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Masters Student Research Projects

Masters Student Projects:
2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005
See also Doctoral Student Research Projects
Current CID Research | Research Archive

2009 Masters Student Projects

"Charging Up Rwanda: A Technology Adaptation Approach for Leapfrogging to a Zero-Emissions Transportation System" (David Shlachter)

Rwanda's annual oil bill is approaching the value of its cumulative annual exports. Almost every vehicle in Rwanda is powered by oil derivatives, and 60% of imported oil is allocated to the transportation sector. There are private-sector initiatives to build nationwide infrastructure to support the mass deployment of electric, zero-emissions vehicles in OECD countries. However, these initiatives offer a consumer value proposition that may not succeed in the economic environment of many developing countries. Thus, my SYPA seeks to answer the question, "How can existing OECD-oriented electric vehicle systems be adapted for successful implementation in Rwanda, considering issues of technical correctness, political feasibility and administrative implementation?"

"Strategic expansion of a weather index micro-insurance pilot program in Ethiopia" (Kate Kennedy & Nora Ferm)

Ethiopia is highly prone to droughts and famine. Given that 85% of the population is dependent on smallholder, rain-fed agriculture, droughts severely impact large numbers of people. Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization, is working to develop a low-cost innovative form of weather insurance that can reach populations- like the Ethiopian smallholder farmers- that are currently underserved by mainstream insurance companies. Micro-insurance has the potential to increase farmers¹ ability to respond to increased climatic risks, so that future droughts do not drive them deeper into poverty. Our research is aimed at designing a strategy for Oxfam America to use in expanding their pilot project beyond the single town in which it was implemented in 2008. We will focus on: a) interviewing key stakeholders to determine primary goals for the expansion phase; b) identifying villages to recommend as sites for project expansion; and c) examining the feasibility of project implementation in those sites, including factors like cost differentials, accessibility, logistics, and opportunities for collaboration with local partners.

"Developing Food Markets in Dar-Es-Salaam" (Rahma Adam)

The inability of the government to create jobs and the tendency of private investors to open businesses or to start companies that are not industrious in nature, coupled with the increase in population growth in the rural areas and the decline in price of agricultural products in the world market has led to the increase in unemployment and growth of petty-traders in the local food markets in major towns and cities in the country such as Dar-Es-Salaam. However, the local food markets in Dar-Es-Salaam, lack facilities like cold rooms to store perishables (fruits and vegetables), proper transportation methods, and ways of preserving food. Add poor infrastructure and spotty electricity and it becomes clear why prices fluctuate so significantly, which affects the ability of local traders to make profits. What complicates the matter is the fact that most people prefer to buy food at the local food markets, as opposed to supermarkets, as the latter are more expensive and rare in big cities and non-existent outside of them. Therefore, the sustainability of these local markets is not only vital to small-traders, but also important to the local economy as whole. This study aims to address ways to develop the local food markets in one of the three districts in Dar-Es-Salaam, called Kinondoni. The methods employed will be mainly qualitative need assessment surveys and semi-structured interviews to the traders; this will help to identify their binding constraints to business growth in the market(s) and their desires or vision for the market(s).

"Framework for the Swaziland Investment Promotion Agency" (Sara Nadel)

This Second-Year Policy Analysis develops a framework for the Swaziland Investment Promotion Agency (SIPA) to assess requests for concessions by potential new industries in Swaziland. The paper analyzes resolution of coordination failures, movement within the product-space towards more high-value exports, and some basic financial analysis of business elasticity to taxes and opportunity cost of funding. The methodology employed includes analysis of macroeconomic characteristics, as well as qualitative interviews with officials and businesses in Swaziland. The client, SIPA, is a part of the government, and the recommendations consider the interests of the country as a whole, taking into consideration that the government manages a number of objectives.

"When is REDD a Game Changer? Assessing Avoided Deforestation Policy in Bolivia" (Kate Dillon and Andres Mitnik)

The key climate change policy that emerged from the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCC in Bali was the voluntary integration of avoided deforestation into climate change and adaptation policy schemes. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) has captured the international interest because of the high potential for synergy between environmental and development policy. This study seeks to understand the feasibility of a REDD scheme in Bolivia. In order to do this, we will first assess the opportunity cost of avoided deforestation in the country. Second, we analyze the institutional and political environment to understand the opportunities and constraints to implementing a REDD program in El Chore Forest Reserve, Santa Cruz.

"Should Banco Compartamos service the US-Mexico remittance corridor market?" (Tanya Beja)

Banco Compartamos has around a million clients in virtually every state in Mexico and is the biggest microfinance institution in all of the Americas. Going forward, they have made it a strategic priority to expand their product offerings. A possible path for growth is for Compartamos to enter the remittance market -which is Mexico’s biggest source of income after petroleum- to increase its client base and its cross selling opportunities. I will therefore look at remittance flows in the US-Mexico corridor to explore this possibility. The central question I will try to answer is: Should Banco Compartamos service the US-Mexico remittance corridor market? If so, how? If I determine this is something they should go forward with, the goal of this project will be deliver the client a set of concrete recommendations delving into how they should structure the product from a strategic point of view.

