Irregular Migration and Misinformation in Nigeria

At the end of 2018, Alexandra Scacco and Bernd Beber implemented qualitative interviews and a representative survey in Benin City, the epicenter of irregular migration out of Nigeria, itself the single largest sub-Saharan African source of irregular migrants to Europe. They find in a first paper, which is to be submitted soon, that information campaigns appear to make false assumptions about potential migrants’ state of knowledge.

Last year they then participated in evaluating outreach activities of the UK-funded anti-trafficking Not for Sale program in Nigeria’s Edo state (with Florian Foos), and Alexandra Scacco is now the lead investigator for a large-scale randomized controlled trial in Edo and Delta states, which includes door-to-door information provision about risks along the journey to Europe. Baseline surveys were conducted in the fall of 2019 and in March of this year. Activities are now paused due to the coronavirus, except for a phone survey centered on corona-related issues.

Researchers:  Bernd Beber (WZB/RWI), Macartan Humphreys (WZB/Columbia), Alexandra Scacco (WZB), and Dean Yang (U Michigan)

Funding:  WZB Berlin Social Science Center; Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Peace and Recovery Full Study Grant

Our third cluster focuses specifically on political exclusion and responses to political exclusion, including decisions to hide, to fight, and to flee.

Anatomy of a Riot: Participation in Ethnic Violence in Nigeria

This book manuscript explores why individuals choose to participate in ethnic riots in contemporary Nigeria. The rich existing literature on ethnic conflict focuses heavily on top-down, elite-centered processes, which leaves us with few answers as to why ordinary people would follow their leaders and voluntarily engage in actions that are often fraught with extreme risk. The answer that is given in the book manuscript is that the interaction between poverty and neighborhood-level social networks dramatically increases the likelihood of riot participation. While poverty may increase a person's willingness to riot, it is centrality in certain types of social networks that transforms potential into actual rioters.

To provide evidence for this narrative, an original survey of over 800 rioters and non-rioters in two cities in northern Nigeria, Kaduna and Jos was conducted, both of which have experienced riots in the past. A survey of all 70 neighborhood chiefs in the two cities was also completed; absentee surveys with family members of those randomly sampled individuals who had died or moved away; and 40 in-depth interviews with riot participants and riot organizers, which are used to contextualize and interpret survey findings. This fieldwork was completed in the fall of 2007 and the summer of 2008.

Researcher:  Alexandra Scacco (WZB)

Funding:  Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

Under contract:  Cambridge University Press

Vulnerability and Trust in the Aftermath of COVID-19 in Uganda

COVID-19 has already disrupted community life and will surely alter community social dynamics for years to come. This project aims to identify and track over time citizens’ compliance with COVID-19 mitigation policies and their access to relief services in Kampala, Uganda. Building on an existing study in which certain residents were randomly assigned to attend meetings with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)—which is responsible for the city’s health centers, public schools, and other public services—researchers will survey the study’s representative sample of urban residents to understand patterns of rule compliance, uncover how the crisis alters patterns of intra-group and inter-group trust (using baseline information collected prior to the pandemic), and identify and track overtime populations that are vulnerable to disruptions caused by the pandemic. The ongoing randomized evaluation will also help researchers to understand how this compliance is shaped by contact with a key governmental institution. Embedding this COVID-19 survey into a data collection process that extends to 2021 will allow researchers to gain a long-term perspective on community resilience.

Researchers:  Constantin Manuel Bosancianu (WZB), Ana Garcia-Hernandez (WZB), Macartan Humphreys (WZB/Columbia), Paul Kiwanuka-Mukiibi (PS consulting), Melina Platas Izama (NYU AD), Leah Rosenzweig (Stanford/MIT), Lily Tsai (MIT).

Funding:  UK Department for International Development, awarded through IPA's Peace & Recovery Program and NYU Abu Dhabi.

Status:  Collecting data in the field. The first wave of data collection was collected in June/July 2020. Two more rounds of data will be collected between July and September 2020.

Link to project page

Link to data in dashboard

Partners: Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)

Covid-19 in Kampala
Anthony Kamwesigye

Political and Social Correlates of COVID-19

National level political and social measures that past research suggest can help explain variation in a society’s ability to respond to adverse shocks (i) are identified and (ii) report on the evolving covariance between these measures and the cross national distribution of COVID-19 burdens.

Researchers:  Manuel Bosancianu (WZB), Hanno Hilbig (WZB/Harvard), Macartan Humphreys (WZB/Columbia), Nils Lieber (WZB/Bayreuth), Sampada KC (WZB), and Alexandra Scacco (WZB)

Status: Working paper currently in circulation

Doing No Harm When Conducting Research in Development Countries, What about the researchers?

The purpose of this project is twofold: First, it identifies and synthesizes evidence of ethical challenges that are faced by local and international research staff implementing field research projects in the Global South. Second, the project aims at critically assessing and reviewing existing ethical guidelines and protocols that seek to address and alleviate these challenges. This will then serve as a guidance for developing normative ethical principles and standardized research guidelines that take into account a) the specific complexities linked to research in developing country contexts and b) the protection of local and international research staff at all hierarchical levels.

Researchers:  Ana Garcia-Hernandez (WZB), Lennart Kaplan (DIE), Jana Kuhnt (DIE), and Janina Isabel Steinert (TUM)

Status: The qualitative data collected in 2019 and 2020 is being analyzied at the moment.

Link to project page

Internet Access & Exclusion

Does increasing Internet access and use challenge authoritarian elections? I argue that Internet access provides both opposition supporters and government authorities with new means to shape electoral conduct. Opposition supporters can use the Internet to report on electoral malpractice and mobilize for support. At the same time government authorities can use the Internet to monitor antiregime sentiment prior to the elections and disrupt Internet access to selectively repress regime opponents during the elections. Studying Uganda’s 2016 presidential elections, evidence from election monitoring and survey data suggests that electoral violence is significantly higher in opposition strongholds with greater Internet access prior to the Internet disruption and is targeted specifically at voters. Insights from qualitative interviews with politicians, journalists and activists underline that the disruption of Internet access indeed hindered opposition supporters to effectively challenge electoral malpractice. Overall, the results stress the important role that Internet access can play for opposition actors in authoritarian elections. At the same time, they highlight their susceptibility to manipulation by government authorities.

Researcher: Lisa Garbe

Timeline: 2018-2021

Status: Results published in the Journal of Peace Research

Deterrence or Backlash? How Online Censorship Affects Offline Protest

Governments worldwide suppress access to information, often during times of contentious politics, such as elections or social unrest. While political scientists have thoroughly studied how increasing internet access and, in particular, access to social media has influenced protest behavior, research remains inconclusive about the consequences of a sudden loss of access to the internet for mobilization. In this project, we systematically assess how online censorship affects protest behavior offline. We use large-scale Virtual Network Provider (VPN) data for 26 authoritarian African countries from 2017 to 2021 to infer periods of temporary filtering and blocking of access to the internet. We then use two-way fixed effects regressions and a differences-in-differences with multiple time periods design to assess how sudden censorship events during periods of political contention affect protest behavior in the days and weeks following the event. Overall, this project offers a novel way to measure different forms of online censorship and a systematic assessment of their consequences for offline mobilization.

Researchers: Tina Freyburg (University of St.Gallen), Lisa Garbe (WZB), Elena Kromark (Stockholm University), Joss Wright (Oxford)

Timeline: 2022 - onoing