ND-GAIN Press Releases

NDIGD awarded contract to evaluate water project in Ghana


Contact: Michael Sweikar, NDIGD managing director, msweikar@nd.edu


The University of Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) was recently awarded a $375,000 contract from the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) to conduct an evaluation of MCC’s water project in Ghana.

In 2006, MCC signed a five-year, $547 million compact with the Republic of Ghana aimed at reducing poverty through agribusiness development. The University of Notre Dame will help evaluate the benefits of the water component of that project, which was designed to provide water systems to communities in Ghana. Three hundred ninety-two water points were constructed, including boreholes, small town water systems and pipe extensions.

The evaluation will help determine whether improving water systems in participating districts has reduced the prevalence of illness — particularly diarrhea — and generated health improvements, and whether beneficiary productivity and incomes have increased with the availability of better water. Some 137 selected communities in the intervention areas are benefiting from the improved water systems.

NDIGD will work with MCC to evaluate the water activity of these improved water systems, integrating a survey and data collection to synthesize outcomes of the project. NDIGD’s previous experience in using rigorous research methods to collect data from communities will be helpful in designing and executing the evaluation.

The research team includes Edwin Michael, professor of biological sciences and a member of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health. “We are excited about investigating whether the model used for the water intervention has led to improved health outcomes, particularly in the case of diarrhea, which continues to be a leading cause of death among the developing world’s children,” Michael said.

NDIGD monitoring and evaluation specialists Lila Khatiwada and Juan Carlos Guzman will travel to Ghana in December to develop the design for the survey and data collection that will be implemented in 2014. “We are collaborating with several experts in Ghana to assist in providing local expertise and knowledge as we design the study and carry out the evaluation,” Khatiwada said.

Economics professor Joseph Kaboski will provide input into the design of the evaluation and assist in analyzing the data. Other researchers on the project, including ND-GAIN research fellow Chen Chen and Andres Martinez, data management consultant for the Center for Social Research, also serve as part of the research team.

“Notre Dame is most grateful to be able to partner with the Millennium Challenge Corp. on this potentially transformative project in Ghana,” said University of Notre Dame Provost Thomas Burish. “Splendid faculty from several different disciplines, working through Notre Dame’s Initiative for Global Development, will contribute to several applied research projects that will benefit not only communities in Ghana but also many others worldwide.”

A United States foreign aid agency created by Congress in January 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corp. is committed to providing smart U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership and proven results.



ND-GAIN issues call for applications for Corporate Adaptation Award


Contact: Joyce Coffee, 574-807-9322, joyce.coffee@gain.org


The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) at the University of Notre Dame is accepting applications for the ND-GAIN Corporate Adaptation Award, an annual award for contributions to awareness, science or action in creating resilience to corporate change.

This year, the ND-GAIN Prize will be awarded to a multinational corporation working with local partners to decrease climate-related vulnerability and improve readiness. The winning corporate project also will have a measurable impact in a country ranked below 60 on the ND-GAIN Index and will focus on such areas as food security, water access, coastal protection, ecosystem services, human habitats, human health or other climate-related vulnerability.

Applications should be submitted no later than Oct. 21 (Monday) via the online form at goo.gl/gMiDf1. Applications will be reviewed by ND-GAIN’s advisory board and semifinalists will be contacted by the ND-GAIN team in late October.

Award winners will be featured at the invitation-only ND-GAIN annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Dec. 11-12 (Wednesday-Thursday).

GAIN was founded in 2010 as the world’s first private sector-led, nonprofit organization created to save lives and improve livelihoods in developing countries by promoting adaptation solutions. ND-GAIN moved to Notre Dame from Washington, D.C., in April of this year. It is the world’s leading index showing which countries are best prepared to deal with national security risks, droughts, superstorms and other natural disasters climate change can cause.

The GAIN Index is the first of its kind to measure a country’s vulnerability to climate change and other global forces, as well as its readiness to accept private and public sector investment in adaptation.


Joyce Coffee named managing director of ND-GAIN


Contact: ND-GAIN, ndgain@nd.edu


Joyce E. Coffee, who has extensive experience working on climate change and sustainability — particularly in the government and corporate sectors — has been named managing director of the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN).

ND-GAIN is the world’s leading index showing which countries are best prepared to deal with the droughts, superstorms and other natural disasters climate change can cause. ND-GAIN ranks countries based on how vulnerable they are to climate change, and how prepared they are to adapt to the storms, droughts and heat waves that scientists predict will increase in the coming decades. The index moved to Notre Dame from Washington, D.C., in April.

“We are thrilled that Joyce is joining the leadership team at ND-GAIN,” David Lodge, director of the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative, where ND-GAIN is housed, said. “She is a widely recognized environmental thought leader with extensive experience working with corporations, governments and nonprofits on climate change and sustainability. As managing director, she will be reaching out to all three of those sectors to raise awareness about vulnerability to climate change and the urgent need for countries to adapt.”