"The double bottom-line approach in poverty eradication in rural India" (Vanya Pasheva)

This project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of double bottom-line approach in poverty eradication in rural India. It will be a case based study on rural small enterprise start-ups in Sandbox region in Northern Karnakata. Organized by a non-profit named TechnoServe, a few local entrepreneurs will be selected, trained and supported to start their own enterprises, which target on both economic and social sustainability. Our research will analyze how will this approach will lead to a different result from a traditional economic or social focus on eradicating poverty. We will also explore feasibility of developing a social enterprise incubator as a common tool to make this approach more effectively.

"Financing Transportation Construction in China and Vietnam: A Comparative Analysis" (Le Binh and Li Weigang)

Transportation system has been improved a lot during the past several years in China and Vietnam, which was deemed as part of the success of their economic development and poverty reduction. The project seeks to explore what was usually considered as the bottleneck for the transportation construction in developing countries: how the transportation projects were financed in these two countries. Starting from there, we will make evaluations of each of the financing methods and try to give clues on the following two policy questions: how efficient were those financial methods to construct the transportation in the two countries? What kind of financing method should the local government adopt when they decide to construct local infrastructures? Based on these questions, we will employ some indicators that gauge the efficiency of each model and build up our analytical framework. These indicators include the decision-making process of financing, the cost of funding, whether the infrastructure is provided by tolls, and etc. Besides, the case study method will also be employed to look into several projects in several cities in the two countries.

"Should Ghana strategically support the development of community-based ecotourism sites to reduce poverty?" (Hannah Bowen)

Ghana’s tourism sector shows great potential as a future driver of economic growth. At the same time, the country’s broader development strategy emphasizes expansion of the economy’s existing agricultural base into industries and services that foster broad-based growth, while at the same time maintaining the country’s cultural and environmental resources. Some of the country’s goals for economic expansion include job creation (particularly in rural areas and for women), bringing in foreign exchange, and creating robust markets for domestic industries. The government has suggested that the budding tourism sector may be able to contribute to this economic growth agenda in a sustainable and equitable manner. One proposed model of tourism linking all of these goals (Community Based Ecotourism) has been initiated at a small scale; at the same time, there appears to be potential for the development of larger-scale "package" tourism. This project will investigate whether and how the government of Ghana and its development partners should strategically support the development of community-based ecotourism sites or other tourism models to achieve their poverty reduction, growth, and environmental protection goals.

"How can Malaysia spur high-technology entrepreneurship?" (David Ng)

Malaysia has been very successful in economic growth and development throughout the 1980s and 1990s as a result of its push in the manufacturing industry. The government believes that the way forward is to move up the global value chain. A strategic national vision has been set to transform the country into a knowledge-based, free market economy through growing the high technology sector. However, past policies and implementations have been largely unsuccessful. A key success factor that has been missing and elusive is high-technology entrepreneurship. There has been a low level of such creative endeavors in Malaysia. The number of new technological startups, patents and innovations produced annually is small and insignificant. Hence, my SYPA attempts to answer the following: How can we spur high-technology entrepreneurship in Malaysia? In my research, I intend to study Malaysia's focus on the high tech entrepreneurship, its competitive and comparative advantages and identify be the right approach to achieve this goal.

"Assessing the vulnerability to and size of corruption in primary education in Pakistan" (Sara Qutub and Andaleeb Alam)

Corruption in the education sector reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of public investment in the sector, and has implications for the quality, access and equity of education. Anecdotal evidence points to systemic corruption in the education sector, in Pakistan for instance, preferential promotion and placement, academic fraud, etc.- but there exists no systematic documentation of how, where and how much corruption there is in the education sector. Our PAE seeks to assess the vulnerability to and size of corruption in the primary education sector in Punjab. To gauge corruption risk, our strategy is to map how education inputs flow (not how much) across multiple levels of administration; locate the constructs of authority, discretion, accountability and service user participation, and flag stages that are most vulnerable to corruption. To measure the size of corruption, we first, identify indicators that are not perception-based and correspond with typologies of corruption most prevalent in the sector. Second, we introduce measurement strategies that capture the size of corruption for the proposed indicator.

