Local Trade Networks and Regional Disasters: Incorporating Values-Driven and Market-Based Approaches into Humanitarian Relief Operations

Faculty Research Grant
Grant Year

This grant is a two-year project exploring market-based approaches to humanitarian relief in disaster zones. Post-disaster development necessarily begins with sustainable relief provided under the auspices of mercy and justice, values central to Catholic tradition. However, aid organizations are inefficient in administering relief in unstable areas. Conversely, resident traders achieve efficient distribution and high adaptive-resilience under contingency. The question that emerges is: can we involve local traders in relief efforts thereby creating market-based alternatives that also focus on social justice and human dignity? Focusing on the crisis-stricken Turkana province of Northern Kenya, the objectives of this project are to: a) gather ethnographic data on ongoing commerce, commercial networks, and relief programs in Northern Kenya, and b) create a team of on-site Kenyan traders and Catholic groups, and faculty/students from the College of Arts & Letters (A&L) and Mendoza College of Business (MCB). The goal is to create locally feasible business plans for relief efforts to enable the writing of external grants to the Templeton and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations. This innovative project will enhance the University’s leadership in research in market solutions to inequities, grounded in Catholic traditions of justice and dignity.