Reaching out to help investigate and address various issues identified through community engagement, these projects of the Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity seek to apply research to identify sustainable solutions and to promote development and human flourishing.


Empowering Pregnant Women in Lima, Peru

Many Peruvian women report experiencing physical or sexual violence in long-term romantic relationships, and studies have identified pregnancy as a time of particularly high risk for victimization. That violence carries risks for both mother and child during pregnancy and postpartum. 

The Ford Program is adapting an intervention program now being piloted in South Bend, Ind., and Memphis, Tenn., for use in the capital of Lima. The Pregnant Moms’ Empowerment Program addresses how intimate partner violence affects mental health and pregnancy in five group therapy sessions. 

Ford is collaborating with local agencies in Lima to make the program culturally and contextually relevant for women there, and will evaluate its success through a mixed-method study that includes qualitative interviews and a randomized control trial to measure quantitative physical and mental changes in participants’ health.

Partners: Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Holy Cross Instituto de Pastoral de la Familia (INFAM), Building Resilience Against Violence Exposure (BRAVE) Lab, Universidad Católica Sedes Sapientiae
Researchers: Laura Miller-Graff, with assistance from Danice Guzman, Ford Program monitoring and evaluation specialist
Period: 2017-2019


Remitting Belief to the Global South: An Interdisciplinary Study of Migration through Fieldwork and Big Data

Nearly a quarter of a billion people worldwide are international migrants. The Ford Program is studying how this unprecedented movement of peoples has influenced norms in the source countries of Sri Lanka and Mali, particularly in the context of human development in the areas of religion, society and culture. 

A new Ford initiative seeksto understand how migrants’ experiences abroad shape their attitudes and behavior, and that of their communities, when they return home. It also studies how access to information changes perceptions about migration.

The project blends methodological approaches by complementing fieldwork with applied econometrics to analyze “big data.” 

PartnersNotre Dame Initiative for Global Development, World Bank
Researchers:Faculty Fellows Nilesh Fernando and Jaimie Bleck 
Period: Spring 2018 through at least fall 2019

Humanitarian Corridor Initiative

Thousands of refugees and migrants risk their lives each year crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. A “humanitarian corridor” initiative, started following an agreement signed by the Italian government and several religious and non-governmental organizations, is providing a small number of refugees with safe travel and visas to Italy, along with housing and resettlement assistance upon arrival. 

The Ford Program is evaluating the effects of the program, which is bringing 500 Eritrean, South Sudanese, and Somali refugees – most living in Ethiopian camps – to Italy, where they will live with an Italian host family for at least one year. Ford, in partnership with Caritas Italy and the Community of Sant’Egidio, will assess their integration into the country from the viewpoint of both the refugees and members of their Italian host communities by collecting their narratives over a five-year period. 

The study will examine the refugees’ experiences, beginning with their departure from Ethiopia to their arrival in Italy, and evaluate whether the humanitarian corridor effort could serve as a model for migrant integration and inclusion in Europe. It will also seek to understand how religion affects both European attitudes toward migrants and migrant attitudes toward host societies.  

Partners: Caritas Italy, Community of Sant’Egidio
Researchers: Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow Clemens Sedmak, professor of social ethics; and Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee, Kellogg Institute research assistant professor.
Period: 2018 – 2022



Kenyan Youth Scenarios Workshops

In 2010 and 2011, several hundred Kenyan youth leaders and activists took part in a series of weeklong workshops designed to help them envision how young people could shape the country 20 years in the future.

Participants in the Kenyan Youth Scenarios (KEYS) workshops discussed challenges related to democracy, including elections, resource distribution, and citizen participation. The public interest scenario workshops were held across the country and followed by a final national workshop in Nairobi, where they developed more detailed narratives about what the country might look like in 2031. 

The Ford Program initiative will examine how KEYS affected the long-term personal and public trajectories of the 300 original workshop participants, who came from diverse geographic, ethnic, tribal, religious, and political backgrounds. Through surveys, interviews, and focus groups, the study will look at their educational and career choices, social networks, work habits and problem-solving strategies, public involvement, and views about Kenya’s future. The results will also help evaluate the effectiveness of the foresight techniques used in the workshops on public deliberation.

