Each month TIDI will profile a project being undertaken at Trinity College Dublin, that is contributing to addressing the challenges of international development.
- MSc in Environment and Development Field Study in Rwanda
- Trinity Global Health Expert Speaks before United Nations Commission for Social Development
- Evidence Aid: Identifying and Meeting the Need for Systematic Reviews in Disasters
- Trinity Researchers Develop Innovative Water Disinfection System
- Trinity Researcher Receives Prestigious European Research Council Starting Grant
- Professor of Geography talks on health impacts of climate change at UN conference in Durban, South Africa
- Climate Challenges: Who’s Really Suffering?
- Meeting of TCD/UCD Masters in Development Practice Students with President Kagame of Rwanda
- Doctoral Training Partnership between Trinity College Dublin and Makerere University, Uganda
- New International Task Force Promoting Fair Pay led by Trinity College Academic: Breaking the
Silence on Aid Workers Salaries
- The International Doctorate in Global Health (INDIGO): A Student Perpective
- TCD-led Environmental Change Research on Bisoke Volcano, Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda
Amy Jennings, MSc student in Environment and Development travelled to Rwanda to undertake field work as part of her course. Below is an article she wrote based on her experience:
7,000km lie between Dublin and Kigali. This is a distance that is impossible to comprehend for a small town girl from Maine in the United States--- because it is in metric. Nonetheless, fourteen hours after boarding a plane in Ireland I looked up from the Skymall catalogue and we were alighting in Rwanda. We arrived in Kigali in the evening. The beats of hip hop music, some dipped in West African highlife rhythms, resonated in the air, and the city’s warm energy was palpable. My roommate Jane and I slept soundly under the safety of bed nets, but not before brushing our teeth in the sink. We had already forgotten a rudimentary rule of travel within the developing world: avoid tap water at any cost.
The equatorial sun revealed cascading hills blooming with modern buildings, sloping into valleys filled with a terraced labyrinth of low-income urban settlements. The rows of houses wove a textile that was curiously captivating. Kigali is a study in urban renewal. Little more than a village at the time of its establishment as the capital in 1962, the population has soared to nearly 1 million. Inner-city Kigali was once slums, but over the years low-income occupants have been relocated to the outskirts of the city, freeing land on the commercially valuable hilltops. Kigali is alluring like the ambrosial cups of Rwandan teas and coffees that eased us into our days. The city’s energy seems to radiate from its people. People dart through traffic roundabouts on motorcycle-taxis. They balance on scaffolding as they modernize and develop the city before our eyes. People walk the streets hand in hand with friends, and they affably sell phone credit to students curious about the craic at home.
Our time in Kigali illuminated development issues such as the rehabilitation of the Nyabugogo wetlands, part of the watershed that forms the headwater of the White Nile. Demographic pressures and industrial development have degraded the wetlands and compromised their ecosystem services. Wetland rehabilitation is taken seriously in a nation where land is extremely scarce and the government treats environmental obligations with importance.
Our last night in Kigali found us dining at a restaurant called Heaven. It was by pure serendipity that we should meet in Heaven the man who penned the words: “I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil…I know the devil exists and therefore I know there is a God.” It was bewildering to see Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, commander of the United Nations forces at the time of the genocide, seated several tables behind us. Nervous excitement coursed through me as I crossed the restaurant floor. I’d planned on trying ‘something new’ at dinner; why not try meeting a hero? Senator Dallaire was markedly warm and greeted my brief word of thanks with kindness. That was a dinner I won’t soon forget; the lentil soup was delightful.
We departed Kigali and travelled north to the city of Ruhengeri in the Musanze District to carry out four days of fieldwork involving communities surrounding Volcanoes National Park. My particular research group explored the consequences of the loss of access to natural resources within the park, for park adjacent communities. Simultaneously, I embarked on a four-village ukulele tour, playing to some of the biggest and most gracious crowds of my musical career.
We presented our preliminary research findings at the Karisoke Research Center, originally set up by Dian Fossey, the renowned primatologist known for making the first peaceful contact with mountain gorillas (as portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist). My colleagues presented in this esteemed environment with a confidence and keenness that suggested bright futures in the field of development practice.
A day off brought us to the resort town of Gisenyi for a swim in Lake Kivu. I soaked in the sunlight on the beach at the idyllic Pardise Malahide Hotel, with my eyes gazing across the lake to the DRC. I never imagined the Congolease boarder would be this serene. We soon departed Ruhengeri and spent three nights at a college in Kitabi before making our return Kigali for one last hurrah: a safari.
I couldn’t prepare myself for the splendors of our safari in Akagera National Park, because I had not packed any khaki. Akagera contains the only area of protected savannah plains in a country where high population density has taken its toll on biodiversity levels. Akagera’s plains, forest fringed lakes, papyrus swamps and highlands are home to a wide array of flora and fauna. Our safari was a fauna frenzy, with elephants, buffalos, zebras, waterbucks, antelopes, impalas, elands, baboons, hippos, crocodiles and warthogs. ‘How was Africa?’ I’m asked back in Dublin. I smile and think of my classmates, now off in Australia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, and reply ‘Rwanda was wonderful.’ The rusty red soil of Rwanda may be 7000km away, but I still have some on my Converse sneakers. I can’t get it off.
