation decisions, and in turn what these behavioral responses imply for how programs should be designed. Her work has been published in major economics journals, and widely cited in the media. Her current research has expanded into education; including evaluating the Washington D.C. Scholarship Program, the first federally-funded school-voucher program in the United States; and the impact of school choice on academic performance in public schools. Professor Eissa is a recipient of the National Tax Association’s Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in Government and i Finance and Taxation (1995). She is also a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. Professor Eissa is also the lead academic for the International Growth Centre in South Sudan and Uganda.

Dr Abdoulaye Bousso is the Director of The Senegal Health Emergency Operations Center, Dakar. He is currently leading the public health response to COVID-19 in Senegal. Dr Bousso is an expert in disaster management and health emergencies. He is also an international Health Regulations and Emergency Operations Center expert for the WHO. Dr Bousso holds degrees in medicine, disaster management, trauma & orthopedic surgery and administration and finance. He is also a humanitarian member of Medecins Sans Frontieres and has worked as a surgeon in different operation theatres in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Haiti. e has occupied senior positions in Senegal as a Technical Adviser to the Minister of Health, Vice-President of the Senegalese Medical Council and Secretary-General of the Senegalese Physicians' Union. 

Professor Adnan Khan is a Professor of Practice at the LSE School of Public Policy and STICERD. Before joining the School of Public Policy and STICERD, Professor Khan served as Research and Policy Director at the International Growth Centre at the LSE for ten years. During 2018-19, he was a Visiting Lecturer of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Professor Khan has spent more than 15 years in the policy world as a practitioner, policymaker and activist, and more than 10 years in the research world as an instructor, researcher and as a catalyser of other people’s research. His areas of interest include economic development and state capacity, political economy and state fragility, and public finance.

Hassan Gali is the Student Leader for this thematic session. He is an MPP candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science, School of Public Policy. Hassan is a Medical Doctor by background, graduating from the University of Medical Sciences and Technology in Khartoum and has been practising in the UK's NHS. He holds an MSc in Public Policy and Global Health from Durham University. Hassan has researched the impact of US Sanctions on Sudan's Health infrastructure. His interests include the political economy of reform, building state capability and constitution-making in democratic transitions. He is also involved in a number of policy and development projects related to the MENA and East Africa region.

The School of Public Policy (@LSEPublicPolicy) is an international community where ideas and practice meet. Our approach creates professionals with the ability to analyse, understand and resolve the challenges of contemporary governance.

The Institute of Global Affairs (@LSEIGA) aims to maximise the impact of LSE's leading expertise across the social sciences by shaping inclusive and locally-rooted responses to the most important and pressing global challenges.

This event is part of the Maryam Forum Launch: "From Rulership to Leadership: Early Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic".

View the full programme of the Maryam Forum Launch here.

The Maryam Forum is a new multi-year platform aiming to encourage the shift towards evidence-informed, transparent, accountable and inclusive leadership. Introduced on the global stage in Davos during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January 2020, Maryam Forum is a collaboration between policy makers, academics, business leaders and media that engages the LSE across departments and disciplines. Together with our students – the leaders of tomorrow – we will convene Maryam Co-Labs, leading up to our first annual Global Conference in December. From climate change, health crises and other global emergencies, to industrial policy, populism and migration, these year-round working groups will tackle the most urgent challenges of our time - providing opportunities to exchange expertise and shape solutions, and unlocking the potential for inclusive and sustainable leadership across all regions of the world.

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