Understanding the political economy of Congo's civil service remunerations and recruitment system. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2023

Abstract

Despite an emphasis on strengthening the capacity of the public sector as a key policy component of the state-building approach in fragile states, the issue of public sector remunerations has received little attention. This empirical gap extends beyond the policy realm, as the scholarship dealing with African public governance has also remained silent on this issue. Addressing both gaps, this project explores the functioning of the Democratic Republic of Congo's wage bill and payroll system through an analytical framework building on the ethnographic tradition in the study of 'real governance' and 'negotiated statehood', applied to the back office bureaucracy of the central administration. We will focus on analysing the politics behind the allocation and (re)distribution of the wage bill in the DRC, particularly the system of public sector remunerations, both in terms of its composition and its sources. We concentrate on the degrees of differentiation across ministries, departments in five ministries targeted by civil service reform, while also examining the intersection of remunerations with ongoing policy reforms. In so doing, we address the empirical gap within the literature on African governance by providing an in-depth exploration of the system of public sector remunerations and recruitment processes in Congo's central bureaucracy, while also providing insights on the development implications that this system carries for international actors.

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Research team(s)

Transformative Heritage: politics, peacebuilding and digital restitution of cultural heritage in contemporary Northeast DR Congo (AFRISURGE). 15/12/2019 - 30/06/2025

Abstract

This project aspires to a scientific revision of contemporary African political cultures, adopting a non-Eurocentric and interdisciplinary approach. Beyond making new in-depth knowledge available to aid and peacebuilding organisations, it seeks to have a direct impact on the well-being of the communities being studied through the method of digital restitution of cultural heritage. The underlying premise is that knowledge of one's cultural history constitutes a cultural capital that is a source of self-esteem and contributes to societal commitment and cohesion. The project is built on a cross-pollination of three complementary strands of research. The first is a political and development science investigation of the resurgence of customary authorities in contemporary DRCongo. This will take seriously the full spectrum of local expressions on the matter, to acquire a better understanding of the region's historically-rooted political culture and its underlying cultural logic. The second consists of research on ritual objects and their provenance, to shed new light on customary authority and to prepare for digital restitutions. The third component will explore the transformative potential of efforts to reconnect historically dispossessed 'source communities' with their material cultural heritage. The digital restitution will be guided by object provenance research, by an assessment of existing digital infrastructures in the region, and by a thorough consultation with (local) stakeholders to determine what is desirable and feasible.

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Making refugee integration sustainable: in search of durable relations with host populations in Uganda. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

A sustainable relationship between host and refugees is essential to guarantee the social and political stability of countries and regions. Uganda is known to be hosting one of the largest refugee populations in the world. This project aims to contribute to a better understanding and facilitate policy interventions that can ameliorate social relations between hosts and refugees. This will be done by (1) developing innovative research approaches studying conflict trajectories (escalation vs. mediation); (2) structurally improve and strengthen the research capabilities (e.g. methodological skills) at Ugandan partner institution (students, PhDs and staff mem-bers); (3) propel the Southern Partner (MUST) and its staff into a recognized leader regarding high quality re-search on forced displacement; (4) translate findings to policy makers through participation of international and national NGOs and Ugandan authorities (national/local).

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Political ecology of forest resource management: the missing link. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

In a context of increasing deforestation and forest reform policies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this project aims to understand the political and socio-economic aspects of forest resource use and deforestation. Through this political ecology approach, an increased collaboration will be established between three academic institutions (UNIKIS, ISDR-Bukavu and IOB) and two civil society organizations (Tropenbos DRC and Africapacity). This project is part of a research-action approach aimed at strengthening the voices and participation of local and indigenous people in these forest reform processes, and to contribute to better environmental and social justice.

