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Initiative seeks to improve global health

| Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Michael Sweikar, head of the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD), was recently awarded a contract from Project Concern International (PCI) to evaluate one of their projects in Indonesia.

The Child Health Opportunities Integrated with Community Empowerment (CHOICE) project, which Sweikar and others at Notre Dame will be working to evaluate, is centered on improving the health of local children through wells and other water-related interventions.

“We were to measure the impact of the CHOICE project … Project Concern International implemented.,” Sweikar said, “[Project CHOICE] is basically a U.S. Agency for International Development funded project that was primarily in Indonesia. It was a four-year project from 2003 to 2007 and one of the primary goals of the project was to try to improve or help the health in these communities for children.

“You’re looking at impact in the terms of fine health improvements in children.”

Sweikar said this work is part of a worldwide effort to help evaluate the impact of government-funded projects such as Project CHOICE.

“Our main focus is to look at global government projects and look at what impacts those projects are actually having,” Sweikar said. “What we do is above and beyond just measuring outputs, such as whether a well is built. Not only where the project is implemented, but what actual outcomes or impacts it has for community members in terms of better health or education.

“We’re doing a project in Ghana where we’re measuring the impact of water points — wells and other water systems in the country. We’re also doing an investigation in Burkina Faso, which is nearby Ghana. We’ve done a number of evaluations as well in Uganda.”

Sweikar said all the information from those aid programs will help to tailor or to redesign aid for better efficiency and effectiveness.

“When we are able to view our final reports at any location, our goal is to work with the organization … and we provide the information and the data,” Sweikar said. “In some cases, they can modify the project or implementation. Or in the case of PCI, they may be able to use that information for a redesign for a new project or look for what works and what doesn’t work for a new project proposal … and ideally look at some lessons learned from all our work.”

Sweikar said his work with other researchers from the University will begin in the spring.

“The data collection will actually occur this spring,” said Sweikar, “The data we’re going to collect will be collected in April 2014. So Notre Dame researchers, including [Professors] Edwin Michael, Juan Carlos Guzman and Lila Khatiwada, are going to work with Project Concern International and go to Indonesia and that’s where we are going to look at the sample size, investigate the households and conduct the survey to see the what benefits the program had.”

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