Institute of Development Policy

PhD defences

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Making schools: Primary education, governance and the state in Somaliland - Tobias Gandrup (23/10/2020)

​Tobias Gandrup

  • 23 October 2020
  • Supervisors: Kristof Titeca and Tom De Herdt


This PhD thesis is the first of its kind to produce rich, ethnographic material on primary education from the Somali territories. In doing so, it contributes to and challenges existing research on public service provision in context of state fragility and weakness with a socio-political analysis of local governance and the state.

Based on extensive anthropological fieldwork carried out in Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in what is officially the Northern part of Somalia, the study focusses on the political dimensions of primary education. Through four papers, the study deals with the re-emergence and development of an education sector in Somaliland after the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, and analyses contemporary practices of organising, regulating and providing primary education.

Concretely, the thesis shows how primary education is dependent on ongoing negotiations between the state and a number of non-state actors, in the shape of NGOs, philanthropists, concerned parents, diaspora organisations, sheikhs and many others. Importantly, it is shown how local actors’ international connections are crucial in shaping primary education. The negotiated nature of primary education results in an increasingly fragmented and heterogeneous education sector in which parallel education systems exist and in which actual practices are often far removed from official policy and protocol.

The thesis argues that though actual practices on school level deviate from state ideals and practices, these gaps are not to be seen as signs of state decay, as conventional theories of public service provision in context of state fragility and weakness prescribe. Instead, the research documents that the space between ideals and practice provides flexibility, and at times even necessary room for manoeuvre for the different sets of actors in their continuous attempts at delivering, organising and regulating primary education. Moreover, the thesis shows that these gaps are not left ungoverned. Indeed, the thesis analyses the multiplicity of norms and practices emanating from different institutions and actors governing these gaps between policy, ideal and practice. Importantly, these everyday practices of organising, providing and regulating primary education in Somaliland are done with (some) reference to the state.

In sum, the main argument of the thesis is that the state is produced and reproduced by state representatives in conjunction with a range of non-state actors operating, negotiating and interacting in the gap between state ideal and actual practice.

Constitution Building in The African Union. Law, Policy and Practice - Micha Wiebusch (28/09/2020)

​Micha Wiebusch

  • 28 September 2020

Essays on Household Economics in Sub Saharan Africa - Sahawal Alidou (13/03/2020)

​Sahawal Alidou

  • 13 March 2020
  • Supervisors: Prof. dr. Marijke Verpoorten and Prof. dr. Johan Swinnen


This thesis consists of a brief introduction (Chapter 1) and three substantive chapters.

Using a compilation of 86 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) rounds from 34 countries, Chapter 2 assesses the impact of household fertility on children schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Exploiting plausible exogeneity of twins birth to address endogeneity of family size, the study concludes that smaller families do not necessarily lead to more schooling for children in SSA.

In the wake of studies linking development outcomes to culture and social norms, Chapter 3 investigates how magico-religious beliefs affect parental investment in child human capital. To test this hypothesis, the case of twins which are venerated and worshipped as deities in Benin, is used. Based on DHS data collected over 1996-2017, the results pinpoint to a twins preferential treatment in parental investment in child health.

Finally, Chapter 4 uncovers cross-cultural determinants of women’s autonomy and their participation into household decisions, based on data from four West-African countries that include ethnic groups that practice(d) voodoo. It finds a more pronounced age-dividend in women’s autonomy in ethnic groups that practice(d) voodoo, and a menopause-dividend only observed among women from these groups. These dividends in women’s autonomy are explained by (historical) beliefs regarding the supernatural powers of post-menopausal women in voodoo.

The Application of Real Options to Global Public Policy Interventions - Linda Peters (04/03/2020)

​Linda Peters

  • 4 March 2020
  • Supervisors: Prof. dr. Danny Cassimon and Prof. dr. Peter-Jan Engelen


Real options analysis is based on the fundamentals of financial option theory for the valuation of investments. For this reason, real options is able maximize potential gains and minimize downside losses by capturing the value of flexibility in response to uncertainty whereas traditional valuation methods, such as net present value, are unable to do so. An important problem for real options is its complexity, and therefore, as a result, its use lags behind its potential with regards to applications in practice.

