Capstone Courses and Projects

Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Analysis of the Implementation of Domestic Violence Against Women and Dowry-Related Domestic Violence Legislation
In India, women activists are now pushing for the enactment of legislation against domestic violence. Through research and fieldwork in Lucknow, India, the Capstone team first examined the evolution and implementation of legislation against dowry-related violence since its first enactment in 1961 and its amendments in the mid-80s. The team used this analysis to study the proposed 2002 Protection from Domestic Violence Bill and identify the potential challenges and obstacles to effective implementation and enforcement. Recommendations from the team were two-pronged: raise public awareness of gender inequalities in marriage, family, and society; and suggest ways to improve service delivery and law enforcement systems. Crucial roles of international organizations in enhancing gender equalities and safety were also discussed.

The Markle Foundation and Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique

Building Information and Communication Technology Skills and Organizational Change in the District Health Information System in Mozambique
Supported by The Markle Foundation, the Capstone team (along with six students from Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), Mozambique) embarked on an international and cross-cultural venture to study the potential role and benefits of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for the Ministry of Health (MISAU) in Mozambique. The project was framed within the context of the “Capacity Building Initiative for Public Administration in Mozambique,” a joint collaboration between NYU Wagner and UEM. The team was asked to ascertain how to enhance management capacity and primary health service delivery through the use of ICTs within the MISAU. Based on research and interviews with key representatives from the MISAU and participants of the ICT National Initiative, the team recommended training strategies and an organizational framework for the successful implementation and management of an integrated locally based information system.

United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS) Legal and Procurement Division

Engaging the Private Sector in the Global Compact Initiative through the Procurement Operations of the United Nations Office of Project Services
The goal of the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS), the largest service provider in the United Nations system, is to enhance management of project resources in support of the UN Mission of peace and development. The UN's Global Compact Initiative (GCI) aims to encourage corporations to align their practices and policies with internationally accepted values and objectives in human rights, labor standards, and the environment. The Capstone team was asked to develop a plan of action that identifies viable options to incorporate the principles of the GCI into the operations of the Legal and Procurement Division of UNOPS. Phase One of the project examined UNOPS’s procurement operations and guidelines, other international procurement processes, and the GCI, to identify best practices. Since the GCI engages its clients on a voluntary basis, issues of awareness, enforcement, compliance, reward systems, and ethical questions were explored in the action plan.

The General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church (UMC)

Developing Strategic Marketing and Fundraising Tools for the General Board of Global Ministries International Development (Advance) Projects
The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) Capstone project created and designed a fundraising package that can be used by the United Methodist Church in appealing to UMC congregants for donations on behalf of the Chicuque Rural Hospital (CRH) in Mozambique. CRH is a 200-bed health care facility facing acute health issues that continue to keep Mozambique in the bottom quartile of developing countries. It strives to deliver quality health care services to a population of 485,000 with severely limited resources and capacity. While CRH is a government hospital, one of only three teaching hospitals in the country, its partnership with GBGM funds 70% of the hospital’s budget, provided almost solely from UMC members. CRH now competes with more than 2,000 projects for funding without directly soliciting funds. The Capstone team, working with six Mozambican students from Wagner's partner, Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), delivered an easily replicable strategic marketing plan for CRH that includes a PowerPoint presentation, slide show, success stories, CRH Web Pages within the GBGM Website, and a sustainability plan.

United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services

A Study on Strengthening and Managing Organizational Integrity
The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services asked the Capstone team to assist in the development of a comprehensive organizational integrity framework at the United Nations. The Capstone team contributed research and analysis on how organizations in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors strengthen and manage organizational integrity. Research techniques included interviewing key personnel at select multinational organizations, a literature review, as well as an analysis on the usage of various organizational integrity tools, such as employee surveys. The end product presented to the client included a report on best practices and recommendations for implementation of these practices at the United Nations.

World Bank, Jakarta Urban Development Office

Monitoring Public Service Delivery Under Indonesia’s Emerging Decentralization
In the wake of the 1997 Asian fiscal crises and the demise of the Suharto regime, the government of Indonesia has implemented a decentralization program that is considered the new hope for development and growth in the country. If local government performance in service delivery under this new system (both real and perceived) can be correctly measured, important feedback on how to improve the decentralization efforts may be determined. The Capstone team identified options for creating a framework to evaluate local government service delivery activities from the perspective of the general public with a Citizen’s Participatory Monitoring System (also known as a report card system). Such a monitoring system could be institutionalized to provide regular feedback on Indonesian local governments’ public service delivery performance.

