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Centre of African Studies: People


Jean-Benoit Falisse

Jean-Benoit Falisse
Dr Jean-Benoit Falisse
Lecturer in African Studies and International Development
4.01 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0) 131 651 1632
Research Interests
African Great Lakes region, Health policy, Access to justice, Access to education, Migration and development, Fragile states, Media and conflict

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • I am on a combination of research leave and secondment to the Edinburgh Futures Institute. I will not be able to supervise new students before September 2021..


My research revolves around three areas:

Community participation social accountability in so-called 'fragile' environments. Between 2009 and 2020, a substantial part of my research focussed on health facility committees in Eastern DR Congo and Burundi (with, among others, Léonard Ntakarutimana, Hugues Nkengurutse, and Patrick Mirindi). I am also involved in projects looking at primary school management in Sud Kivu (with Anders Olofsgård, Marieke Huysentruyt, and Kamala Kaghoma). More recently, I have been looking at 'grassroots' data production and use in the context of social accountability mechanisms.

The livelihoods of displaced people, and their interactions with mobility and health. This includes past field research with returnees in Burundi (with René Claude Niyonkuru) and refugees in Tanzania (with Clayton Boeyink) and work as a co-I in the UKRI GCRF Development-Based Approaches to Protracted Displacement project (2020–23) on improving healthcare at the intersection of gender and protracted displacement amongst Somali and Congolese internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees in eight field sites in Somalia, Eastern DRC, Kenya, and South Africa.

The political economy of health reform and health governance. My past fieldwork has looked at the implementation of performance-based financing schemes as well as the control of the African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in DR Congo (with Alain Mpanya). More recently, I have been leading the Covid-19 response governance mapping initiative (funded by the SFC-GCRF - see website the many brilliant colleagues involved in this work).

I am interested in the development of social science research methods, and my research has used interviews, survey data, archival research, and experiments (and often a mix thereof).

My background is in development studies and development economics (DPhil, Oxford and MA, Sciences Po),  history (MA, Louvain), politics (undergraduate, St Louis - Brussels), and philosophy (undergraduate, Louvain). Prior to joining the university, I was working for the United Nations and international NGOs in the African Great Lakes region. I have continued advising international and local organisations since.

See my ORCID profile for publications and Edinburgh Research Explorer for more on projects.


I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and completed PG certificates in Academic Practice and Digital Education (both at Edinburgh). I am currently involved in an action-research project on widening participation to higher education via blended learning (together with Makerere University in Uganda and the American University in Beirut).

I am a fellow of the Edinburgh Future Institute (EFI), where I am co-leading the development of a Future Societies pathway as part of the MSc organised by the EFI.

I used to convene the courses Displacement and Development, Politics and Theories of International Development, and Analysing Development and I was the inaugural director of the MSc International Development (online).

PhD supervision

I will be accepting new PhD students on topics closely matching my current research interests from September 2021 only.

My current PhD students work on youth in refugees camps in Malawi (Joshua Anderson-Rose, International Development), teachers in refugee camps in Ethiopia (Sarah Austin, Education), the identity of Congolese displaced people in Nairobi (Megan Douglas, International Development),  the political economy of biofuels in Uganda (Annet Nakyeyune, African Studies),  girls education in Rwanda (Sangwon Park, International Development), and the politics of conditional cash transfers in Mexico (Kevin Zapata, Social Policy).

Past PhD students: Clayton Boeyink (2020: The politics and practices of refugee self-reliance in trifurcated states of north-western Tanzania) and Boel McAteer Türkmeno─člu (2020: Gendering self-reliance: Constructing the ideal refugee wo/man within livelihoods support for displaced Syrians in Turkey).

If you are interested in being supervised by Jean-Benoit Falisse, please see the links below for more information:

PhD In African Studies; PhD in International Public Health Policy; PhD in Social Policy; PhD in International Development