by Mariana Costa Checa (MPA-DP ‘13)
Julia is the owner of Kisumu Eastlands Community Medical Center– a one-bedroom adobe house with an old HIV prevention poster hanging on its unpainted walls. By U.S. standards, it could be anything but a medical facility. In Manyatta, the biggest slum in Kisumu, it is just one of the many small private clinics providing basic healthcare to the inhabitants of these dust-covered streets.
As part of our internship with Millennium Cities Initiative this summer, fellow MPA in Development Practice student Paloma Ruiz and I, are collaborating with Kenya’s Ministry of Health to do a mapping of all health facilities in one of Kisumu’s districts. Despite being the third largest city in Kenya, Kisumu has traditionally performed poorly in terms of health, with an HIV prevalence rate that doubles the Kenyan national average. Precise information on where and how are people being treated is key to change this reality, and although the government has a comprehensive database of health facilities in the city, this excludes the dozens of informal clinics populating the slums, which is why we have decided to focus our work there.
Julia is a retired nurse. She worked for more than 30 years at the Nyanza Provincial Hospital, the biggest public hospital in this region of Kenya. This is, at least, a guarantee that she knows her profession, and that despite the frequent lack of supplies and medicines to actually treat patients, she can guide them on what to do when it comes to common illnesses such as malaria, typhoid, or HIV-AIDS.
Considering how small Julia’s clinic and most of the others we visited are, and given that usually there are two or three people employed and rarely any patients in sight, I have been wondering how these clinics keep up their business. Seeing one or two patients per day, Julia probably earns no more than 200 or 300 shillings (around $3), from which she still has to pay her assistant.
A trained retired nurse earning less than $2 a day is the reflection of an economic system with almost non-existent business opportunities. Slum economies like Manyatta’s are overcrowded with (far from efficient) businesses, providing the few services some people are trained in, and those that others must buy, such as health. In part, it is this lack of opportunity for other businesses to arise in Manyatta that has made small clinics like Julia’s flourish despite their minimal economic benefits.
This is the same reason why there are usually 10 piki piki (motorbikes that serve as taxis) waiting for one occasional client on every corner; why street vendors sell more shoes than Kisumu citizens and their unborn children could ever possibly wear; or why three people work in a matatu (small transport bus) that could do with just the driver.
In Manyatta and Nyalenda, the main slums in Kisumu, many businesses are providing services where probably just one provider would do. The reasons behind this are clear and common in most poor settings. The same dynamics operate in many parts of my own country, Peru. It is a way of sharing minimal business opportunities and securing more employment, even if it is underemployment.
When it comes to health, however, this system also entails risks that go beyond economics. Almost anyone can sell shoes or learn how to drive a motorbike, but can anyone treat malaria adequately? Certainly not. Although, from what we have seen in Kisumu’s slums, the presence of a certified health professional, like Julia, is not necessarily a requisite for an institution to be called a “clinic”.
We hope that more information on who is providing health services in the most vulnerable communities of the city, and how are these being provided, will contribute to the current efforts undertaken by the government to improve the delivery of public health in Kisumu and as such, the living conditions of those who most desperately need it.
Mariana Costa Checa
MPA in Development Practice Candidate, 2013
School of International and Public Affairs | Earth Institute
More than 150 students, faculty, and Capstone clients were on hand May 3 as second-year MIA and MPA students celebrated the completion of this year’s Capstone workshops in the Kellogg Center at IAB. Guests enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres — as well as a representative sample of student findings.
Joined by Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dan McIntyre, Interim Dean Robert Lieberman saluted participating students and faculty advisers. The workshops, Lieberman said, are one of SIPA’s “hallmarks,” where the lessons of the classroom meet the practical challenges of the real world.
Over four months collaborating with selected public agencies, private companies, and nonprofit organizations students put their policy education and professional experience into practice —producing recommendations that clients can follow in the near future.
Suzanne Hollmann, Capstone program director, said that multiple clients had already expressed eagerness to implement student recommendations. And, she added, the team that visited Uganda — to study how the government might effectively manage newly found oil reserves — even attracted mentions in the Ugandan press.
All told, 362 students took part in 60 projects during the 2011-12 academic year, mostly in the spring semester. The five projects highlighted at the presentation included:
Congratulations to students on their successful completion of the workshops, and their impending graduation!
