Utilizing Remote Sensing to Evaluate Foreign Health Aid Effectiveness

Hello, all!

This post comes at a unique time. I’m just about to finish up a research project that I’ve been working on for the past year. I’ll be quickly moving on from this project to my thesis project.

First a little about what I’ve been up to for the past year, then see below for an abstract for a project that will start this summer.

I’m currently a research fellow with the Project on International Peace and Security — an undergraduate think tank on campus. Fellowships last for a year— the fall is geared towards brainstorming a topic relating to emerging international security concerns, and the spring is the time to get busy researching, writing, and editing. The year culminates in an end of the year presentation, which happens to be tomorrow evening at the National Press Club up in D.C.

For my project, I examined the threat of emerging climate-sensitive disease to provoke political instability. In essence, I identified potential “hotspots” of disease induced instability, and examined how disease could interact with existing socio-political trends. You can see my policy paper and the other fellows’s on the PIPS website, here:



Now, onto another health-related research project. My thesis. Here, I’m taking taking a different take on public-health. See the description for my thesis below. But for now, I’m off to continue practicing for my presentation for tomorrow:

In this thesis I seek to assess the utility of remote sensing technology (satellite imagery) to evaluate foreign health aid projects. Satellite imagery can capture an incredible range of information, far beyond simply what the human eye can see. This project stems from the reality that many developing countries lack the infrastructure to effectively collect disease data, which hinders researchers’ ability to evaluate the impact of foreign health aid. Remote sensing has the potential to fill these data gaps. While health cannot be directly observed from satellite imagery, disease has a number of indirect effects that I hypothesize can be observed using remote sensing techniques. Many endemic area economies are heavily agrarian, and literature has highlighted the direct impact of disease outbreaks on agriculture and crop productivity, as people grow less crops or shift to growing less intensive crops. Resulting from this indirect impact, I seek to understand the extent that crop productivity changes as a result of disease impacts. Furthermore, if changes can be observed, I seek to understand the extent and conditions under which crop productivity ‘improves’ as a result of foreign health aid.