Elizabeth Stites

Elizabeth StitesResearch Director in Conflict and Livelihoods, Feinstein International Center
Assistant Research Professor, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Working with Feinstein Since: 2002
Based in: Brooklyn, NY and Westport, MA

Elizabeth Stites’ work focuses on the effects of conflict and violence on civilian livelihoods. She is particularly interested in how different members within a household make changes to their livelihoods in times of conflict or crisis, and also how violence and livelihood strategies can reinforce each other. On the policy level she examines the effects of humanitarian, development, and military policies on livelihoods, security, and gender roles. Her field work aims to improve the effectiveness of international and national policies through evidence-based research reflecting the lived experiences of local communities. She aims to understand the challenges and hopes that inform people’s daily decision making, and strives to ensure that local people’s voices and experiences are heard in contexts in which they are often invisible. She has worked in multiple countries in sub-Saharan Africa, in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Nepal and on the Syria crisis.

Prior to joining Feinstein, Elizabeth worked as a consultant to UN organizations, academic centers, and international non-profits. She lived in South Africa for four years in the 1990s, where she researched post-apartheid land restitution and worked closely with families, community groups, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

Elizabeth holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an M.A. from the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and an M.A.L.D. and a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Research Interests:
  • Intra-household livelihood adaptations and coping
  • Male youth and violence
  • Cyclical links between livelihoods and violence
Regional Focus:
  • Northeastern Uganda (Karamoja)
  • Eastern Africa
  • Nepal
Courses Taught:
  • Gender, Culture, and Conflict in Complex Emergencies (NUTR 222/DHP D232), Fall Term
  • Gender and Human Security in Transitional States and Societies (DHP D231), Spring Term
Most Cited Books and Articles:
  • Elizabeth Stites and Anastasia Marshak. 2016. “Who are the Lonetia? Findings from southern Karamoja, Uganda.” Journal of Modern African Studies 54(May): 237-262.
  • Elizabeth Stites and Darlington Akabwai. 2010. “‘We are now reduced to women’: Impacts of forced disarmament in Karamoja, Uganda.” Nomadic Peoples 14(2): 24-43.
  • Elizabeth Stites. 2013. “A Struggle for Rites: Masculinity, Violence and Livelihoods in Karamoja, Uganda.” in Gender, Violence, and Human Security: Critical Feminist Perspectives, ed. Aili Tripp, Myra Marx Ferree, and Christina Ewig. New York University Press.

Feinstein Publications

A Better Balance: Revitalized Pastoral Livelihoods in Karamoja, Uganda

This report reviews the state of animal-based livelihoods in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda and examines how animal ownership affects a household’s ability to weather shocks.

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“We now have relative peace”: Changing Conflict Dynamics in Northern Karamoja, Uganda

This study provides a nuanced understanding of the transformation of violence for women, men, girls and boys in northern Karamoja at the household, community, district and the regional levels. Drivers…

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Challenges for Remote Management in Insecure Settings: Sustainability of Local Organizations and Donor Withdrawal: Second Briefing Paper from Breaking the Hourglass
Breaking the Hourglass#2 (2)_Page_1

This is the second briefing paper emerging from a longer report on humanitarian action and partnerships in remote management settings. This briefing paper offers key insights and findings on the…

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Challenges within Remote Management in Insecure Settings: Trade-offs, Capacities, and Trust: First Briefing Paper from the Breaking the Hourglass Report

This is the first briefing paper emerging from a longer report on humanitarian action and partnerships in remote management settings. This paper offers key insights and findings on the challenges…

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Breaking the Hourglass: Partnerships in Remote Management Settings–The Cases of Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan

International organizations increasingly rely on local partners to engage in humanitarian action. This is particularly the case in highly insecure situations or when host governments limit or deny international access….

