As part of its matchmaking approach that devises data-driven early action food security solutions for dry areas, the Jameel Observatory supports researchers looking for answers that pastoral communities can use to overcome climate changes. Observatory Students combine their academic studies with field work to produce development-oriented resources with practical applications.

Susan Njambi-Szlapka is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Studies and Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems. After graduating with a  Bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading, she completed a Masters degree in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford.

Susan has since worked in international development and humanitarian sectors conducting research and evaluations around agricultural livelihoods in Uganda, Kenya and Ghana during her time at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). At the Start Network, Susan led evaluation, research and learning work around disaster risk financing and anticipatory action.  In her time at Start Network she commissioned, oversaw and led on research and evaluations around anticipatory and early action interventions for drought across multiple countries in Africa and Asia.

Research focus and plans

Susan’s research will focus on the role of early and anticipatory action within agro-pastoral communities and their effects on behavioural change. Using comparative methods she will look at what happens when households are provided with assistance at different points in time. Longitudinal data will be collected across different times in the season to investigate coping mechanisms that communities and households employ with or without assistance.

This will help respond to the question of what constitutes the right window of opportunity to provide assistance to households and communities affected by drought and food insecurity and what effective early action looks like in these contexts. 

Jameel Observatory significance

Supervised by Dominic Moran and Alan Duncan, Susan’s research will speak to two of the Jameel Observatory’s challenge questions, namely ‘Effective Early Action at Community Level’ and ‘Data for effective early action’. The comparative design will also speak to the ‘nexus’ between development and humanitarian aid drawing out lessons on how these two sectors can reinforce each other to provide more effective interventions to communities affected by drought and food insecurity.


Follow Susan on LinkedIn.

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