Month: July 2014

Hamas and Israel: A Tactical Disconnect

Yesterday a close friend posted a Palestinian-Israeli “scorecard” on Facebook that illuminates an alarming lack of familiarity with the historical and contemporary complexities that color the ongoing conflict. And while that in and of itself is understandable, mindlessly passing along misinformation is not. Initially hesitant to reply to my friend’s post – even privately – my internal debate was resolved when I heard air raid sirens sounding throughout greater Tel Aviv. This is because the hundreds of rockets fired at Israel in the past week target civilians. The fact is worth reiterating: Hamas deliberately targets civilians. If one of...

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Making Maps for Data Driven Decisions

During my internship with the Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact (CII) in the Global Health Bureau at USAID, I attended a training that the GeoCenter conducted. They are a team of geospatial analysts who work to integrate a geographic approach into USAID’s development programs. Participants learned how to make and use maps to answer questions about where to best allocate resources. Much of what I learned felt intuitive, after mapping development data with Innovations for Peace and Development (IPD) at UT Austin for the last year. However, the training helped turn what I instinctually knew into a clear...

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Fighting Outdoor Defecation in Rural Bihar

July 1st – 26. July 2nd – 19. July 3rd – 27. In India there are rarely small numbers. A lot of people, a lot of cell phones and, most importantly for us, there are a lot of people defecating outside. 650 million people defecating outside. Unfortunately, the numbers that I encounter every day are the numbers of human waste deposits on the road leading into Nimua village. They may seem small but collectively they represent a much bigger sanitation crisis in India. Human waste contaminates water and food for entire communities and is a lead cause of malnutrition...

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Managing Community and Client Expectations

Expectation management is an important skill both personally and professionally. When we do not actively work to manage our own expectations and those of our clients, communities, and supervisors, we often set ourselves up for failure. Despite this, it does not seem to be a subject that is widely written on or discussed. It is hard to find prescriptions to guide an aspiring international development worker to better manage expectations. Taking lessons from my prior experiences and experiences this summer as an intern for Peace Corps Senegal, I’ve compiled a few considerations that may help manage expectations in the...

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Data Visualization at the LBB

The opinions herein reflect those of the author and in no way represent those of the Legislative Budget Board of Texas When someone asks me what I do at the LBB, I jokingly describe my position as “graph-monkey”. But there’s a bit more to it than that: My internship at the LBB is creating interactive graphs with a piece of software called Tableau. Tableau lets you create data visualizations with a drag and drop graphical interface that is amazingly simple to use relative to how powerful it is. You could say that it’s what Apple’s operating system is to...

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