CINQ Blog Post #4: Ethical Decision Making & Grassroots Diplomacy

During the past lecture, our class looked at two separate case studies that revolved around a women’s cooperative in East Africa intended to produce a nutrient-rich porridge to ween young children off of breast milk, and therefore reducing their risk of contracting HIV from their mothers. Using ethical decision making and grassroots diplomacy strategies, my group formulated potential solutions to take to solve the issues at hand.

Aspects relevant to both case studies:

Step 2: Defining Stakeholders for the situation

  1. Children at breastfeeding ages (More for Case #1)
  2. Lactating mothers (More for Case #1)
  3. Women joining/working in the co-op 
  4. Women’s cooperative grant donor
  5. You as a researcher 
  6. Local farmers (More for Case #1)
  7. Doctors / Health network (More for Case #1)
  8. The actual cooperative
  9. Families with women working in the cooperative

Step 3: Motivations of Stakeholders:

1. Children at breastfeeding ages

This stakeholder is mainly focused on receiving food that tastes good and something they would actually want to eat. At the age they’re at, they would not be as focused or aware of the nutrients or risk of HIV.

2. Lactating mothers

This stakeholder would be concerned with the health of their children, and delivering to them sufficient amounts of nutrients while reducing their risk of contracting HIV.

3. Other Women

This stakeholder may could benefit from this cooperative with a potential job with it in the future. Additionally, if they had a child in the future, this cooperative and the product created would directly impact their baby.

4. Women’s cooperative Grant Donor

This stakeholder would want their money to go towards a productive venture that eventually achieves the goal that the money is going towards.

5. You as a researcher

You would want to create a successful cooperative that achieves it’s goal and creates impact in the community, both for personal and professional reasons.

6. Local Farmers

The local farmers in this region of East Africa could benefit from this cooperative by providing crops to the porridge production and thus making a source of income.

7. Doctors

The doctors in this region would be happy to see a healthier community as a result of the porridge.

CASE 1: 

Step 1: Determine the facts in the situation

In the East African region that is being focused on, 35% of children have stunted growth, and until they are around 24 months old receive their nutrients from breastfeeding in addition to a maize and banana gruel that is not very nutritious. The issue with this is that the HIV rate in this region is very high, and when children breastfeed for an an extended period of time, they are at a higher risk of contracting HIV from their mothers.

However, you are tasked with creating a women’s cooperative intended to produce a nutrient-rich porridge to ween young children off of breast milk, and therefore reducing their risk of contracting HIV from their mothers. This cooperative already has 500 women interested, but many in the area are skeptical of the porridge due to the mindset of breastfeeding their children as well as the potential pesticides that are used in the porridge’s ingredients.

Step 2:

Refer to “aspects relevant to both case studies”

Step 3:

Refer to “aspects relevant to both case studies

Step 4: Formulating alternative solutions

Solution 1: Form a section of the cooperative to educate women on the different risks of the porridge and HIV and let them decide if they want to buy the porridge or not.

From a virtue based thinking, this is a good idea because the good thing to do in this situation would be to properly educate your customer base about the risks and benefits of the product. The pros of this solution is that it properly educates potential customers and allows them to make their own decision on what to buy, but this also presents a possible con in that some of the women may not interpret the information properly and still make a decision that is riskier than the alternative choice.

Solution 2: Create the porridge and privately test for pesticides on the assumption that the pesticides are better than contracting HIV. After testing, sell to the communities without disclosing the risks and educate the women to stop breastfeeding after the child is 6 months of age.

Looking at a consequence based thinking approach, if the goal is to choose the healthier option for the community in the fastest way possible, then this would be a solid choice. However, hiding findings about a product that will be fed to children presents a whole other set of ethical issues. Other pros include that the image of the cooperative is not tarnished because the community is unaware of the risks.

Solution 3: Create the cooperative and create packaging that allows potential buyers to recognize if they are at risk for or potentially have HIV. The packaging also has educationally information that strongly urges women to not breastfeed if they are at risk of/potentially have HIV.

