Capstone Courses and Projects
Gram Vikas is a nonprofit organization located in rural east India with a mission to promote processes which are sustainable, socially inclusive and gender equitable to enable critical masses of poor and marginalized rural people or communities to achieve a dignified quality of life. The Capstone team was asked to evaluate Gram Vikas' water and sanitation program in regards to health and community effectiveness. The team's report integrated the program's impacts on the community with an analysis of how the managerial structure of the organization affects the program. The team conducted literature reviews and read extensive field reports from the water and sanitation sector in India and worldwide to gain a fuller understanding of Gram Vikas' role in the development community, while reviewing outside evaluations and in-house testimonials from the organization to gain a better perspective of the functioning organization. A three week trip to India for field research gave the team a rich amount of data and insight into Gram Vikas, and the team's recommendations are geared to help both the organization specifically as well as leave points of reference for other organizations involved with community led methods.
United States Agency for International Development, Nicaragua
Despite abundant water resources, contamination, weak institutions, and poor quality infrastructure have left much of Nicaragua without access to safe water and sanitation services. Throughout the country, the rural poor remain the population most in need, often relying on contaminated surface water and inadequate sanitation practices. The government's efforts and those of the international community in the last two decades have yielded little expansion of the current system. The Capstone team was asked to report on this situation for USAID, collecting baseline countrywide data, interviewing individuals from all sectors involved, and surveying recent interventions. Field experience by the Capstone team in Nicaragua demonstrated that Comites de Agua Potable y Saniemento (CAPS) could harbinger change after many years of slow progress in these sectors. Recommendations built on the successes observed in the country and were targeted to areas of severest need with regard to poverty, current access to water and sanitation, and incidence of natural disasters.
World Bank Water and Sanitation Program
The purpose of this Capstone project was to assess the Horizontal Learning Program (HLP) in rural Bangladesh, an initiative driven by the World Bank as an effort to strengthen public service capacity amongst the lowest tier of government. The report, informed by field research, assesses the current HLP and suggests recommendation for improvement and opportunities for scaling across Bangladesh. It also identifies elements that could enable replication of the program into other contexts. Overall, the report concludes that the HLP in Bangladesh is not truly horizontal, not strictly about learning, and is much more than a traditionally defined capacity building program: it is a replicable system of exchanges that empowers people and communities by enabling knowledge sharing through a dynamic network of individuals and institutions.
The Capstone team worked with Alim?ntate Ecuador (AE) of Ecuador's Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion to provide a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) strategy, as well as an information management system, for the use of Chispaz, a micronutrient food supplement. Chispaz is being introduced in AE's Programa Alimentario Nutricional Integral (PANI), a national program aimed at reducing widespread anemia among children under the age of five. The Capstone team's goal was to provide a sustainable methodology to assist AE in monitoring results and assessing program impact. The team designed an M&E and information management system for AE that incorporated both short and long-term recommendations, along with varied implementation scenarios. Key recommendations included the incorporation of positive deviation, time series design, trigger identification for program evaluation, and tiered analysis of information at both the provincial and national levels.
The Capstone team performed a qualitative evaluation of Bhavishya Alliance's Girls Gaining Ground program, a pilot program to empower adolescent girls in Maharashtra, India. The team traveled to India, where it conducted site visits in Mumbai slums and rural areas of Maharashtra. Team members interviewed girls participating in the program, mothers of these girls, program facilitators, government officials, and diverse NGO staff. After completing fieldwork, the Capstone team analyzed the interviews and composed a comprehensive evaluation, highlighting the unique strengths of the program and making suggestions for improvements.
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
In 2001, the Indian government mandated that all government schools in the country serve a hot lunch to primary school students. As a result, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other local groups have stepped in to provide service delivery. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) provides funding to one Indian NGO, Naandi Foundation, which serves meals to over one million children daily across four states. GAIN requested a Capstone team to visit a number of sites where Naandi works, observe operations, and interview kitchen staff, students, teachers, and government officials. The Capstone team also gathered information about the variety and complexity of relationships Naandi maintains across the public and private sectors, as well as the business principles it utilizes to create effective and efficient service delivery. The Capstone team compiled this information and produced a report that other NGOs and governments working with GAIN can use to develop effective school lunch programs in their own locales.