Partners: Katindi Sivi-Njonjo, lead consultant, Long View Consult, Nairobi; Nancy Muigei, government and development expert, DFID, Nairobi; and Tessa Finlev, research director, Peace and Development Lab, Institute for the Future, Palo Alto.
ResearchersAnn Mische, associate professor of sociology and peace studies, University of Notre Dame
Period: 2018-2019

Religion, Church, and the Integration of Migrants in Europe

Europeans vary greatly with respect to their attitudes toward the million-plus migrants who have entered Europe or have sought to enter Europe in recent years. In collaboration with researchers at partner institutions in Europe this project seeks to determine whether, how, religious identity, beliefs, and practices affect the attitudes that European citizens across three countries (Italy, Germany, and Austria) have toward migrants and the appropriateness or possibility of their integration into European societies. Additionally, this project will assess the effectiveness of Catholic-based efforts to address the human and material needs of migrants and the impact that such efforts have on Catholic identity across the three countries. The project will focus in a special way on Italy as a pilot phase on the first year. It will employ a mixed-methods approach and an interdisciplinary perspective to address the following major questions:

  • How do Europe’s Catholics compare to Europe’s Protestants, Jews and Muslims in terms of their receptiveness to refugees and migrants? What explains the variation among European Catholics in the degree to which they are receptive to migrants?
  • What are the greatest cultural/religious, political, social and economic obstacles to integration of migrants in Europe?  
  • What role has the Church been trying to play to address these challenges and how effective has the Church been? 

We will address these questions in collaboration with researchers at partner institutions in Europe. A first symposium will take place at the University of Notre Dame’s Global Gateway on 12-14 October 2017.

Partners: the University of Trento, the University of Milano-Bicocca, the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, the University of Innsbruck, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Ethics in Salzburg
ResearchersDirector Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC  and Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee, Ford Program, Clemens Sedmack, Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame, Kellogg Faculty Fellow Rev. Dan Groody, Giancarlo Blangiardo and Giorgio Vittadini, University of Milano-Bicocca, Giuseppe Folloni, University of Trento
Period: 2017–18


“Exploring Motherhood in Dandora”—Kenya

Residents of Dandora, a sprawling section of Nairobi dominated by a massive garbage dump, contend with high unemployment, food insecurity, violence, poor health, and environmental issues. In conjunction with local partners and Notre Dame researchers, the Ford Program is working to understand how the area’s maternal health services can be improved.

The study aims to explore the motherhood experiences of women in Dandora, documenting the challenges they face in regard to childbirth through two methodologies: ethnography, consisting of participant observation and interviews, and cultural consensus. Researchers are studying instances of obstetric violence and the views of maternal healthcare workers toward their patients.

PartnersHoly Cross Parish and Visitation Maternity Ward at Brother Andre Medical Center, Dandora
Researchers: Kellogg Faculty Fellow Vania Smith-OkaJackline Oluoch-Aridi, Ford Program
Period: 2016–18


“Measuring the Value of Insurance and Maternal Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Dandora”—Kenya

Residents of Dandora, a sprawling section of Nairobi dominated by a massive garbage dump, contend with high unemployment, food insecurity, violence, poor health, and environmental issues. The Ford Program, in conjunction with local partners and Notre Dame researchers, is working to understand the best way to deliver quality healthcare and health insurance to mothers and children.

This randomized controlled trial will measure the impact of a newly constructed hospital and an insurance program on maternal and child health outcomes as well as measure the demand for insurance and care in the targeted population. The project will employ a baseline survey with a demand elicitation experiment, a rotating panel during the course of the study to monitor maternal and child health outcomes, and an end line. Results are intended to inform policymakers and to encourage evidence-based decision-making that leads to better-designed markets for insurance and care.

PartnersHoly Cross Parish and Visitation Maternity Ward at Brother Andre Medical Center, Dandora; Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA); Strathmore UniversityEck Institute for Global Health, University of Notre Dame 
Researchers: Kellogg Faculty Fellow Terence JohnsonEthan Lieber, University of Notre Dame; Gilbert Kokwaro and Francis Wafula, Strathmore University; Bethwell Owour, CUEA; Lacey Ahern, Eck Institute for Global Health; Jackline Oluoch-Aridi, Ford Program
Period: 2016–18


“Nurturing Social Enterprises”—Uganda

Building on its ongoing engagement with the 12 villages of Nnindye (see below), the Ford Program is working with local partners to extend entrepreneurial training and microfinancing to members of community savings and internal lending (SILC) groups established with Ford support in recent years. Now largely self-sustaining, the SILC groups have provided community members with a safe way to save their earnings and share out savings, giving them increased access to financing to expand small businesses, cover unexpected expenses, and help each other smooth out spending throughout the year.

