Blog Post Week 4

This week in class we analyzed two different case studies one focusing on ethical decision making and the other on grassroots diplomacy. The first case discusses the issues of creating a cooperative in East Africa that addresses childhood malnutrition and HIV. The second case discusses issues the cooperative faced a few months after its creation.

Part I:




    1. Gruel (maize & banana) does not provide key nutrients
    2. Mothers like them gruel
    3. There are pesticides used on the crops
    4. ~35% of children are nutritionally stunted
    5. Want to transition from breastfeeding at about 24 months
    6.  HIV/AIDS is very prevalent in this region. 
    7. The gruel is integrated into a child’s diet to complement breastfeeding until they are ~24 months of age
    8. The WHO wants women to stop breastfeeding at 6 months
    9.  Mothers in the area firmly believe that the gruel is highly beneficial for their children, but scientific research has shown that it does not provide some key nutrients
    10. The longer a child nurses when the mother is HIV+, the greater the chance that the virus will be transmitted to the child
    11. Mother to Child Transmission of HIV is common
    12. Women’s cooperative grant
    13. Women are skeptical of the porridge
    14. Pesticides used can cause adverse health defects in children
  1. The cooperative is being created to address malnutrition among young children. However, the ethical question in discussion is:Is it ok to lower the risk of HIV/AIDS, at the risk of adding sickness to children from pesticides?
  2. Stakeholders and Motivations
    • Mothers
      • Personal: better health for their children, prevent spread of HIV, prevent ingestion of pesticides
      • Professional: want to earn money for family
    • Children
      • Face the direct consequences of pesticides and spread of HIV
    • Women’s Cooperative
      • want to wean children off breast milk through the use of their porridge
      • make money
      • skeptical of pesticides and HIV
    • Local Cash Crop Farmers
      • sell their crops to be made into the porridge
    • Researchers and Board member
      • Personal: provide a healthy alternative to help wean children off breast milk, avoid pesticides, avoid HIV infection
      • Professional: Sustainable cooperative, healthy children, see an impact through the creation of the cooperative
  3. Potential Solutions
    • Create a triage system to diagnose mothers with HIV before birth
      • Ethical Principle/code: Utilitarian
        • Useless to prevent against HIV if the baby gets it during the birth process
        • Pros: HIV can be better monitored for women, helps to ensure that the baby does not get HIV, women who test positive can seek treatment and help stop transmission
        • Cons: added task to medical staff
    • Eliminate crops in the porridge that have a higher risk of pesticide harm i.e. utilized covered crops like pumpkins, bananas for making gruel
      • Ethical Principle/code: Utilitarian – the greatest good for the greatest number
      • Pros:  Simple, no added cost or big change of process
      • Cons: Fewer nutrients from losing various other foods
    • Create a protocol that people can follow to properly wash crops. Also, recruit specific farmers that practice safer growing without pesticides.
      • Ethical principle/code: Duty and Virtue
      • Pros: Helps reduce amounts of pesticides left on crops, creates healthy habits, could prevent ingestion of harmful bacteria left on crops,  it could support local business and keep the economy strong in the community, it would eliminate the stigma around having food made with produce grown with pesticides. We could get a deal with a farmer for cheaper prices
      • cons: these farmers might not be able to handle the amount of produce required, the wash method may not completely get rid of all the pesticides.
    • Proposed solution: I believe that the last solution is the best course of action. By creating a protocol for how to wash crops and also recruiting farmers who use less pesticides this reduces the risk of making the kids sick. This will give the children the proper nutrients that they need. While there is risk that the kids could still get sick from the pesticides I think keeping children from breastfeeding and possibly exposing them to HIV infection is a much higher risk. While in Sierra Leone I noticed how much families cared for their children. They would do anything they could to make them healthy. For example, I noticed several protocols around villages for Ebola awareness. So, I think a protocol would easily be accepted. If a wash protocol was developed I think many farmers would change their practice to make it healthier. Solution 2 does not decrease the risk of pesticides and may end up making the product too expensive. Solution 1 is a huge invasion of privacy and may not appeal to women. In my opinion, the ethics that arise with solution 1 cause more issues rather than reducing them.
    • Implications:
      • Technologically: The technology in this solution is our porridge product that will be distributed by the women’s cooperation. This recipe will be strategically created to address areas of malnourishment in children. This would make children healthier.
      • Socially: Socially, women would be able to make money for their family, farmers would be able to practice safer farming methods, children can participate in more activities because they are healthy.
      • Economically: Women working for the cooperation will make money, the cash crop farmers practicing clean farming methods would make money


