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Managing Humanitarianism

Dissertation Project

When donors give humanitarian aid during or after a crisis, such as a natural disaster, conflict, or famine, donors, not recipient governments, decide how funds are spent. Citing concerns about recipient governments’ ability or will to provide assistance, donors channel the vast majority of these funds to international organizations and NGOs, which deliver goods and services to affected populations.  Although host governments rarely receive humanitarian assistance directly, they play a significant but often overlooked role in determining the success or failure of humanitarian assistance. Governments, even those with limited capacity, can prevent the delivery of aid by legally banning humanitarian actors, delaying their deployment by postponing visas or other approval processes, and restricting access to affected populations. Governments can also facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance by fast-tracking administrative procedures, sharing resources and information with humanitarians, and providing humanitarians with requested security assistance. This dissertation project investigates how, when, and why governments enable or obstruct the delivery of assistance. It further explores the consequences of these decisions for the welfare of intended beneficiaries of assistance.

Ethnic Marginalization and (Non)Compliance in Public Health Emergencies

with Leonardo R. Arriola

Health crises can reveal the inability of governments to induce compliance with policy interventions. While lack of compliance is conventionally attributed to individual mistrust in government, resistance to such interventions is often found clustered among entire communities, particularly in ethnically divided societies. We account for such patterns by explaining how citizens adjust their responses to state authority according to their shared ethnicity with those in power. We assess the effect of ethnicity on citizen compliance with a public health advisory on HIV/AIDs issued by different authority types through a survey-based field experiment in the West African country of Guinea. Members of a politically marginalized ethnic group, the Peul, are significantly less likely to comply with a public health advisory from a national government representative, the president, when compared to local or religious leaders. We show that perceived ethnic discrimination conditions both trust in and compliance with different authority types.

Local Solutions to Local Problems? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Educational Programs to Reduce Interethnic Tensions and Local Violence

with William Nomikos and Niloufer Siddiqui

We assess the effectiveness of a new EU-funded project to strengthen  social trust and rebuild communal norms of tolerance in  Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso has a strong history of peaceful coexistence among ethnic and religious groups, but in recent years has seen a rise of organized violence by Islamic extremists and a fracturing of old forms of social solidarity. Through a randomized  curricular intervention administered in schools and youth clubs, this study assesses the effectiveness of individual-level (building self-esteem and self-confidence)  and community-level (encouraging social cohesion through emphasizing shared identities) factors on intercommunal trust and the willingness of individuals to rely on non-violent solutions to local disputes. The proposed intervention seeks to educate  adolescents to reinforce identities that are tolerant of others and resilient to radicalization.  In co-ooperation with a local implementing partner, we randomly assign an  education module to teachers and non-school educators in six communes and two cities (Bobo-Dioulasso and Ouagadougou) in Burkina Faso. These educators will deliver the module to 2,400 youth from the ages of 12-25.

Funded by Innovation for Poverty Action's Peace and Recovery Program.