Tag: poverty

Child mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo Flag

Worldwide, child mortality has fallen by more than half since 1990, however, five million children still die before their fifth birthday every year. In some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the mortality rate is particularly high: an estimated quarter of a million children die there annually.

Eight researchers have recently published an article on this topic. In this study, they looked at how the difference in mortality is related to coverage of life-saving interventions and how coverage and mortality are associated with conflict. The article has been summarised by Miriam Mosesson in Global Bar Magazine.

Why do children die?

“The first month of life is the most dangerous time where almost half of the deaths before five years of age are happening. Pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria are the three major killers after the first month accounting for about half of the deaths in this age group.”

“In the DRC, approximately 7%s of children die before their fifth birthday. However, behind this number lies considerable differences between the 26 provinces of the country (…). In our study, we compared the coverage of 23 indicators, necessary to end preventable deaths in children, between the DRCs 26 provinces (…). The indicators ranged from exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life to having access to soap and water to wash your hands, being vaccinated, and having access to correct care when falling ill from diarrhoea (…). We found that these indicators varied substantially between the provinces.”

Important conclusions of the study

“This study has first and foremost showed that your chances of having access to life saving interventions vary depending on where in the DRC you are born. Second, children in conflict-affected provinces of the country do not seem to be the most neglected; rather, children that live in the poorest provinces without infrastructure lack access to life-saving interventions. Children in conflict areas should continue to get a lot of attention, but at the same time, it is essential to ensure that children living outside these areas are not left behind. We need to work in all settings in sustainable ways to stop children from dying for reasons we can prevent.”

This article was first published by Miriam Mosesson in Global Bar Magazine.

Exploring WASH outcomes in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda

International workshop participants, including SEI Research Fellow Dr Nelson Ekane (left).

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Governance of water, sanitation and hygiene services in most countries in Africa is characterized by the state acting through non-state actors in supposedly flexible and inclusive state–citizen interactions with non-state actors (private and civil society) filling gaps in resources and service delivery.

However, the outcomes in terms of inclusive, sustainable and cost-effective service delivery is mixed in many cases. In part, this reflects that some public and private agencies delivering basic services face problems of legitimacy due to low levels of accountability and trust.

International networking event

Researchers and practitioners from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Sweden explored the links between quality of government and water, sanitation and hygiene outcomes at a recent international networking event organized by SEI and the Institute for Human Settlement Studies (IHSS) at Ardhi University.

The theme of the workshop in Tanzania was “Quality of Government and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Outcomes”. The purpose of this meeting was to:

  • officially present established country teams in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, including the roles of the team members
  • discuss and validate a research proposal, including case study designs for implementation in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda
  • explore links with other national and international partners and networks.

What drives citizen perceptions of WASH services?

SweDev member Dr Ekane outlined the research agenda of the network and the specific research questions that the network explores. The main aim of the research is to understand how the type and quality of services provided to citizens in rural, peri-urban and urban settings influence citizen perceptions of public and private service providers and the willingness of citizens to pay for services and participate actively in community development.

The project also examines how well citizen perceptions align with expectations from the government and other non-state actors involved in service delivery and aims to reduce barriers that women and other vulnerable groups face in effectively demanding improved WASH services and otherwise participating in the sector. The research will be carried out in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda and the research questions include:

  • How do different macro- and micro governance contexts influence citizens’ perception of the type and quality of services they receive in rural, urban and peri-urban settings?
  • To what extent does the type and quality of services citizens receive from the government and other actors influence their willingness to pay (WTP) for services and participate in development?
  • What are the perceived expectations of citizens from government and other actors providing basic services and how do they match or mismatch with the services provided?
  • How can citizen participation support the development of human-centered smart WASH strategies that enhance user satisfaction through improved supply, transparency and accountability?

“During the workshop, we explored the potential for future collaborative research, looking beyond 2022. In terms of progress, a key success is that the three country teams are now established and hosted by the University of Rwanda, Kyambogo University in Uganda and Ardhi University in Tanzania.”