World Bank Institute

Civic Participation in Fiscal Decentralization: A Comparative Study of Developing Countries in Africa and Latin America
The Capstone team was asked to develop a comparative analysis of civic participation structures of fiscal decentralization in Brazil, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. With a counterpart Capstone team that analyzed financial flows, the team developed didactic materials for the World Bank Institute as a capacity building tool for policymakers in Africa and Latin America. The project compared public resource allocation at the sub-national level, focusing on incentives for and conditions of participation in the policy process. The research entailed reviewing donor reports, interview transcripts of local government officials, and studies outlining civic participation models. The results indicate that civic participatory mechanisms shaping local resource allocation reflect each country’s unique political, economic, and cultural context.

World Bank Institute

Analysis of Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfer Systems in Africa and Latin America
In order to provide support to the World Bank Institute (WBI) on fiscal decentralization issues in Africa and Latin America, the Capstone team evaluated intergovernmental fiscal transfer systems in the two regions. In analyzing the systems in Africa’s Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda and in Latin America’s Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua, comparisons were made in order to extract mechanisms that might improve the transfer systems function as a whole, as well as within these regions. In addition, the analysis was presented in a WBI course via videoconference held in Uganda to participants from several African countries. Didactic materials were developed for future WBI courses as a tool to improve understanding of transfer systems.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture & Trade

The Role of Partnerships and Participation in Local Economic Development in Africa
As urban populations in developing countries continue to grow, cities are becoming an increasingly critical component to economic stabilization as well as to overall national development. Recognizing such urban migration patterns and the underlying importance of economic growth, local governments must design comprehensive, but flexible strategies that include public-private partnerships and civil society participation. Economic development strategies must be a process to create linkages between stakeholders and a plan for economic productivity and diversification using local resources. The Capstone team assessed approaches to local economic development in two cities: Livingstone, Zambia and Kigali, Rwanda. The team critiqued existing development models and proposed an economic development framework that helps to build and measure partnerships and participation. The team also produced a reporting template to assist USAID in reviewing future economic development strategies.

South African Department of Provincial and Local Government

The Development of a Funding Matrix for Local Government
In December 2000, the number of municipalities in South Africa was reduced from 843 to 284, as a result of demarcation to improve the efficiency of the public services provided by each municipality. Since then, the South African Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) has monitored the transformation of the municipalities and is currently in the process of establishing a mechanism to assess funding requirements. DPLG requested that the Capstone team assist in developing a matrix for service provisions in order to determine the level of fiscal transfer for each municipality. The team undertook field visits to ten sample municipalities to identify information to be included in the matrix.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Indonesia Ministry of Finance

Indonesia Local Government Tax Analysis
As part of the United States Agency for International Development technical assistance to the Indonesia Ministry of Finance, the project studied new taxes and charges adopted by local governments under the country’s evolving decentralization process. This study was part of a broader attempt to understand local government revenue-raising capacity to support local service delivery, which became more important after the fall of the centralized Suharto government. Specifically, this study sought to categorize more than 1,300 types of taxes throughout the archipelago. Data sets received from three different secondary sources were translated from Bahasa Indonesia to English and then cleaned for duplication. Remaining data points were defined according to sector and tax type. Analysis of the new set of taxes is intended to give the Ministry of Finance a better understanding of how local governments are using expanded revenue-raising powers and whether adjustments or further reforms are required.

United Nations Capital Development Fund and World Bank

Preliminary Review of the Local Planning and Finance Systems Under Cambodia’s Emerging Decentralization
The Capstone team was sponsored by the United Nations Capital Development Fund and World Bank to evaluate a national decentralization program, recently established to develop grassroots democracy and alleviate poverty. Research focused on the emerging local development planning process and the financial management system. In addition to literature reviews, the team undertook fieldwork in Cambodia, consisting of interviews with members of national ministries, provincial administrative agencies, and newly elected commune governments. The research project documented the successes and challenges faced in decentralization, compared the progress of variously experienced provinces, and considered future improvements to the program.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization

Ghana Foreign Investment Promotion
The Investment and Technology Branch of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is undertaking a project with the government of Ghana to improve the country’s investment climate and increase the flow of foreign investment. This project includes the development of an adequate institutional framework, institution building, capacity building, and promotional activities. The Capstone team provided an analysis of 150 industrial and technological project profiles.

Interhemispheric Resource Center

The Use (or Misuse) of Community Participation in the Establishment and Management of Protected Areas in the Developing World
The Capstone team developed a policy paper intended to inform key decision makers about the current debate surrounding the use of participatory techniques in establishing and managing “Protected Areas” in the developing world. The discussion includes an examination of the theoretical debate surrounding the appropriateness of such techniques and their alternatives and looks at case studies to explore how some of these key themes play out in practice. The findings include recommendations learned from both the literature and case studies.