"Harnessing the Potential of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs): Models for Identifying, Developing and Nurturing Women Micro-entrepreneurs" (Prerna Srivastava)

The confluence of four critical factors has led to what Click Diagnostics believes is a global health mandate – 1) a severe scarcity of doctors in rural areas, 2) the relative abundance of medical expertise in urban areas, 3) the presence of trainable community health workers and local-level women micro-entrepreneurs, and 4) the rapid penetration of relatively inexpensive mobile technology into the markets of developing countries. In order to address this need, Click Diagnostics has developed a mobile tele-health model to connect locally trained community health workers with a remote, web-based network of medical specialists. Through the integration of inexpensive technology, locally trained community health workers, and remote medical expertise, Click Diagnostics aims to provide a sophisticated end-to-end healthcare service delivery chain for remote diagnosis and consultation, health risks screening, early warning systems, and health data analysis. The objective of this project is twofold, with a particular emphasis on micro-entrepreneurship - 1) to construct replicable models for building synergistic networks with microfinance institutions (MFIs) and women's organizations that serve the purpose of identifying, developing, and nurturing women micro-entrepreneurs, and 2) to enhance the public value of the Click implementation model through the provision of micro-products and services in collaboration with MFIs. Particular emphasis will be placed on developing internationally scalable strategies for leveraging and mobilizing the social capital of MFIs and women's organizations through micro-entrepreneurship.

Food Price Crisis and Possible Policy Actions: the Case of Ethiopia (Kaleb Tamiru)

Recent Consumer Price Index from the Central Statistics Agency of the Government of Ethiopia indicates a persistent escalation in month-to-month CPI for total food items from an index of 100 in December 2006 to 127.9 in January 2008, and recently to 2220.6 in September 2008. Whereas fluctuation in food commodity prices (particularly grain prices) is common in Ethiopia, it has always been associated with variability of rainfall patterns and its impacts on volume of harvests. Prices drop during bumper harvests and increase during major periods of drought. However, the recent persistent food price hike is playing out in the coincidental context of three successive years of good harvests. This should have increased supply of cereals and pushed prices down. The fact that import parity prices for major cereals are significantly below local market prices points to domestic sources of persistent levels of inflation.

By focusing on the price trends of major staple and non-staple cereals, this policy analysis aims at probing the welfare impacts of the food price hike to propose a balanced and tangible policy recommendation that could guide the government in its immediate short-term policy action as well as long-term policy orientation. Through macroeconomic, cereal/grain price, and household survey data analysis, the SYPA seeks to:

a) investigate the direct or proximate causes of persistent food price inflation;

b) analyze (any) structural shifts in (producer and market) supply and consumer demand patterns for major cereals in the past few years; and

c) estimate the welfare impacts of soaring cereal prices on urban poor households to inform appropriate recommendations for policy actions.

The SYPA will also combine an institutional analysis of political space for policy formulation as well as its administrative feasibility within the main front-line implementation agencies of the government.

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2008 Masters Student Projects

"Barriers to Entrepreneurship in Colombia"
Andres Echeverry,
MPA/ID Student, Harvard Kennedy School

This project seeks to analyze how the current entrepreneurship policies in Colombia are affecting the decisions of a key population of interest: skilled professionals working for established leading firms in the country. Colombia shows very low levels of new firm formation and this project seeks to identify the main barriers to this process. The methods employed will be mostly qualitative surveys and interviews where I will seek to identify promising innovators and explore their decisions with regards to the entrepreneurial process.

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"Food Security in Liberia: The Optimal Mix of Crops"
Rupert Simons,
MPA/ID Student, Harvard Kennedy School

Before its devastating civil war, Liberia produced 60% of its food requirements. Outside the capital of Monrovia, most rural areas were self-sufficient in food. The latest figures indicate that agricultural production in Liberia is still well below its pre-war level. Within the agricultural sector, there are two key sub-sectors: food crops (rice, cassava, etc) and cash crops (chiefly rubber and other tree crops like oil palm). My SYPA is intended to answer the following question: “What is the optimal mix of food crops and cash crops that Liberia should develop over the next 5-10 years? How can this mix be achieved and what will be the role of the government in doing so?” The optimal mix of crops is one that meets the immediate need of food security while contributing to longer-term growth and poverty reduction.

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"Housing the Urban Poor for Economic Development: Rethinking the Policy Approach to Informal Settlement in Dhaka, Bangladesh"
Yuko Watanabe,
MPA/ID Student, Harvard Kennedy School

Housing conditions in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, have deteriorated rapidly as its economy grows and urbanization escalates. Today, 3.4 million people, or more than a quarter of Dhaka's residents, live in sub-standard housing units, so-called informal settlements. Improving the living condition in Dhaka's informal settlements is a pressing task for the Government of Bangladesh to sustain economic development and unlock further potential, as problems such as overcrowding, degrading environment, lack of basic infrastructure and a high concentration of poverty in informal settlements have direct implications for labor productivity of the urban population. This study first reviews the existing policy approaches in Bangladesh as well as neighboring countries to address Dhaka's informal settlement issues, then analyzes the causes of worsening living conditions despite such efforts, and finally provides a set of recommendations.