This study has the intention to contribute to close the gap between theory and practice by applying real options to a new field called global public policy (GPP). GPP interventions could be regarded as an investment. Real options is applicable from a financial perspective to determine the value of these interventions as well as from a strategic perspective to optimize the design of an intervention. Due to the uncertainty in the area of GPP, the power of real options will be accorded its full weight.

In three different fields, -mixed migration, neglected diseases and global warming-, an illustration is provided on the use and added value of real options. Prior to these applications, a typology is presented from which a practitioner is able to determine whether or not real options is of value. This study ends with an evaluation on how the application of real options to GPP interventions could be extended in the future.

Applying real options to a new field provides an insight to the reader on the necessary steps that should be taken with respect to the use of real options. This does not only highlight the added value of real options, but also addresses its limitations and demonstrates how to deal with these shortcomings. This provides a realistic picture on the use of real options and therefore has the objective to take away some of the hesitations to use real options in practice.

Power to Decouple. Hybrid Regimes in the International System: A Multimethod Analysis - Mathias De Roeck (10/09/2019)

​Mathias De Roeck

  • 10 September 2019

Essays on inequality, knowledge economy and financial development in Africa - Vanessa Simen Tchamyou (06/09/2019)

​Vanessa Simen Tchamyou

  • 6 September 2019
  • Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Guido Erreygers and Prof. Dr. Danny Cassimon


The objective of this Ph.D. dissertation is to investigate how the four dimensions of knowledge economy which are consistent with the World Bank’s Knowledge Economy Index interact with financial access in order to mitigate income inequality in Africa.

The thesis consists of four empirical papers, notably: (i) the effect of information and communication technology (ICT) in complementing financial access to reduce inequality; (ii) the role of information sharing offices in modulating financial access to mitigate inequality; (iii) the impact of financial access in complementing education and lifelong learning to reduce inequality and (iv) the role of governance quality in modulating the effect of financial access on inequality in the African context. The underlying papers are capturing all the four dimensions of the World Bank’s Knowledge Economy Index (KEI), namely: education; ICT; economic incentives by means of information sharing offices; and governance quality or institutional regime.

The modelling exercise is based on the Generalized Method of Moments (GMM). Data are combined into a panel structure and sourced from: (i) the Financial Development and Structure Database (FDSD) of the World Bank for financial access variables; (ii) World Governance Indicators (WGI) of the World Bank for governance variables; (iii) World Development Indicators (WDI) of the World Bank for other variables and (iv) the Global Consumption and Income Project (GCIP) for income inequality variables.

The common denominator of the results is that, among the financial access indicators, the financial system deposit (or financial system depth) channel is fundamental in mitigating income inequality by means of the engaged knowledge economy policy instruments.

Policy and scholarly recommendations are proposed.

African Eurobonds: opportunities and challenges for sustainable economic growth after the HIPC initiative - Christian Senga (29/05/2019)

Christian Senga

  • 29 May 2019
  • Supervisor: Prof. dr. Danny Cassimon


Since 2006, countries from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have been one after the other taping international capital markets to mobilize substantial funds through sovereign and government-guaranteed eurobonds. To the surprise of many, these eurobond issues have almost always been oversubscribed, thus indicating a high appetite of international investors for these securities. This investors’ enthusiasm is indeed puzzling since, just some years ago, this region was mired into a severe sovereign external debt crisis that could have not otherwise been solved but through debt forgiveness in the framework of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Eurobond issuers and their proponents justify this move by the need for these countries to diversify their sources of development funding and, thereby, reduce their dependence on the already drying up foreign aid from developed countries. It is also seen as an opportunity for them to register on the investors’ radar and attract more foreign direct investment. However, some critics find this investors’ enthusiasm rather justified by their thirst for high yields outside their post-financial crisis domestic environment dominated by protracted low interest rates and sluggish economic recovery. They draw parallels between the current situation and the reckless lending of the 1970s that led to the above-mentioned debt crisis in developing countries, and warn about the possibility of its resurgence in SSA should this eurobond spree spiral out of control.

This thesis endeavors to tackle this important concern by investigating the sustainability of the SSA eurobond market, as well as its potential for economic growth in the issuing countries. It first scrutinizes the drivers of these bonds’ secondary market yields to grasp the incentives for the quality of macroeconomic management in the borrowing countries. Then, it explores the avenue of international portfolio theory to evaluates the possibility of diversification benefits that may provide alternative justification to the interest of international investors in SSA eurobonds. Finally, it investigates whether and how government borrowing through international capital markets affect investment dynamics in these countries.

