Month: August 2014

Friendly Competition: Petty Traders on the Border between Rwanda and DRC

Running a small business across any national border can be tricky, and especially between Gisenyi and Goma. The women who buy and sell goods here have spent their lives caught up in the chaos on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). But they have more in common than conflict –  they are all mothers, they are all business women, and many of them are now also Ultimate Frisbee players. On July 31st, Search for Common Ground (Search) brought together 100 women, half from Gisenyi and half from Goma, to build trust and cooperation...

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The Moving Parts of Sanitation

Sanitation work is often hard to define. It is not clear whether you should specifically be working on providing access to a formal sewage system, building a municipal sewage system, building individual toilets, educating users, cleaning toilets, promoting use, or providing security. It is unclear how one activity should be prioritized over another or how important any single action can be. What seems to be a small piece of work turns out to have an unquantifiable number of moving parts, each with their own unique way of completely and utterly failing. While the activities being performed certainly depend on...

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Expansion of the IUD in Ethiopia

While IUDs have become a course of controversy and new restrictions in the US, the Government of Ethiopia is actively trying to expand access to IUDs and other long term birth controls to women all over the country.  In 2005 the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia began a Health Expansion Program that created paid and trained health extension workers to provide care at the community level.  In 2009, the Implanon implant was expanded by specifically training the extension workers to insert the implant.  In 2011, the Ministry added IUD training to this expansion. This summer I am working with...

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Creating Organizational Change at Peace Corps Senegal

Creating change is a hard, slow process. Creating organizational change may be even harder as it involves people, attitudes, and the work environment. Early planning for my summer internship with Peace Corps Senegal had me slotted to analyze the organization’s current Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) practices and processes. This was to be a two month project followed by other equally intensive deliverables such as developing trainings for an upcoming behavior change summit. Soon into my MRE research I began seeing trends in what was working or not, and developing recommendations to address specific issue-areas. I often ended my...

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Better Nutrition and Women’s Empowerment through Small-Scale Farming

There is widespread belief that small-scale farming is the sustainable and equitable solution to solving the crises of hunger and poverty in developing countries. For an international development course last semester, I reviewed Roger Thurow’s The Last Hunger Season, a journalistic account of how small-scale farming improved the lives of four farmers in rural villages in western Kenya. One Acre Fund, one of the leading NGOs working to support smallholder farmers, was also prominently featured in the book. Even corporations like Walmart recognize that individual farmers are a significant part of its supply chain strategy and recently announced that...

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