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"The Ghanian Food Processing Industry: Constraints on Growth for Micro-Entrepreneurs"
Adrian Mucalov,
MPA/ID Student, Harvard Kennedy School

An amazing amount of attention has been devoted to the study of micro-enterprises and microfinance in recent years. Numerous microfinance programs are now demonstrating financial sustainability, although evidence about their ultimate impact on poverty reduction remains mixed. At the same time, the structure of industry in many developing countries has not changed significantly - business is characterized by thousands upon thousands of micro-enterprises, competing with a few dominant companies (often multinational) or state-supported monopolies. The purpose of this SYPA is to explore the hypothesis that finance is only one of the constraints to growth facing micro-entrepreneurs. More specifically, it will address the questions: Why have so few micro-entrepreneurs in the Ghanaian Food Processing industry joined together to form SMEs with an owner-manager structure? What specific constraints are preventing micro-enterprises from becoming SMEs that would take advantage of clear economies of scale? Given the identified barriers, what can the Ministry of Private Sector Development & PSI in Ghana do to remove these barriers and influence the "outcome" of business formation?

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"Governance Indicators: Making Them Work for Developing Countries"
Mawadda Damon,
MPP Student, Harvard Kennedy School and Laura Rudert, MPP Student, Harvard Kennedy School

The relationship between governance and development is a topic of increasing concern for international donors and policy makers. Since the 1990s, international donors have spearheaded numerous attempts to quantify and measure governance, which has resulted in over 140 different indices measuring various aspects of governance—ranging from corruption to rule of law, security, and human development. Donors use these indices to allocate foreign aid, while academics crunch the data to better understand the relationship between governance and development. Only recently, however, has attention been given to understanding the actual utility that these indicators can have for local stakeholders.

Putting aside concerns of the accuracy and transparency of governance indicators, little information presently exists to guide local stakeholders in the countries rated by indices on how to make sense of the plethora of datum for the improvement of governance. Furthermore, it is not even clear whether or not local stakeholders use this information at all. Is the data not helpful, too confusing or unreliable for local stakeholders? Or are these stakeholders, which include governments, the media and civil society in developing countries, simply not aware of their existence? What is clear, however, is that the large investment made by donors to develop these data banks and tools has not been exploited to its full potential. The creators of governance indices agree on the need to find ways to make governance indicators more useful for local stakeholders so that they can more effectively use this information for the development and implementation of governance reforms. This project aims to fill in this gap by pursuing an in-depth case study on the current uses and potential utility of governance indices in Rwanda. The research will result in recommendations on how donors and indices-creators can make governance information more “actionable” and useful for local stakeholders so that they can use this information to guide policy reforms.

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"Integrating the Monitoring and Evaluation System: "M" + "e" + "E" for the PRONAMACHCS"
Veronica Minaya,
MPA/ID Student, Harvard Kennedy School

Nowadays, impact evaluations are being conducted in many developing countries in order to measure program efficacy. While doing so, the notion of implementing a fully integrated information system, as a strategic and planning tool to improve both the design and implementation of poverty alleviation programs at the same time, has received less consideration. Although a well-designed program is necessary to address specific causes that generate adverse effects on the poor; a well-designed and well-implemented program is even more effective and efficient to obtain the desired objective. The analysis in this study will provide a strategic framework for PRONAMACHCS (National Programme of Hydrographic Basin Management and Soil Conservation –Programa Nacional de Manejo de Cuencas Hidricas y Conservacion de Suelos) in Peru and it will address and debate the entire range of decision making processes and institutional responsibilities from which an integrated monitoring and evaluation system (M+e+E) requirements and practices emanate. Two objectives will be addressed: (i) is this system cost-effective?; (ii) how to design an integrated monitoring and evaluation system (M+e+E)?

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"Special Economic Zones in South Asia"
Semil Shah,
MPP Student, Harvard Kennedy School

The potential role of special economic zones (SEZs) as a means to attract foreign direct investment, create employment opportunities, and introduce more advanced technologies has been a controversially discussed topic. Individual country experiences with such spatially confined economic areas that offer a more business-friendly environment than the domestic economy have been mixed. Yet, despite the existence of a large descriptive literature on SEZs, surprisingly little is known about th eparticular determinants (institutional setup, governance, labor costs, infrastructure support, regulatory environment, fiscal incentives) that have caused some zones to flourish while others have languished. In this context, the central development questions concern (i) the institutional factors that have been instrumental for determining the relative performance of SEZs, and (ii) the best way to enhance the contribution of SEZs to employment generation and economic growth in low income countries

This study contributes to fillling the underlying knowledge gaps by determining the institutional and governance characteristics of SEZs and collecting structured information on pertinent infrastructure, regulatory, and fiscal policies that makes it possible to compare practices across countries and establish what instruments and policy measures are important for success. The study covers three countries, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka, with the analytical focus on India, but the framework seeks to measure performance based on regional comparators.

