Mwanja Mwale

School of Geography and Planning

PHD Candidate

Mwanja Mwale
Profile picture of Mwanja Mwale

Full contact details

Mwanja Mwale
School of Geography and Planning
Geography and Planning Building
Winter Street
S3 7ND

Mwanja is a Commonwealth scholar from Zambia who joined the Department of Geography in March, 2021. She holds a Master of Science degree in Urban Management and Development (specialisation in Urban Housing and Livelihoods) and a Bachelor of Social work degree. She has over 15 years’ experience working in the social protection arena, both in government and in the private sector.



2016-2016: Public Management, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

2013-2014: MSc Urban Management and Development, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands

2003-2007: Bachelor of Social work (BSw), University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia

Employment history

2008 – Present: Working with the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services in Lusaka, Zambia

2005-2005: Worked with the Zambia Red Cross society at the Urban Refugee Project in Lusaka

2007-2008: Worked with the International Justice Mission (IJM) in Lusaka, Zambia


Commonwealth PhD Scholarship award, 2020

2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship Programme (MWF) award for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)- USA leadership study programme and experience

Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC) Award, 2013

Ministry of Education Student Bursary Award in Zambia, 2003

Research interests

Thesis title: The good life? Focusing a capability lens on Zambia's social cash transfer programme. 

Mwanja’s primary research interest is social protection and livelihoods in contributing to poverty reduction. Her thesis focuses a capability lens on Zambia’s Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme design, and the lived experiences of the recipients. SCT recipients are individuals in households who are targeted through three-tier selection criteria based on residency, incapacitation and vulnerability.

Her research is an ethnographically inspired inquiry into the SCT programme design and implementation rationalities, potential opportunities presented by SCTs, choices in SCT use, factors that influence choice and the determination of ‘the good life’ by different people. By utilising data from participant observations, in-depth interviews and secondary data analysis, the research considers lived realities and policy expectations to understand how SCTs facilitate capabilities for different people, what is of importance to people, and how the programme contributes to poverty reduction. 

Supervisors: Dr. Luke Temple and Dr. Dan Hammett

Teaching activities

GEO21010 - Sustainable Development and Global Justice(Graduate Teaching Assistant, 2022-2023)