Part II (6 months later):

  • Facts:
    • business is thriving
    • Women work for nine hours a day and make about $3
    • Women save time traveling to market (and $)
    • Happy with the coop and the sense of identity
    • Women turn over their money to men in the family
    • Men waste the money
    • One of seven members of the leadership council
    • Have six months left on the committee
    • Committee wants things to change
    • A patriarchal society where men have say on money
    • Though the cooperative is thriving, it is not achieving the twin social outcomes of improving the nutritional status of children and the livelihoods of rural households.
  • Principle: How can the cooperative achieve the twin social outcomes of improving the nutritional status of children and the livelihoods of rural households
  • Stakeholders and motivations:
    • Mothers
      • Personal: Want the money to feed their kids
      • Professional: continue to support the venture
    • Children
      • Personal: want to be fed and healthy
      • no professional motivations
    • Women’s cooperative
      • Personal: Want to feel involved in the community
      • Professional: Want to improve the nutritional status of children
    • Local cash crop farmers
      • Personal: Want to prevent stunted growth in children
      • Professional: want to make money selling their crops to the cooperative
    • Husbands
      • Personal: Want the money the women make for their own benefit
      • No professional motivations
  • Potential Solutions:
    • The women will have a choice receive a certain amount of gruel each day as payment for their work instead of receiving money or they can continue to receive their payment in the form of money.
      • How does it solve the problem? 
        1. Pros: controls money flow going home, gives women choice to just take food for kids if that’s what they want and is needed
        2. Cons: the husband might be angry that not as much money is coming home and may influence the women’s decisions.
      • How does it save face of those involved? 
        1. Gives mothers the option to what they want without confrontation with husbands
      • Implications on relationships 
        1. Short-term: confused husbands, might be frustrated
        2. Long-term: adjusted, even distribution of food for kids and money for family when needed or want it
        3. Short-term:  supports women and their choices as to how to spend the money they earnedImplications on the venture
        4. Long-term:  Very empowering for women and could be good publicity for the venture
    • Women receive vouchers instead of money. The vouchers can be used to buy food at the coop
      • How does it solve the problem? 
        1. Pros: Money gets spent on food for the children, women in control of voucher and how it gets spent
        2. Cons: Husband mad that there isn’t any extra money coming in, the voucher can’t be put towards other goods needed (can only get food), does not support women selling food in markets (only within the co op) 
      • How does it save face of those involved? 
        1. Puts blame of money distribution on the co-op, not the women
      • Implications on relationships 
        1. Short-term: women are protected from unfortunate consequences
        2. Long-term: animosity and backlash 
      • Implications on the venture 
        1. Short-term: ensuring women are getting food to feed their children
        2. Long-term: principal-agent problem and company store logic
    • Have events where the women can bring their kids to work and pay for the kids’ lunch out of their wages, similar to daycare.
      • How does it solve the problem
        1. Pros: women will be able to pop in and see their kids, the kids will have access to nutritious food, the women will have control over some of the money to feed their kids
        2. Cons: husbands can still use the money to buy frivolous things
      • How does it save face of those involved
        1. Husbands don’t get mad at women for using money behind their back
      • Implications on relationships
        1. Short-term: Husbands will be happy with wives because they are bringing supplemental money home
        2. Long-term: Kids will get the nutrients they need from the gruel and be healthier
      • Implications on the venture
        1. Short-term: Women will enjoy working at the coop because they can be close to their children
        2. Long-term: The twin social outcomes will be achieved
    • I believe that solution 3 is the most viable decision because all stakeholders are getting what they want
      • husbands: getting supplemental money for their use
      • wives: empowered by coop and earn a wage to buy food for their children
      • children: healthier because they get to eat the gruel
      • cash crop farmers: still selling their crops to the coop and making money
      • women’s coop: achieving the twin social outcomes of improving the nutritional status of children and the livelihoods of rural households
    • The women do not mind giving their money to the husbands they just want to make their children healthy. By bringing their kids to work and feeding them the gruel for lunch, they are getting the required nutrients and the husbands are still getting money. They may still spend it on frivolous things but the women’s goals were accomplished.
    • Implications:
      • Technologically: The daycare would allow the children to be close to their mothers and have access to healthy nutrients
      • Socially: The relationships at home should be just as strong because everyone is getting what they want
      • Economically: The coop, farmers, women, and husbands are all earning more money. More women would be employed.

