Global Development Institute Blog

By Irene Okhade and Bridgit Kabah

On 19th May 2021, the Global Development Institute and the wider University of Manchester community received with sadness, news of the demise of their alumnus, respected researcher and academic colleague, Dr Franklin Yayra Adorsu Djentuh.

Franklin obtained his Doctorate at GDI three years ago and had re-joined the institute as Senior Tutor with our Management, Governance and Development cluster more recently. To honour his passing, we organised a symposium on 21 October 2021 to reflect on his life, legacies, research and community impact. Indeed, a symposium of this nature was an indication that Franklin has a legacy worth sharing with a wider audience.

Born on 11th January 1983, Franklin was raised in the Volta Region of Ghana. During his academic career, he obtained a BA in Business Administration from the University of Professional Studies, Ghana in 2011. After his undergraduate studies, he enrolled at Ghana’s premier university, the University of Ghana, Legon from 2011-2014, where gained an MPA in Public Administration. As a determined man as most of his colleagues knew him to be, Franklin worked and studied hard during his undergraduate and graduate studies, something which is very difficult to combine. Nonetheless, he overcame.

Having experience in NGO-led community development and worked at the Bank of Africa, Franklin secured a highly competitive scholarship from Ghana Education Trust Fund to pursue his PhD in Development Policy and Management at The University of Manchester from 2015 – 2018. Aware of the growing concern that sanitation had become in global public health, Franklin focused his doctoral research on the role of local actors in the implementation of environmental sanitation policies in Ghana. His research was supervised by Dr Farhad Hossain and Dr Chris Rees. Franklin distinguished himself as a tenacious researcher who loved to attend conferences where he would share his research experience and gain knowledge. He always thought about the relevance of his work beyond his beloved Ghana.

The key findings and recommendations from his research were disseminated through a visit to Ghana that was funded by a grant from the Rory and Elizabeth Brooks Doctoral College (REBDC). His determination for his research to make a difference in the world made him push through the bureaucratic processes at the local government level to ensure his research findings reached the local authorities. Another key milestone that Franklin achieved with disseminating his research was when he represented GDI at the Peacebuilding conference at the UN Headquarters in New York on 24th September 2018. Dr Franklin presented his research to a global audience to commemorate the centenary of Nelson Mandela. Here, he interacted with other young researchers and development actors to debate various policy issues. Franklin’s areas of research were not just good for solving key challenges in Ghana, but also valuable for other issues pertaining to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Whilst at the peak of his educational journey, like most of the PhD researchers, Franklin also worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and later as a Tutor with the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute. He brought a positive spirit and contributed greatly to the PGR community throughout his PhD years. He was always available to support new colleagues integrate and help them settle in as researchers. He always gave wise counsel to fellow researchers struggling with the pressures of their work. Franklin was very proud of GDI and loved to help with activities that supported the image of the Institute. His passion is demonstrated in his images on most of GDI’s cover pages online and in print.

Dr Yayra also distinguished himself by his acts of service to Ghana, his home-nation, whose banner he wore with pride. His commitment to local grassroots development in Ghana made him to establish Icon of Hope International and Dr Adorsu-Djentuh Foundation (DADF) that made positive contributions in the growth and development of communities. Mrs Seyram Amakpah-Azasu, DADF Coordinator shared that the Foundation has a mandate to provide educational scholarships for brilliant but needy tertiary students; promote youth development through sports and education; and promote community development. She added that the Foundation undertook a primary school renovation project in Tema New Town, Ghana and provided part scholarship to brilliant students.

Franklin also loved politics, international affairs and issues of international relations. He supported the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Party in Ghana and was inspired by Dr Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan. His determination to excel in a career in the United Nations made him develop a network of professionals and mentors in this field.  One of his mentors, Mr Ben Malor, a Chief Editor at UN news, described Franklin as someone who exuded a quiet, dignified, assured, humble, and non- egotistical organised assurance.

GDI and Manchester meant a lot to Franklin – most of the high points of his life took place during his time in Manchester. He commenced his PhD research, trained and worked as Graduate Teaching Assistant, got married, his son was born, completed his PhD research and started his academic career as a Senior Tutor. All these remarkable things happened during the time Franklin spent in Manchester. Sadly, he died during his very early career also in Manchester

At the Symposium, it was clear that Franklin was not only a son of Ghana but a truly global citizen who espoused the spirit of Ubuntu (you are because I am) that he shared with all the people he met. All those who interacted with him speak of an alumnus and colleague with the confidence, drive and ambition to change the world for the better, and someone who seemed destined to succeed. Franklin brought life, humour and insights to debates on Ghana, Africa, and the world. His research shall continue to contribute to the understanding of the implementation of environmental sanitation policies to the future generation of researchers and practitioners in Ghana, Africa and beyond.

In the words of Prof Khalid Nadvi, the Managing Director of the GDI, “Franklin’s life was not in vain, he achieved a lot in his relatively short life”.  He is greatly missed by the whole GDI community.