Image 1. Kigali Skyline, Rwanda, 2012
Image 2. Amy Jennings with Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, Rwanda, 2012
Image 3. Sarah Colenbrander and Jane Maher facilitate a focus group on gender issues, Rwanda, 2012
Image 4. Amy Jennings/the author entertaining the children of Kagano, Rwanda, 2012
Trinity College Dublin’s Professor of Psychology, Malcolm MacLachlan of the Centre for Global Health was recently invited to speak before the United Nations Commission for Social Development, where he gave a presentation entitled ‘Community Based Rehabilitation and Inclusive Health: A Way Forward’. The World Report on Disability (2011) estimates that 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, have a disability, with 80% of these living in low-income countries. Professor MacLachlan’s presentation identified some of the challenges to the inclusion of people with disabilities in international development cooperation policy and programming. It drew in particular on the work of the Irish Aid/Health Research Board funded African Policy on Disability and Development project (www.a-podd.org) in which Trinity’s Centre for Global Health is the lead partner. This project has identified policy-gaps that need to be addressed and specific actions that could promote the effectiveness of civil society advocacy for the inclusion of people with disabilities. These challenges include stigma, competition between aid stakeholders with different agendas, and divergence between disabled people’s organisations.
Also at policy level, Professor MacLachlan outlined the need for health and social welfare policy to be socially inclusive of marginalised and vulnerable groups. It referred to the recently developed EquiFrame methodology which has been developed through the FP7 funded EquitAble Project also led by Trinity (www.Equitableproject.org).
A third area which he addressed was the human resources constraints on applying the recently developed ‘Guidelines for Community Based Rehabilitation’ to which Trinity’s Centre for Global Health also contributed. The Centre is playing a leading role in addressing this challenge through a new global initiative on Inclusive development which includes the training of a new cadre of health workers, working across traditional professional boundaries, at community level. This initiative partners the Centre with the World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation, the International Disability and Development Consortium (of civil society organisations) and SINTEF, a Norwegian SME. Recent papers in Lancet and Tropical Medicine & International Health outline elements of this initiative. Professor MacLachlan’s presentation to the UN was an opportunity to inform a broader range of aid donors and development partners of this venture.
Along with the Centre for Global Health’s input in key policy documents, it is also conducting the third phase of the Equitable Project, analysing a database of over forty thousand people across Sudan, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. This database will help contribute to reinforcing an evidence-based ethos for policy and practice for some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the world.
The work of the Inclusive Health research programme within the Centre for Global Health is being undertaken by Professor Mac MacLachlan, Dr Hasheem Mannan and Joanne McVeigh all of the School of Psychology, and Professor Eilish McAuliffe of the School of Medicine, in conjunction with government, civil society, practitioner and research partners across ten African countries. It also includes research students in the Centre led International Doctoral School in Global Health. To view the press release please click on the link below.
The following article is written by Bonnix Kayabu, MD who is currently undertaking the International Doctorate in Global Health (INDIGO) at Trinity College.
Background: Humanitarian interventions are complex and uncoordinated in many areas affected by disasters. Furthermore, because of an increasing number of interventions by different aid agencies, it is difficult to measure the outcomes of specific actions and interventions, and the process for choosing adequate interventions remains a major challenge. The decision about which problems to focus on during emergencies all too often depends on how comfortable aid agencies and their partners feel, rather than the magnitude of the problems to be solved or the strength of the relevant evidence. However, because disasters differ by their nature, actions to solve their consequences also need to differ and need to be appropriate to the relevant settings, drawing on evidence from similar locations, types of population and problems in the past. The choice of actions and interventions should be based on what has been proven to work, and what has the potential to work, in the relevant setting.
My research will help to make choices easier, in part by investigating how decisions are made in such complex situations. How do humanitarian planners and aid workers know that a particular intervention is going to work in a specific area? How do they know that the intervention has not failed in similar settings, if they don’t consider what has been done elsewhere and what has and hasn’t worked? Most importantly, how do they decide if the chosen action is likely to do more good than harm?
In light of the complexity of delivering aid to affected populations, aid workers should use a more rational way of thinking to bring about solutions. A reliable estimate of the likely effects of interventions and actions should come first when planning and implementing responses to disasters and the effects should be considered when evaluating humanitarian action.
Proposed solution: People making decisions in complex situations would benefit from ready and timely access to existing knowledge to inform their choices about the options available to them. Systematic reviews already play a major role in healthcare decision making and are increasingly used in other sectors such as education, nutrition, logistics, etc. Systematic reviews summarize existing knowledge in a transparent way and help avoid undue emphasis on any single study. However, they remain underused and sometimes unknown among aid workers. My research is seeking to change this and to improve access to reviews, which is important for those who don’t have time to search multiple websites or published sources.
Strategies: Evidence Aid is an international initiative, providing free access to systematic reviews, training aid workers on how systematic reviews are produced and building a database of reviews on the effects of humanitarian interventions. It is seeking to help the range of people who set policy, make decisions and deliver aid on the ground, so that they can access the available evidence and make more informed decisions.
Need for reviews: One of the first steps in my research is a survey of humanitarian aid workers, agencies and donors, which is revealing their need and desire for systematic reviews to improve their interventions and to assess the impact of their efforts. This survey is being conducted in English, French, Spanish and Arabic; and the preliminary findings (85 respondents) show that 83% think that systematic reviews are useful in disasters, and almost all agreed or strongly agreed (25% and 71%, respectively) that humanitarian interventions should be based on reliable knowledge of which interventions work, which don’t work and which are potentially harmful. The most commonly reported barrier to the use of systematic reviews was inadequate access (70%). Participants want full reviews plus comments from relevant experts (61%) and would like reviews to be online (83%). Of the 25 respondents who worked for donor agencies, 83% said that systematic reviews could be used to assess the likely effects of interventions before providing funding.