If you don’t learn about China and energy, you’re missing half the story. —
Professor Pinho will be teaching at Renmin University in Beijing this summer.
“The course I will teach there is a short version of my SIPA course,” said Pinho. “My focus being energy, I’m excited to be going to China.”
Pinho explained that over the next 25 years, more than 90% of increased energy demand and consumption will come from non-OECD countries. China is already the leading consumer, and will continute to be so.
“I am really looking forward to teach Chinese students and also to get more knowledge about energy in China,” he said. “China has always been an important part of my courses at SIPA, and I think it will be even more so in the future.”
Pinho plans to meet with folks working in companies in the energy sector, which he says are the largest companies in the world, with the most innovation and investment. That’s why he finds it very important to get to know them better.
“It’s great to go somewhere with such intense activity in energy,” he said. “I’m very excited to go to China and then to have the opportunity to share my experience with my SIPA students.
I’ve been teaching at SIPA for two years, and, by the day, I see that there’s more interest by students. The demand for information about China increased dramatically in just one year. I expect this will continue to increase because students understand the importance of China and energy.”
- Michelle Chahine
Mohsin Mohi-Ud Din (MIA ’12) was selected as a 2012 United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Fellow. He joined twelve fellows from the United States and Europe in touring the Middle East from April 2nd to April 14th, visiting various cities in Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The UNAOC was a 2005 initiative of then Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the governments of Spain and Turkey. The program was established to enhance dialogue between the West and the Muslim world, especially after 9/11 and subsequent events. Under that banner, UNAOC has a fellowship program, whereby young leaders from Europe and North America are chosen to travel to the Middle East each year, and vice versa.
Mohi-Ud Din is one of four Americans in the 2012 fellows group. Others from the United States and Europe who travelled with him include a former White House fellow who worked with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, lawyers, lobbyists, a Professor of economics from Sciences Po, journalists, entrepreneurs and leaders of civil society.
“It was really gratifying and humbling to be in that diverse group of leaders in their field,” said Mohi-Ud Din.
“My role in going there, especially as a member of the Muslim community in the United States, was to really touch on how the Arab Spring is affecting things, and how U.S. policies and Islamophobia are affecting things,” he added. “Islamophobia was a great concern, wherever we went.”
The UNAOC fellows spent 4-5 days in each country meeting with government officials, civil society leaders, youth activists, and presidents of universities, among others. Their travels began in Morocco.
Mohi-Ud Din inside the Moroccan Parliament, where the fellows met with several members.
“The three best meetings in Morocco were with members of parliament and especially three female members of parliament from the opposition, which was very insightful,” said Mohi-Ud Din.
Next, the UNAOC fellows travelled to Jordan, where they were hosted by the Ministry for Political Development and had the opportunity to meet with the Speaker of Parliament.
The UNAOC fellows meet with the Speaker of Parliament in Jordan.
In Saudi Arabia, the fellows were hosted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as well as with alums of the UNAOC fellowship.
“Saudi Arabia was probably my favorite part of the trip,” said Mohi-Ud Din. “Because, first, it’s hard to get in the country. And second, I had many preconceptions of oppression there. My preconceptions about Saudi Arabia were shattered. I found pockets of innovation, women empowerment and activism that I never thought I would see in a place like that… It’s very empowering. They want to change the status quo.”
They also met with one of the chief architects and philosophers in the country, Dr. Sami Angawi.
Mohi-Ud Din (right) with Dr. Angawi.
“He connected architecture to how we should see international affairs. He said, in life, there are constants and variables. And right now, there’s an imbalance to those forces. The key is a third player, which is us, that we need to be a balancing force,” said Mohi-Ud Din.
“He also talked about how he designed his house to accommodate for winds from the north and winds from the south, so there’s a constant breeze—in a place like Saudi Arabia where it is always so hot! That was really symbolic to me, for why we were on the trip.”
The twelve Middle Eastern fellows will be travelling to the United States soon, where they will meet their Western counterparts. Mohi-Ud Din said that they were planning to develop a network and possibly create a conference to present conclusions from their travels and strategize recommendations on how to move forward.
“Once you’re in the Alliance of Civilizations, it’s a lifelong membership. You’re constantly thinking of ways to promote dialogue,” he said.
