On the Ground

The Master of Development Practice

Jian (Sam) Hu with a bag of food

The first cohort of UC Berkeley’s new Master of Development Practice (MDP) fanned out across the globe this summer to complete their required practicum, allowing students to apply the skills they learned in the classroom to real-world challenges.

Jian (Sam) Ju (China) worked with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at its headquarters in Rome, Italy. His project merges household data with climate data from Zambia, Malawi, and Vietnam to understand how climate-smart agricultural practices affect agricultural production and food security in these regions.

Tara Roach (USA) worked with Not For Sale, an organization that fights modern-day slavery around the world. She was part of a team that is conducting a comprehensive study on human trafficking in the San Francisco Bay Area, paving the way for a self-sustaining job-training program to support survivors and at-risk individuals.

del cabo grape tomatoes come from a progressive company that works with little farms in Mexico.

Maximilian Zaenker (Germany) collaborated with SEKEM, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in El Minya, Egypt, that promotes sustainable food production in arid conditions and fosters human-centered (community-focused) development throughout Egypt. Zaenker delivered workshops that promote sustainable water use, but his work was interrupted by the region’s violent political clashes, which led to his evacuation from the region.

Asa Feinstein (USA) was in Baja California, Mexico, to evaluate the social impact of Del Cabo, a progressive company that works with smallholder farmers to produce and export organic produce. His summer research aimed to fill a knowledge gap on the company’s social impact.

Shereen Masound worked with nonprofit Kiva to help alleviate poverty.

Kiva is a nonprofit organization that uses small-scale lending, the power of the Internet, and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions to help create opportunity and alleviate poverty around the world. As a Kiva fellow in Palestine and Israel, Shereen Masoud (USA) acted as Kiva’s “eyes and ears on the ground,” working with local partners to ensure that loan dollars go where they are needed most. In Nablus, the 21-year-old tailor Osaid used his Kiva loan to buy a new laptop so that he can research the latest styles.

John Grams (USA) conducted research for the FAO on rural supply chains for various animal products in Mongolia. The aim of the project is to improve the livelihoods of small herders.

Narissa Allibhai (Kenya) assisted the NGO Lem Ethiopia (the Environment and Development Society of Ethiopia), based in Addis Ababa. Her various projects included creating a presentation on human-centered design and helping to develop, implement, and analyze a baseline survey for the Population, Health, and Environment Integration project. 

Peter Myers (USA) and Zhen Zhao (China) worked with Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, an Indian philanthropic organization, to evaluate an education project in rural West Bengal, that integrates computers and other technology into school curricula. The two reported on how well the program met its goals of improving educational achievement, bridging the digital divide, and improving teaching and learning strategies.

The wonderbag! PHOTO: Courtesy of Wonderbag, PHOTO BY: Shareen Masoud

The Durban, South Africa–based company Wonderbag seeks to improve livelihoods across the globe and contribute to climate change mitigation through production and distribution of 100 million of its products around the world. Wonderbag’s titular heat-retention gadget continues to cook food up to several hours after just a few minutes of boiling on the stove, allowing families to reduce their use of water and cooking fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Berkeley MDP team of Jessica Clayton (USA), MaaNaa Pierre (Ghana), and Kamila Demkova (Slovakia) worked with agricultural and resource economics Ph.D. student Vanessa Reed to conduct household surveys and data analysis to evaluate the device’s potential to meet the company’s goals. (See The Big Picture.) 

The Nairobi, Kenya–based Human Needs Project (HNP) is building a new cooperative town center that will provide services in sanitation, health, education, and finance in Kiberia, Kenya’s largest slum.

The Nairobi, Kenya–based Human Needs Project (HNP) is building a new cooperative town center that will provide services in sanitation, health, education, and finance in Kiberia, Kenya’s largest slum. Celia Chessin-Yudin (USA) designed a public health campaign, and James Tinker (USA) designed data collection and storage systems and prepared education programs to train HNP staff as enumerators and analysts. CNR Advisory Board member David Warner ’76 is cofounder of HNP, with Connie Nielson