Abstract: Geospatial Economic Research in Uganda

In partnership with AidData and the Economic Policy Research Center in Kampala Uganda, I will conduct geospatial research on a variety of topics. Chief among these will be analyzing new trade avenues that have sprung up between Uganda and the newly formed South Sudan. In order to conduct this analysis, ArcGIS geospatial software will be used to generate geocoded maps of trade flows. In addition, topics related to healthcare and aid interventions will be explored, including infant mortality. Geospatial comparisons will be made between health outcomes and aid interventions in the East African Region in order to identify gaps in coverage. This research will be conducted full time for 10 weeks in Kampala, Uganda.

Spatial Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa

African states regularly rank as some of the least developed countries in the world. A closer look within the borders of each state, however, unveils a rather different story; there exists significant subnational variation in levels of development (Migdal 1988; Herbst 2000; Boone 2003; van de Walle 2009). For example, while many parts of Nigeria, including northeastern Nigeria where the terrorist organization, Boko Haram is active, may rank in the bottom quintile in the world in terms of access to public services, other parts of the country rank near the top. This spatial inequality is not unique to Nigeria but prevalent across sub-Saharan Africa. Such spatial inequality is a fact that has plagued these nations in more ways than one. Envy for the lifestyle of those who are better off can ignite anger and in some cases ultimately leads to conflict, terrorism, and eventual state failure (Stewart 2008; Østby 2008; Østby et al. 2009; Cederman et al. 2011; Cederman et al. 2013).

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Concluding Thoughts on Sub-Saharan Sources

Since my previous post last week, I have completed the remaining texts for this particular section of my research.  In looking at these texts, very little information has come to light that explicitly names any sort of disease or epidemic, with the exception of Holt’s Sudan of the Three Niles.  The overall information that one can derive from these texts is that death was a common occurrence in sub-Saharan Africa, often as the result of conquerors killing dissidents or taking over towns.  These are known as a result of the various chroniclers who wished to show their readers – present or future – that those men who had the backing of God would triumph over those who had not accepted him or his laws.  As such, epidemics were unlikely to be recorded unless they had something to do with the faith of Islam, such as the death of a major religious figure.  Holt’s translation makes note of three diseases: the Yellow Wind, or “plague” as it was called in the time “of the Children of Israel,” the “Mother of Seven,” and small pox.  However, using this information is difficult.

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Week 1 – Initial Findings Seem Promising

From this point on, I am planning on updating every Thursday at the very least.  At this point in my research, I have looked into two sources from medieval Africa.  This portion of my research consists mainly of looking into primary sources from the medieval era and looking for any note of the plague or any kind of event that could reasonably be seen as such.  Sources like these tend to cover long periods of time without following any sort of chronology, so long swaths of time are condensed and only the highlights, so to speak, are left.

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