He was first encouraged to apply to the program because of his time as a Fulbright scholar in Morocco, where he created an arts diplomacy initiative geared towards youth empowerment, particularly disadvantaged Muslim youth. The program was implemented in three orphanages in the country, and last year, Mohi-Ud Din travelled to Kashmir to implement the program in a fourth orphanage there.
Before coming to SIPA, Mohi-Ud Din had been working on human rights in Kashmir, where his family is from, since 2003. He first did independent investigations of human rights absues in the region, which he started writing about on The Huffington Post. This work lead to internships with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and a job at Human Rights First in the Crimes Against Humanity division.
His blog on The Huffington Post has since expanded to various other topics, such as on U.S. Muslim relations.
“My next series on the column will be about the fellowship,” he said.
- Michelle Chahine
Columbia University’s Journal of International Affairs held its signature Thought Leadership Forum on Monday, April 23rd, 2012 at SIPA to launch its 65th anniversary issue: “The Future of the City,” an exploration of pressing global challenges through an urban lens.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was the keynote speaker. He laid out his vision for the future of New York City.
“Successful cities are those who will meet the needs of an increasingly mobile and knowledge-based workforce,” said Stringer.
He stated three objectives for New York: first, create strong neighborhood-based governments; second, increase transparency; and third, focus on both hard and soft infrastructure, especially human capital.
“In our increasingly mobile world,” he added. “It’s no longer about having the fastest trains or best housing.”
Stringer’s address was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Professor Ester Fuchs, Director of SIPA’s Urban and Social Policy Program.
Left to right: Alexander Garvin, Jeffrey Inaba, Greg Lindsay, Ester Fuchs, Kavitha Rajagopalan, Carne Ross, Saskia Sassen and Jesse Keenan.
The diverse panel of thought leaders discussed various aspects of the city from urban planning to technology, immigration to democracy.
Professor Saskia Sassen, selected as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011 by Foreign Policy magazine and a contributor to the Journal’s new issue, closed the discussion with general thoughts on cities.
“The city serves as a lens to understand enormously complex events,” she said.
“What makes a space a city? Cities are, one, a complex system, two, an incomplete system—and in that incompleteness lies the ability to outlive empires, multinational corporations… Third, in cities, norms are made.”
Sassen added that there is no perfect global city that can do it all, nor is there an idea about the perfect imperial capital city any longer. Rather, there is now a network of global cities. She ended with a call to listen to and learn from the city itself.
“Cities have speech,” said Sassen. “It’s a speech that’s been forgotten. If we begin to think that cities talk back to us… that opens possibilities.”
This event was live tweeted. For more highlights and quotes from the keynote speaker and panelists, click here:
“The Future of the City” is now on sale at select Barnes & Noble bookstores, online at the Journal’s website and as a Kindle e-book at Amazon.com.
- Michelle Chahine
On Monday, April 16, 2012 a panel was held at SIPA, moderated by Interim Dean Robert C. Lieberman, to discuss questions that have arisen from recent news about NYPD surveillance of student groups on New York City campuses, including Columbia University.
“It seemed like a good idea to convene a discussion here at SIPA, because the issues raised seemed to be at the core of policy,” said Lieberman as he introduced the panel, “the balance between counterterrorism efforts and civil liberties, in an extraordinarily diverse New York City.”
In a discussion that was more about starting the debate around these policy issues than about finding the answers, Lieberman posed a series of questions for the panelists: SIPA Professor Ousmane Kane, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman and Haroon Moghul, journalist, author and Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies.
From left to right: Haroon Moghul, Professor Richman, Professor Kane and Dean Lieberman.
“There are at least two sets of interlocking questions,” said Lieberman. “One is about this balance that I alluded to before: the balance between the need for security and protection in a dangerous world and civil liberties, the protection of basic freedoms that are essential parts of a liberal society.
The second set of questions is about the impact of those efforts on the Muslim community in New York City and Columbia. Does this invoke legitimate fears of racial, religious and ethnic profiling? How legitimate are these approaches on the part of police in attempting to combat terrorism? The university can’t be what it should be without absolute freedom of speech. Should there be different standards at universities than out in the ‘real world’?”
The unique role of the university as a hub for bringing youth together to discuss and explore ideas was a major point of discussion. Professor Kane emphasized that a principle “concern is these measures were taken, Muslim Student Associations infiltrated, without universities’ knowledge.
“In universities where people are really open, I think these surveillance techniques are really problematic,” he said, adding that cooperation could go much further than secret surveillance.
