top of page


BA, MA, MRes
PhD Student and Graduate Fellow

Hi everyone, my name is Ellie, welcome to my website!

I am a social scientist with a background in International Development, with a particular interest in agriculture and livelihoods in Eastern and Southern Africa. Currently based in Kenya, I am in the first year of my PhD 'Farming in Transition in East Africa: Financial Risk-Taking and Agricultural Intensification', which uses a mixed-methods longitudinal approach in the form of a Financial Diary to discover the financial and social risks involved in the move from subsistence farming to market-oriented, more intensified farming. 

This website will be used to present my findings (as well as any other papers I'm involved in during this time), with papers being submitted for publishing throughout the next 2.5 years. So keep checking in to discover the latest developments!

Home: Welcome

About Me

I am a PhD student and Graduate Fellow at the University of Liverpool, based at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya.

My BA in 'International Development', and MA in 'Environment, Development, and Policy' were gained from the University of Sussex in 2015 and 2016 respectively. My MRes in 'Decision Making under Risk and Uncertainty' on the other hand was gained from the University of Liverpool in 2017, at the EPSRC and ESRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in 'Quantification and Management of Risk & Uncertainty in Complex Systems & Environments' at Liverpool's Institute of Risk and Uncertainty. 

From early on in my studies I've had an interest in agriculture, natural resources, and livelihoods on the African continent; my BA dissertation titled 'Conservation through Commercialisation: The Case of Moroccan Argan Oil' considering how the commercialisation of Argan oil in Morocco was failing as a strategy for the conservation of the Argan forest, and what impact this commercialisation was having on local livelihoods.

This interest continued into my MA, with a dissertation entitled 'A Climate Vulnerability Assessment of Smallholder Farmers in Northern Uganda' which analysed how vulnerable smallholder farmers in Northern Uganda would be to future climate change should their production methods not be adapted, and again in my MRes in which, as preparation for the upcoming PhD, I looked at financial access among smallholder farmers in Northern Uganda. 

Now undertaking my PhD, I am working as part of an interdisciplinary team on ILRI's ZooLinK (Zoonoses in Livestock in Kenya) Project in Busia County, western Kenya. The ZooLinK project is a zoonoses surveillance project with an interest in how changes in agricultural practices (particularly the commercialisation and intensification of previously subsistence farming) will impact the burden of disease in the future. This is where my PhD comes in.

Though not dealing with zoonotic disease itself, the PhD, titled 'Farming in Transition in East Africa: Financial Risk-Taking and Agricultural Intensification' considers both financial and social risks that occur as a result of farmers attempting to intensify their livestock production. The study will be using a mixed-method longitudinal approach in the form of a Financial Diary, adapted from the Financial Diary methodology developed by Bankable Frontier Associates (see, and utilised by Julie Zollmann in the 2014 'Kenya Financial Diaries: Shilingi Kwa Shilingi- The Financial Lives of the Poor'- a significant inspiration for this PhD. Methods that will be used include financial diary interviews (cash flow statements and balance sheets), questionnaires, ethnographic interviews, observation, photography, and possibly semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Therefore, this study will provide a wealth of human side data relating to intensification, the reason farmers choose to intensify their production, and the complexities of the impacts this has on the homesteads. 

It is hoped that several papers will be published as a result of this study on a variety of topics, such as access to finance; risk perception, experience, and mitigation; gender; financial risk-taking; and social risks, all relating back to intensification, which will be shared here following their submission to academic journals. 

Please keep posted, papers to be uploaded later in the year!

Home: About Me

Partner Organisations

Home: Projects



Home: Products


This study conducted by Julie Zollmann (2014) is the main inspiration behind this PhD. The report, produced as part of the works of FSD Kenya, used the financial diary methodology to improve understandings of the financial lives of Kenya's poor. The data produced by this study has informed a number of reports, each focusing on different aspects of these financial lives (education, gender, healthcare, and more).

Click the logo to find out more about the Kenya Financial Diary reports.

fsd kenya.png


The financial diaries methodology was devised by Stuart Rutherford and David Hulme, utilised by Rutherford in 2002 in Bangladesh, and published in the book ‘Portfolios of the Poor’ (Collins et al., 2009), which included additional studies of India and South Africa (by Orlanda Ruthven and Daryl Collins respectively). 

To find out more about this methodology and other studies that have used it, click the logo.

Financial diaries.png
Teacher with Tablet

Get in Touch

Contact Eleanor Balchin regarding their published work, course offerings or any other inquires.

Thanks for submitting!

Home: Contact
bottom of page