Partnerships and other activities: In order to reach a large audience and to endorse the Evidence Aid project, I helped organize the first Evidence Aid conference in Oxford in September 2011, drawing on the early findings from my qualitative research. The conference was attended by more than 70 people from international and global aid agencies. This success was built upon in collaboration with the Trinity International Development Initiative (TIDI), Irish Aid, Concern, and the Humanitarian Action programme at UCD in organizing a subsequent event in Ireland to promote evidence-based practices in humanitarian settings. The second Evidence Aid conference will be in October 2012 in Brussels, hosted by Evidence Aid and the Belgian Red Cross - Flanders.
Other important developments that my PhD research is contributing to are the building of formal partnerships. For example, a letter of understanding between Evidence Aid and the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be signed shortly; and in February 2012 I represented Evidence Aid at an expert meeting on selecting and measuring indicators for evaluating aid agencies’ actions during emergencies. This allowed me to meet new partners for Evidence Aid, to share our expertise with leading experts in the humanitarian field and to build connections to further my research into how evidence is, and should be, used in disasters.
Conclusion: Our generation is privileged to have the resources, technology and expertise to solve global challenges. These challenges are ever present, and the impact of earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, extreme weather, etc will continue to increase. Not using systematic reviews to inform policies and practices in such circumstances is, at best, a missed opportunity and a waste of resources. It is irresponsible to intervene in other peoples’ lives when attempting to help those affected by disasters without asking if one is doing more good than harm. Emergency relief workers, in collaboration with other disciplines, need to make the best use of available knowledge and resources to avoid making decisions intuitively, with little certainty of what will and won’t work. Based in the Centre for Global Health at Trinity College Dublin, my research and Evidence Aid more generally is taking the lead in bringing stakeholders together to discuss and advocate for the role of systematic reviews to improve health and well bring after disasters. My research will help to detail not just what is known, but what we need evidence on, and how best to use it in complex emergency situations.
*Bonnix Kayabu is a PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin and he is very interested in evidence- based practice in disasters and related areas.
Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: http://www.cochrane.org/cochrane-reviews/evidence-aid-project
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Engineering have developed a new solar powered water disinfection system which could revolutionise the supply of clean, safe water in developing countries. The solar disinfection unit, which has been piloted in the remote Kenyan village of Ndulyani, is a low cost, low maintenance system which requires only energy from sunlight to run.
The system has been developed under the supervision of Dr Laurence Gill in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, along with PhD research student Joanne MacMahon. The method of using solar UV to disinfect water for human consumption is a technology that has been tested by different research students in Trinity College Dublin and has been proved to work against a variety of micro-organisms which cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid etc.
The basic principle of the system involves water flowing through a transparent pipe at the focal point of a compound parabolic reflector, optimally angled beneath the pipe for maximum sunlight capture. The system is designed such that the water flows under gravity, requiring no additional energy source, primarily for use in small-scale rural situations.
TCD Environmental Engineering is currently raising funds to provide a borehole for a village in Kenya to feed an innovative water disinfection system which uses sunlight to disinfect water. The drought in the region had caused the original village water source for the system (a dammed river) to dry up and so an alternative water source is required. Donations for the Solar Water Disinfection project can be made online via fundit.ie by clicking here.
Up until recently the system supplied safe drinking water for approximately 600 people in the Kenyan village before a wide scale drought in the region caused the village’s water source to dry up. The current lack of water means that the solar disinfection unit can no longer be used forcing the villagers to make a 14km round trip on foot to collect water. In order to provide the villagers with an alternative source of water the Trinity researchers are trying to raise funds to drill a borehole to tap the water table which will allow the solar disinfection system to be used again, giving the people in Ndulyani access to a reliable water source.
A €1.4 million grant has been awarded to Dr Clionadh Raleigh of the Department of Geography in the School of Natural Sciences to enable her to continue her research on the causes of the various types of political violence found within and across African states. The prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant, which aims to support the most talented early career researchers to carry out pioneering work in all fields of research, was awarded for a period of five years.
Political violence in Africa ranges from civil wars to communal conflict, political militia activity to violence directed towards civilians. Dr Raleigh’s research takes a holistic approach to look at all of these forms of violence and seeks to explain them within a novel theoretical framework, emphasising two stages of onset indicators, and employing the latest available disaggregated data methodologies for spatial and temporal dynamics. It also introduces spatial and scaled approaches to comprehensively study conflict, as risks, triggers and dynamics are spatially inscribed and hierarchical.
The project, which is built on the most comprehensive, publicly available dataset on Armed Conflict Location and Events (ACLED) created by Dr Raleigh and her team of researchers, models the onset of political violence using sub-national factors, including political exclusion, economic marginalisation, human rights abuses, ecological shifts, public goods access and demographic characteristics. The research emphasises that insurgency and opposition violence is a spatial and political process, shaped by the political, economic and social geographies of states.
Currently the widespread view is that conflict in Africa is confined to a few crisis prone states. New evidence suggests however that almost all states are sites of substantial, widespread political insecurity. Civil war accounts for less than half of all conflict across African states; the remaining half is composed of communal and political militia violence, rioting, protests and violence against non-combatants outside of a war context. These forms of ‘invisible’ violence often involve state collusion and present a widespread risk to civilians.
ERC Starting Grants aim to support up-and-coming research leaders who have the proven potential of becoming independent research leaders. Dr Raleigh’s grant will support the creation of a new research teams which will consist of a lecturer, two post doctoral researchers and three doctoral researchers.
