Research Student: Michael Chasukwa
Political Economy of Development Programmes in Malawi
My thesis is on political economy of development in the context of pooled finance development mechanisms. Motivated by Political Settlements within the broad Political Economy theoretical framework, my work examines how power politics shapes pooled finance development mechanisms aimed at reducing poverty and improving local governance considering the vested interests held by different players that are involved in such common pooled funds.
Using a case study of Malawi, my research follows through an argument that power asymmetries emanating from financial resources and knowledge differences have impact on the orientation of development policies. Development policies are a product of negotiation rather than imposition guided by formal and informal institutions and interests of the actors. The negotiation tilts in favour of dominant elites who directly or indirectly decide what to bring on the table as an agenda and who should take part in the discussion in a process that evolves contingent to the prevailing interests of actors , rules of the game, narratives, coalitions, networks and power base. My research seeks to address three questions: How is power distributed and exercised among actors (donors, Government, Local Councils and Communities) in pooled funds institutional framework and implementation of poverty reduction interventions? (b) To what extent do pooled funds, a means of delivering aid at local level, circumvent central government structures and policies? and (c) How is the division of winners and losers following the institutionalisation of pooled funds affecting the effectiveness of poverty reduction interventions in addressing development problems of the rural poor?
My research is within the academic themes of Politics of Development, Development Aid, Political Economy, Local Government and Decentralisation.
I obtained my BA (Public Administration) and MA (Political Science) from University of Malawi. After completing my MA programme, I joined University of Malawi, Chancellor College based in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies where I teach courses in Political Science and Public Administration. I commenced my academic career at the Catholic University of Malawi in the Department of Political Leadership. My teaching and research interests include Politics of Development, Development Cooperation, Political Economy, Aid Effectiveness, Decentralisation, Local Government, Land and Agrarian Studies, Youth and Development and Governance. My undergraduate and postgraduate studies exposed me to research methodologies in Social Science that I have applied whilst carrying out scholarly and non-academic research.
In my academic career, I have presented papers on governance, land, youth and development at different international and local conferences. I have been involved in multi-disciplinary and regional research initiatives including research activities of Future Agricultures Consortium (based at Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex) coordinated by South Africa hub; Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at University of Western Cape. I have been part of teams that got NOMA (2011-13) and OSSREA (2012-13) research grants to study Water Governance, Gender and Human Rights in Southern and East Africa and Land Grabbing and Development in Malawi respectively.
What motivated me to undertake PhD study?
Literature on development cooperation and aid effectiveness linked to development interventions implemented by Local Governments has diverse explanations regarding development trajectories in developing countries. My engagement in research that used Political Economy to understand how politics shapes and influences the design of development programmes and implementation of the same motivated me to undertake a PhD in a development related field. My interest in this study is to understand the interface between global and domestic politics in pooled funds meant for development in developing countries.
What makes me passionate about my subject?
By academic background and research interests make me passionate about researching on politics of development in developing countries. It is fascinating to be working on a topic that has both academic and policy relevance.
What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?
My main future plan is to contribute to the international and domestic debates on Development and Governance (in particular, Politics of Development, Development Cooperation, Aid Effectiveness, Decentralisation and Local Government) through scholarly and policy-oriented empirical based publications. My publications include:
Tambulasi, R., and Chasukwa, M., (2014) 'Substitute is Gonna Put You Down’: An Analysis of Effectiveness of Emerging Actors as Substitutes of Local Councillors in Malawi’s Decentralized System, Journal of Development Effectiveness, 6 (2), pp 196-210
Chinsinga, B., Chasukwa, M., and Zuka., (2014) “Large-Scale Land Deals in the Sugar Industry and Rural Development in Malawi: A Political Economy Inquiry”, In Mihyo, P.B., (Ed), International Land Deals in Eastern and Southern Africa, Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA): Addis Ababa, pp 67-97
Chasukwa, M., Chiweza, A.L., and Chikapa-Jamali, M.T., (2014) Participation in Local Assemblies in Malawi in the Absence of Local Elected Representatives- Political Eliticism or Pluralism? Journal of Asian and African Studies, 49 (6), pp 705-720
Chasukwa, M., and Chinsinga, B., (2013) Slapping Accountability in the Face: Observance of Accountability in Malawi’s Local Governments in the Absence of Councillors, International Journal of Public Administration, 36 (5), pp 354-366
Chinsinga, B., Chasukwa, M., and Zuka, S., (2013) The Political Economy of Land Grabs in Malawi: Investigating the Contribution of Limphasa Sugar Corporation to Rural Development, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 26 (6), pp 1065-1084
Chinsinga, B., and Chasukwa, M., (2012) Youth, Agriculture and Land Grabs in Malawi, IDS Bulletin 43(6), pp 67-77
Kanyongolo, N., Chiweza, A., Chasukwa, M., and Chirwa, T (2011) Human Rights, Gender and Water: A Case Study of Women, Active Citizenship, Law Reform and Water Governance in Malawi, Malawi Law Journal 5(2), pp 115-130