This situation is similar to solution #1 presented, but places it on packaging instead of creating education programs. The pros is that it is more time and cost efficient than creating a whole educational program, but poses the same risk with the possibility of potential customers misinterpreting the information.

Step 5: Seek additional assistance & Step 6: Select the best course of action

Many companies list information about the risks and benefits of their products on their packaging, which would make solution 3 the most viable option. This solution is ethical in that it provides more information to the customer, but is also more time and cost efficient than the other option of informing customers about the product.

Step 7 Implications of the venture

Placing educational information on the packaging instead of taking time to go out and implement a educational program gives the cooperative more time to focus on other aspects of the business that would allow more porridge to be sold and for the project to reach a larger customer base. Informing potential customers about the product will also probably make people more comfortable buying the porridge, which would help the cooperative.

 

Case 2:

Step 1: Determine the facts in the situation

Although the cooperative has been effective and the porridge is selling well, and thus helping provide nutrients to children while reducing the risk of them contracting HIV, there is a problem on the operational side. Despite the fact that the women working in the cooperative are earning money, that money is being handed over to the men in the households and then spent on alcohol and other frivolous objects. Although the women are upset that the money isn’t going to help feed their family and provide other necessities, there isn’t anything they can really do.

Step 2:

Refer to “aspects relevant to both case studies”

Step 3:

Refer to “aspects relevant to both case studies

Step 4: Formulating alternative solutions

Solution 1: Incentivize families to spend money responsibly by showing receipts spent on food, water, etc. If they are spending the money responsibly they get an X% raise so long as they continue spending responsibly.

This solution incentivizes the families working with the cooperative to spend their money on more useful things for the whole family, but this solution could create a lot of extra costs to the cooperative by providing raises for smart spending. It saves face for the men involved, as it doesn’t directly call them out for their spending, but could lead to some sort of issues in the long term if the men caught on to the scheme.

Solution 2: Create a point system that rewards the women’s work instead of giving wages. The women can use these points at a store the cooperative sets up so they can get things that are necessary for their family.

The biggest takeaway of this situation is that money isn’t being brought back to the households for it to be taken by the men and spent poorly. However, this situation could make the men angry, which could hurt the cooperative. The store created could also create a lot of costs for the cooperative and the store may not even store what the workers would want.

Solution 3: The cooperative keeps the money and keeps track of what each women has earned. The women are then able to take money out by specifying what they will buying and giving a few days heads up. 

This situation takes the money out of the households for it to be used by the men, but also allows the family to take the money out and spend it on goods for the family. Giving a required heads up before taking the money out also takes more measures to ensure that smart choices are made for spending.

Step 5: Seek additional assistance & Step 6: Select the best course of action

Many cooperatives run a payment system similar to solution 3, where employees can use their wages as a sort of “share” that they could take out whenever they choose. With this knowledge, solution 3 would appear to be the best course of action to take.

Step 7 Implications of the venture

With the money not going directly home and presumably to the men of the house, spending from the cooperative workers will be more focused towards helping their children and their family as a whole.

 

 

CINQ Blog Post #3: Youth Center Case Study

During our previous CINQ class, we looked at a case study as a team that involved an American volunteering at a youth center in Kenya. After reading through and understanding the case, we were tasked with coming up with a solution to take for the American boy stuck in a dilemma surrounding gifts that were presented to the children at the youth center. Here is the seven step process our team came up with to resolve the issue Jack, the American volunteer, had faced.

1: Facts of the Situation

In the case study, Jack is an American working at a youth center in Kenya for a five month period. During his time at the center, a shipment of presents arrives for the children, and a ceremony is planned to present the children with the gifts. During the gift giving presentation, all of the children were ceremoniously presented gifts except for four children, as presents could not be found for them. After the ceremony had concluded, four black hats were found at the bottom of the box and given to the kids. Although the children received hats, it was done so unceremoniously and the gifts were not as good as what other children had received. Although the children did not call out Jack for their presents and the situation, it was clear they were unhappy and Jack felt guilty. However, the staff at the center were unconcerned with the situation and actually seemed upset at Jack for caring about the situation.