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"Transforming the Agricultural Sector in Ethiopia"
Kassahun Melesse,
MPA/ID Student, Harvard Kennedy School

The biggest development challenge in Ethiopia right now, and has always been, how to raise productivity in the agricultural sector which employs around 85% of the total population (current total population estimated to be 77 million), and in the process achieve structural transformation and economic growth, thereby reducing poverty. However, despite different development strategies adopted by different governments in the last century, productivity in the sector remains very low, making Ethiopia one of the poorest countries in the world. This study aims at answering the following related questions (1)What are the binding constraints in the Ethiopian agricultural sector that have kept productivity low? (2)What can the present Ethiopian government do to raise productivity in the agricultural sector? To address these questions, the study adopts an agricultural household model to empirically identify the determinants productivity at household level.

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2007 Masters Student Projects

"Commodity Price Fluctuations and Income Inequality Dynamics in Rural Uganda"
Kristen Himelein,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

Recent economic growth in the East African nation of Uganda has been accompanied by increased inequality in income distribution, particularly in rural areas. This has caused concern in the both World Bank and the Ugandan Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development as higher inequality translates into lower levels of poverty reduction for a given increase in national wealth. This study seeks to examine the role of commodity price fluctuations, specifically those in the market for Uganda’s principle export, coffee, in changes in rural poverty and inequality. Coffee is well-suited to this type of analysis as it is a small-holder crop produced throughout the country. The objective of this SYPA is to utilize regression analysis and simulations based on cross-sectional and panel household data collected by the Ugandan Bureau of Statistics to make recommendations to the Ugandan government on policies to sustain growth in the coffee industry while ensuring the resulting growth is pro-poor.

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"The Disbursement of International Aid in the Reconstruction of Southern Lebanon"
Mohamed El Dahshan, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

Following the July 2006 Israeli offensive, millions of dollars have been dedicated to the reconstruction of Lebanon’s heavily destroyed Southern provinces. Yet past experience in the Lebanese context has shown that this process is heavily plagued by corruption and political clientelism. Furthermore, most of the destruction has occurred in areas where the central government’s authority is severely weakened by the presence of paramilitary groups controlling the political and social networks of the southern provinces.

This project aims at identifying the potential areas of inefficiency in a post-war reconstruction context, while focusing on the specificities of the Lebanese case. It shall also be exploring and formulating recommendations for alternative modes of financing the reconstruction projects through local governments and organisations, by studying firsthand the work of various local and international actors on the ground, and extracting the local ‘best practices’.

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"The Dynamics of Exporting Subcontractor Networks: Furniture Producer Networks in Jepara, Central Java"
Linda Peia, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

The integration of micro and small enterprises into global supply chains suffers from: (a) the difficulties that foreign companies face when selecting among the different possible suppliers, (b) the lack of signaling mechanisms for micro and small enterprises, (c) limited information flows, and (d) the inability of micro and small enterprises to meet large-scale orders, quality standards, and the necessary managerial and technological upgrading. This study analyzes the role of horizontal networks, i.e. networks between competing small businesses, in solving some of those problems and in facilitating the creation of sustainable relationships with large foreign companies (vertical relationships). To achieve that, this study examines the furniture producer network in the rural areas of Jepara, Central Java. These Indonesian businesses of less than five employees produce highly specialized products for sophisticated export markets, even though production is located in small, unmechanized rural workshops. There are roughly 3,500 enterprises in 80 of the 114 villages of Jepara, employing more than 40,000 people, and subcontracting to large foreign buyers, such as IKEA.

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"Land Policy and Development in Tanzania"
Kusi Hornberger,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

Despite strong macroeconomic performance, Tanzania remains a challenge for development policy makers as 36 percent of the population still lives below the World Bank extreme poverty line. The government of Tanzania has concluded that one of the largest sources of inequality and poverty is the large levels of informality in business and land ownership and has begun a large program: The Business and Property Formalization Program (BPFP) to reform land and business registration procedures. This study will focus on one of those issues: land formalization policy, and its potential impact on economic outcomes in Tanzania. The issue is complex, and it is not clear that land formalization alone has the ability to effect substantial change. The research will include; (i) discussion of the background land policy and the feasibility of land reform in Tanzania; (ii) discussion of lessons learned from other African countries with different types of land ownership policies; (iii) empirical analysis to test if there is a relationship between different types of land titles and credit supply, investment and land value; and conclude with, (iv) policy recommendations to the Government of Tanzania on ways to ensure that the land reforms work, and that correct constraints are targeted.

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"Private Schools for the Poor in Ghana: Government Failure or Innovative Solution?"
Brad Billings, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

Since the 1990 Jomtien conference on Universal Primary Education, governments of developing countries around the world have contributed considerable policy focus and financial resources to increasing access for all eligible students to free primary education. Despite these efforts, current education data indicate gaps exist in school participation rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rural and urban poor households are still not accessing education. One counter-intuitive model for school access, for-profit private schools for the poor, may inform on the incentives of poor households to purchase schooling, as well as indicate government failures in providing universal access to education. This policy analysis surveys major supply and demand barriers to education faced by the urban poor in Ghana. It then presents results of qualitative research of private schools for the poor in Ghana and how they overcome these barriers.  