A political ecology approach to green microfinance Development Pathways and avenues for transformative microfinance for rural development - Frédéric Huybrechs (23/11/2018)

​Frédéric Huybrechs

  • 23 November 2018

Industrialisation et Traçabilité minières au Sud-Kivu: Quel avenir pour les exploitants miniers artisanaux? - Janvier Kilosho (05/04/2018)

​Janvier Kilosho

  • 5 April 2018
  • Supervisors: Marijke Verpoorten and Jean-Baptiste Ntagoma Kushinganine

Government finances and financial shocks in developing countries - Kelbesa Megersa (14/06/2017)

Kelbesa Megersa

  • 14 June 2017
  • Supervisors: Prof. Danny Cassimon and Prof. Romain Houssa


Among the biggest challenges faced by developing countries today is the management of government finances and various financial shocks emanating from their domestic economy and external sources. The gains and adverse impacts of financial globalization are being witnessed both in developing countries at ‘early’ as well as ‘advanced’ stages of financial development. Growth in the demand and supply of external financial flows - in the era of increased global financial instability and repetitive crisis - underscores the need for public debt management by governments across the developing world. Maintaining sustainable levels of public debt brings overall financial stability and also makes countries less vulnerable to the damage from unforeseen shocks - as they will have the fiscal space for necessary policy responses.

In line with this, this essay tries to answer the following questions: 1) How can developing countries balance ‘public spending’ with ‘debt sustainability’ — and does the quality of institutions and public sector management play a role? 2) How can developing countries ‘foresee’ financial crisis and better prepare themselves to minimize their vulnerability? 3) What is the nature and extent of developing countries’ vulnerability to external financial shocks — particularly to recent monetary policy experiments in advanced countries?

However, the answer to these questions is rather complex and depends on various domestic and external factors. The essay addresses them by presenting its discussions through three (analytical) chapters assembled across the aforementioned research queries.

The community-based monitoring system (CBMS): an investigation of its usefulness in understanding the relationship between international migration and poverty in the Philippines - Alellie Borel Sobrevinas (21/04/2017)

​Alellie Borel Sobrevinas

  • 21 April 2017
  • Supervisors: Prof. Germán Calfat and dr. Celia Reyes


This research investigates the usefulness of the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) in understanding the relationship between international migration and poverty in the Philippines. CBMS is an organized process of collecting, processing and validating, and integrating data in local development planning. It is designed to empower the communities by promoting a participatory approach to poverty monitoring and development planning. To complement the national migration data which are gathered mainly through nationally-representative surveys or administrative records, the CBMS census data should be explored to help enrich the understanding of migration and how it affects poverty, especially at the local level.

In line with the objectives of this study, two major datasets were compiled using the existing CBMS data of selected local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines. The first dataset is a cross-section CBMS data of eight LGUs in the Philippines consisting of more than 126,000 households while the second dataset is a constructed three-period CBMS panel data for LGU-Orion in Bataan province with 4,299 households in each period. A detailed examination of the CBMS Household Profile Questionnaire (HPQ) administered in these LGUs revealed that aside from collecting information necessary for monitoring the core poverty indicators, it gathers some migration-related household and individual level data. At the household level, it collects information that can identify households with an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and can estimate the total annual remittances received by the households. Meanwhile, at the individual level, the scope of information collected for each OFW member of the household varies depending on the version of the CBMS-HPQ as the questionnaire has undergone several refinements over the years.  Given the available data from these existing CBMS datasets, this research demonstrates how they can be used to examine the profile of international migration and poverty among. At the same time, some econometric techniques were employed to estimate the impact of international migration on poverty. For instance, the instrumental variable (IV) method was applied using the cross-section dataset to address the endogeneity of migration while some relevant panel data techniques were implemented using the constructed panel dataset.

Given the complexity of migration, this study finds that the migration data collected using the standard CBMS-HPQ are rather limited. To address this limitation, this research developed a new questionnaire to collect additional information that are useful in having a more in-depth understanding of the various migration issues, especially at the local level. The new data collection instrument, which serves as a rider to the CBMS-HPQ, was administered in 476 households in two selected villages in the Philippines, including Barangay Saguing (rural) in Mabini, Batangas and Barangay Villa Angeles (urban) in Orion, Bataan. To complement the quantitative data and help find explanations for the results, qualitative information were also collected in the two villages through direct observation, informal interviews with the residents and local officials and focus group discussions (FGDs), in addition to the community validation activity which is part of the standard CBMS process.