2: Problem and Stakeholders

Problem:

The four kids who received hats afterwards are upset and feel like they weren’t given the same treatment as the children who received hats ceremoniously.

Jack is afraid that this situation will hurt his reputation with the children, which could make his 5 months a lot more difficult.

The youth center workers do not believe that the four kids receiving hats afterwards isn’t a problem, and think Jack is creating a problem by caring about the situation.

Stakeholders:

-Jack: he is at the center of the controversy since the children blame him for the bad presents and the youth center workers think he is causing an issue.

-Youth Center Workers: They are working with Jack during this time, and are receiving requests from Jack to deal with the issue, who they think is making a problem out of a non-issue.

-The children: Specifically the four children who didn’t receive hats are stakeholders in this situation, although they are not as much of a stakeholder as Jack or the workers.

3: Motivations of the Stakeholders:

Jack: Wants to help the children as who he believes were mistreated. He wants the children to see him as a good person, which will help his time during his volunteer work. He also wants to maintain a good relationship with the health workers, who also can heavily influence his five months at the center.

Youth Center Workers: The youth center employees don’t see the situation as a huge issue, so they may not want to be bothered by making an effort to make everyone happy and may think there are bigger issues within the center that should be focused on instead. Professionally, they may not want to have their work criticized by an outside helper (Jack), which may influence them to dismiss his call for action to help the kids.

The children who received the hats:  The children who were left out of the gift giving ceremony probably see themselves as left out from the rest of the children and just want to be seen as equal from the perspective of the workers and Jack as well as the fellow children.

4: Alternative Solutions

1: Get the same gifts that were given to the other kids and give them to the four kids who received hats in some sort of public event.

This situation would make the four children feel equal to the other children, since they are receiving the same gifts that were given out and it is being done in a public setting. However the other children may get mad that these four kids received a hat and other presents. The relationships between Jack with the children could possibly be fixed, as they would understand that Jack cares about them, and the youth workers may appreciate that Jack is sorting things out on his own.

2: Give the four kids some sort of leadership role in an upcoming event in order to make them feel like they are on the same social level as the other children.

This situation could make the left out children feel equal through a small action that won’t make the workers upset at Jack.

3: Work in collaboration with the youth workers to help them understand what was wrong in the situation and work to plan something small but nice for the four left out children.

This situation won’t backdoor the workers, which they may appreciate, and also teaches the workers how to deal with situations like this that could arise in the future. This also provides the four children with an event that could make them feel equal, but may upset the other children.

5: Additional assistance

In general, people usually care more about the social standing and how others perceive them than the material objects that they may receive that have little monetary value. Therefore doing something that helps the four children be seen as equal to their peers would be effective. This could also be applied to the health workers, who would most likely benefit by having the kids view them in a more positive light.

6: Selecting the best course of action:

During the course, I believed that our third course of action, where Jack works with the youth center workers to come up with a solution, was the best course of action. I believed this situation would help the workers understand how to deal with situations like this in the future, while also repairing the situation that is currently presented in the case study.

7: Sequence of actions to take:

1: Meet with the youth center workers to try and help them understand the situation better, and how issues like this could be resolved in the future.

2: Work with the youth center workers to plan an event that is small enough so the other kids don’t get upset but the children who received hats feel like they are appreciated by Jack and the youth workers.

3: Implement the plan for the four kids.

CINQ Blog Post #2: Lesotho Case Study

During our previous CINQ class, we were looked at a case study as a team that involved conducting research to test water in Lesotho. After reading through and understanding the case, we were tasked with coming up with a solution to take for the research project using an ethical decision making methodology, a seven step process to determine the best course of action in certain situations. Here is the ethical decision making methodology our team came up with.

