IFRA-Nairobi Training Workshop Afterlives of Development Interventions in Eastern Africa

Deadline: 30 April 2023.

IFRA-Nairobi Training Workshop Afterlives of Development Interventions in Eastern Africa

IFRA-Nairobi invite applications for an intensive two-week workshop in Western Kenya focused on qualitative research methodologies. Selected candidates will join an existing team of social scientists who study the afterlives of development interventions as part of European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant AfDevLives, based at Iscte – University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal.

The workshop is built around a week-long training inspired by ECRIS methodology of collaborative qualitative research (see explanation below). The field training (3-8 July) will focus on the remains of a Finnish-Kenyan water infrastructure project in Kakamega, western Kenya, known as Kefinco. It will be preceded by preparatory meetings in Nairobi focused on ethics, methods, first aid, and project rationale (29 June – 1 July), and will be followed by a one-day symposium at Moi University, Eldoret (10 July). Participants will include junior and senior social scientists from a variety of academic disciplines (above all anthropology). Successful applicants will thus have an opportunity to take part in a collaborative learning process, honing their qualitative methodological skills while reflecting on the long-term implications of development interventions.

What is an ECRIS? ECRIS, or «Enquête collective rapide d’identification des conflits et des groupes stratégiques » (in English: “Rapid collective investigation for the identification of conflicts and strategic interest groups”), is a research approach theorised by French anthropologist Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan and German anthropologist Thomas Bierschenk to examine diverse perspectives surrounding a policy or social issue, and was widely used by the LASDEL research centre in Niger (see reference below). The main objective of this type of study is to gather as much primary information as possible within a short period of time with a critical approach to divergent interpretations, employing collective fieldwork by several teams targeting specific (or strategic) interest groups. A variety of social actors are approached in order to capture the problem as widely as possible. Alongside collective fieldwork, the work involves daily debriefing sessions meant to enhance discussions between researchers about findings and their possible interpretations, with the aim of synthesizing interpretations and opening further paths of inquiry.

IFRA-Nairobi Training Workshop Afterlives of Development Interventions in Eastern Africa

What will we be studying in Kakamega? Our case study will focus on a large-scale Finnish-Kenyan water infrastructure project called Kefinco, which ran for some 15 years during the Moi regime in the 1980s and 1990s. Over the years, the project morphed and expanded (e.g., by collaborating with a parallel healthcare project), and experimented with a range of methods and degrees of community participation. In western Kenya today, many of Kefinco’s cemented springs and boreholes are still visible, and some are still in use. Using a range of qualitative methods, we will address questions such

For more on Project AfDevLives, see https://erc.easme-web.eu/?p=101041788,

as: what is Kefinco’s regional legacy and what has been its wider impact in the fields of water and sanitation? How, if at all, has it contributed to the enhancement of local skills (e.g., in plumbing, in mechanical engineering, in entrepreneurship)? How has it affected community development long- term? What became of the project’s machinery, as well as housing and other facilities, and how has it been reappropriated locally through the years? What happened to the project’s registered well associations? Why do some water points still function while others were abandoned, and what were the processes by which some water points were privatized through the years? Beyond the specific case study, such questions will guide us to examine appropriate approaches and methods for studying the complex long-term legacies and remains of development interventions in East Africa today.

Application procedure: IFRA-Nairobi Training Workshop Afterlives of Development Interventions in Eastern Africa

Applicants should submit their complete academic CV and a two-page letter of motivation, in which they refer to their ongoing research and to their academic career more broadly, and explain how they will benefit from participation. Should the organizing committee need additional clarification, it may ask candidates for complementary information (e.g., academic diplomas, contact details of two referees).

Applications should be sent by email to [email protected]. Should prospective candidates need more clarification prior to applying, they are welcome to contact the organizers through this email.

Applications are open to early-career researchers (e.g., MA students, doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, early-stage lecturers) with demonstrable interest in the topic and qualitative methods. Applicants’ research should be based in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and/or Mozambique) and related to development projects. Additional points of relevance would be considered an advantage (e.g., research into development’s long-term legacies, special interest in water projects).

Applications will be evaluated based on three criteria: research relevance, academic merit, and significance to the candidate’s career development.

We offer limited funding to support participants. The funding aims specifically at enhancing the participation of applicants from the global South, and is provided with the support of the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD, France). Funding will include domestic transport within Kenya, accommodation, and meals, as well as flights in the case of non-Kenyan participants. Please note that the training should not be mistaken for a paid research consultancy.

Applications to be submitted by 30 April 2023. Decisions are expected by mid-May.

IFRA-Nairobi Training Workshop Afterlives of Development Interventions in Eastern Africa