*Editor’s note: As part of this Candler-IRD partnership, Rollins School of Public Health student Jane Li is interning at IRD headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In many ways, my internship in DC has been like archiving MasterCard commercials. My assignment to create a database on all IRD water, sanitation, and hygiene programs led to a quest of garnering countless reports with amazing outputs at streamlined budgets.
Currently, over 60 separate IRD programs in 23 different countries have:
X dollars spent,
Y quantity of water sources rehabilitated or created,
Z number of people with potable water,
And an end outcome of “priceless.”
Quantifying these programs has given me a sense of what ingredients are needed to create integrated and sustainable programs. I mean this both in the most direct sense (generally, what x, y, z’s does a program need), and also from a socio-political systematic perspective.
Interestingly, “priceless” cannot happen without MasterCard, or in this case, sources of funding. Being a pragmatist, I must ask: Does enough worldwide funding exist to meet MDGs [Millennium Development Goals]? And the answer is not nearly enough. To compound the lack of sufficient funding worldwide, the often harsh reality is that continued funding is influenced by political winds, particularly in the arena of international foreign assistance. And this is where Advocacy enters the picture. The fact that IRD has readily developed its advocacy sector demonstrates its proactive stance to bridge funding gaps. What can I say, except that the idealist in me is satisfied?
Sure, I may not have scenic pictures to bring back with me, but I think learning about the importance of advocacy in relation to funding is apropos for an internship in Washington DC. With great advocacy, I am inspired to envision future “priceless” moments around the world.