Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Visiting scholar Prof. Tao research on county level fiscal policy in China

[Abstract] “There has been a saying since the early period of imperial China, “If counties can be governed well, the whole country will be stable”.  County-level public finance is the basis of governing a county, Therefore it is necessary to make a comprehensive analysis of the fiscal resources of county level government, and how do the county government fiscal resources influence on the supply of basic public services at county level.

This report is divided into four parts
 In the first part, according to the form and content of county government revenue, this report mainly analyzes the three major fiscal resources of county governmentthe general public budget revenue, non-tax revenue, and debt revenue, and set up a series of index to evaluate the fiscal situation of county government in China.
In the second part, from the perspectives of a county's fiscal revenue, expenditure, transfer payments, this report mainly analyzes the fiscal stress and the institutional causes of the fiscal stress at county-level after the TDS.

In the third chapterbased on panel data of the 61 counties in Anhui Province, this report will use a fixed effect model to analyze the relationship between county-level fiscal situation and the public goods provision through the regression analysis.

In the fourth chapter, this report attempts to give some reasonable suggestions on how to release the county government fiscal pressure and strengthen the fiscal guarantee mechanism for providing basic public service at county level in China.”

Yong Tao is an assistant professor at Department of Public Finance, School of Public Economics and Administration, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE), China. She is Dean of Department of Public Finance as well. She holds a doctorate in public finance theory and policy from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. 

 Dr.Tao mainly teaches the following courses in SUFE: Local public finance, public economics, public policy, public administration. She has been studying various topics in the field of local public finance for more than 20 years, such as intergovernmental fiscal relations, tax system reform, the fiscal behavior of local government, the county-level government fiscal problem and reform in China. Dr. Tao has had many papers and books on these topics published in China. 

At Humphrey School she worked on the mechanism of fiscal guarantee to strengthen the county level government for providing basic public services in China.

Photo from Watkins State Park, NY

MDP Chisholm, Field & Traaseth Field Exp in Kenya

Located approximately 3.1 miles from the bustling city center of Nairobi, Kenya, there is a low income, crowded settlement known as Kibra (formerly Kibera).  Kibra is believed to be the largest “slum” in Africa, with upwards of 250,000 living in approximately 2.5 square kilometers, or 630 acres[i].    Hundreds of NGOs have flocked to Kibra due to the extreme level of poverty and lack of access to basic needs including water and a functioning sanitation system.  Yes, it is true that unemployment is high and life expectancy is low. According to Inter Press Service the HIV prevalence rate in Kibra is as high as 20%, and tens of thousands of children have been left orphaned by AIDS.  In our experience during the last several weeks, it is clear that Kibra faces many challenges.  However, it is also our experience that Kibra is a busy, vibrant community with a complex history and strong identity.  

Let us introduce ourselves.  We are the Kenya MDP Team - John Chisholm, Christina Field, and Amanda Traaseth.    This summer, our team has engaged in a project involving the design, preparation, and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation plan for a tuition-free girls secondary school known as the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy, or KGSA (http://www.kiberagirlssocceracademy.org/).  Our project partner, KGSA, is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk and disadvantaged young women by providing free secondary education, artistic programming, and athletic opportunities in Kibra.  The organization firmly believes that through active participation in education, arts, and athletics, young women will have the opportunity to develop a stronger confidence in their minds, bodies, and spirits – empowering them to become inspiring leaders of their own lives, communities, and nation.  

Abdul Kassim, a Kibra native, started the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA) in 2006 with land donated by his grandmother. The school began with 11 students and unpaid teachers; it now has over 130 students, a small staff of paid teachers, and ambitious plans to construct a dormitory building next-door to house vulnerable girls and provide a safe space for other students to study and relax.   The school offers a variety of extracurricular activities including soccer teams, journalism club, science club, scouting club, drama club, and so on.  The clubs and activities are meant to teach girls valuable skills and instill confidence to help them in the future.

Our project has two objectives: the primary objective is to develop, recommend, and implement a pilot monitoring and evaluation plan (M&E) to be initiated this summer, and annually by KGSA thereafter; the secondary objective is to begin gathering and organizing qualitative data regarding potential positive youth development indicators for long-term, future analysis of KGSA’s effects on girls and community.  

