UNCP Department of Public Administration provides expertise in Haitian relief efforts

First Posted: 1/21/2011

PEMBROKE With Haitis recovery continuing, a consortium of non-profits focused on animal welfare needed to collect information about how the islands animal population is faring and potential public health problems related to companion animals in the region.
This led to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke Public Administration professor Warren Eller to Port-au-Prince this fall to train locals on conducting an animal population survey.
Eller worked for Animal Relief Coalition Haiti, an organization formed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the World Society for Protection of Animals. In turn, ARCH worked with Haitis Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development in addressing animal relief issues.
It was a huge challenge, Eller said. Inside a very tight timeframe, my colleague Melanie Gall from the University of South Carolina and I aided in developing a survey and data collection plan with very strict guidelines.
In addition to the survey development, Eller traveled with a research team including Drs. Gall and Green to Port-au-Prince to train the local canvassers on survey deployment and data collection techniques. In country, the team of researchers spent several days in the classroom teaching Ministry of Agriculture employees how to take surveys to ensure valid responses and limit non-response.
They provided us with veterinary students and vet techs who understood the language, people and the survey subject, Eller said. A survey is not just reading questions. Its about helping people understand and answer the questions without influencing their answers.
The classroom training was followed by field observation of the data collection process to ensure that the surveyors would be safe as they moved through all areas of the devastated city.
When they understood the teams mission, Ellers found Haitians to be very warm, friendly and generous people even in the most devastated areas of the City.
People with nothing would offer you a chair and something to eat, he said. They are very proud of their pets and showed us how well they were taking care of them.
Data collection for this project was temporarily suspended during the elections, but will resume shortly. Eller, who has returned to teaching in UNCPs Public Administration program, has remained in contact with the project and may participate in data evaluation.
Locally, the Departments Project on Crisis and Emergency Leadership is working, with their students, in emergency training and research projects. Recently PCEL conducted a tabletop exercise for the Moore County Animal Response Team. Eller believes PCEL is a good training vehicle with benefits for UNCP and the region, and his work in Haiti was invaluable to the mission of the department.
The value of doing this kind of applied research is immense for students, faculty, UNCP and the region, Eller said. It brings back so much to the classroom, and this is exactly why my colleagues and I are so dedicated to regional service.
Work like this has a direct impact on our program, Eller said. This type of hands-on experience gives our students skill in the tasks they will face on the job.
It gives our students a competitive edge as they go out into the region to work, he continued. It also has a positive impact on the regions emergency preparedness and ultimately on community safety.
UNCP offers an Emergency Management concentration in its Master of Public Administration (MPA) program.
For more information about emergency management or Public Administration programs at UNCP, please call (910) 521-6637 or email [email protected]

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