A new initiative aims to identify and nurture the most entrepreneurial group members. They receive microfinance loans, backed by their own SILC groups, and ongoing business training to boost the success of their small enterprises. Additional loans will be offered as long as capital is repaid. The training, offered to all SILC members, is fine-turned for maximum effectiveness using a Ford Program monitoring and evaluation platform. Baseline and endline studies will measure training impact while a qualitative study will evaluate the effect of microfinancing.

PartnersTechnoServeUGAFODE Microfinance Limited, and Faculty of Business Administration and Management (BAM), Uganda Martyrs University (current), Catholic Relief Services (start-up)
ResearchersDanice Brown, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Ford Program
Period: 2012–present (SILC); 2015–17 (training and microfinance loans)


“Education and Dignity”—Uganda

Families have flocked to private schools in Uganda but they vary greatly in the professionalization of their staff and the education they provide. In this pilot project, the Ford Program is evaluating a Ugandan educational institute’s ambitious initiative to increase the quality of education in a group of Catholic secondary schools by promoting consciousness of human dignity school wide.

From 2015 to 2017, the Luigi Giussani Institute of Higher Education (LGIHE) partnered with teachers and school leaders in seven rural Catholic schools in Uganda to provide professional development training. Constrained by a demanding national syllabus, a scarcity of material resources, and a need to supplement their low salaries, educators were challenged by LGIHE to reconsider their reason for teaching, allowing their pedagogy and practice to flow from a student-centered approach. School leaders were encouraged to reflect on their school's culture, working towards a holistic education committed to dignity and relationality.

Ford Program researchers collaborated in a mixed methods evaluation of the LGIHE intervention, engaging with students, parents, teachers, and school leaders in seven schools. The study affirms the improvement of trust between teachers and head teachers and reinforcement of the student-centered approach, and it suggests that future modules consider including parents and supporting teachers. Click on the report below for further insights about the effectiveness of the trainings and recommendations for evaluating the quality of education in the Ugandan context.

PartnersCongregation of Holy CrossLuigi Giussani Institute for Higher Education (LGIHE), Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), and Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives
ResearchersIlaria Schnyder von Wartensee, Research Assistant Professor, and Danice Brown, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Ford Program 
Period: 2015–17

Project Report


Why and How Mentorship Makes a Difference in Dandora

Although the three economists found that new entrepreneurs in Dandora who had mentors were more successful than new business owners who attended business–skills training workshops, the Ford Program was interested in learning why this
was the case. Was it just a matter of the business tips they received from mentors or was there something about the relationship itself that inspired women to persist despite the challenges they faced?

To understand why women with mentors were more successful than women without, Research Assistant Professor Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee carried out a 2016–17 case study of mentor-mentee relationships in Dandora. The results suggest that the effects of having a
mentor were not solely due to the business tips mentors shared. Many of the mentees who were most successful in their businesses shared at length about the care and encouragement they received from mentors. This suggests that mentorship may be important not only because of the information and experiences shared, but because of the caring and supportive relationships that mentors had with mentees. The human connection the women shared was a crucial component of their success.

Partners: Holy Cross Parish, Dandora
Researchers: Kellogg Faculty Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee
Period: 2016-2017
Dissemination: The research appears as a chapter in the book manuscript “Human Dignity and Human Development,” edited by Kellogg Director Paolo Carozza.

“Empowering Entrepreneurs”—Kenya

Residents of Dandora, a sprawling section of Nairobi dominated by a massive garbage dump, contend with high unemployment, food insecurity, violence, poor health, and environmental issues. The Ford Program, in conjunction with local partners and three Notre Dame economists, is working to understand how microfinance can best benefit young entrepreneurs, after residents identified young people’s job prospects as a key priority. 
Preliminary findings from a randomized controlled trial conducted by the economists shows that young entrepreneurs mentored by experienced local business owners generate more profit than new entrepreneurs who receive business skills training. The Ford Program facilitated the study by arranging focus groups, interviews, training, and a survey of over 3000 young female microbusiness owners.