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"Reinvigorating Civil Service Reforms in Sierra Leone"
Idrissa Kanu,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government
David Lam,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

Good institutions are vital for enabling postwar Sierra Leone to prosper from its current state as one of the poorest countries in the world. Unfortunately, the Government of Sierra Leone’s institutional quality has barely changed from its pre-war status of being extremely weak, inefficient, and ineffective. Lack of progress in civil service reform threatens the stability of the country, as this was one of the key factors that led to the decade-long civil war. The goal of our research focuses on assessing how the Governance Reform Secretariat (GRS) can reinvigorate its Civil Service Reform Program. A critical element of this research involves interviewing key stakeholders—GRS officials, parliamentarians, cabinet ministers and members of the civil service—to understand why the reforms have failed and how they can be improved.

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Masters Student Projects: 2007 | 2006 | 2005
See also Doctoral Student Research Projects

 

2006 Masters Student Projects

"The Citizens Foundation of Pakistan: Educational Planning in the Aftermath of Natural Disaster"
Samia Amin,
MPP Student, Kennedy School of Government

The Citizens Foundation, a Pakistani non-profit organization, has worked to provide access to education for underprivileged children in Pakistan.  The recent earthquake in Pakistan destroyed over 16,000 schools and colleges in the region.  This project seeks to aid the Citizens Foundation in developing reconstruction planning for the education sector in earthquake-affected regions of Pakistan.  It will focus on adapting their previous model, which focused on poor urban areas, to now devastated remote regions.  In addition, the project seeks to develop matrices for school site selection using statistical data.

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"Decentralized Education Systems in Developing Countries: Cross-Country Analysis in India and Rwanda"
Katherine Conn,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government
Cecilia Mo,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

In recent years, a number of developing countries have decentralized their education systems in hopes that all children could realize their right to primary education. Education systems have thus become more decentralized in order to improve enrollment, retention, and achievement levels, as well as to improve the quality of education provided. Implicit in the implementation of decentralized planning in education is the assumption that the devolution of responsibility and duties to community members will naturally engender improvements in the above indicators. The issue, however, is much more complex, and it is not clear that decentralization alone has the ability to effect substantial change. This study examines the set of conditions necessary for the successful implementation of decentralization in education and highlights specific mechanisms and policies that both support as well as hinder the process. After a cross-country analysis of the impact of decentralized planning in education on the variables noted above, two particular case studies will be analyzed in detail: 1.) the case of state-wide decentralization in education in Madhya Pradesh, India in 1996 and 2.) the case of national decentralization in education in Rwanda in 1998.

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"Lesotho in a Post-MFA World: Trade Policy Challenges and Recommendations for Africa's Mountain Kingdom"
Christopher Maloney,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

Lesotho is a tiny, rural, mountainous country plagued by drought and food shortages, with a per capita income of only US$550, and an HIV/AIDS rate approaching nearly 33% of its population of 1.8 million. Until 2000, its main source of employment and foreign exchange was as a source for migrant laborers who worked across the border in South Africa’s mines. This grim picture seemed to have started to change with the passage in 2000 of the US’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Seemingly overnight, the apparel manufacturing industry boomed in Lesotho for two reasons: AGOA gave Lesotho very strong preferential apparel market access, while the rand (to which its currency is pegged 1:1) began a large depreciation. By 2004, AGOA and apparel had transformed Lesotho into the fifth largest African exporter to the US, employing 53000 people. This stellar performance, however, seems to have been seriously threatened over the past year, as 15000 have been thrown out of work and several factories have closed. Why is this happening? How long will the downturn last?  This research seeks to do three main things: (1) understand why apparel boomed so sharply and so quickly in Lesotho from 2000 to 2004; (2) attempt to identify, quantify, and calibrate the recent threats to Lesotho’s competitive position in apparel; and (3) provide recommendations to the government of Lesotho on how they can best understand the situation and ensure that Lesotho regains its robust performance in the apparel industry.

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"Microfinance Institutions and End-User Product Price Shares in India"
Don Lambert,
MPP Student, Kennedy School of Government

Clients of microfinance institutions (MFIs) often capture only a small share of the end-user price of their products.  Explanations vary, but common challenges existing in developing countries include antiquated infrastructure, outdated technologies, poor training, regulatory barriers, lack of information on market conditions, and monopolistic market intermediaries.  This study, conducted on behalf of Acción International, examines how MFIs, while remaining financiers, can help their clients capture a larger share of the end-user price of their products.  Although results vary between countries and sub sectors, this research focuses on one sub sector in India in the hopes that the process may serve as a model for future analysis. 

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"A Palestinian-Israeli Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) and Beyond: Applications of the Lessons of the Jordanian and Egyptian QIZs"
Tally Zingher,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

This research compares the experience of the US-Jordan-Israel Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) in Jordan and US-Egypt-Israel QIZ in Egypt, whereby goods produced with a certain amount of local content and Israeli value are exported to the US quota-free and duty-free.  These preferential trade zones have the potential to serve as powerful tools both in US foreign policy and in economic development in the Middle East.  The research assesses the experiences of the two QIZs, offering lessons for the QIZ as an American strategy in the region and evaluating its potential application to other countries in the region.

