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AOIFE MCCULLOUGH

Researcher

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My core area of expertise lies in political economy and social analysis in conflict-affected environments. I have used these skills to lead conflict and governance analyses in Niger, Mali, South Sudan, Pakistan and Liberia for donors and NGOs. My analysis has been used by DFID and USAID to inform multi-million governance programmes, and by NGOs such as the Norwegian Refugee Council to inform humanitarian interventions.   I am a Research Associate at the Overseas Development Institute and a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics. My PhD is on the militerisation of Niger and state legitimacy.

PUBLICATIONS

Policy Advice and Academic Papers

2019

WHEN RISING TEMPERATURES DO NOT LEAD TO RISING TEMPERS

2020

RECONSTRUCTING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF STATE LEGITIMACY AND SERVICES

January 2016

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF VOTER ENGAGEMENT IN NIGER

This briefing informed USAID Niger's 5-year governance programme and was written in collaboration with Abdoutan Harouna and Hamani Oumarou from LASDEL. Researched with  Zahra Djingarey, Idi Mamadou Maman Noura, Sadjo Aissa and Kabo Abdouramane. 

This research, carried out in October 2016, examined why people become radicalised in Agadez, Niger. We conceptualised radicalisation as a dynamic process, where individual and structural factors interact to produce the potential for radicalisation. The research was carried out for the Office of Transition Initiatives to inform their Community Cohesion Programme. Also available in French. Written with Mareike Schomerus and Abdoutan Harouna and researched with Zahra Djingerey, Idi Mamadou Maman Noura, Hamissou Rhissa, Raichata Rhissa, Zakari Maikorema and Kabo Abdouramane.   

2017

ARE PUBLIC SERVICES THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF STATE LEGITIMACY?

This is a background paper to the 2017 World Bank World Development Report. How do political actors gain the trust, confidence and consent of those they seek to rule? One prominent argument holds that the provision of public services is a key building block of state legitimacy – an argument that heavily influences development programming, particularly in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence. This paper presents empirical evidence from survey and qualitative case study data on the relationship between people’s experiences of service delivery and their perceptions of government from eight conflict-affected countries. The evidence demonstrates that, contrary to the dominant discourse, there is no clear linear relationship between people’s access to services and their perceptions of state actors. Instead, legitimacy appears to be linked to both performance (what is being delivered) and process (how it is being done), as well as shifting norms, expectations and experiences of service delivery. Written with Hamish Nixon and Richard Mallett

2019

WHY SERVICES WON'T BUY LEGITIMACY: EVERYDAY EXPERIENCES OF THE STATE IN SWAT, PAKISTAN

This paper is part of a 3 part series on how people imagine and experience the state in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. We carried out field research in Swat, Pakistan between May and October 2018. We then used historical records to construct a political settlement analysis and used this to interpret the primary data. The field research was done by Shehryar Toru, Rubab Syed and Shujaat Ahmed

This report summarizes a series of case studies and findings from a panel survey that was carried out 2017-2019 as part of the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium. The research sought to understand why access to services did not necessarily lead to improved perceptions of legitimacy. The research spanned four countries: Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

There are often assumptions made about the role of climate change impacts in aggravating insecurity in the Sahel. In this report, we investigate those assumptions by focusing on the increasing insecurity in northern Niger. We carried out life histories with 29 smugglers of people, drugs and arms to find out what factors influenced them to take up smuggling. We find that, rather than being a recent trend, a major shift out of pastoralism occurred during the smugglers’ fathers’ generation. The life history data also shows that most smugglers were attracted to the smuggling industry, not out of desperation to escape desertification and resource scarcity, but because of the potential to earn substantially more than what they were earning as day-labourers at the mines, or as gardeners, mechanics or motorcyclists. Our findings show how global politics interact with trading practices and corruptible state officials to produce a political economy that incentivises young people to become smugglers. 

December 2017

GATEKEEPERS, ELDERS AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN SOMALIA

The report features a discussion of the opportunities and challenges in improving accountability in Somali governance through working with non-state actors. The lessons are drawn from three projects implemented through the Implementation and Analysis in Action of Accountability Programme (IAAAP), funded by the UK Department for International Development. Written with Muhyadin Saed.

2021

SOMALIA, FRAGMENTED HYBRID GOVERNANCE AND INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT

This co-authored chapter explores the possibility for international agencies to work with non-state actors to improve accountability given the nature of hybrid fragmented governance in Somalia. Written with Eric Herring, Muhyadin Saed and Latif Ismail. Forthcoming in "Hybrid Governance and Limited Statehood in the Middle East and Africa" published by Routledge.

2016

WOMEN AND POWER SHAPING THE DEVELOPMENT OF KENYA'S 2010 CONSTITUTION

This study focuses on the role of Kenyan women and gender activists in shaping the 2010 constitutional reform process in Kenya and the outcomes of this in relation to advancing gender equality and a women's rights agenda. It forms part of a series of case studies on Women and Power published by ODI. Written with Pilar Domingo. Researched with Bernadette Wanjala and Florence Simbiri. 

2017

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT POLITICS

This opinion piece, published in the Journal 'The Extractive Industries and Society, highlights the ineffectiveness of Environmental and Impact Assessments (EIA) in developing countries and the faults in current analysis of why this is the case. I draw on political economy literature to propose alternative explanations. When political economy theories are applied, it becomes clearer why the possibility for effective implementation of EIA in many developing countries is low. This raises many questions about the potential for EIA to facilitate the management of the negative impacts of extractives in developing countries.

 

2017

UNDERSTANDING TRAJECTORIES OF RADICALISATION IN AGADEZ, NIGER

TRAINING EXPERIENCE

July 2015

USING POLITICAL ECONOMY ANALYSIS IN PROGRAMME PLANNING

Provided training to Christian Aid's national partners who were working to design a family planning programme.

June 2012

CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND POST CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION

Developed and delivered a five-day course with James Fennell for the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies. The course was tailored to meet the needs of professionals working on conflict, including government officials from DRC, Liberia and governance advisors from the EU. 

March 2019

USING POLITICAL ECONOMY ANALYSIS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRY STRATEGIES

As part of a team of four, I provided training to the Agence Francaise de Developpement on commissioning and using political economy analyses in designing country strategies. This training was based on my practical experience of delivering political economy analysis to USAID

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