Professor Anna Mdee


I am Professor in the Politics of Global Development since 2019, and joined POLIS in 2016 as Associate Professor in International Development.

This followed one year (2015-16) as a Research Fellow with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) working with the Chronic Poverty and Social Development teams. I continue to work with ODI as a Research Associate.

Prior to this I was at the University of Bradford for 13 years, joining as a Research Assistant and becoming a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies. I also took on the roles of Associate Dean for Learning & Teaching and Co-Director of the John & Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS) from 2009-12.

From 2013-14 I spent one year as Visiting Professor at Mzumbe University in Tanzania.


  • Associate Director water@leeds
  • Co-Director- Centre for Global Development

Research interests

My research focuses on the politics of global development and development practice: how the aid system works (or doesn’t work), how to improve local service delivery and governance; how to manage natural resources (primarily water), and how to reduce vulnerability through improved livelihoods.

I am an anthropologist and so interested in aid and development as a political and cultural practice. My research tends to take a critical reflective practice approach to unpicking development problems. I have worked primarily on Tanzania (for more than 20 years), but also have experience in Kenya, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Tajikistan.

Current and recent research projects: 

UKRI GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub Leading the workstream on policy and governance on this £17.7 million project from 2019-2024 - led by Newcastle University, in partnership with University of Oxford and institutions in Colombia, Ethiopia, India and Malaysia.

Inclusive local governance with Mzumbe University (Tanzania) Creating and tracking the evolution of a local governance index for Tanzania- Principal Investigator. Project funded by DFID-ESRC 2014-7 (£311,000) in partnership with Foundation for Civil Society (Tanzania) and INTRAC (UK)

View more information on project webpage

Watch the project event livestreamed

Mdee A. et al. (2017) Holding local government to account in Tanzania through a performance index. Exploring lines of blame and accountability - view the working paper.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • 2008 PhD Development Studies, University of Bradford
  • 2001 MA Social Sciences, Open University
  • 1997 BA Social Anthropology, Cambridge University

Professional memberships

  • Senior Fellow- Higher Education Academy

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Global Development
  • Centre for African Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>