Professor of Geography talks on health impacts of climate change at UN conference in Durban, South Africa
David Taylor, Professor of Geography in the School of Natural Sciences and Chair of Trinity International Development Initiative, earlier this week made two invited presentations in Durban, South Africa, at events associated with the UN Climate Change conference (COP-17). The events, organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research, focused on the impacts of climate change in Africa: both of David’s presentations concerned possible effects in sub-Saharan Africa on diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis (bilharzia).
Speaking after his talks, David – in Durban as part of the official delegation of the Government of Ireland – said he has found the whole experience fascinating. “What has surprised me”, said David “is the extent to which climate change is now a geo-political rather than scientific issue. The science of climate change is reasonably well understood – the argument has moved on to mitigation and adaptation and, perhaps most critically, who pays for what, how and when”.
Much of the attention in the run up to the COP-17 meeting in Durban was on the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF is premised on the injustices of climate change, with the world’s poorest countries suffering effects caused by the historical greenhouse gas emissions of richer, developed countries. The GCF provides a mechanism through which financial and technological assistance can be provided to enable poorer nations to develop along low-carbon paths and adapt to the consequences of climate change. The intension is that the GCF will, by 2020, result in annual transfers (in effect, compensation) of around 100 billion US$ from developed to developing countries. Ongoing arguments, in which the US, EU and Japan along with some developing nations are prominent, over which countries should pay for the GCF and how the funds should be distributed currently threaten a final agreement, and hence implementation.
The GCF is hugely important for sub-Saharan Africa, which is responsible for only a tiny proportion of total global Greenhouse Gas emissions. David continued, “Most of the funds that have been released by rich countries to pay for the costs of climate change (through the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism) have been spent in the same rich countries on mitigating future changes in climate. The GCF is different in that funds released are mainly to pay for adaptation – to enable poorer countries and their populations to adapt to climate change that is happening now as well projected for the future. Governments in sub-Saharan Africa already have to find extra funds to pay for the additional burdens caused by climate change, and negative health impacts are an important component of this added burden. We in the developed world run the risk of being remembered as the generation who saved its banks and rich investment bankers while neglecting the world’s poor.”
More information on the COP-17 meeting is at: http://www.cop17-cmp7durban.com/
Professor Taylor coordinates a major EU FP7-funded research project (HEALTHY FUTURES). More information on the project is at: http://www.healthyfutures.eu
It’s no secret that our planet is warming. But with a predicted 4˚C increase in the average world temperate in the future, what does this really mean for Earth’s inhabitants? Two panel discussions hosted by Trinity International Development Initiative (TIDI) and the Centre for Global Health (CGH), were conducted on Thursday, November 10th at the Innovation Academy, Foster Place, in an attempt to address this issue.
Panel 1, Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, chaired by Padraig Carmody (TCD), discussed the reality of climate change, and what effects it is predicted to have on our environment. As Tara Shine from the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice stated, “the most vulnerable to climate change are the ones who are least responsible for it”. High-energy consuming Western countries are mostly to blame for the future climate situation that will disproportionately affect the world’s poor population in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa. Camilla Toulmin from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) explained that in these regions, women and girls will bare the brunt of the changes, and conflict issues will likely increase due to resource demand.
Niall Roche from the Irish Forum for Global Health (IFGH), opened Panel 2 by stating, “The biggest threat to global health is not communicable and non-communicable disease, its climate change”. Chaired by David Weakliam (IFGH), this panel educated the audience on the effects of climate change on individual health. There is no question that the environment and health are integrally linked, but in many cases these relationships are unknown. All panel members spoke of the need for more research in this field so that we are better able to understand, predict and respond to climate change. David Taylor (TCD) stated the need for decision support tools that have their base in good scientific evidence and highlighted some of the findings so far from the Healthy Futures Project [http://www.healthyfutures.eu/]. Major health consequences of climate change will likely come in the form of water and sanitation, extreme weather events, malnutrition and vector borne diseases. As in Panel 1, the world’s poor were identified as the most vulnerable due to geography and resource supply and demand. Though the picture looks grim, the panelists see hope. There is the possibility for change if we act now. However, in order to attract those with the means and power to implement change Niall suggested a change of tact, “we need to stress the economic value of research because the moral high ground doesn’t seem to be working”.
The world’s vulnerable and poor will bear the burden of climate change in the coming years. Research into how this change will impact the environment and subsequently health is an essential component to predicting and limiting the negative effects of global warming. As John Barry from Queens University Belfast, suggested, we need to think critically about our current development models, as they often encourage inequality. We need to return to mission-led science to change power imbalances. Because really, how rational is it to think that industry and economy can grow infinitely in a finite world?
Presentations from this session are available here http://www.tcd.ie/tidi/resources/presentations.php
Podcasts from this session are available here: http://www.tcd.ie/tidi/resources/podcasts.php.
Brynne Gilmore and Edel Cronin, Key Correspondents
Brynne and Edel are currently students at the TCD MSc Global Health and Brynne is also an IFGH Student Representative.