Partners: Holy Cross Parish, Dandora, and Strathmore University
Researchers: Kellogg Faculty Fellows Wyatt BrooksKevin Donovan, and Terence Johnson 
Period: 2014–16
Project Working Paper


“Text Messages for Community Health”—Uganda

Conversations with residents during ongoing community engagement in the 12 rural villages of Nnindye revealed that they didn’t always take advantage of medical services provided by the community’s government clinic—and they weren’t that confident that staff and supplies would be present if they traveled there for treatment.

In response, the Ford Program and its partners established a text-messaging platform to allow clinic staff to inform residents when nurses and doctors were on duty and conducted a randomized-control trial to test the effectiveness of these messages at changing health-seeking behavior by Nnindye residents. Trial and clinic observational data show that the reported health status of the children of mothers who received text messages significantly improved.

Partners: Uganda Martyrs UniversityVerizon Foundation
Researchers: Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development, Luke Chicoine, Depaul University
Period: 2013–14 (The text-messaging system and Internet connection provided to the clinic continue to function.)



Meeting Point International Case Study

In 1992, Rose Busingye, a Ugandan nurse, began providing medicines and treatments to HIV/AIDS patients in Kireka, a slum of Kampala, Uganda. Many patients refused to eat or take the medicine or did not follow the treatment regimen. However, when she focused on listening to and learning with the women and helping them recognize their basic value as persons, the same women became spirited agents of their own development. Together, they started Meeting Point International (MPI), which serves over a thousand people and provides indirect services for more than 13,800.

To better understand the surprising transformation, Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee together with Professor Giuseppe Folloni and Elizabeth Simpson Hlabse conducted a 2015–16 study of MPI, analyzing its distinctive approach, which she calls “identity-based human development.” Grounded in the experience of the community, this approach awakens local actors’ sense of their own value and empowers them. Her research explored how identity and awareness of dignity play a role in lasting development.

One important lesson this project highlights is that development is about more than applying techniques and skills to solve specific problems. Instead, caring relationships that restore a sense of value is at the core of development. These relationships help people to believe in their own abilities, develop their own skills, and contribute to the flourishing of the wider community. A paper detailing the research findings has been submitted to a peer-reviewed development journal and is currently under revision.

Partners: Meeting Point International
Researchers: Giuseppe Folloni, University of Trento and Elizabeth Simpson Hlabse, Kellogg Institute for International Studies
Period: 2014-2016
Dissemination: a paper detailing the research findings has been submitted to a peer-reviewed development journal and is currently under revision.  

“Education for Civic Engagement”—Kenya

Kenya’s new constitution, approved in a voter referendum and promulgated in 2010, contained significant changes in the structure of government and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. This project sought to assist Caritas Kenya in its efforts to effectively inform and mobilize citizens to participate in the democratic process before the first national elections under the new Constitution.

Researchers assessed the effectiveness of civic education workshops conducted by Caritas in Dandora in the run up to the 2013 general election. The workshops were designed to educate potential voters about the new political system and encourage citizens to vote in the upcoming election. The results show that the workshops had no effect on voter turnout, with participants no more likely to vote than those who did not participate, but did have a mildly positive impact on certain indicators of political knowledge.

Partners: Holy Cross Parish, Dandora, and Caritas Kenya
Researcher: Faculty Fellow and Ford Program Director Rev. Robert Dowd, CSC 
Period: 2012–13


“Nnindye: Local Empowerment for Rural Development”—Uganda

In its initial project, a multiyear collaborative engagement with rural Nnindye Parish, the Ford Program partnered with community members and nearby Uganda Martyrs University to better understand the challenges faced by residents and to jointly design sustainable solutions that build upon local capacities and interests. Locally, the partnership has been known as UPFORD—the University Partnership For Outreach, Research, and Development.

Through an extended listening and learning process with Nnindye community members that included a baseline assessment, the project focused on empowering residents in five key sectors: agriculture; health; saving and lending; water and sanitation; and education. An elected parish development committee oversees activities in Nnindye’s 12 villages. Efforts brought to fruition include community demonstration gardens to increase banana production and savings and internal lending (SILC) groups.

The Ford Program conducted a qualitative evaluation of the project to ascertain its success at empowering members of the Nnindye community. Evidence suggests that the process has mobilized people in new ways around agricultural productivity and marketing and savings. There has been renewed interaction between members of the Nnindye community and local government on public service delivery.

Partners: Uganda Martyrs University and UPFORD
Researcher: Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee, Research Assistant Professor, Ford Program
Period: 2007–15



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