One of the greatest things about SIPA is the opportunity to do a summer internship abroad. And with abroad, I mean almost any corner in the planet. From Bhutan to Brazil or Cambodia to Bolivia, hundreds of SIPA students say goodbye to New York City every May to embark on fascinating adventures.
This past summer I decided to go to Kenya. Before coming to SIPA, I worked for four years in development projects at the Organization of American States, but my experience was centered in Latin America and the Caribbean. The idea of living and working in East Africa has always been appealing to me; my summer internship was a great way to get a taste of what this amazing region has to offer.
My internship, like most students in the MPA in Development Practice program, was with an Earth Institute project. A fellow student and I worked with Millennium Cities Initiatives, a project that provides technical assistance to over 10 cities across Africa to advance urban development.
We were based in Kisumu, a warm and relatively small city in Western Kenya, on the shores of the mystic Lake Victoria. Our mission was to support the District Health Office in identifying all health providers in the District, and carry out a survey to find out more about their infrastructure conditions and the services they provide. In a city where only a handful of streets have a name, we also carried out a geo-mapping of all clinics, hospitals and dispensaries, plotting them in a Google Map that will hopefully help local authorities to better manage health delivery.
Driving around Kisumu slums in a motorbike in search of clinics constantly reminded me of the importance of doing field work to give sense to what we study at SIPA. The challenges governments face to provide quality services and the many obstacles low-income people confront to access them are some of the most present discussions we have in class. Every summer, SIPA students have the opportunity to see these problems first hand, greatly enriching our understanding of the complexities behind development.
Blog post submitted by Mariana Costa. Mariana is a second year student in the MPA in Development Practice program at SIPA.