James Courtright has spent a highly illuminating two years deep in the field across West Africa studying challenges faced by Fulani societies—the world’s largest pastoralist group—including climate change, discriminatory governments and increasing jihadist activity, and what it reveals about the roots of violence and other major developments in the region’s countries. He’ll report about his fellowship in Washington, DC on Friday, May 17 at 2 p.m., and join a panel discussion with former fellow Hannah Rae Armstrong (Sahel, 2012-2014) and Abdoul Salam Bello, moderated by ICWA trustee Catherine Rielly.

After finishing his fellowship in December, James has begun work with the Dutch think-tank Clingendael, part of a team researching jihadist insurgent infiltration in northern Ghana. He’s also working on a project funded by the British High Commission in Accra, researching the contributions of livestock markets to local economies in northern Ghana, and the role of marginalized Fulani in Ghanaian society. And he plans some long-form writing based on his reporting during his ICWA travels. Read James’s dispatches here.

Please note that the discussion’s venue has been changed from the US Institute of Peace, as originally advertised. The event will also be livestreamed.

Friday, May 17
2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET
1050 K Street, NW
3rd floor
Washington, DC
and via Zoom

James Courtright spent two years studying challenges faced by Fulani societies across West Africa—the largest pastoralist community in the world—including climate change, discriminatory governments, increasing jihadist activity and evolving dynamics within Fulani societies. James grew up between East Africa and the United States. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Denison University and a master’s from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He’s served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, written for NPR, The Christian Science Monitor and Roads & Kingdoms, and worked with Gambian civil society alongside the country’s truth commission.


Abdoul Salam Bello is executive director of the Africa Group II at the World Bank Group Board of Directors and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. An expert in economic development, multilateral trade cooperation and diplomacy, he was previously senior project officer at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), leading a land restoration program in the Sahel. His books include Les Etats-Unis et l’Afrique, de l’esclavage à Obama and La régionalisation en Afrique: Essai sur un processus d’intégration et de développement. 


Hannah Rae Armstrong is a writer and adviser on peace and security in the Sahel, Maghreb and Western Sahara. A former ICWA fellow (Sahel, 2012-2014), she was a senior consulting analyst for the International Crisis Group and a Fulbright fellow in Morocco. She has written for The International New York TimesThe New Republic, and Financial Times.



Catherine Rielly is an ICWA trustee and executive director of Rubia, an NGO that promotes women’s economic empowerment, education and health in Mali, Afghanistan and Palestine. A political economist, she has taught policy analysis, refugee and gender issues, and international community economic development at the graduate level; advised the governments of Mali, Zambia, and the US; and done comparative research on policy in over twenty countries.