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“It’s Better to Sweat than to Die:” Rural-to-Urban Migration, Northern Karamoja, Uganda

Much of the literature on urbanization focuses on migration to large cities. In contrast, this report traces the process, challenges, and opportunities of rural-urban migration to towns and small cities…

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Engaging Male Youth in Karamoja, Uganda

The Feinstein International Center at Tufts University is pleased to announce a new publication in collaboration with the Learning on Gender and Conflict in Africa  (LOGiCA) Program of the World…

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Disaster Risk Reduction and Livelihoods

According to the Hyogo Framework for Action, disasters affect over 200 million people annually, causing significant loss of lives, forced migration, and disruption of livelihoods and institutions. The trend over…

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Tradition in Transition: Customary Authority in Karamoja, Uganda

This study examines the evolution of customary authority among four population groups: the Jie, Dodoth, Matheniko, and Tepeth

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Life in Town: Migration from rural Karamoja to Moroto and Mbale

Migration from rural Karamoja to towns, cities and other rural areas has long been part of local livelihood strategies, but attention to this phenomenon by national and international actors in…

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Milk Matters in Karamoja
By Elizabeth Stites, Emily Mitchard | October 2011

Households in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda have seen a precipitous drop in access to and availability of animal milk in recent years. The declining milk supply affects livelihoods,…

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Examining Linkages between Disaster Risk Reduction and Livelihoods Literature Review

In the disaster context emphasis has been generally placed on the initial humanitarian and emergency response. However, recently there has been an increasing recognition of the importance and value of…

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Adaptation and Resilience Responses to Changing Dynamics in Northern Karamoja, Uganda

This briefing paper is the first output from the LIVE project (Livelihoods, Insecurity and Value Chains Examination in Karamoja), a collaborative study with Save the Children in Uganda funded by…

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Foraging and Fighting Community Perspectives on Natural Resources and Conflict in Southern Karamoja

This joint publication by the Feinstein International Center and Save the Children in Uganda examines the perspectives and experiences of communities in the southern Karamoja region of Uganda regarding natural…

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Changing Roles, Shifting Risks Livelihood Impacts of Disarmament in Karamoja, Uganda

This report is the result of the first phase of a partnership with Save the Children in Uganda. Based on field work conducted in April 2009 in Moroto and Kotido…

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Angering Akuju Survival and Suffering in Karamoja

Karamoja is the poorest and least developed region of Uganda. The population experiences chronic food insecurity, little access to basic services, the weakening of traditional livelihood systems, ongoing insecurity, human…

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Out-migration, Return, and Resettlement in Karamoja, Uganda The case of Kobulin, Bokora County

As part of a larger project entitled “Livelihoods and Human Security in Karamoja,” this briefing paper presents findings on causal factors and broad patterns in out-migration among the Bokora population….

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Movement on the Margins Livelihoods and Security in Kitgum District, Northern Uganda

The protracted conflict in northern Uganda has created profound insecurity, brought the widespread loss of agrarian livelihoods, and pushed nearly two million people into internal displacement camps. With the current…

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Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Principles, Power, and Perceptions Preliminary Report

This report summarizes the findings of the first phase of a major research project on the challenges and compromises that are likely to affect humanitarian action in the next decade….

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Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Northern Uganda Country Study
By Elizabeth Stites | June 2006

The HA2015 study examines the effects of four broad challenges on the humanitarian enterprise: universality, terrorism, coherence and security. Each of these has resonance in the context of northern Uganda….

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Coping with War, Coping with Peace Livelihood Adaptation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1989-2004

This study uses a livelihood framework to examine and analyze household livelihood strategies across three time periods in six rural villages in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The three time periods examined are the…

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Human Security and Livelihoods of Rural Afghans, 2002-2003

This report documents and analyzes recent countrywide trends in the relationship between human security and livelihoods throughout rural Afghanistan from 2002-2003. All countrywide information is generated by analyses of 2003…

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Feinstein Research Projects

The Humanitarian Evidence Program

The Humanitarian Evidence Program produces a series of evidence syntheses to distill humanitarian evidence and communicate it to key stakeholders in order to enable better decision-making and improve humanitarian policy and practice.

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Partnerships in Remote Management Settings
By Kimberly Howe, Elizabeth Stites | August 2015

International organizations increasingly rely on local partners to engage in humanitarian action. This is particularly the case in highly insecure situations or when host governments limit or deny international access. Despite these trends, there have been few attempts to examine the effectiveness of international-local partnerships either in general or in insecure “remote management” contexts. This study explores these partnerships in the setting of cross-border assistance from Turkey to Syria in 2014. The case of Iraqi Kurdistan provides historical perspective.

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Promoting Agriculture, Health, and Alternative Livelihoods (PAHAL) in Nepal

This USAID-funded five-year project (2014-2019) aims to improve food security, resilience, and livelihoods for poor and marginalized communities in select areas of rural Nepal.