President Kagame of Rwanda received 20 students from Trinity College and University College Dublin on 17 August 2011. The students were in the country for more than two months undertaking a Masters in Development Practice as part of a summer placement arrangement with the National University of Rwanda. The high profile meeting was also attended by the Acting Rector (Acting Provost) of the National University of Rwanda and was covered by the leading national news paper and the Rwandan Television. The joint TCD-UCD Masters degree in Development Practice (MDP) is a new two-year programme that offers a world class training and education in development practice at graduate level. The Masters in Development Practice (MDP) is funded by the MacArthur Foundation (U.S.A.) and is part of a global network of Master’s degree programmes in Development Practice, which is led by Columbia University in the United States. Full press release below:
Rwanda does not intend to live on aid forever
According to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, if global trade was free and fair, developing nations such as Rwanda, would realise three times more income than they currently receive in overseas aid. The President was speaking on August 17 last to graduate students from Trinity and UCD who are in Rwanda as part of the Global Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) programme, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and accredited by the World Bank.
Although not faced with the famine problems of Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa, Rwanda still struggles for economic independence and is reliant on overseas aid to survive.
MDP students with President of Rwanda.
The Global MDP Network consists of 23 universities across the world. The TCD/UCD programme works with the National University of Rwanda, Kimmage Manor Centre for Development Studies, the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice and Trócaire and other partners to deliver the programme. Top students are drawn from engineering, health and natural sciences as well as from the humanities, management and social sciences and the programme provides them with the substantive knowledge and practical skills required to analyse and develop solutions for the multi-dimensional challenges of sustainable development such as extreme poverty, climate change and infectious disease.
As part of their programme, students undertake fieldwork and as well as undertaking projects, get to meet and discuss policy with national leaders such as President Kagame.
“Development is a notoriously complex issue,” stated Professor Patrick Paul Walsh, Co-director of the programme. “Those working in the area need to be cognisant of the economic and political pressures on a country as well as the devastating impact of scourges such as HIV/AIDs, rising food prices and extreme climatic conditions. The comments of President Kagame are both ambitious and realistic but, through programmes such as ours, we are training the next generation of global policy-makers for national governments and international organisations who will be able to make his vision achievable.”
President Kagame told the students that Rwanda does not intend to live on aid forever and is working towards weaning herself off aid: “As global trade and investments decline, we expect everything else to decline, including aid. Even if the current global financial problems were not there, it is morally wrong to think you can live on aid forever. In Rwanda, we will not say that we don’t need aid, we do, but we want to use the aid we get to build our capacities so that we can ultimately be able to stand on our own,” President Kagame observed.
“Rwanda is one of the countries in Africa making rapid progress towards the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, in addition to other initiatives such as rolling out fibre optic cable across the country to allow internet connectivity. Our students will contribute to the achievement of the MDGs in Rwanda and elsewhere through their practically focussed projects and in their future careers. This programme shows what can be achieved through international cooperation. We are proud of their efforts and look forward to their future achievements in the struggle against global poverty," stated Dr Pádraig Carmody, TCD-UCD Masters in Development Practice Coordinator, School of Natural Sciences, TCD.
Commenting on the programme, MDP Field Training Programmes Director, Dr Joseph Assan, School of Natural Sciences, TCD stated: "The MDP field placement and clinical training programme in Rwanda has allowed the 20 MDP students to work on individual projects which address issues of practical development concern that have been identified by partner development organisations operating in Rwanda. This approach has enabled the students to formulate and implement projects that have direct relevance to Rwanda’s national poverty reduction programme and its vision to become a middle income country by 2020. Working with high profile national and international development organisations has also helped the students to apply some of the conceptual approaches and theoretical frameworks taught in the classroom, thus ensuring that the students receive the needed exposure as future development practitioners and have the experience and profile necessary for securing employment upon graduation".
The first cohort of 20 students on the TCD-UCD Master’s in Development Practice have spent the past three months in Rwanda, hosted by the National University of Rwanda. Their time in Rwanda has been largely spent designing and implementing real-world operational sustainability interventions that address critical environment, health, development and livelihood threats in collaboration with Rwanda-based partners, including CARE International, Millennium Village Project, the Great Apes Trust and Rwanda National Parks. These interventions are distributed throughout Rwanda.
The students will return to Dublin in September for the academic year and then spend next summer on internships with major international development and development-related organisations in Geneva.
While half of the students are Irish the other students originate from Afghanistan, Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Canada, the USA, France and Sweden.
As part of TCD’s Doctoral Training for Development in Africa Project a partnership between Trinity College Dublin and The Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (MUIENR) was established. This partnership between MUIENR and TCD supports one student to complete doctoral training at MUIENR. The student who has been awarded a scholarship through this partnership is: Mr. Alfonse Opio, enrolled at Makerere University, Uganda. As part of the scholarship programme, Alfonse undertook a semester at the Department of Botany, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin.
The title of Alfonse’s PhD thesis is “Carbon sequestration and transpiration in Cyperus papyrus tropical wetlands, Uganda”. This research examines carbon sequestration and transpiration dynamics in Cyperus papyrus in tropical African wetlands in Uganda. It will attempt to estimate the relative water loss by C. papyrus and also the dynamics of carbon in the wetland. The research directly relates to water loss by the wetland plants (transpiration) only rather than the additional water loss from open surface water (evaporation) which has been the case in estimation with Monthieth’s equation, it will also provide information about phenomena that are regarded as typical for or critical to C. Papyrus. This research will contribute information to the climate change policy issues which are yet to be developed for Uganda. Alfonse is jointly supervised by Prof. Frank Kansiime, Makerere University and Prof. Mike Jones, TCD.The following is an article written by Alfonse on his experience of the PhD programme.
