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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.