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Research team(s)

A political settlement dataset of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

To what extent do ruling elites, and the coalitions which support them, influence the governance and development of a particular country? Recently, the 'political settlement' analysis has made important advances in understanding these issues, by specifically looking at how power is organized and distributed in society. This analysis has generated great interest, both in academic and policycircles. This research project wants to add to this literature through the case-study of the Democratic Republic of Congo: first, it wants to provide a concrete methodological tool to analyse these political settlements. This will be done through the establishment of a dataset of the ruling elites in the DRC since the country's independence in 1960. Moreover, through qualitative interviews, the relation between those elites and their wider support base (the 'ruling coalition') will be understood. Second, adding to the political settlement literature, which principally focusses on the national level, this project aims to analyse the multi-leveled nature of these settlements: these are not only determined at the national level, but are in a process of mutual interaction with the local level. In order to understand this, a similar research exercise (dataset and qualitative interviews) will be conducted in two key-provinces. Third, in doing so, this project will determine the main characteristics guiding these political settlements, such as ethnicity, military support base, and so on.

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Research team(s)

Photographs form inside the Lord's Resitance Army. 16/03/2020 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a rebel group, notorious for its use of extreme violence and its large-scale abductions of children, who were used as child soldiers or forced 'wives'. The LRA is led by the infamous Joseph Kony and became active in northern Uganda during the second half of the 1980s. Rebel Lives is built on an archive of photographs taken by LRA commanders themselves between 1994 and 2003. The photographs show life within the group and depict the rebels as they want to be seen, both among themselves and by the outside world. The images bear witness to how the abductees tried to live within extremely violent circumstances, but also portray a surprising normality. Rebel Lives tells the story of a conflict where the line between victim and perpetrator is blurred, where people struggle to survive, and where children in particular bear the brunt of this tension. Kristof Titeca, Professor in Development Studies at the University of Antwerp and expert on the LRA, collected this material, and used it to trace the photographed (former) rebels and understand the photographs – a process which took several years. Together with Congolese photographer Georges Senga, he travelled back to photograph the former rebels in their current context.

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Research team(s)

Socio-ecological resilience: a new perspective for artisanal and small-scale mining communities? 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

This research project explores whether the concept socio-ecological resilience can further our empirical and conceptual understanding of changes in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) communities. It has three main objectives that will address gaps in the ASM literature: 1) to improve our understanding of the internal structures, actors and dynamics of ASM communities; 2) to develop a conceptual framework to understand the interacting socio-ecological systems that surround ASM communities, by focusing on key trends transforming ASM; 3) to contribute to the literature on resilience by exploring the relationship between resilience at the community level and at the socio-ecological system level. It will use the conceptual framework of socio-ecological resilience combined with perspectives from political ecology to examine case studies – namely, two different ASM communities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In doing so, it aims to provide more holistic perspective of the role of ASM as a livelihood strategy. Moreover, the knowledge generated could be used to better inform policies and interventions to mitigate the problems that have for so long afflicted ASM communities. The findings will be published through four articles in high-impact academic journals: one article for each of my three research objectives; and a fourth to discuss the potential for socio-ecological resilience to be combined with perspectives from political ecology.

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Research team(s)

Political Inequality in the DRC: the construction of a dataset. 25/05/2018 - 30/11/2018

Abstract

What is the relation between inequality of access to key political and economic institutions and conflict? Equality does not only manifest itself along economic lines, but also politically, in the distribution of political power. It has been claimed that inequality of access of certain social and political groups can explain patterns of war and peace (Lindemann 2010). Yet, investigating these questions require data in support of these claims. For the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has been affected by cycles of conflict, these data are missing. This project aims to construct a dataset on the inequality of access to key political and economic positions since independence in 1960. More particularly, this project aims to analyse the characteristics of cabinet ministers and board members of parastatals. While similar works have focused on ethnicity as a determinant of inclusion and exclusion in political positions in a number of African countries (e.g. Francois, Rainer & Trebbi, 2015), this project seeks to capture the process of inequality along a wider range of characteristics: linguistic, regional, political-party, gender, and military background. On the basis of these, the relation between political inequality and the presence of war will be studied.