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Seers as War makers, Peace Makers, and Leaders within the Karamoja Cluster

Feinstein field research throughout the Karamoja region will allow us to document and analyze how seers operate within their own communities and shed light on the complex nature of their relationships with other tribal groups, both friends and enemies.

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Customary Law, Livelihoods Change, and Conflict Mitigation in the Karamoja Cluster The Case of Uganda

Under a two-year research project with funding from Irish Aid/Kampala, FIC researchers are studying how groups are using customary mechanisms to respond to the changing social, political and economic environment in Karamoja.

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Growth, Health, and Governance, Karamoja, Uganda

This USAID-funded five year project (2012-2017) aims to improve livelihoods outcomes for the pastoral, agro-pastoral, and agrarian populations in the region.

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Milk Matters: Improving the Health and Nutritional Status of Children in Pastoral Communities

This project seeks primarily to clarify some of the underlying causes of the chronically high levels of acute malnutrition found in pastoral regions in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Uganda.

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Promoting Evidence-based Livelihood Programming in Karamoja, Uganda
By Elizabeth Stites | May 2012

In 2009-2011, the Tufts/FIC team worked in collaboration with SCiUG on research to improve and inform programming, policy making, and advocacy through the collection and dissemination of qualitative data on key livelihood issues.

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News Items

Feinstein faculty humanitarian course offerings Spring 2017 at Tufts
January 17, 2017

Feinstein faculty are teaching a variety of courses on humanitarian issues during the upcoming Spring 2017 Semester. We encourage students to check them out: Karen Jacobsen: Forced Migration (DHP D239)…

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Fall classes are starting soon!
September 2, 2016

Classes are starting soon, and Feinstein faculty, researchers, and visiting fellows will be bringing their vast experiences to the classroom! Look below for the list of courses. Friedman and Fletcher…

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Elizabeth Stites and Anastasia Marshak publish in the Journal of Modern African Studies
May 16, 2016

Elizabeth Stites and Anastasia Marshak published their article, “Who are the Lonetia? Findings from southern Karamoja, Uganda” in the June 2016 edition of the Journal of Modern African Studies. The…

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Feinstein faculty participate in the World Humanitarian Summit
May 10, 2016

The first ever World Humanitarian Summit took place in Istanbul, Turkey on May 23-24, 2016. The summit aimed to set a forward-looking agenda for humanitarian action that addresses future humanitarian…

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Elizabeth Stites discusses Gender and Conflict with ICG’s Ambassadors
April 19, 2016

Elizabeth Stites participated in a panel hosted by the International Crisis Group (ICG) aimed at helping the organization better incorporate gender into their analysis of conflict situations around the world…

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Elizabeth Stites gives public lecture on remote management of humanitarian assistance
April 8, 2016

Elizabeth Stites gave a talk on remote management of humanitarian assistance at the Fletcher School on April 7th. The focus was on cross-border assistance delivered from Turkey into northern Syria….

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Humanitarian Evidence Program hosts discussion on evidence at DFID
March 23, 2016

We invite our London-based colleagues to join us on April 14, 2016 for a discussion on humanitarian evidence, co-hosted by Oxfam and the Feinstein International Center. Please see below for an…

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Feinstein International Center faculty course offerings – Spring 2016
January 20, 2016

The spring semester has begun at The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and Feinstein International Center Faculty…

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Evidence and the World Humanitarian Summit: a Humanitarian Evidence Program submission
August 10, 2015

The Humanitarian Evidence Program, a partnership between Oxfam GB and the Feinstein International Center, recently filed a submission to the World Humanitarian Summit consultations. The submission, titled “Humanitarian evidence: going…

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Kimberly Howe and Elizabeth Stites present FIC’s work on partnerships at US Department of State and USAID
May 15, 2015

Kimberly Howe and Elizabeth Stites presented on FIC’s work on cross-border partnerships and humanitarian assistance into northern Syria at the US Department of State and USAID on April 27, 2015. The briefings focused…

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Elizabeth Stites presents FIC’s work on cross-border partnerships at IRC
April 21, 2015

Elizabeth Stites presented on FIC’s work on cross-border partnerships and humanitarian assistance into northern Syria at the International Rescue Committee in New York on March 25th, 2015. The brownbag at the International…

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