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Television broadcast towers line a mountain, nicknamed “TV Mountain”, outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo ID 507544. 12/10/2011. Kabul, Afghanistan. UN Photo/Aurora

Core working group

Alastair McKechnie

L4P Principal Consultant

Alastair McKechnie is Senior Research Associate at ODI. Mr McKechnie was formerly World Bank director for fragile states and Country Director for Afghanistan. He spent 28 years in assignments at the World Bank where he was regional operations director for South Asia and infrastructure manager for the Middle East.

Ed Laws

L4P Research Lead

Ed provides overall steering on the project’s research direction and thematic focus. Ed is a Research Fellow in the Politics and Governance programme at ODI, having joined in February 2018. He previously worked as a researcher for the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) and the University of Birmingham. He is a DLP associate and a Fellow with the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice. He specialises in political economy and political settlements analysis and has a particular interest in politically smart approaches to aid delivery, flexible and adaptive programming, and the politics of service delivery. Ed has fieldwork experience in Kenya, Tanzania, Somaliland, Afghanistan and Nepal.

Mark Bowden

L4P Senior Expert Adviser

Mark is a Senior Research Associate with the Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI. He has recently retired as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan in UNAMA with responsibility on development coherence, governance, economic development, gender and rule of law. He was also the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in charge of coordination of the United Nations System activities, humanitarian disaster management and development coordination. He served in Afghanistan between November 2012 and March 2017. From April 2008 to November 2012, Mark was the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Designated Official and UNDP Resident Representative for Somalia, and was previously assigned as the Director of Civil Affairs in the United Nations Mission in Sudan. From 2001 to 2005 he was extensively involved in the design of humanitarian reforms as the Chief of the Policy Development and Studies Branch in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Saku Akmeemana

L4P Senior Expert Adviser

Saku is the Principal Specialist for Governance at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She is responsible for shaping the Department’s approach to governance and political economy in its development program, including in fragile and conflict-affected states and specifically in Afghanistan. She has worked for both the United Nations in peacekeeping, humanitarian and political operations, and for over a decade at the World Bank, where her work focused on the political dynamics of institutional change, political economy and governance in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence.

Florian Weigand

L4P Expert Adviser

Engagement on hiatus until Nov 2020

Florian is Research Associate and co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Armed Groups at ODI, as well as Research Associate at the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He has conducted research on armed conflict in a number of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand. His recent book ‘Conflict & Transnational Crime’ (2020) analyses the role of armed groups in Southeast Asia’s smuggling economy. Florian holds a PhD from the LSE, where he explored how different authorities in Afghanistan - such as the Taliban, the government, strongmen and community authorities - construct legitimacy. He also holds an MSc in Development Management from the LSE and an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy from the University of Oxford. As a consultant, he has worked for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Norwegian Refugee Council, amongst others. Previously, Florian worked in various roles and projects for the German development agency GIZ.

Ermina Strutinschi

L4P Expert Adviser

Ermina has over six years of recent experience in Afghanistan, having arrived in the country in 2014 to work with UNAMA’s Political Affairs Division. In 2017, she left UNAMA to join the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO), an NGO which provides humanitarians with information, advice, and training on safety and security matters, and is now the organisation’s Afghanistan Country Director. She graduated from Utrecht University College and holds a masters’ degree from the University of Oxford, having specialised in political affairs, international relations, and Russian and East European studies.

Contributing experts

Nigel Roberts

L4P Consultant and Former Principal Consultant

As L4P’s Principal Consultant from project inception in May 2019 to June 2021, Nigel worked closely with the ODI team to direct the project and set its strategic agenda. Since then, he has continued his association with the project by providing commentary on draft project outputs, and informal advice to the core group. Nigel worked for 30 years in the World Bank, including as an agricultural economist in north and east Africa, Country Manager in Nepal and Ethiopia, and Country Director in Palestine and for the Pacific. He was Co-Director of the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development. Since retiring from the World Bank, he has been working with governments and aid agencies to mitigate the socio-economic effects of prolonged civil war, including in Mindanao, Southern Thailand, Lebanon, Ukraine and Syria. From 2013-16 he was the on-site international delegate to Somalia’s National Financial Governance Committee, and from 2015-18 served as Chairman of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board for the UN Peacebuilding Fund. Alongside his work for ODI on Afghanistan, Nigel served as a Senior Adviser to the US Congress-mandated Afghanistan Peace Process Study Group in 2020-21.

Khalid Payenda

Research Consultant

Khalid Payenda is an independent research and technical consultant. Khalid is former Deputy Minister of Finance, Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Eliza Urwin

Research Consultant

Eliza is a research consultant and PhD candidate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, where her research focuses on processes of governance and statehood in contested spaces. From 2013 to 2017 Eliza lived in Afghanistan, working as a Senior Program Officer for the United States Institute of Peace. There, she managed a portfolio of peace and conflict research and programming, piloting projects and exploring research methods for evaluating program effectiveness. Since leaving Kabul, she has conducted research for the Norwegian Refugee Council and Overseas Development Institute on Taliban justice and the Afghan peace process. Her recent research focuses on participatory methods, in particular focusing on the measurement of subjective, difficult-to-measure concepts, using “Everyday Peace Indicators” to examine dynamics of security, resilience, and governance in Tunisia and Afghanistan.

Tobias Haque

World Bank Lead Economist for Afghanistan

Tobias Haque is the World Bank’s Lead Economist for Afghanistan.

