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March + April

Welcome to the March + April 2021 research newsletter from the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. We hope you are all well and keeping safe.

The London School of Economics and Political Science, including the Department of International Development, has moved online. Please continue to engage as we really appreciate your support during these unprecedented times. 

This bi-monthly newsletter gives subscribers the usual run-down of news and updates from research programmes in the Department. It also includes sub-sections for recent articles, blogs and publications. 

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LSE ID 3rd in the world for Development Studies

The QS World University Rankings recently released their results for 2021, which moved LSE from fourth to joint-third in the world for Development Studies. LSE now shares this spot with Harvard University. We are immensely proud of everyone in the Department for their outstanding work in research and teaching which is reflected in this ranking.

LSE ID submits REF 2021

After 4 years of careful preparation, the Department of International Development’s submission to REF 2021 is complete and about to be submitted. The Research Committee offers its heartfelt thanks to all ID colleagues for their careful and highly collegial work evaluating several hundred articles, books, working papers and Impact Case Studies. With your help, we’ve been able to assemble an extremely impressive portfolio that is striking in its thematic, disciplinary and methodological diversity. Thank you!

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national evaluation of universities’ research.  It’s conducted by academic experts tasked by the government with evaluating the quality of each department’s research outputs, research environment, and the impact of that research on the ‘real world’. – ID Research Committee

Mwansa’s Story selected finalist for #Film4Health

An animation based on work led by Professor Ernestina Coast in collaboration with Ipas and funded by the Medical Research Council and the Department for International Development (now the FCDO) has been shortlisted for the World Health Organisation's 'Health for All' films award 2021. Mwansa’s story – available in English and Nyanja – explores how so many Zambian girls and young women attempt to end unwanted pregnancies on their own. The film is the result of a collaboration with a creative team that used the research project’s findings to develop a short animated film, as well as a comic. You can view the full WHO YouTube playlist of the finalists here.

Professor Shadlen on the global distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine

Professor Ken Shadlen has been sharing his research and expertise on the global distribution of the new COVID-19 vaccine. Professor Shadlen argues that vaccines have to be affordable and available to all countries, and governments must have the administrative and political capacities to deliver them locally to ensure an effective global immunisation strategy against COVID-19. You can read a recent article co-authored by Professor Shadlen and other leading academics in The Lancet. You can also listen to a recent podcast for the Latin American Studies Association and read a recent blog post for From Poverty to Power. 

Professor Naila Kabeer included in Apolitical’s 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy 2021

Professor Naila Kabeer has been included in Apolitical’s 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy 2021. The list honours and celebrates people of all genders working on gender policy and making the world more equitable, whether they exert their influence through policymaking, public service, research, philanthropy, advocacy, activism or however else. See the full list here which also includes Jacinda Ardern, Dr. Stella Nyanzi and Dr. Fatima Denton.

Special Issue of Development and Change edited by Kate Meagher

Dr Kate Meagher recently edited an issue of Development and Change on the Politics of Open Access, including writing the introductory article, "The Politics of Open Access: Decolonizing Research or Corporate Capture?".  Professor Meagher also chaired a panel discussion on Digital Bias, Diversity and Development. You can watch the recording of the online event back here. 

Digital projects from the ID community

The Department of International Development is a community of students, staff and alumni who are dedicated to a diverse range of research interests and social causes. Many people connected to ID have digital projects where they write about these interests, share knowledge, encourage discussion and platform critical issues and social movements. We have published a selection of the excellent blogs, websites, podcasts, social media accounts and other digital projects run by members of the ID community.

Request to stop the extension of pharmaceutical patent periods in Brazil

The Brazilian Public Prosecutor cited a paper co-written by PhD student in the Department of International Development, Eduardo Mercadante, in the request that the Supreme Court immediately stop the extension of pharmaceutical patent periods to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the full story here

Rethinking digital farming in Kenya

Hype surrounds the proliferation of digital solutions to boost efficiency and productivity in Kenya’s agriculture. But what has been the reality on the ground? Tracing the expansion of Nairobi’s Silicon Savannah into the country’s rural regions, LSE Fellow Gianluca Iazzolino highlights the factors that have shaped the trajectory of the first generation of Kenyan agritech in a blog series for the LSE Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa. The series presents key insights from the research project ‘A Tale of Two Green Valleys’ which examines data-driven agro-innovation in California’s Central Valley and Kenya’s Rift Valley. You can read the first articles from the series here

Highlights from LSE Festival: Shaping the post-COVID world

LSE Festival took place on the first week of March and featured a wide range of events, workshops and talks under the umbrella, 'Shaping the post-COVID world'. You can watch back Festival Live events, Festival Shorts video premieres and Festival Skills workshops on LSE's YouTube channel here. You can also read blogs on the events that took place here.

CPAID launches the Public Authority Podcast

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa's Centre for Public Authority and International Development (CPAID) has launched the first two episodes of the Public Authority Podcast. The series will engage with experts to discuss how public authority interacts with aid delivery, development initiatives, localisation, access to justice and service provision across Africa.

In her words: African women's perspective on gender equality

LSE ID Alumni Zainab Haruna, Victoria Malowa and Priscilla Bretuo have collaborated with 12 other women from African Countries to produce the IN HER WORDS anthology. This anthology is a collection of essays and stories written to showcase the lived experiences, stories and perspectives of African women on issues of equality, representation, GBV, inclusion and feminism. You can download the book for free here.