I acknowledge the support for the doctoral training at Makerere University, through the bilateral partnership with Trinity College Dublin. I appreciate the love, kindness, care and concern of Josemarίa Escrivά community where I lived when in Ireland. Thanks to the management of the Trinity International Development Initiative for the effective coordination. Not forgetting the community in the Botany Department, Trinity College for their cooperation and support. The environment was very conducive, encouraging and full of enthusiastic community, always wanting to know where I came from and how life is like in my country. Their willingness to help where they suspected a problem was enormous. The heater in my research room was always on to make me warm. Warm clothing and hot coffee characterized my day. I even engaged in playing football after acclimatising to the environment.
My PhD research focuses on water cycles and carbon dynamics in floating Cyperus papyrus wetland. Cyperus papyrus plant is composed of the leaves (umbel), stem (culm), and submerged stem (rhizomes) and adventitious roots.Normally wetlands environment is sometimes unfriendly and harsh. For example, in floating wetlands one cannot know where and how the next step is. It is not safe sometimes as you are always searching for where to step in order to get a firm support on the rhizome structure. Any weak spot results in sinking. Unfortunately, that is how water got into my new field computer and damaged it. The experience of floods and damage of the computer made us construct a long ladder in the wetland to ease movement. Even then there was need of being careful. Missing a step meant getting into water beneath the ladder.
Researching in natural wetlands means acknowledging the difficulties from the start and accepting to adapt to new challenges that come by. For success, there should be very strong team that is willing to help each other when in the wetland. In addition, adjacent communities to the wetlands can provide an amicable research environment. However, due to lack of free land, wetlands are also targets for developmental activities. Recently encroachers unlawfully established a market in the wetland and subsequently became inquisitive and moved up to the experimental site. They were attracted by the ladder and meteorological unit in the wetland making the set up vulnerable. Fortunately the government intervened to close the market and protect the wetlands area. It is important to note that research in natural wetlands requires commitment and sacrifice to the unfriendly environment. However it is made possible with spirited team members, such as Mr. Bright Twesige and Mr. Joseph Pale Kaketu whom I wish to thank.
Mr. Alfonse Opio will spend additional time at Trinity College Dublin towards the end of his PhD which he hopes to complete in 2012/2013.
Image 1: Mr. Twesige Bright cleaning submerged component of C. papyrus to show Makerere University students, Department of Environmental Sciences.
Image 2: Mr. Kaketu demonstrating how to use the ladder
Image 3: Students experience in Lubigi wetland
New International Task Force Promoting Fair Pay led by Trinity College Academic: Breaking the Silence on Aid Workers Salaries
A new international Task Force has been set up to promote ‘a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ for workers and to develop organisational capacity in lower income countries. The research which found discrepancies between the salaries earned by local and those earned by expatriate aid workers was instrumental in setting up the task force. According to the findings from a jointly funded project by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Department for International Development (DFID) an expatriate aid worker will be paid on average four times more (and sometimes much more) than a local employee doing a similar job, with local salaries pushing workers below the poverty line.
Led by Professor Stuart Carr of Massey University, New Zealand, and Professor Malcolm MacLachlan of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, the study tested the impact of ‘dual salaries’ on local workers’ motivation in the health, education and business sectors in Malawi, Uganda, India, China, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea in instances when they have been working with expatriate aid workers. Professor Carr explains: “Such disparity can have repercussions beyond just employee dissatisfaction. Our findings show a keen sense of injustice on the part of locally-salaried workers, coupled with demotivation and low levels of job satisfaction raises the desire to work abroad. This, in turn, contributes to local ‘brain drain’ – the mass departure of technically skilled people from one country to another.”
The researchers also found that wage gaps can prevent ‘capacity development’, the overall objective of the aid organisations, from occurring. These development activities often include supporting local training, provision of equipment and staff expertise. Professor MacLachlan says: “Organisations can play a key role in workers’ sense of identity and worth by making pay and benefits fairer and thus improving human services, productivity and poverty reduction itself. Above all, we must avoid international aid working against itself that is becoming ‘capacity stripping’. Options for addressing this wage inequality include creating career plans, performance appraisals and job evaluations - for example through workplace goal-setting, structured feedback and job-sizing. This would help put to work the remaining Paris Declaration principles of ownership, results and mutual accountability.”
By demonstrating that salary discrepancies result from expatriates who originate from higher income economies rather than different levels of experience or skills the researchers were instrumental in setting up the Task Force – which recently made its first full submission to the United Nations. The Global Task Force for Humanitarian Work Psychology aims to pursue a new mission which calls for greater attention to organisations and their dealings with their people – as part of the Millennium Development Goals from the UN’s ‘Keeping the Promise’. And they plan to work through bodies such as the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation, as well as policy think-tanks such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Professor Carr continues: “We have argued that the role and impact of organisations and organisational cultures should be given much more attention, as the project findings showed that organisations can be key to enabling a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay and to promoting the perception of greater work justice and equity.”
Contact : Email: Malcolm.email@example.com, Website: http://global-health.tcd.ie/research/projects/addup.php
1. This release is based on the findings from ‘Aid Salary Discrepancies and Development Workers’ Performance’, funded ESRC-DFID (Department for International Development) joint scheme for research on international development (poverty alleviation) . The study was led by Professor Stuart C. Carr of Massey University’s Poverty Research Group and School of Psychology, New Zealand, and Professor Malcolm MacLachlan of Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Global Health and School of Psychology, Ireland, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary consortium of colleagues from eight other countries.
2. ‘The study’ involved an on-paper survey of 1,290 local and internationally-remunerated professional workers from 202 aid, government educational and business organisations. Samples were taken from land-locked (Malawi, Uganda), Oceanic (Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea) and emerging economies (India, China).