Michael Kugelman

Deputy Director, Asia Center, Wilson Center

Michael Kugelman, the Deputy Director of the Asia Program and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center, is a leading specialist on Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan and their relations with the United States. The editor or co-editor of 11 books, he has written for The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and other publications, covering topics ranging from U.S. policy in Afghanistan to terrorism to water, energy, and food security in the region.

Nicholas Ross

Research Consultant

Nicholas Ross is an independent research consultant who has published on peace processes, democratic mechanisms and political settlements in diverse geographies. He has also worked with large datasets to analyse provisions of peace treaties, providing recommendations to UN mediators.

Mareike Schomerus

Former Research Lead

Mareike Schomerus was ODI Research Lead for the Lessons for Peace: Afghanistan project from its inception until her departure from ODI in April 2020. Mareike is now Vice President, Partnerships, at the Busara Center for Behavioural Economics.

Ashley Jackson

Research Adviser

Ashley is a Research Associate with the Politics and Governance Programme at ODI, and Co-Director of the ODI-hosted Centre for the Study of Armed Groups.

Sam Vincent

Consultant Researcher

Sam is an independent researcher and consultant. He recently earned his PhD from the Civil Society and Human Security research unit at the London School of Economics.

Shirazuddin Siddiqi

Consultant Researcher

Shirazuddin Siddiqi is is an independent consultant with experience in devising and managing developmental and informative programmes for radio and television. In 1994, he fled the civil war in Kabul to join BBC AEP in Peshawar. He was BBC Media Action’s Country Director for Afghanistan until June 2017. He has contributed to the news journalism of BBC News online and the Afghan Service of the BBC World Service. He retains a keen interest in the media, both in Afghanistan and internationally, with a particular focus on the development of sustainable strategies for socially-oriented media projects.

Rahmatullah Amiri

Research Consultant

Rahmatullah Amiri is a Senior Researcher with The Liaison Office (TLO) in Kabul and also works as a freelance consultant. He has more than 13 years of experience as a researcher and analyst in Afghanistan and Pakistan (KPK especially Tribal belt and Baluchistan) focusing on Peace, reconciliation, humanitarian access, social-political issues, security, armed non-state actors, and counter-violent extremism. He holds a BA in Political Science and Public Administration from the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF)

Andrew Watkins

Senior Analyst, Afghanistan

Andrew Watkins is Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Afghanistan. He focuses on prospects and challenges for a peace process in the Afghan conflict. Before joining Crisis Group, Andrew worked as a political affairs officer for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and as an independent researcher. Prior to working for the UN, Andrew was a conflict analyst and adviser to the humanitarian community in Afghanistan for several years, and previously served as a liaison with Afghan security forces for the U.S. Department of State. Andrew has a BA from Columbia University and an MA from Harvard University.

Jonathan Schroden

Research Programme Director, CNA

Dr. Jonathan Schroden is the Director of CNA's Center for Stability and Development (CSD), whose mission is to support decision-makers charged with planning, conducting, and assessing/evaluating prevention, stability, and development operations with objective analysis grounded in an understanding of operations. Dr. Schroden also directs CNA's Special Operations Program, which focuses on bringing CNA's "full spectrum" research and analysis capabilities to bear on the most complex and challenging issues facing special operations forces (SOF) today and in the future.

Since joining CNA in 2003, Dr. Schroden has deployed or traveled 13 times to Afghanistan (twice at the request of the Commander, ISAF, and once at the request of the Commander, CSTC-A) and twice to Al Anbar, Iraq. He served as a strategic advisor to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Multi-National Force–West in Iraq, US Central Command, and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Abdul Walid Shahab

L4P Project Manager

Abdul Walid Shahab is the L4P Project Manager, responsible for the day-to-day development and management of the project. Shahab is also Programme Manager for the Equity and Social Policy programme at ODI, managing its workstreams and providing oversight and information to the Head of Programme. At ODI Shahab manages the existing project portfolio and donor contracts/grants and supports with business development including proposals and fundraising, identifying opportunities for key partnerships and maintaining strong and productive working relationships with donors and research and operational partners.

Shahab holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (MRM, Afghanistan) and two master’s degrees in Business Administration and Economics (Bakhtar University and Kabul University, Afghanistan). He started his career in 2005 with Land O’Lakes International in Afghanistan as Reporting and Monitoring/IT Specialist after which he moved to UN-Habitat Afghanistan where he served as a Monitoring and Reporting Officer for 18 months and later Project Manager and Field Coordinator for four years.

Prior to joining ODI in 2019, Shahab served as Programme Manager and Programme and Results Coordinator at DFID-Afghanistan for six years.

David Mansfield

Research Consultant

David is an independent consultant. David has been conducting research on illicit economies in Afghanistan since 1997. David has a PhD in development studies and is the author of "A State Built on Sand: How opium undermined Afghanistan", and produced more than 75 research-based products on illicit economies and rural livelihoods in Afghanistan, many for the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit working in partnership with Alcis and OSDR.

Graeme Smith

Research Consultant

Graeme Smith is an author and consultant with nine years of on-the-ground experience in Afghanistan. His recent clients included the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution (NOREF), and the International Crisis Group (ICG). From 2015 to 2018 he served as a Political Affairs Officer for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. His earlier career as a journalist earned him several awards, including the Michener Award for public service granted annually by the Governor General of Canada. He also won an Emmy Award in 2009, for a video series about the Taliban. His bestselling book, The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War In Afghanistan, was published in Canada (2013), the United States (2014), and France (2015). He co-wrote a documentary, “Ghosts of Afghanistan,” which debuts in English, French, and German in 2021.