“Instead of sending spies or people who would infiltrate Muslim Student Associations, it would be better for enforcement agencies to cooperate and work with these people.”
Moghul who has travelled to various Muslim Student Associations in universities across the United States agreed:
“For those of us who do put ourselves forward and try to be engaged and work with the NYPD and government, this puts us in a tight position from both ends.”
He added that since 9/11, two out of five terrorist plots against the United States have been stopped with help by the Muslim community.
“The problem is, when you have this kind of environment, people may shy away from speaking up and giving help… When making these decisions, we’re thinking short-term security, but we should also be thinking long-term security.
Human networks and human intelligence can do a lot more.”
This led Dean Lieberman to raise the question of whether this kind of activity from American law enforcement agencies does more harm than good.
“Another set of questions,” he continued, “is that we’re not talking about the FBI or national security apparatus. We’re talking about the local police force. Should local law enforcement agencies in large urban areas function as an arm of national security of the state?”
Professor Richman began by saying that SIPA is the right building to have this discussion.
“I’m here to tell you how little the law has to say on these issues. Don’t think that the law school is going to give you answers.”
He added that he does believe the NYPD has an important role, but the question is how much of a role. Richman gave the audience an optimistic picture with regards to the future:
“The idea that we’ve settled on a model that a) works, and b) is economically and morally viable is wrong,” he said.
“There’s no guarantee that when everyone internalizes the obvious pressures, things will be where we want them to be, but there are pressures that can help. And part of the university’s role is to remind people what their own interests are in the long term.”
Lieberman ended the discussion by reminding the group that the policy debate was in the gray area of these issues:
“From our point of view, all the interesting questions are in the nuances. It’s not: should the NYPD do it or not? It’s: where is the line?
It sounds like this is a very rich set of topics for further discussion.”
- Michelle Chahine
You are not only trying to make a product just for research, but to have someone use it and make an effect in people’s lives… That’s the ultimate goal, especially in our Sustainable Development program: creating a product that will make a difference in people’s lives. —
Aly Sanoh, PhD in Sustainable Development Candidate, expected to graduate in May 2012.
During his six years in SIPA’s PhD program, Sanoh has focused on national electricity planning in and across African countries. He has published his first two papers on this topic:
Sanoh has already made a difference in real-world policy decisions. The infrastructure modeling that he did in these papers for local and national electricity planning in Senegal and Kenya was a factor in the World Bank’s decision to finance a $20 million wind project in Senegal and a $60 million energy project in Kenya, according to him.
A central topic of his thesis has been an infrastructure development project that looks at expanding electricity networks in Africa on a continental scale by conducting economic modeling.
“How do you do that in the best way, in the cheapest way?” he asked. “Because resources are there, what is the best way to move them? Institutionally, it’s a horror.”
For example, there are security issues. The Congo has a lot of resources and little need, while South Africa has little resources and high need. However, there are risks in having your resources depend on a country that’s at war. Sanoh proposes different scenarios to minimize risks.
“You have to package it in a way that’s appealing to both sides,” he said.
“I’m proposing to reduce regional barriers. It’s always good to do integration, but you always have to show benefits and costs. So I’m happy to show what’s gained from it is greater than what’s lost.
I’m going to prove numerically that what I’m proposing as a plan is a better option economically and socially.”
- Michelle Chahine
“Oil Bills: Will they erase our doubts?“ was published in the Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor while SIPA Professor Jenik Radon and his students were in Uganda in March doing field research for a Capstone Workshop. Professor Radon and Marie-Paule Jeansonne (MIA ‘12) are both quoted in this article, commenting on the latest draft of two petroleum bills currently being considered by the Ugandan Parliament.
Eight SIPA students have been working on a Capstone Workshop that focuses on Uganda’s “Oil Bills,” conducting research to make recommendations on ways to effectively legislate and manage newly found oil reserves.
The team’s initial comment on the legislation, which was put together by Jeansonne and Sri Swaminathan (MPA ‘12) under the guidance of Professor Radon, has been quoted in various media outlets in Uganda, including The Daily Monitor (above) and The Independent (“Parliament to pass weak laws on oil”).
The students and Professor Radon also presented their comments and recommendations in-person to 15 members of the Ugandan Parliament’s Natural Resource Committee.