3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2010/11 is £218 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk
4. In 2005 the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) formed a strategic partnership to provide a joint funding scheme with a total budget of £13 million The aim of the scheme is to enhance the quality and impact of social science research addressing the key international development goal of reducing poverty amongst the poorest countries and peoples of the world. More information at the ESRC-DFID joint scheme
5. Findings from the project have also inspired a new book – ‘The Aid Triangle: Recognizing the Human Dynamics of Dominance, Justice and Identity’ (MacLachlan, Carr & McAuliffe; Zed Books, London).
6. The ESRC confirms the quality of its funded research by evaluating research projects through a process of peer review. This research has been graded as outstanding.
The International Doctorate in Global Health (Indigo) was set up in Trinity College in 2009. It is the first truly international doctoral programme in global health. The programme is offered by the International Doctoral School in Global Health, and coordinated by the Centre for Global Health at Trinity College, Dublin. Participating partners include Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), University of Malawi, Ibadan University (Nigeria), Makerere University (Uganda), Columbia University (USA), Harvard Medical School (USA) and UK Cochrane Centre (UK). The Indigo programme offers a unique opportunity for students from diverse backgrounds to study at some of the world’s leading universities and to conduct research in an African setting supported by an international panel of supervisors. The programme is aimed at those interested in global health from a research, policy or practice perspective from any part of the world. Indigo is designed to produce leaders in global health research, policy and practice. The Indigo programme currently has a total of twelve international and Irish registered students. Our international students hail from countries including: Canada, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Finland, Malawi, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and the United States.
The following are articles written by two of Indigo’s current bursary students:
My life as an Indigo Scholar In life there is always a story to tell and mine is one of gratitude. My name is Isabel Kazanga and I come from a family of five children. I was born in Malawi, “the warm heart of Africa”, a land full of smiles. Our parents are the source of our inspiration and motivation and they believe that education is the best gift to give a child. As a child I had dreams and I used to imagine myself as a nurse and travelling around the world. I’m a Registered Nurse Midwife and graduated from the University of Malawi, Kamuzu College of Nursing. Upon graduation I worked with the Ministry of Health in Malawi. In 2008 I fulfilled one of my dreams by travelling to Europe to study European Masters in Sustainable Regional Health Systems in Spain, Hungary, and Italy and graduated in June 2009. I had an excellent and exciting opportunity to develop academically, professionally, and gained life skills. I managed to travel to different European countries where I learnt different languages, cultures, and traditions; made global friendships; and developed an interest to pursue a PhD degree.
I heard about the International Doctorate in Global Health (Indigo), offered by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in Ireland, from one of my classmates and friend Muhammad from Jordan to whom I owe my gratitude. This marked the beginning of my “indigo” story, a journey to another exciting and wonderful experience of my life, another dream come true. I went to Ireland in 2010 to join the Indigo programme. I had always wanted to visit or work and stay in Ireland. “Don’t ask why?”, there was never a substantial reason why I chose Ireland but I just connected to the place. Indigo has described their program as the first truly International doctoral programme in Global Health and I’m glad to be part of it. It is coordinated by the Centre for Global Health at TCD. Its participating partners include University of Malawi, Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Ibadan University (Nigeria), Makerere University (Uganda), Columbia University (USA), Havard Medical School (USA) and UK Cochrane Center. The main focus of Indigo is to strengthen health systems in Africa. Currently I’m at Columbia University, one of the top most universities in the US and globally, which has provided another opportunity for quality education, development of research skills, and establishment of new professional networks.
I will return to Dublin in mid-May 2011 for almost two months before going to South Africa for an Internship. In September 2011, I will go back to Malawi to conduct my research. My focus is on “Effectiveness of Essential Health Package (EHP) in improving access to health services in Malawi: An Equity Perspective”. Upon completion I plan to return home and work with the Ministry of Health in Malawi on development of effective policies and measures for strengthening the health systems through research. I also intend to teach at the University of Malawi.
Article by Isabel Kazanga, PhD Candidate, International Doctoral School in Global Health (INDIGO), Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
A New Approach to Doctoral Training in Global Health: My INDIGO Experience In its second year of teaching, research and global training, the International Doctoral School in Global Health (INDIGO), run by the Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin is a programme aimed at empowering doctoral students with the highest level of academic training in the field of Global Health. The programme aims to “produce doctoral graduates who have the ability to address health problems using a systems framework”. Also to strengthen health systems in developing countries, build capacity for the health sector across several countries and training a new class of global health experts that will transform the “business of health” at the local, national and global level. With a multidisciplinary approach which is one of the key strengths of the programme, students are taught and trained by current experts in the field of health form institutions such as Columbia University, University of Ibadan, Harvard University, University of Malawi, The Cochrane Centre, Makarere University, Oxford University, Human Science Research Council, and Trinity College in Dublin as host institution.