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"Sustainable Urban Transport Systems in Ethiopia"
Michael Pulichino
,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

The development of sustainable urban transport systems in developing countries is now considered critical in terms of economic development, environment and equity in urban areas. Ethiopia is a very low income country and Addis Ababa concentrates most of the urban population and national economic activities. Following the municipal elections in May 2005, the newly-elected administration has set transportation as a high priority with the development of a mass transport system that would achieve better efficiency and social equity. However, the established system relies on a SOE, which provides affordable transport to low income households and 15,000 private/informal minibuses, which are a major source of employment and create major externalities. The objective of the SYPA is to develop a strategy for the City Administration in order to achieve institutional reforms. In particular, it will look at economic incentives to insure the full integration of the informal sector in the proposed mass transit system.

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"Temporary Worker Programs and the Path to Citizenship: The Case of the Middle East"
Aaron Bigbee,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government
Andrew Farnum,
MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

This research involves conducting an analysis of temporary worker programs and the effect of such programs on migrant workers.  Many of the proposed temporary worker programs currently being discussed in the US Congress do not offer migrants an eventual path to citizenship.  In this respect, these proposals are most closely comparable to temporary worker programs in many Middle Eastern countries.  This study involves interviewing employers, temporary workers, and senior government officials in the Middle East to discuss the operation of the temporary worker programs in their countries.  The information gathered from these interviews will help in designing a model of the incentives faced by temporary workers when participating in programs that do not have a path to citizenship.

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Masters Student Projects: 2007 | 2006 | 2005
See also Doctoral Student Research Projects

 

2005 Masters Student Projects

"Assessing the Effectiveness of the GFATM in Resource Allocation and Disbursement: The Case of Thailand"
David Chipanta, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) was formed in 2002 to mobilize, allocate and disburse additional resources towards the prevention of illnesses and deaths from AIDS, TB and malaria. Since its inception, more than $600 million in grants has been mobilized and disbursed as of December 2004. A further $3 billion is expected to be disbursed annually in the fifth and onward rounds of funding. The research will assess the efficacy of the GFATM as a resource allocation and disbursement instrument towards the prevention of illnesses and deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The coverage of the research is global. However, the experience of Thailand with Global Fund structures and processes will help inform answers whether Global Funds are allocated according to need in disease burdens, trends and capacity to finance the response by recipients. In addition, I will examine the promptness of the financial transactions from the Trustee account to Service Providers and the proportion of requested funds that reach service providers.

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"Constraints of Decentralization in Honduras"
Annette Richter, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

This research explores constraints of decentralization by investigating Honduras’ experience. The hypothesis under consideration is whether local-level capacity, both in terms of municipal technical capacity and community networks of accountability and participation, influences successful decentralization experiences. This research adopts the perspective of the Honduran Social Investment Fund (FHIS), which emphasizes decentralization and local capacity building in project selection, design and implementation. The driving question is what FHIS’s experience suggests about local capacity for decentralization. Among other methodologies, key informant interviews and fieldwork on capacity building, accountability, and participation networks will provide critical insights. The expected findings include what Honduras’ social fund experience suggests about developing an effective decentralization strategy. This research also aims to create a framework for evaluating participation, capacity building and accountability channels critical to decentralization.

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"Decentralization Policy and Corruption in Peru"
Aaron Ausland, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government
Alfonso Tolmos, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

Our research focuses on the issue of decentralization policy and its effects on corruption at lower levels of government. Corruption is considered significant for its stunting effects on economic growth and corrosive influence on support for democratic rule. We take the view that corruption is a function of monopoly power, discretion and accountability. When governments decentralize, power and discretion are handed to lower levels of government. Mechanisms to provide an offsetting accountability effect are often consciously included in the policy design. Most empirical evidence suggests that deeper decentralization leads to lower levels of corruption. Our initial findings from Latin America, however, contradict our expectations -– increasing levels of decentralization are associated with higher levels of corruption. Our aim is to better understand how decentralization policy interacts with local contextual elements to produce accountability for local governance. We intend to identify several key policy handles for the National Council of Decentralization to improve the levels of corruption in Peru. We chose Peru, in part, because it has so recently embarked on the path of decentralization. Only last year did regional governments begin functioning with real resources being passed down to them. The policies are new and implementation unproven. We hope that our work will lead to the adoption of specific policy changes that will lead to lower levels of corruption in Peru.

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"Encouraging Textile and Apparel Exports from Egypt"
Salim Maherali, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

When most people think of high-quality cotton, they think Egypt. So, why does Egypt, who has preferential quotas from the U.S. and EU to export textiles and apparel duty free (under the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing - ATC), not export as much as they could under these ATC quotas? Why have other countries like China and Pakistan been able to better take advantage of ATC quotas despite not having the cotton advantage that Egypt has? Given that ATC quotas will be eliminated by the end of 2004, how will Egypt be able to compete in an even more competitive environment? The purpose of this second-year paper is to explore these primary questions and ultimately, to make policy recommendations around how the Egyptian government can help to encourage greater exports of Egyptian textiles and apparel.

