Dear Friends of HESN,

Welcome to 2016 and the 8th Issue of the HESN Connector! This issue is jam-packed with funding and job opportunities, updates, and exciting developments from HESN, the Global Development Lab, and our partners. We're excited for what 2016 holds and look forward to a year full of stories of our high impact activities and from our partners. If you have an opportunity or story that you'd like featured in the next newsletter, please let us know by emailing .


The HESN Team

TechCon is Coming, We're Looking for Partners!
We are in the beginning stages of planning HESN's Technical Convening (TechCon) 2016. This is a unique convening of researchers, students, entrepreneurs and innovators, development experts, field practitioners, and private sector representatives focused on innovative approaches to addressing challenges in international development. If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact Ashley Heiber   ( ) to explore partnership opportunities.
Updates from HESN Development Labs
AidData , based at the College of William & Mary, had a very busy end of 2015! They launched their "Listening to Leaders" report drawing on the experiences and observations of nearly 6,750 policymakers and practitioners in 126 countries to answer critical questions on how decision-makers in low and middle-income countries interact with development partners. The report was profiled by The Washington Post and AidData organized a webinar to explain the implications of their findings. AidData also launched their first public Data Management Plan . Finally, AidData reflected on their partnership with USAID's Global Development Lab through a blog series, including 'A Look Back at Year Three ', 'What to Look for in Year Four' , and more !

Wheelchair Serafin Kangad from Mindanao, Philippines.
MIT's Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation (CITE) plans to evaluate at least three new product families in 2016, including solar water pumps, food aid packaging, and wheelchairs for developing countries. Additionally, CITE and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) Bharat announced a new partnership to analyze the potential of consumer-driven technology evaluation.

The International Development Innovation Network (IDIN), also at MIT, just launched a new storytelling initiative called "Humans of IDIN" on Instagram , modeled after Humans of New York, to tell their Network members' stories. To learn more about what IDIN members are doing in their communities, read an interview with the organizer of the first-ever International Development Design Summit in Pakistan. There are many other achievements from IDIN Innovators to highlight from the past year , including 14 Network members that were awarded micogrants to support innovative technologies and approaches. Meanwhile in Pakistan, a International Development Design Summit (IDDS) participant highlights their polio project and another that connects women entrepreneurs to the market using a streamlined SMS platform.

Carts currently used by Mayan
women in Guatemala.
The Center on Conflict and Development (ConDev), based at Texas A&M University, highlighted a Student Media Grantee that shared the stories of Boko Haram victims in Nigeria through film . If you missed IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze's visit to Texas A&M late last year, watch the video lecture on "The Current and Future Challenges of Sustainable Food Security". Additionally, Students at Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas worked with ConDev to design a cart to enable Mayan women in the central highlands of Guatemala to collect cut roses in greenhouses. ConDev students will be busy designing an improved washing system for their project in Guatemala. And finally, congratulations to ConDev's Ed Price and Johanna Roman, whose work was featured in the Global Coffee Report .

The Development Impact Lab (DIL) at the University of California-Berkeley's most recent State of the Lab is out, hig hlighting transformative science, engineering, and innovation collaborations happening at UC-Berkeley and beyond. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Big Ideas@Berkeley social innovation competition. Check out a celebratory timeline of all they've accomplished, or learn from Big Ideas winner Amelia Phillips as she shares her lessons from working in Kibera, Kenya and supporting early-stage entrepreneurs. Endaga founders and DevEng students Kurtis Heimerl, Shaddi Hasan, and Kashif Ali, have merged with Facebook to further efforts in increasing network connectivity around the globe. Last but not least, learn how AMPLab, a DIL Explore Grantee, is enabling air quality analyses via Berkeley software .

The Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) at Michigan State University's Food Fix blog and podcast recently featured a story on a seed bank organized by r ural villagers in India to conserve biodiversity. They also shared a story about how to use plant gases to reduce food spoilage , which can add up to 40% in developing countries. In other news, GCFSI has selected 10 winners for their most recent innovation challenge grants.

Kenneth Wanyama, Improved Push and Pull project team leader, surveys the maize garden for stem-eating larvae.
The ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) based in Makerere University, Uganda, recently profiled the 2014-15 Big Ideas winners from Makerere University. The Makerere campus was recently visited by BBC Journalist James Fletcher and documented by Urban Television in Uganda. Additionally, STEM Uganda 2016 Girls Camp is underway, training girls on computer programming, entrepreneurship in the tech sector, making healthy life choices, and physical fitness . Finally, the November/December theme for USAID Frontlines is resilience. Naturally, RAN is a feature! Read about 4 RAN innovations that are making strides towards building community resilience.

Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) led a panel titled "Learning Through Innovation: Student Work Supporting the Scale and Growth of Private Sector Health Entrepreneurs" at the Triangle Global Health Conference. If you're interested in the role of social media in changing behavior, read their blog post series titled " Facebook & health: A match made in Latin America? ", which shares findings from a SEAD research project on the effect of Facebook in encouraging healthy behaviors. As we gear up for a new summer of interns, one of last year's interns from SEAD blogs about his experience .
Data Spotlight: 
Determining Causes and Effects of 
Insecurity in Rural Liberia
Written by Guest Blogger Rebecca Nebel

Rice Processing: Villagers
gather rice before knocking
it against their baskets.
Food insecurity is a major challenge in many parts of Africa.  Liberia is one of the most food insecure, conflict prone, and impoverished nations in West Africa. Data on household level food insecurity is challenging to gather because of the regional political instability, frequent conflict, and weak infrastructure. Researchers from the Center on Conflict and Development at Texas A&M (ConDev) collected data on agricultural practices of rural Liberian households in late 2012. The survey was part of a larger study ConDev conducted on behalf of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to better understand agricultural production in Ghana, Liberia, and Senegal.

Researchers at ConDev, along with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, hypothesized that low productivity on rural farms is caused by minimal assets and that conflict contributes to limitations. Local conflict is a compounding factor that impacts the decision making process of farmers. Conflict reduces individual access to farm assets and changes the value of investing in equipment.  The survey ConDev conducted identifies how distribution of assets (such as tractors, machines, and hand tools) on small African farms relates to hunger, technology usage, and productivity.  The three countries examined were stratified by levels of conflict they have recently experienced with Liberia just moving past a period of continual conflict after two civil wars, Ghana being relatively conflict free, and Senegal falling somewhere in between.

Lola County Interview: Team member, Cain Thurmond, conducts interviews in Lofa.
ConDev researchers randomly selected rural communities to survey and interviewed every farmer in those communities. Only farmers who were present and lived on their farm (as opposed to absentee landlords who may live in the city) were surveyed. Farmers were asked questions about food security, agricultural production, agricultural land and equipment, conflict and displacement due to conflict, agriculture practices, and production practices.

The researchers found that there is a very distinct relationship between farm productivity and conflict in Liberia. The longer farmers were displaced from their land due to conflict, the lower their productivity was upon their return to the farm. There was also a similar correlation between the number of family members lost due to conflict and productivity. Additionally, farm assets are not well distributed, with 80 percent of the farmers possessing less than 20 percent of the farm assets. Fewer assets correlated with poorer adoption of technology (e.g. use of modern crop variety, use of fertilizer, improved crop variety and machinery) and ultimately less productivity. With these analyses, donors can use the data to address the conflict-related causes behind low farm productivity in hopes of improving food security in Liberia.

Food Security Surveys: The ConDev team interviewed 30-40 farmers per community in rural Liberia for a food security survey.
The data collected was published in the Howard G. Buffett Foundation annual report and the dataset is available by request. Ed Price, ConDev Director, notes that there are still a lot of data to be analyzed.  For example, ConDev collected very detailed information about nutrition. They gathered data on household consumption of over 15 food groups that has yet to be examined.  Analyses could include how commodity consumption relates to income or productivity.

Those interested in the Liberian dataset should contact Shahriar Kibriya ( ).

What We're Reading
Here is a roundup of articles and resources that have been circulating through our Network:
  • Noora Health helps ease strain on hospitals around the developing world (HuffPost Impact)
  • Solar Suitcase Helps Women Give Birth in Africa (Medical Daily)

  • Hello Teacher: An ICT Solution for Classroom Engagement (Khaleej Mag)

  • Study to find tech choices of women with low income (Times of India)

  • Tech Infrastructure in the Development World (TechCrunch)

Funding and Fellowship
  • The application/nomination period for the 2016-2017 AAAS Invention Ambassador class is now open. Please share the link broadly within your networks. Deadline for applications/nominations: April 4, 2016.
  • The call for Saving Lives at Birth Round 6 is now open.
    Saving Lives at Birth Round 6 invites global problem solvers to answer their call for groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in poor, hard-to-reach communities around the time of childbirth. The challenge seeks to identify and develop transformative approaches that integrate 1) scientific and technological advancements, 2) better service delivery models and, 3) improved "demand side" innovations. Apply by February 29, 2016 at 2pm EST.
  • There are lots of competing voices, priorities, and solutions in the development innovation space. The Global Innovation Exchange filters out the noise and makes it easy for you to find the opportunities for collaboration you are looking for. Join the Exchange to find and share solutions, identify funding, reach donors, share data and evidence, and promote collaboration.
  • AidData is seeking a Field Coordinator, Research Analysts, Assistant Data Manager, and more to join their team.
  • IDIN Network members are looking for volunteers, interns, and employees! Check the "jobs" section of their opportunities page for openings. 
  • Development Gateway, an AidData partner, is hiring a Washington, DC based Senior Data Scientist to partner with USAID. More info here.
Get to know our HESN Development Labs!
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