Claim this State!

Local ownership is one of the most prominent themes we continually encounter in our research on the impact of international aid to municipalities in the western Balkans. This is an extremely complicated and controversial issue that cuts to the heart of how international organizations (IOs) should aim to design their good governance aid programs.

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Debates: Increasing IO Efficacy

My research partner and I have been attempting to tackle a problem highlighted by various local officials in Bosnia about International Organizations and NGOs. The issue is that oftentimes external aid often involves a team of people who come in, provide a few training sessions, and then leave. These sessions can often be complicated, and don’t address practical skills local officials need in order to properly implement government reform. This is especially true when NGOs are focusing on improving local government and increasing citizen participation.
My thought on a possible solution was that instead of short term training programs, NGOs should create multi-stage long-term plans that involve assigning a few experts to stay in each municipal level administrative office to ensure new policies and practices are implemented correctly. The overall goal for these governments is to increase the effectiveness of local government while simultaneously increasing transparency and reducing corruption. These “foreign attachés” would essentially be on assignment for a few years, possible switched out with every so often, just the way diplomats are in embassies. Local staff and officials that remain would help with continuity, but the idea is that they would have constant guidance and supervision on their operations. As each office better understands the culture of good governance and is able to weed out corruption, the number of foreign advisors would reduce, or their terms would decrease until finally they are only sent for annual evaluations and check-ups.

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Cold Spring Harbor

Cold Spring Harbor was like an intellectually intensive summer camp. And it was the greatest educational experience I’ve ever had. In many ways it was more fun than freshman year of college.

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Last weeks in Williamsburg

Environment. My last few weeks in the lab were quiet since the other two undergrads were gone. It was pretty lonely being stuck inside a freezing cold lab with no one to talk to.  I’ve learned that I need a social work environment. I am much more productive when I have a friend also working in the same room or at the same table. I don’t enjoy feeling isolated from the world. It is nice to be able to take a break and have someone to take a walk to Wawa with or share something funny with. Knowing this, I’m going to make sure I schedule my time in the lab next fall when they are also in the lab.

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Filtering Water Samples (with our handy dandy pump)

This has been an exciting week for the Riparian buffer group!  On Friday we went out to our field site and found 13 water samples waiting for us in the ISCO autosampler.  These samples mean that we got a storm strong enough to cause our channel to flow.  Even more awesome, we have samples from the whole storm, from start to finish, so we don’t have to extrapolate concentrations of nutrients and sediment for any of the storm.  The samples also had a dark brown tinge to them, implying high levels of DOC (Dissolved Organic Carbon).  DOC comes from water contacting dead plant matter on the ground, leaves in the trees, and basically any organic matter that the water touches.

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