Coffee has 20 years of experience in environmental leadership, risk management, performance measurement and sustainability execution. Previously, she was vice president at Edelman where she provided strategic counsel to global companies on corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Before joining Edelman, she also directed the Chicago Climate Action Plan driving both climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. She also managed environmental codes as well as water and air resources in the City of Chicago department of environment.

Coffee started her career as an urban environmental consultant with the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership. She was a founding board member of the Alliance for Water Efficiency and a Great Lakes delegate to the Brookings International Young Leaders Climate Change Summit. She also is a Chicago Council on Global Affairs Emerging Leader.

Coffee has had global work assignments in such countries as the Philippines, Vietnam and Egypt.

She was awarded the Henry Luce Fund Scholarship to study at the University of Hanoi in Vietnam and received a dual bachelor of science degree in biology and environmental studies, with a minor in Asian Studies, from Tufts University and a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


GAIN Index Moves to Notre Dame



Peter Annin | 574-807-9322 | pannin@nd.edu

The Global Adaptation Index (GAIN)—the world’s leading Index showing which countries are best prepared to deal with the droughts, super-storms and other natural disasters that climate change can cause—is moving to the University of Notre Dame. GAIN, which ranks countries annually based on how vulnerable they are to climate change and how prepared they are to adapt, was formerly housed in the Global Adaptation Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

GAIN is being given to the University by the Global Adaptation Institute with full support of its primary founding sponsor, NGP Energy Capital Management, a $13-billion investment fund based outside Dallas. To help draw attention to the importance of climate change adaptation, the chairman of the Global Adaptation Institute, and NGP’s CEO and founder, Ken Hersh said, “the era of climate change denial is over, the world is getting warmer, and numerous countries are not ready for the chaos that climate change will bring.” The gift includes a $2-million donation from the Natural Gas Partners Foundation.

“GAIN highlights those countries that urgently need help adapting to a warmer world,” Hersh said. “We are thrilled about our new partnership with Notre Dame and its ability to help us take GAIN to the next level.”

Notre Dame researchers will make GAIN more detailed by ranking the vulnerability of states within selected countries—as well as continuing to rank the countries themselves—making GAIN an even more important tool for disaster planning, infrastructure development and ecosystem management around the world.

“At Notre Dame, we want to be the researchers who help solve climate adaptation problems, rather than fiddling while people suffer,” says Professor David Lodge, director of the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI), where GAIN will be housed. “In just two years, GAIN has captured the attention of multinational corporations, NGOs and government agencies—including those concerned with intelligence and security—and we will continue to get GAIN into the hands of those who can make a difference.”

Recent climate statistics speak for themselves. In the United States, the ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 1995. More than 34,000 high temperature records were broken last year alone. Similar issues have arisen overseas, from record-breaking heat waves in Australia, to dramatic sea ice losses in the Arctic.

Under the United Nations-led climate talks, billions of dollars have been pledged to help the world adapt to climate change. But key questions remain on where that money should be spent. GAIN is designed to help governments, NGOs and the private sector better target those and other investments. “When I worked at the World Bank, I was responsible for more than 100 countries. Adaptation is an urgent issue in the developing world, and people are fed up with politicians who care more about the next election than the next generation,” said Juan José Daboub, GAIN’s founding CEO, who was managing director of the Bank from 2006-10 and currently serves as chair of the World Economic Forum’s Council on Climate Change.

“Adaptation is a way to rapidly build consensus, take effective action, and produce immediate benefits, including life-saving benefits. Notre Dame is the best school to take GAIN closer to the people in need because of the University’s track record of putting the human being in the center of their actions.”

Key faculty working on GAIN include Professor Nitesh Chawla, a renowned big data scientist and director of the Notre Dame Interdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications, and Professor Jessica Hellmann, a leading climate expert, who directs ND-ECI’s Climate Adaptation Program.

“Adaptation is one of the greatest challenges of our time,” Hellmann said. “By combining the intellectual resources of GAIN with Notre Dame’s leading research capacity in adaptation, we can help decision-makers prepare for the challenges ahead.”

“This story is all about data—translating big data into real solutions that have real societal and global impact,” Chawla said. “And Notre Dame has a long and successful track record of translating big data into action on behalf of the private sector and government agencies alike—data and network science for the common good. Now we look forward to doing just that with ND-GAIN.”

GAIN, which will now be called “ND-GAIN,” will continue to be an open-source tool that analyzes a number of sectors to make its calculations, including water, infrastructure, coastal protection, agriculture and energy.

ND-GAIN also will award annual prizes to results-oriented demonstration projects during an ND-GAIN annual meeting. Winners will be selected on criteria such as effectiveness, scalability, impact, marketability and relevance to the ND-GAIN Index. The awards are designed to spark sustainable change and present innovative solutions to adaptation challenges around the world.