Recognizing the richness of the CBMS data, it is strongly suggested that LGUs in the Philippines use their CBMS data to enhance their understanding of the link between international migration and poverty, as well as integrate the relevant findings in their local development planning. At the same time, to fill the gap in migration data, a set of representative LGUs in the Philippines may be encouraged to administer CBMS-HPQ together with the rider questionnaire (complemented by the collection of additional qualitative data) in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of the different migration issues and how they are linked to poverty in the Philippines. To the extent possible, collecting additional migration-related information following the CBMS approach in those areas where international migration is an important development issue could be done on a more regular basis in order to complement existing data in the Philippines. This will further enhance the potential of CBMS as a tool in understanding the relationship between international migration and poverty situation both at the local and at the national level.

Continuity and Contingency: the CNDD-FDD and its transformation from rebel movement to governing political party in Burundi - Ntagahoraho Z. Burihabwa (17/03/2017)

​Ntagahoraho Z. Burihabwa

  • 17 March 2017
  • Supervisors: Filip Reyntjens (IOB) and Stef Vandeginste (IOB)


The dissertation analyses the Conseil national pour la Défense de la Démocratie – Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD) and its path from rebellion to government in Burundi. In doing so, it illuminates the dynamics behind the CNDD-FDD’s historic evolution and eventual transformation from rebel movement to a political party, as well as its subsequent, almost immediate ascent to power after the 2005 elections.

It provides a first detailed history of the CNDD-FDD from its creation in 1994 to its second electoral victory in 2010. While uncovering a huge amount of original material, it draws significantly from qualitative interviews with key actors. While focusing on the CNDD-FDD, it also unearths new insights that relate to the emergence of Hutu-affiliated politico-military movements between the 1960s and 1990s, the Burundi civil war between 1993 and 2006, the Congo war(s) between 1996 and 2003, as well as post-war political developments in Burundi, including the 2015 electoral crisis and its aftermath.

Land, Access and Power. Case studies from Kalehe, DRC - Klara Claessens (06/03/2017)

​Klara Claessens

  • 6 March 2017
  • Supervisors: Filip Reyntjens (IOB), Tom De Herdt (IOB) and An Ansoms (UCL)


The conceptual focus on access rather than rights enables analysing land relations and local practices in the political context in which they originate, characterized by instability, the absence of an overall regulatory state authority, and a history of unequal land division.

This conceptualisation of access is then used to examine land-access practices in different case studies. First, the lakeside region is characterised by the presence of agricultural plantations predominantly founded during the colonial period. Nowadays, foreign colonial settlers have left, export crops have been replaced by domestic food crops and local leaders play a pivotal role in the distribution of land, labour and profits on the plantations. By historically framing the plantations’ contemporary political dynamics, it is demonstrated that the appropriation of labour and productive assets by local elites entails more continuity than change.

Second, in the highland region, access to land often relates to ethnic cleavages and violent outburst of conflict.  Land is unequally divided and mostly occupied by large cattle farms in competition with subsistence farmers. Local actors’ success in accessing land depends on shifting circumstances and their ability to strategically align with the local military and customary authorities and with the state’s instruments to enforce land claims.  The analysis demonstrates how broader conflict dynamics affect local actors’ land access mechanism and vice versa, but in an indirect, negotiated way.

The analysis of these cases demonstrates how access negotiation is an iterative process with differentiated outcomes. Different mechanisms used by individual and collective actors to facilitate their access and the access process itself are mutually reinforcing and embedded in particular local realities.

Furthermore, the analysis reveals a large diversity of access patterns in a confined geographical area. This variation is explained by historically determined incidents of territorial division, contemporary local and regional dynamics and the role of individuals manoeuvring complex institutional landscapes. However, the way in which individual agendas are intertwined with contemporary and past dynamics is fragmented and hence outcomes of access negotiations are unpredictable. An in-depth understanding of existing practices is therefore essential to enhance the responsiveness of existing arrangements and to address the impact of unequal outcomes.