Jessica Banfield

Senior Advisor

Jessie Banfield is focuses on conflict prevention, peacebuilding and governance issues with over 20 years research and programming experience in diverse regions. She has written several flagship reports for UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa and is currently engaged in its Supporting Inclusive Transitions project as lead author of a forthcoming study examining current trends related to unconstitutional changes of government in Africa. She played a similar role for UNDP’s Journey to Extremism and Scaling Fences studies, and also worked during 2017-19 as Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Specialist with UNDP’s Istanbul Regional Hub covering Europe and Central Asia, supporting Country Offices with conflict and social cohesion analyses, initiating and supporting Peacebuilding Funded programmes, conducting research, and playing a pivotal role in ensuring the quality of Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) projects and initiatives.

Jessie spent many years working at different times for International Alert including as: Director of Programmes, overseeing a portfolio of peacebuilding interventions and partnerships in over 20 countries and territories and leading the organisation in its peacebuilding response to the COVID-19 pandemic; Africa Regional Manager, building a team dispersed across seven African countries and overseeing expansion and growth into new settings; Uganda Country Manager, building up a peacebuilding country programme from scratch focused on greater alignment between Uganda’s economy and priorities for long-term peace; and Business and Conflict team lead innovating new fields of peacebuilding practice with diverse formal and informal sector business actors.

As a consultant, in addition to UNDP she has worked with the UK government, USAID, Saferworld and Interpeace, among others, including as a gender in conflict advisor.  Other current and recent assignments include: supporting Interpeace in its peace responsiveness initiative to enhance UN agencies’ capacity to sustain peace; working with UNDP Ukraine in its strategic focus on social cohesion; and serving as a Conflict Advisor supporting the British Embassy in Tbilisi in its response to the second Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Jessie holds an MA in International Studies and Diplomacy from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and a degree in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh.


Regional Specialization


Thematic Specialization

Peacebuilding, conflict prevention, conflict sensitivity, gender in conflict, business/ private sector and peacebuilding, governance



Selected Publications

  • A Mapping and Analysis of Tools and Guidance on H-P Linkages in the HDP Nexus (Interpeace and IASC 2022)
  • Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe (UNDP 2019)
  • Journey to Extremism in Africa (UNDP 2017)
  • Central Africa: A Sub-Region Left Behind? (UNDP 2017)
  • Towards a Peace Economy in Lebanon (Alert 2015)
  • Tell it like it is: Civil Society’s Role in Tackling Serious Organised Crime in West Africa (Alert 2015) Organized Crime, Conflict and Fragility (USAID 2015)
  • Crime and Conflict: A New Challenge for Peacebuilding (Alert 2014)
  • Winners or Losers: Youth Employment Programmes and Conflict Risk in Nigeria (British Council 2014)
  • Changing Fortunes: Women in Northern Uganda’s Peace Economy (Alert 2010)
  • Harnessing Oil for Peace and Development in Uganda (Alert 2009)
  • Building a Peace Economy in Northern Uganda (Alert 2008)
  • Local Business, Local Peace: The Peacebuilding Potential of the Domestic Private Sector (Alert 2006)
  • Conflict Sensitive Business Practice: Guidance for the Extractive Industries (Alert 2005)