Wellcome Award MSc in Health and International Development scholarship programme

The Wellcome Award MSc in Health and International Development scholarship programme is now in its final year and will award a full scholarship to one student for 2021. Started in 2019 and funded by the Wellcome Trust, these scholarships support the very best students seeking a career in health-related social science research. Deadline is 29th of April. 


In light of coronavirus, all department events have moved online. For updates, please check our events page. You can also check out our recordings from past events.

Structural Racism and the Medicines System

Thursday 06 May 2021 6:00pm to 7:00pm (UK time)
From drug development to drug affordability, the medicines system affects who lives and who dies. Speakers include LSE ID's Professor Shadlen. Register here


The Geopolitics of Health in the Middle East

Monday 10 May 2021 12:00pm to 1:30pm (UK time)
Regional politics in the Middle East continues to have a cumulative impact on health, affecting health systems capacity and delivery of services. Speakers include LSE ID's Dr Tiziana Leone. Register here


Highlights from the International Development at LSE Blog and other LSE Blogs. 

Before the spark: A political account of fires in migrant settlements
In this article, MSc candidate in International Migration and Public Policy, Sarah Doyel unpacks the ways in which the lack of planning in refugee settlements leads to crises such as fires, and constitutes a form of violent inaction that curtails the possibility of long-term solutions to humanitarian issues in refugee response.

Climate change and the important role it plays in the Western Sahara conflict
In this article, MSc International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies candidate Johana Bretou-Klein highlights the role of resources and climate change in the ongoing conflict in the Western Sahara. Johana argues that considering and taking action on these issues is crucial to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Decentralisation’s Contribution to Ethiopia’s Development Miracle
Professor Jean-Paul Faguet looks at the history and contribution of decentralisation to Ethiopia’s development, and questions whether it can help explain the country’s extraordinary performance over the past generation.  

“They have destroyed Tigray, literally”
This is a special podcast originally published on the World Peace Foundation on the war in Tigray, Ethiopia. It is a recording of a phone call from somewhere in rural Tigray on January 27, in which Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe spoke with Alex de Waal, both linked to LSE’s Justice and Security Research Programme.

Book review: Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism by Mariana Mazzucato
MSc Environmental Policy and Regulation candidate, Flora Parkin reviews Mariana Mazzucato’s new book, Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism, and questions whether it goes far enough to tackle the worsening global climate crisis. 

Turning corners or cutting them? The Biden administration is failing forced migrants
MSc International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies student, Madison O’Toole Miszewski, analyses the Biden presidency so far and issues in current US immigration policy. 

Vaccine Nationalism: the international community must not turn to this medically self-defeating and economically damaging practice
The international community’s goal of widespread vaccine inoculation is now within reach. However, some states are succumbing to nationalist vaccine policies whilst paying lip service to the need for international cooperation and coordination in the global rollout. MSc student Jenifer Elmslie discusses how Vaccine Nationalism is both medically self-defeating and economically damaging, and explores possible new policy directions.



Highlights from the latest publications and working papers from the Department. You can view the full list here


Depends Who's Asking: Interviewer Effects in Demographic and Health Surveys Abortion Data 

Tiziana Leone
Demography (2021)

Responses to survey questions about abortion are affected by a wide range of factors, including stigma, fear, and cultural norms. However, we know little about how interviewers might affect responses to survey questions on abortion. The aim of this study is to assess how interviewers affect the probability of women reporting abortions in nationally representative household surveys: Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS).


Digitalizing Community Health Work: A Struggle over the Values of Global Health Policy

Tine Hanrieder
Historical Social Research (2021)

The introduction of digital technology has sparked new debates about the value of community health workers in low- and middle-income countries. This debate offers important insights into the conventions that are relevant in global public health. Community health workers, a workforce that was already celebrated during the 1970s Primary Health Care movement, are having a remarkable revival in recent years, and myriad actors seek to boost their impact through mobile devices. Our content analysis of the public health literature evaluating this impact reveals the centrality of attempts at reconciling equity and cost effectiveness concerns, and thus considerable normative tensions. Additionally, we find that discussions about “domestic” values such as privacy and gender roles come with a paternalistic undertone, calling for feminist and postcolonial engagement with the digitalization of community health work.


Feminist Economic Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Naila Kabeer
Feminist Economics (2021)

This article provides a contextual framework for understanding the gendered dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic and its health, social, and economic outcomes. The pandemic has generated massive losses in lives, impacted people’s health, disrupted markets and livelihoods, and created profound reverberations in the home. In 112 countries that reported sex-disaggregated data on COVID-19 cases, men showed an overall higher infection rate than women, and an even higher mortality rate.


The Superfluous Congress: Executive Dominance and Business Lobbying in Mexico’s 2013 Tax Reform 

Monica Unda
Mexican Studies (2021)

This paper analyzes the roles played by the legislative, executive, and business sector in Mexico’s 2013 tax reform, drawing on original field-research findings. Unda examines each of these actors’ influence over the public period of congressional debate, as well as the typically invisible agenda-setting stage and the adoption of executive decrees following the legislative process. She finds that Congress remains subordinated to the executive in budgetary matters and that business is more central in shaping the details of the tax bill. The tax reform achieved little, leaving the overall fiscal capacity of the Mexican State largely unchanged.


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