Dr. Nelson Ekane, SEI Research Fellow, SweDev member and workshop leader

Dr Tatu Limbumba, Director of the Institute of Human Settlement Studies (IHSS) at Ardhi University, hoped that the participants would have fruitful discussions and highlighted the role of IHSS, a research arm of Ardhi University responsible for research, training and public services.

Presentations during this two-day workshop event were given by Dr Yohannes Kachenje, Ardhi University, Elisabeth Constance Nahimana, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority and Joseph Hahirwabasenga, University of Rwanda, Martin N Mawejje, Water for People-Uganda Kyambogo University, Uganda, and SEI Research Fellow and Development and Aid Policy team member Dr Nelson Ekane.

Established teams in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda

Dr Ekane reported that network country teams have been established in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. These teams are hosted by the University of RwandaArdhi University in Tanzania and Kyambogo University in Uganda.

Dr Ekane noted the network’s participation at the Africa Water and Sanitation Week 2021, where it held a session on “Quality of Government and Access to Clean Water and Sanitation: A New International Network and Research Agenda”. Several key recommendations from the session are represented in the resolutions from the conference, referred to as the Windhoek Multi-Stakeholders’ Resolutions for Accelerating Water Security and Access to Safely Managed Sanitation and Hygiene in Africa.

Written by Ylva Rylander, Communications Officer within SweDev at SEI. Edited by Nelson Ekane, SweDev member and SEI Research Fellow.

Why are some countries rich while others remain poor? 

Göran Holmqvist, Director at the Department for Asia, Middle East and Humanitarian Assistance at Sida, reviews Stefan Dercon’s “Gambling on Development Why Some Countries Win and Others Lose,” a potential bestseller among the classic books on development economics. This is the English summary of the original review published in the Swedish journal Ekonomisk Debatt 6/2022 (årgång 50).

Countries should invest in growth-oriented development 

In his book, Stefan Dercon, Professor at Oxford University and former Chief Economist of the British development aid agency, answers the question of why some countries win and others lose in development. His main thesis is that the countries’ elite must put aside their short-term, conflicting interests and instead “invest” in growth-oriented development (gambling on development). According to Holmqvist, Dercon nevertheless seems to ignore the role of civil society and other actors in the institution building process by acting as a counterforce to elite dominance. 

Dercon rejects the idea that a particular policy prescription is the success factor for countries. The differences in areas such as the degree of state involvement, governance, transparency, openness to the outside world and natural resource management are too great. However, common characteristics of successful countries are that states can act with credibility, adapt their roles to their capabilities and being able correct the course when initiatives fail.

What about development aid? 

Holmqvist writes that Dercon advocates an aid strategy à la Warren Buffet, the super-investor who invests in good management in businesses with long-term stability, rather than spectacular and short-term, growth potential. This means investing in countries with an emerging elite bargain on development, which in the past decade have been countries like Rwanda, Ethiopia (at least until recently), Bangladesh and perhaps Ghana. Despite the corruption and political oppression you may find in these countries, donors should not be over-alarmed but rather focus on long-term economic and social progress.  

Aid is also needed in countries that fail to get ahead, countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Malawi, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Afghanistan, where elites have acted according to short-term interests and the state has degenerated into an instrument of self-enrichment. In these countries, humanitarian needs are often the greatest. However, expectations on results should be low, and the approach should be cautious in order to facilitate future pro-development arrangements between elites. 

Dercon’s recommendations fit rather poorly with the orientation of Swedish aid, Holmqvist argues. Swedish aid have a strong focus on fragile countries with weak institutions and it has often demonstrated a high degree of sensitivity to even temporary, democratic setbacks when it comes to state-to-state assistance.

Civil society, citizens and counterforces to an elite-dominated state feature conspicuously little in Dercon’s country analyses and recommendations, although the implications it has for the more informed political economy analysis Dercon calls for. In this aspect Dercon is clearly at odds with another institutionally oriented economist – Daron Acemoglu (author of Why Nations Fail and of The Narrow Corridor) – whose analysis point at the crucial role such counterforces have in the shaping of development friendly institutions.  