Blog Post Week 3


  • Jack is an American student working on a social venture in Kenya for 5 months
  • International donor organization donated gifts
  • Jack lives and interacts with kids at the youth center
  • Jack works with the staff at the youth center
  • Jack handed out gifts
  • Kids thought Jack provided the gifts
  • Jack was thanked for the gifts
  • 4 Children did not get gifts
  • Those 4 children got black hats unceremoniously 
  • Staff does not think there is an issue
  • Kids are resentful of Jack
  • Jack wants a good relationship with the kids and the staff
  • Staff thinks Jack is creating a problem out of nothing
  • Staff is worried Jack will act out of line

Problem: Jack wants to make a good impression on the children and the staff, but is in an uncomfortable situation as he is being blamed by 4 children for not giving them gifts and the staff refuses to address the issue. Depending on how Jack decides to respond to the situation could jeopardize his relations with the staff and/or children.


  • Jack: 
    • Jack’s personal motivations are primarily to formulate good relationships with the staff and the children that he will be working with over the next few months.
    • In the same way, this leads into Jack’s professional motivations because he is going to be working there for a fairly long time and an unhealthy relationship with either group would make his time unproductive and difficult.
  • Kids: 
    • The only motivations for the kids is to feel included. All the other kids received gifts and the four that did not want to feel like Jack cares about them. They do not have any professional motivations.
  • Staff:  
    • Professionally, the staff is trying to run their youth-center smoothly and focus on some of their more important initiatives than giving small gifts. They want to be respected by other organizations and visiting volunteers, like Jack. In this situation the staff do not have any personal motivations.


  • Do nothing.
    • By doing nothing, Jack is saving face with the staff and not treating the problem as a more serious problem than it is.
    • The pros of doing nothing are that the staff will not see Jack as being a “child’s rights activist”. This will be beneficial for Jack for the duration of his time spent in country, but also when he travels back to his university.
    • The main con of this solution is that he does not do anything to make the kids feel better. They still feel like they were shorted in the situation. In reality, this does not have a huge effect on his work in Kenya. The four kids may hold a grudge, but the other children at the youth-center have no resentment towards him. Additionally, over the course of the next 5 months, Jack will have the chance to improve his relationship with these four kids. If he is able to improve this relationship, he will be more productive in his venture long-term.
  • Jack wears a black hat
    • The case study states that the children were upset about receiving the four black hats. By wearing a black hat, Jack is making it seem cool and the kids will be excited to follow him.
    • The pros of wearing a black hat are that it avoids any awkward conversations and saves face with both the kids and the staff and is very easy to carry out. The kids will feel special that they get to wear something similar to Jack. Therefore, the short-term and long-term relationships with the kids and the staff are both strong creating the perfect environment for a successful venture.
    • The only main con of this solution is that it revolves around the idea that the kids find Jack cool and look up to him.
  • Buys gifts himself and gives them to the children ceremoniously
    • This solution would give Jack the best peace of mind, since he would be making the kids feel better.
    • The pros of this solution are that the children get normal gifts and feel just as important as the other children.
    • The cons to this solution are that the staff will be unhappy with Jack because he made a big deal out of something that they considered trivial. Additionally, this could cause the kids to feel even more singled out and thus uncomfortable.
    • This solution improves the short term and long term relationship with the kids and would benefit his venture if he is able to maintain this strong relationship with the kids.
    • However, this has the potential to seriously damage Jack’s short term and long term relationship with the staff. They will most likely not appreciate his gestures and may be difficult to work with in the future. Thus, the venture will suffer while he is in Kenya and when he returns.
  • After talking with my peers, most of us believe that for the good of Jack’s venture, which requires good relationships, it would be best not to do anything that brings a lot of attention to Jack and not overcompensate for a mistake that Jack didn’t even make.
  • In my opinion, the best solution to this issue is for Jack to wear the black hat. In my experience in SL, coming from America most people were super fascinated by us and would often run over to us/reach for our hands/call out to us/etc. I think by wearing the black hat, the children will think they are “cool” wearing the same thing as Jack. This creates a strong relationship with the kids, but also with the staff. He would be saving face with all of the stakeholders, which is important! The other solutions risk harming relationships with one of the stakeholders. This solution does not make a big deal out of the situation and therefore pleases the staff. These positive relationships will be vital to the success of Jack’s venture, which is the reason he is in Kenya.
  • This is a very easy solution and there are not very many steps to see it through. All Jack has to do is buy a black hat similar to those he gave to the four children and consistently wear it over the course of the next 5 months. In this situation, it is best for Jack to do as little as possible to be respectful to the staff and not single out any of the children.