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"The Impact of HIV/AIDS Funding on Health System Infrastructure: Kwazulu-Natal Province, South Africa"
Alexandra Zuber, MPP Student, Kennedy School of Government

This research attempts to address criticism that developing countries do not have the capacity to transform the unprecedented level of global investment in HIV/AIDS into measurable outcomes on the epidemic and on the health system as a whole.  Looking at Kwazulu-Natal, a province that faces among the highest rates of HIV prevalence in the world, the research will assess the impact of global and domestic AIDS funding over the last five years on the number and type of health services provided in the province. The research will use several indicators provided by the Global Fund Health System Assessment Tool, to examine broad changes in the province as a whole and among a random sample of health facilities in particular. Key questions the research will pose are: how has funding impacted the provision of services in HIV/AIDS; how has funding impacted the provision of services in other major health areas; how has the funding impacted the equity of service provision; and what are the barriers to implementation of funding and how are they addressed? In partnership with the policy institute, Health Systems Trust (South Africa), the research will involve both secondary data on the provincial health system and primary interviews with health officials and health facility administrators and staff. The research will conclude by offering recommendations on how to improve the impact of this and future funding on the health system of the province.

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"Implementing a Soy Bean Cluster Initiative in Bolivia"
Joe Hsueh, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government
Eduardo Peinado, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

UPC (Unidad de Productividad y Competitividad) of Bolivia needs a set of performance indicators for cluster development in the country and an implementation strategy to develop the soy bean cluster initiative in Bolivia. In this project, we propose a comprehensive set of performance indicators that uses stakeholder analysis, modern cluster theory, and advanced modeling techniques. We expect that the current research will help UPC to prioritize various cluster policies based on the principles of being technically correct, politically supportable and administratively feasible.

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"Measuring the Peace Dividends of Development Assistance Projects"
Victoria Salinas, MPP Student, Kennedy School of Government

This project seeks to develop an approach to measuring the extent to which the potential for conflict has been mitigated due to a development project. Commissioned for the World Bank and UNDP, this project is prompted by the realization in the development community that eliminating violent conflict is a precursor to peace, stability, and poverty reduction; and that development assistance may be key to addressing the structural and underlying causes of conflict.  Measuring the impact of making development projects conflict-sensitive can help practitioners know what kind of development interventions and conflict-sensitivity best prevent conflict. In designing the impact assessment approach, research will elucidate whether the fields of crime prevention and risk management have tools applicable to the prevention of conflict in the developing world context; roundtable discussion will be convened with experts from the conflict prevention and program evaluation fields; and the product of research and discussions – the impact assessment approach – will be field tested on projects like UNDP’s Civil Society Engagement in Guatemala. With input from the implementers and beneficiaries of such projects on the usability and accuracy of the impact assessment approach, significant revisions will be made.  The product should provide a concrete method for demonstrating the peace dividends of development assistance projects.

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"Scaling up the Rapid Strip Test in Bolivia"
Alissa Fishbane, MPP Student, Kennedy School of Government

The Population Council is currently conducting a feasibility study on a new technology, a rapid strip test, to diagnose maternal syphilis during prenatal care visits. As feedback on these new tests has been positive, the Population Council would like to expand their use to a national level. My role is to assess the policy and managerial considerations in scaling-up this program. In-depth interviews with key stakeholders in the Bolivian health system will help determine the viability of and challenges to expanding the use of these tests in health facilities throughout Bolivia.

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"Strategy for the Development of Rural Economy of Peru in Light of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S."
Jessica Luna, MPA/ID Student, Kennedy School of Government

The purpose of the project is to provide recommendations for the design and implementation of a strategy for the development of the Peruvian rural economy. A strategy for the rural development arises with the need of implementing policies in the rural sector that will allow the Peruvian economy to achieve greater benefits from the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., and other trade liberalization processes in which it is currently involved. In addition it aims to facilitate the adjustment of the agricultural producers to the new market conditions. The task is to analyze market failures in the rural sector that prevent Peru from achieving the benefits of trade liberalization. The policy recommendations seek to eliminate the main obstacles that affect Peruvian competitiveness in the rural sector, addressing market failures and designing compensatory measures and safety nets (income transfers, direct payments, food aid and production support schemes to poor rural producers) needed to compensate and protect small producers and the poor from any negative effects that these open economic policy reforms may cause. The CID grant will support research in Peru, particularly, field data collection, surveys and meetings with associations of agriculture producers, business associations and major stakeholders.

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Masters Student Projects: 2007 | 2006 | 2005
See also Doctoral Student Research Projects
Current CID Research | Research Archive

 

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