SweDev hosted a dialogue with Dercon on 8 June this year. He held a keynote and presented main findings from his book and gave further insights.

News translation by Roksana Rotter, SweDev. Edited by Göran Holmqvist, Director at the Department for Asia, Middle East and Humanitarian Assistance at Sida and Ylva Rylander, Communications Officer for SweDev at SEI.

New EBA call for project proposals

Turbid waters spill out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Are you a development researcher based in Sweden with expertise in poverty issues, environment and climate or the steering of Swedish aid? Do you have an idea that is of relevance to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sida and other Swedish development cooperation actors?

The Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA) has decided to allocate funds for studies within any of its prioritised areas (poverty and its drivers; environment and climate; steering of Swedish aid). Funds are available for researchers active at institutions based in Sweden in order to conduct studies of direct relevance for the MFA, Sida and/or other Swedish development cooperation actors.

The application is made in two separate steps. In a first round a project idea is briefly presented. Final day for project ideas is Sunday 22 May, 2022.

A review committee invites, after selection, short-listed applicants to provide a full application by 22 June, 2022. Final date to provide full applications is 14 August, 2022.

Call for papers: Up-scaling co-benefits of sustainable consumption for development

Environmentally sustainable consumption is now high on the agenda of researchers and policymakers in rich countries. In low and middle-income countries, sustainable consumption is de facto already practised in various contexts, for instance when it comes to energy saving, shared mobility, decentral digital markets, (informal) repair and recycling services or innovative plastic re-use start-ups. Yet, such practices are often realized in settings of poverty, precarious working conditions and environmental hazards.

About the conference

This conference discusses the challenge of how to chart a pathway to sustainable consumption that is aligned with the economic aspirations of growing urbanizing middle classes, and at the same time creates economic benefits in terms of viable business innovations, decent work and good health conditions. Put differently: To unleash a virtuous cycle in which sustainable consumption and production reinforce each other and improve well-being.

The conference is jointly organized by the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and the Climate Change Center Berlin Brandenburg. The conference is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The conference addresses academics, policymakers, donor organisations and other non-governmental organisations interested in designing demand-side policies and programmes for a green transition.

Submission procedure and target journals

Interested applicants should send their paper title and abstract (max 600 words) to
with the subject line ”Conference co-benefits of sustainable
consumption”. DIE aims to publish the most interesting papers of the conference in a special issue. Target journals are Ecological Economics, the Journal of Cleaner Production or Global Environmental Change. Editors of the journal will be contacted before the workshop with a preliminary list of papers/authors after abstract selection.

Extended deadlines: 24 April 2022

Researcher at the Department of political science and GLD

The Department of Political Science at Gothenburg University is looking for a researcher to join the programme on Governance and Local Development (GLD) for 12 months, start date September 1, 2022 or per agreement.

Job description

As a researcher with GLD, you will be expected to spend your time on GLD- or project-oriented tasks including Assisting in research design and implementation, including the survey, interviews and other fieldwork as necessary; Overseeing survey training and implementation, with fieldwork expected; Analyzing data; Collaborating with Professor Ellen Lust and other researchers in the program, as relevant, to disseminate findings through articles and presentations.


You should have a PhD in the social sciences and research experience closely connected to the above-described project research area. The ideal candidate has a solid understanding of the theories relating to poverty traps, local governance, the consequences of aid, and sub-Saharan Africa. You should have a track record of independently producing scientific articles of high quality and a record of accomplishments in one or more of the following project research areas: development, governance, service provision, non-state actors, survey methodology and related empirical methods. Experience implementing surveys and/or experiments in the developing world is preferred. Demonstrated knowledge of programs such as R and/or Stata and experience working with unusual data sources (e.g., textual analysis, big data sources, GIS) is meritorious.

Excellence in English orally and written is expected; competence in Chichewa or Chitumbuka is merit. To be successful in this position you must have an eye for detail, be highly organized, and be an active problem solver. You must be able to work well with a large, fluid, and diverse team. We expect you to have excellent communication and collaboration skills, while also having a knack for independent work. We will make an overall assessment and the applicant considered to be best qualified to carry out and develop the duties described above will be appointed to the position.