Blog Post Week 2

In this case study, we analyzed the ethical decision of a group of 11 academic researchers to travel to Lesotho, South Africa to study a rare pathogen only found in several Lesotho communities. While traveling to these different communities, the researchers will need assistance from the community members to bring them to their water sources. The goal of the research is to understand the lifecycle of this pathogen and produce several publications. After the pathogen is studied, there is potential for others to create chemical additives that will make the drinking water in Lesotho safer. The major ethical question being analyzed in this case study is whether or not these community members should be compensated for their assistance in the project, and if so how?

The stakeholders and their motivations in this case study are as follows:

  • The 11 academic researchers are hoping to travel to Lesotho to gather enough valid data to publish articles that discuss their research, giving them technical credibility and experience that they can utilize in their future.
  • The academic institution funding these students is also a key stakeholder. By funding these students’ trip to Lesotho, the institution is expecting that the publications produced will bring publicity and academic prestige to the institution. 
  • The community members living in Lesotho are motivated to allow the researchers to investigate their water source because they want to know more about the pathogen living in their water, rather than being left in the dark.
  • The local government in Lesotho allowing the researchers to come into their communities want to make sure that no one is taking advantage of their people, land, or resources.
  • The publicists are hoping to gain quality research that will lead to successfully published papers. These publications will bring publicity to their company and will be a source of knowledge for anyone that is hoping to further research or develop a chemical additive to eliminate the pathogen.

There are a few alternative solutions to this question:

  • Do the study and pay the community members a small rate
    • This solution based on duty-based ethical principles keeps the community happy, creates strong relationships, and motivates community members to cooperate and help in any way they can. However, paying the community members may lead to expected payment in every future experience and is more costly than other solutions.
  • Complete the study without paying or compensating the community in any way
    • A consequence-based solution, this solution aims to maximize the benefits of the situation. The advantages to this solution are that expenses are reduced and gives the researchers more leniency with the money provided by the institution or through grants. The disadvantages are that this may lead to uncooperative community members and gives the institution a bad reputation in country.
  • Do not pay the community members, but mention the communities in the publications.
    • Finally, this virtue-based solution to the original question attempts to keep everyone involved in the situation happy. 
      • Pros: The communities mentioned will be the first to receive the chemical additive if it is ever produced.
      • Cons: The chemical additive may never be produced and therefore may keep the community members waiting, most members of the community who do not have access to internet will never see the publications.

This summer in Sierra Leone, the Malnutrition team had experience with both paid and unpaid translators. During our experience, we hired three translators, who were fantastic. They came each day excited to help us and were extremely helpful during interviews. We also had two unpaid interns that were assigned to our team. These interns worked hard, but were often unreliable. There were multiple days when our interns didn’t show up and we were left with less translators than we were expecting. In my experience, it was best to pay the people we worked with.

In my opinion, the best course of action is to pay the community members a small wage to help perform the study. I think this solution has the most advantages and least disadvantages. Most likely, the cost of paying these community members will not increase the expenses too drastically. By paying the people, they will be motivated and excited to help the researchers to achieve their goals and will create relationships that could be beneficial in the future. This will also give the most valuable and accurate data in the shortest amount of time. The other solutions discussed involve not paying the helpers or paying them through reference in publications. In my opinion, these are both basically the same solution. The community will not see any benefits from either of these options and will therefore not be as eager to help the researchers gather the best data available. 

By paying community members, I believe that people will be motivated to help the project in any way they can. This will provide the most accurate data, which was the primary goal for all stakeholders in the project. To prevent the expectation that foreign researchers will always pay the community members it will be important to brief the workers before they are hired as to the specific reason they are being paid. Also, a general hourly wage will need to be established prior to travel so that there is no confusion or competition. Additionally, it will be important to get in contact with a government official with experience in the country’s water source. They will most likely be able to give us a list of reliable contacts to use in-country.