My experience as a first year INDIGO student has been interesting. Coming from a background in Sociology, my approach to the themes and issues of global health is viewed from a systemic lens that is both micro and macro in perspective, on how issues that shape the discourse of global public health thrive. Thus far I’ve been exposed to a wide array of issues in global health from the determinants of health to the fundamentals of health care in developing countries and the priorities in global health as a discipline. My journey which began from Trinity College Dublin offered me the opportunity to meet with policy experts, researchers, consultants and renowned academics in the field of global health, from whose teachings helped my initial understanding of the dynamics of global health and the many challenges that need to be addressed in the field. While at Trinity College Dublin, from September to December 2010, the institution offered a serene environment for learning and academic development. With a truly international community, the various seminars and lectures across the community were a good source of inspiration. Also at the Centre for Global Health, the series of INDIGO weekly seminars, workshops and conferences attended provided good exposure to the past, present and future issues being raised in Global Health. As a doctoral programme with a multicultural background, I am privileged to have colleagues from countries such as Malawi, Sudan, United States of America, Uganda, Congo DR, Ireland, Ethiopia and Canada. Interaction with this group has offered a quick exposure to the cultural differences and similarities we share as people and also the challenges that exist in different countries in the field of global health.
Presently as a visiting fellow to Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, my worldview on the importance of health is being shaped by experts in the field of global public health whose years of experience is now been beneficial to my doctoral training. The Mailman environment is a good source of inspiration to draw from, to spark up the creativity in the human soul and further develop the can do spirit in me which was born years ago in Ibadan. That is, a belief system that all things are possible, especially with a good training and mentorship in an exciting discipline such as global health and the ability to garner a working knowledge on how the challenges in global health can be addressed innovatively from an interdisciplinary and systemic perspective. I also look forward to an internship this summer at the Human Science Research Council in South Africa, to add value to my doctoral training. Although the future that lies ahead may seem unknown, but for global health as a discipline the future of possibilities lies with such a programme as the International Doctoral School in Global Health (INDIGO).
Article by: Saheed Akinmayọwa Lawal, PhD Candidate, International Doctoral School in Global Health (INDIGO), Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Article by David Taylor, Professor of Geography School of Natural Sciences Trinity College, University of Dublin. Ireland
Three scientists from two universities in Ireland (Trinity College, University of Dublin and the University of Limerick), led by Professor David Taylor and working in collaboration with Karisoke Research Centre, Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) and the National University of Rwanda (NUR), have recently completed fieldwork in Parc National des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park), Rwanda. The fieldwork, which received financial assistance from National Geographic’s Committee for Research (a US-based organisation), the British Institute in Eastern Africa and the Government of Ireland, successfully collected baseline physico-chemical data on and sediments from the lake occupying the crater close to the summit of Bisoke volcano (c. 3700 m above sea level). The work is part of a larger research project involving the sampling of crater sites at the summits of neighbouring Muhabura and Gahinga volcanoes that seeks to determine the extent to which climate variability and other ecological pressures, including agriculture and fire, have influenced vegetation composition and extent in the Virunga volcanoes region of the Albertine Rift.
Sediments accumulating in lakes, such as the crater lake on Bisoke, and swamps contain valuable archives of environmental change. Past ecosystem conditions and responses to environmental perturbations, including climate change and fire, over long (i.e. ecologically meaningful) time-scales), can be reconstructed from various sedimentary components – e.g. pollen, charcoal, macrofossils, diatoms and chemical elements. These sedimentary archives, once analysed, can potentially be used to overcome shortages of data from long-term monitoring studies. They can also be used as a basis for validating output from computer-based simulations of environmental change impacts.
In the current research, a bathymetric (lake depth) survey first established the underwater topography of the crater lake on Bisoke and its maximum depth (20.8m). In-situ measurements of water quality indicate that the crater lake is neutral to weakly acidic (pH 6.5-7.0) and has low transparency (c. 0.5m), the latter due to abundant phytoplankton. Four cores of sediment were collected from the deepest point in the lake using a tapper corer, with the longest sediment core collected believed to cover the last c. 1000 years plus. The tapper corer operates by lowering a Perspex coring tube containing a piston so that it sits vertically on the lake bed. The tube, which is suspended by a rope, is then hammered into the sediment using a series of weights operated – from a boat positioned over the coring site - by a second rope. The piston ensures that the coring tube – now full of sediment – can be recovered (i.e. returned to the surface of the lake) without any loss of sediment.
The cores of sediment extruded from the crater lake on Bisoke were sub-sampled in the field. Sub-samples were packaged in air-tight wrappings and labelled and will now be shipped to Ireland where laboratory-based analyses of down-core (i.e. through-time) variations in sedimentary components will be carried out. These analyses will focus on establishing variations in the pollen, charcoal, diatoms, tephra, 210Pb and AMS 14C contents of sub-samples, with the results used to determine both the nature and timing of past changes in vegetation composition and distribution and in aquatic ecosystem and catchment conditions.
The three scientists involved (Professor David Taylor and Gayle McGlynn, Trinity College, University of Dublin, and Dr. Catherine Dalton, University of Limerick) in the fieldwork on Bisoke are extremely grateful for the assistance provided by staff in the Karisoke Research Centre and ORTPN, and to the team of porters who helped ferry equipment between Bisate and the crater lake, and to the Rwanda Development Board for granting research permission. The Rwandan defence forces kindly ensured a secure and safe working environment during the fieldwork, which also involved two periods of camping on the rim of the crater. Copies of all research papers and project reports generated through the research will be deposited with the ORTPN, Karisoke Research Centre, and the Department of Biology, NUR. Sub-samples from one of the four cores of sediment collected from Bisoke crater lake have also been deposited with Karisoke Research Centre to provide a basis for Rwanda-based analyses in the future. These sub-samples might, for example, provide the basis for a Master’s thesis in the future, based at NUR.
To read an article on the project, taken from the December issue of the CAAST-Net Bulletin, please click here. CAAST-Net is a platfortm based in South Africa that aims to promote Africa-Europe collaboration in science and technology.