Step 1: Determine the facts in the situation 

In this case study, the main facts of the situation were:

  • A team of 11 academic researchers are going to Lesotho for two weeks to test water sources in various communities.
  • The tests are to identify disease causing pathogens in the water and understanding their life cycles and characteristics. These pathogens are only located in Lesotho and these findings could produce multiple publications and a development of chemical additives to make the infected water safe to drink in the future.
  • The team will need help from community members in terms of finding the water sources that communities drink from and learning how the drinking water is stored. The team does not see the need to pay the community members assisting the project.

Step 2: Define the Stakeholders / Step 3: Assess the motivations of the Stakeholders

Stakeholders and their motivations for this situation include:

 

  • The Research Team: This group can benefit from this research through publications of papers related to their findings, as well as accolades that can bring them professional opportunities down the line.
  • The Community Members in Lesotho: This group has stake in the project because their drinking water sources are being used. They will be drinking this water that may contain these pathogens, and the findings from the research team could produce a solution to make the water safe in the future. In addition, community members who assist in the project could receive possible compensation and other perks.
  • People who read the findings of the research: This group of people could take the information about the pathogen that was found during the two weeks in Lesotho, and use it to create a chemical additive or product that makes the water safe to drink. This could create a profit for those people and get them recognition in that field.
  • The University that is overseeing the research: The University could gain recognition through this research project, primarily through the publications of papers that their names will be attached to. This could lead to more money and grants for the school.
  • Government of Lesotho: The government of Lesotho could benefit from this research, as it could help them identify the reason for the pathogen-containing water and in the future could allow the government of Lesotho to provide their communities with safe drinking water.

 

Step 4: Formulate (at least three) alternative solutions 

Solution 1: You can pay community members who assisted in the research project. The pros of this is that it is a nice thing to do and may also motivate the community members to be more helpful. The con of this option is that it would require the research project to use more money that they may need later on at some point, and it also creates a situation where it can become unclear on who should be paid for their help and how much.

Solution 2: You do not pay the community members who helped you. This situation would mean that you avoid any confusion about payments mentioned in the cons section of solution one, but no pay could make community members more hesitant to assist you, and make the members who do work with the project less motivated to assist to the best of their ability.

Solution 3: You reimburse the community members who assisted in the project only up to the amount of capital they gave up to help. This could include transportation costs and things of that nature. You also distribute the findings of your report back to the communities whose water sources were tested and make these findings available to the public back in America. This allows a company to take your information and create a solution to clean the water and makes the communities in Lesotho aware of the water issue, but can also create payment issues for the community members that helped, similar to what was mentioned in the cons section of solution 1.

Step 5: Seek additional assistance, as appropriate 

Personal Experiences from the CINQ Team: The Ebola Team that traveled to Sierra Leone this summer conducted many interviews with community members and other individuals in Sierra Leone. The team provided reimbursements for things such as travel, but did not pay the individuals for taking part in the interviews. Although they made this clear to the participants that they would not be paid, they still received good cooperation and were able to conduct effective interviews.

Past Cases: In many cases of clinical trials, the teams conduct their research and leave without any real solution to what they were collecting data on, similar to what this project is doing. Although it is not the most ideal scenario, this sort of process is still used very widely. 

Step 6: Select the best course of action/Step 7: (If applicable) What are the implications of your solution on the venture. 

Our team decided that we would conduct solution 3, which is to reimburse the community members for any personal expenses they may have put into helping the project, then after research has been conducted distribute the findings to the Lesotho government, the communities at the center of the experiment, and make the findings available to anyone who is interested in America. We believe this is the best course of action, because from a community side of things, the people who are assisting in the project would not be losing any money in order to help, and the community will be made aware of the issues with their drinking water and can figure out how to deal with it. By distributing our findings with certain sectors of the Lesotho government, help can be given to the communities on the federal level to try and solve their drinking water problem. By making the findings of the research and data available to potential stakeholders, someone can take the knowledge gained from the research project to create a chemical additive that would make this water filled with disease causing pathogens safe to consume. Therefore, even though the research project ended after the distribution of the data collected, a new team can head up a mission to make the water in these communities safe to drink.