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Research team(s)

Understanding informal taxation: systematic data collection among the Congolese traffic police. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

While there is a wide literature on taxation, this literature is mainly focusing on taxes that end up in the state's coffers, and in doing so is ignoring many other practices of revenue collection. The concept of 'informal taxation' was initially introduced by Prud'homme in 1992, who defined the concept as 'nonformal means utilized to finance the provision of public goods and services' (Prud'homme 1992: 2). Although informal taxation has been receiving increased policy and academic attention in recent years empirical data on the subject are weak to non-existent. The reason for this is straightforward: informal taxes are inherently difficult to document in a systematic manner. This research project aims to fill this gap. By relying on an innovative data collection method, it will collect data of informal taxation practices of the Congolese traffic police. It aims to understand the nature and scale of informal payments in the administration, as well as how the structure of the market affects the level and amount of informal taxes: for examples, how does the nature of intersections affect revenue collection? This project will deploy a range of surveyors to collect these data. Crucial is that i) a pilot project has been conducted to test this methodology (Titeca and Malukisa 2014), and ii) that the project has access to the Congolese police administration to conduct this study. In doing so, the project will both have a major policy and academic impact.

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Research team(s)

Oil Governance in the DRC. 01/09/2017 - 31/08/2018

Abstract

Although oil production in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) already started in the 1960s, production and interest in the resource long remained relatively limited. This changed in the 2000s with a renewed international interest in oil across Africa, sparking exploration and exploitation in the DRC. During this period, a range of multinational companies started activities in the country. Very little is known about these oil explorations, despite potentially serious impacts, including border tensions, local disputes (with potential for expansion), and regional power shifts (ICG 2012). There is a long-recognised link between natural resource abundance and negative political and economic outcomes, a theory generally packaged as the 'resource curse' (Ross 1999). Theorists agree that governance processes are a major determinant of how this 'curse' plays out. While a few policy reports look into the Congolese oil sector (Global Witness 2013, ICG 2012), the underlying governance dynamics, and the risk on conflict, remain poorly understood: no in-depth academic study has been done on this issue. For this reason, this project targets the following questions: What are the political settlements underlying oil governance in DRC? In unpacking oil governance dynamics, this project draws on 'political settlements' theory, looking principally at the informal coalitions underlying the oil governance arrangements. In gaining a better understanding of these governance arrangements, we are able to understand the potential conflict risk of oil explorations. How do these political settlement at the national level translate to the local level, and affect the local population? Deals are made at the national level, but have a profound impact at the local level, where the oil exploitations take place. These 'local' translations have a significant but poorly understood impact, which this research project aims to apprehend. Through these lenses, this project will make a strong empirical contribution to a little understood area with a major impact on DRC's development, and equally make an important contribution to political settlement theory, currently at the centre of international development debates.

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Research team(s)

Secure Livelihood Research Consortium - SLRC. 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

This two-year research programme (1 January 2017- 31 December 2018) aims to further understand governance, service delivery and economic growth in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More particularly, it aims to understand policy implementation from national to local levels and generating lessons from what works in promoting positive change, and how to measure change. The research program will do this by tackling a range of sector-specific topics that link closely to the programs of DFID – DRC. Topics are thus chosen for their potential to contribute practical operational knowledge. At the same time, it is the ethos of the individual research projects to also address big cross-cutting questions of governance and state-society relations that might help inform DFID's broader discussions on how to engage in fragile states with weak governance.

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Research team(s)

Sex and War: Beyond Rape. 01/10/2016 - 30/04/2019

Abstract

When it comes to the topic of sex in the context of war much scholarly and practical concern has been shown for the terrible occurrences of rape. Evocative language describing rape as a "weapon of war" and the female body as a battlefield is now commonplace. Although some scholars note similarities with violence before, during and after conflict, very little is known about the relationship between sex and war—in other words between violent events such as rape or war and "normal" male-female relationships. Much of the work in the area of sex in the context of war is focused either on sexual violence, sexual exploitation, or HIV without putting the analysis into the broader context of sexuality and neglecting the complex interweavings of power, desire, violence and survival; or it is focused on women—particularly as victims and often minimizing or underappreciating female agency even if under seriously constrained circumstances. This post-doctoral project aims to address this gap through an in-depth ethnographic study of the relationship between sex and war in the Acholi sub-region of northern Uganda. Building on research focusing on forced sex from over seven years of fieldwork, the study will illuminate the ways war variously works to continue, exaggerate and/or rupture "normal" social and gendered orderings of Acholi society. This has implications for understanding logics of violence and practical endeavors to prevent or respond to it.