About the department and the University of Gothenburg

The Department of political science has an open climate that encourages involvement in broader societal debates. Research areas of specialization include elections, democracy, corruption, governance, globalisation, environmental politics, and European studies. The Department hosts research programmes such as the QoG Institute, Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem), Centre for Collective Action Research, (CeCAR), Governance and Local Development (GLD) and the Swedish National Election Studies Programme. We offer several degree programmes at undergraduate, Master’s, and doctoral levels, as well as freestanding courses. Education is provided in both Swedish and English. We have a total of 1 300 students and a staff of about 140. The Department is centrally located in the city of Gothenburg.

The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 56 000 students and 6 600 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract scientists and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.

About GLD: Governance and Local Development

The Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) is directed by Professor Ellen Lust, and aims to explain variation in governance and local development in an effort to promote human welfare globally. Read more about the research program on our website at www.gld.gu.se.

GLD, in collaboration with other departments at GU, Linköping University, Chalmers University of Technology, and Harvard University, is undertaking a large project working to identify how competing development programs alter African communities’ opportunities to exit the poverty cycle through the use of satellite images analysed via AI, and mixed survey methods to develop theories of the varieties of poverty traps.

GLD’s role is to conceptualise community-level power structures that impact these poverty traps, and to consider to what extent and how World Bank and Chinese aid programs help to break poverty traps. We will do so by focusing on the nature of poverty traps at individual and community-levels and the impact of existing aid programs in the country. GLD will employ surveys (based on the LGPI, a GLD-developed survey tool); conduct case study interviews with village heads, development chairs, local elders, and the international donor community; and review existing documents, all with the aim to generate a deeper understanding of why donors operate in specific communities and whether this aid defuses poverty traps.

Contact information

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Rose Shaber-Twedt or Professor Ellen Lust.

SweDev’s interview series 2022: Meet Cristiano Lanzano 

A flooded street in Uganda.

Cristiano Lanzano is a social anthropologist at the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Lanzano’s research focuses on mining, natural resources and conservation, and the anthropology of sustainable development. In conversation with SweDev’s Alessandro Giacardi, he describes the current Covid-19 and development challenges through an anthropology lens. 

Q: The Covid-19 pandemic has destabilized the world’s balance, worsening the situation of the most fragile countries. With this in mind, what do you think has changed and will change within development studies? 

A: Even if we are still too close to the pandemic to evaluate its long-term consequences, two main elements emerged. Firstly, travel restrictions have given more space to researchers based in the Global South to speak for their reality and witness the Covid-19 impacts on their territories. This may open opportunities for a less Eurocentric production of academic knowledge in the field of development, but the final outcomes remain to be seen.

Secondly, the pandemic places issues such as global health, associated with global inequalities back on the agenda. The pandemic highlights the role of science and technology and calls for a truly global approach and for a greater integration between social and natural sciences. 

Cristiano Lanzano. Photo: NAI

Cristiano Lanzano, Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Photo: NAI.

Q: You are a social anthropologist focusing on anthropology of development. What does development mean in the context of anthropology and what are you teaching to your students? 

A: The relationship between anthropology and development is complex but very stimulating. James Ferguson has provokingly defined development as “the evil twin of anthropology.” Many anthropologists tend to distance themselves from development as a discipline and practice, even if historically we have a lot in common. Especially when western anthropologists conduct research in the Global South, they can often be mistaken for development workers. After all, beside our background, we often share the same interest for certain topics, and networks. When I first did my fieldwork in Senegal, my initial contact was an Italian NGO working there: this shaped the way I looked at reality during fieldwork, even if I tried to be aware of it and develop a critical stance.

Written by Cristiano Lanzano, Senior Researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute and Alessandro Giacardi, Communication and Research Intern at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) for the Development and Aid Policy Team and SweDev. Edits by Ylva Rylander and Alice Castensson.