The team presents its recommendations to Members of Parliament in Uganda. At right, Professor Radon and Jeansonne.
According to Professor Radon, the team’s two biggest recommendations are:
During their time in Uganda in mid-March, the team also organized meetings with individuals from government ministries, members of Parliament (governing and opposition), civil society, Ugandan citizens, international donors, foreign embassies, and international and local media.
“We tried to identify what they see as the biggest issues and problems,” said Jeansonne. “By then, we already had ideas about what our recommendations would be, so our field trip was a good chance to test them. We had to make sure our report was something that could be actionable and something Ugandans could relate to.”
While Nithin Coca (MIA ‘12), Kazumi Kawamoto (MIA ‘12), Ida Dokk Smith (MIA ‘12) and Frithiof August Wilhelmsen (MIA ‘13) conducted interviews in the capital city Kampala, Chitra Choudhury (MIA/Journalism ‘12) and Frazer Lanier (MIA ‘12) travelled to the resource-rich “oil belt” region of Hoima, which shares a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Choudhury and Lanier in Hoima.
“We conducted interviews with both local authorities and residents,” said Choudhury, “people who might be displaced, fishing communities that might be affected… We were trying to understand how far-removed people on the ground are from what’s going on in Parliament. It added an extra layer of understanding on the issues.”
Professor Radon added that one of the major images that has stuck in his mind from the students’ field research is that “the elephants are leaving” due to the drilling and vibrations.
“That’s something we found,” said Choudhury, “the environmental impact wasn’t being studied. The government is doing that now, with the help of NORAD [the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation].”
“You have to consider the full impacts,” Professor Radon added. “The importance of such a trip is you discover information from the locals. For example, there is a greater influx of fishing because of roads being built and increased access to [Lake Albert]. There’s overfishing, too much to be sustainable…. So these are the unintended consequences that you can only see on the ground.”
Jeansonne emphasized that because most of the oil drilling is on land, there are “grave implications for human rights, because people will be displaced.” This raises questions about compensation, how people should be displaced, and whether they should be displaced in the first place.
“Developing extractive industries is difficult to do in the best of circumstances,” Radon said. “So these questions need to be answered in the right way.”
- Michelle Chahine
From left to right, Dara Hourdajian, Kevin Lehman, David Ganske, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Jorge Ordonez. Photograph courtesy of Department of Energy website, Energy.gov
A team of five students from SIPA’s Energy Association won “Best Proposal” for one of four cases at the Department of Energy’s inaugural Better Buildings Case Competition, held in the White House on Friday, March 2nd, 2012.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the winners after an all-day event, where 110 students from 19 competing universities presented their proposals to judges in the Learning Annex of the White House.
The Better Buildings Case Competition, part of the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Challenge, reached out to the SIPA Energy Association (SEA) last semester, encouraging them to compete. This January, students from 19 schools received two different cases (Columbia University received the HEI Hotels and Resorts case and the City of Houston case). They had to submit a proposal for each case three weeks later and present at the White House a week after that. Both teams representing Columbia University were SEA student teams.
The winning proposal was for the HEI Hotels and Resorts Case. Dara Hourdajian (MPA ‘12), Kevin Lehman (MS ‘12 in Sustainability Management), David Ganske (MIA ‘13), Jorge Ordonez (MPA ‘13), and Tristan Wallace (MPA ‘13) submitted the proposal for a hotel energy efficiency plan, within certain restraints.
“When we first read through the case, the main challenge for us was to identify what was the objective. I think that set us apart from other groups,” said Hourdajian.
The objective, they found, was for a New Jersey hotel within the Marriott chain to make changes that would increase energy efficiency, with limited resources.
“Right away, we identified that this was a financial solution rather than a technical solution. So we started researching alternatives we could come up with,” explained Ordonez.
Their technique was to investigate what the State of New Jersey had to offer. They proposed depending on tax credits and incentives from the State of New Jersey rather than on financial assistance from the franchise, which was an objective that they had identified in the case.
“We saw that many universities tended to approach one side of the problem, instead of a comprehensive approach,” added Ordonez. “I think this was a strength of our case: being able to address the financial and policy side, making it attractive to industry professionals [who were the judges].”
The winning proposals will be posted on the Department of Energy’s website so people can have access to them and consider their recommendations.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to go back next year and defend the title,” Ordonez added.
- Michelle Chahine