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Death to the 'failed state', long live hybrid governance? Hybrid governance and international donors in the primary education sector of Somaliland. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

How are public services provided in a context of a state which has been affected by enduring conflict and economic downfall? According to the 'failed state' literature, these places are characterized by a vacuum of authority. This is challenged by the literature on 'hybrid governance' which highlights how state actors are only one actor among a wide range of actors providing governance in a certain area: the weakness of the formal state framework does not necessarily create chaos, or a vacuum. By using a hybrid governance perspective, this research project wants to analyse primary education services in Somaliland: Somalia, and the Somaliland region, is considered a typical 'failed state', and although the state is largely absent from public services, education services continue to be provided. However, the hybrid governance perspective largely neglects two crucial aspects: the role of legitimacy and power in these arrangements, as well as the role of international actors. Both of these aspects have a profound impact on the outcome of these hybrid arrangements, but have been largely ignored in the analysis. Particular attention will be given to Islamic donors, which play an important role in supporting the education sector in Somaliland: their specific religious character, with specific sets of legitimacy, and their impact on public service (education) provision, has not been studied properly, particularly in the context of a largely absent state.

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Evidence from within the police administration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 01/04/2015 - 25/02/2017

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

The internal organization of informal taxation: Evidence from within the police administration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 01/02/2015 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

Informal taxes play an important role in the 'real' governance of taxation. Although, both in academic and policy circles, increasing attention has been given to the issue, very little empirical data are available. Through unprecedented access to the Congolese police, this research project wants to address this gap.

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Research team(s)

Research training in governance and public services. 01/06/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

Urban Governance in Kampala: a research partnership. 01/11/2013 - 10/11/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

Governance and post-conflict reconstruction in Northern Uganda. 01/07/2013 - 30/06/2018

Abstract

Northern Uganda has been ravaged by war for the last 2 decades, but has known peace since 2005. The conflict has been a defining characteristic of Uganda polities and society, and the reconstruction process is equally important. This process is however affected by a range of governance problems, which are poorly understood. This project will generate better knowledge (academie objective) by funding PhD scholarships, research projects, research trainings, academie seminars and publications on th is issue - all of which will i) build capacity of the involved Ugandan universities, and ii) increase the networking among the Ugandan universities themselves, and with the Flemish institutes. It will also contribute to sustainable peace-building (developmental objective) by tne dissemination of the results to the relevant policy-actors and communities, which will be involved in the different phases: establishment of the research agenda, the research strategies (field research), and the dissemination ph ase.

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State institutions and hybrid governance beyond the 'failed' state: a comparative study of custom institutions along the borders of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. 01/10/2012 - 31/08/2014

Abstract

By studying specific state institutions, this research project aims at contributing to the theoretical debates on the nature of the state in Africa. It therefore discusses the following issues which are part of this commission: government/political systems; political sciences; public policy/administrations; political sociology.

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Small-scale trade in the great lakes. Economic empowerment of women. 13/10/2011 - 31/03/2012

Abstract

This project represents a formal service agreement between UA and on the other hand International Alert. UA provides International Alert research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

    Entrepreneurship, Cross-border Trade Networks and Re-migration in South Sudan. 01/11/2009 - 31/10/2013

    Abstract

    This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand WU. UA provides WU research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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    Research team(s)

    The crossborder informal economy in Sub-saharan Africa: criminalisation or survival? Case-study West Nile region. 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2012

    Abstract

    Cross-border informal trade is either seen as a 'weapon of the strong' , in which political and economic elites use this trade for private profit and/or financing criminal movements; or a 'weapon of the weak', through which marginalized sections of the population try to survive. By studying the 'real' cross-border informal economy (MacGaffey 1991), this postdoctoral project wants to analyse the tension between both approaches; because this discussion has important implications for processes of economic development and state formation far beyond border areas. The West Nile border area in (North Western) Uganda, bordering (North Eastern) Congo and (South West) Sudan is chosen as a case-study.

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