For the last nine weeks, our team has conducted numerous interviews with the current students, school administration, teaching staff, and former graduates; administered a school-wide student survey; and facilitated focus groups with current students.  We used the data and information we collected to create a variety of documents including an electronic student recordkeeping system, organizational charts, and all of the tools needed for a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system.  Some of the tools created included an annual survey for students, exit survey for the graduating class, teacher orientation packet, teacher satisfaction survey, attendance sheets, school compound inspection sheets, admission forms, and the list continues.  In addition, we provided the school with a list of potential donors/foundations and packets of information for the girls that included resources and services available in the area (including women and family health, family planning, gender based violence recovery, micro-credit, and so on).  The purpose of these documents is to help the school formalize their processes and procedures to maintain their credibility, constantly improve their activities and programming, and to increase their appeal to both local and international donors. 

The monitoring and evaluation plan comes at a crucial time for the school and organization.  KGSA is about to enter into a year of transitions, including changes in their funding structure, partnerships, the role of the foundation, as well as the building of two new classrooms and a boarding facility.  The M&E plan will enable the school to oversee these transitions and accurately determine how the new developments are impacting the students, staff, and school facility.  We were honored to be a part of this process.

The final product is over 200 pages and was presented to project partners on Thursday, July 30.   It was well received and team members will remain in country to answer questions over the next week or so.

This project has been a perfect fit for the three of us.  There have been challenges along the way, a few difficult conversations and observations.  However, every experience has been a great learning opportunity and we will come away from this fieldwork better prepared for our future careers in development. 

[i] http://mapkibera.org/

MINN Offering Members Scholarships to Attend UMN Humanitarian Simulation

MINN call for scholarship applications:  The deadline for applications is 8/15 - The link is: http://www.minnesotangos.org/news/minn-offering-its-members-scholarships-attend-u-mn-humanitarian-simulation
MINN Offering its Members Scholarships to Attend U of MN Humanitarian Simulation

On September 11 - 13, 2015, MINN is partnering with the University of Minnesota on a disaster simulation.  The Humanitarian Crisis Simulation is a 48-hour experience that is designed to immerse participants in an environment typical of humanitarian crisis.  The exercise is developed and administered by professionals with extensive experience in humanitarian crisis management.  It is a great professional development opportunity for practitioners and those interested in getting into disaster relief / international development.  
MINN is offering two $250 scholarships exclusively for MINN Members.  $250 will be paid directly to the U of MN on behalf of the MINN Member attending the event. *For non-MINN members: Please click here for more information on the benefits of MINN membership. If you would like your scholarship application to be considered in advance of your MINN membership, please note this in your email (see below).
To apply, send an email to vp@minnesotangos.org answering the following two questions by August 15, 2015.:
  1. How will this experience help you achieve your academic / professional / personal goals? (250 words or less).
  2. What has been your experience / involvement with MINN? (100 words or less)
The rate to attend the event is as follows:
Community Member Rate
Community Member Rate with up to 26.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™*
Medical Trainees
Students in Public Affairs, Public Health, Journalism or Geography Environment and Society
No Fee (included in tuition)
Participants will gain:
  • Knowledge of fundamental principles, minimum standards and best practices in Humanitarian Aid
  • Opportunities to apply their professional skills and knowledge in a realistic scenario
  • Opportunities to interact with other professionals involved in humanitarian aid
For more information, visit: www.globalhealth.umn.edu/education/humanitarian-simulation/

Call for local peacebuilding experts

Peace Direct is looking for experts in local peacebuilding to help us map local peacebuilding efforts for our Insight on Conflict website. We are currently seeking Local Correspondents from: Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Ukraine. The role is not full-time and is not salaried, though Local Correspondents do receive some payment for work published on the website. The work is best suited for people with a passionate desire to share information on peacebuilding with a wide audience.
For more information and how to apply, visit http://www.insightonconflict.org/opportunities/\\

This material is cross-posted from the Peace and Collaborative Development Network, http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org and appears to be an interesting opportunity for the Humphrey community.   This is meant for information sharing purposes only. 
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