JETHA, Qayam

Author Tags: Women

An SFU Alumna of Public Policy Qayam Jetha wrote "Does More Money Mean Better Health? Assessing the Maternity Allowance Program" (Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Research, 2014).

According to SFU Reports:

Qayam Jetha, as a Master's student in Public Policy, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award to further his stressful but rewarding research for three months in Dhaka, Bangladesh to evaluate a cash transfer program to benefit women. Specifically, research focussed upon a Maternity Allowance Program (MAP) that provided a stipend of approximately five dollars per month for a period of two years to selected poor, rural, pregnant mothers. The title of his study was Cash Transfers to Promote Safe Motherhood: Evidence From Bangladesh’s Maternity Allowance Program. The program was implemented nationally and is intended to improve maternal and infant health by enhancing nutrition and health and increasing the use of maternity services and breastfeeding.

"For the majority of my time in Bangladesh," he reported, "I worked as a teacher at IUBAT, a private university in Dhaka... To evaluate the MAP I drafted two questionnaires. One questionnaire was designed for the “treatment group” consisting of mothers who received the Allowance in 2011. The other questionnaire was reserved for a “control group” of mothers similar in observed characteristics to the treatment group but who did not receive the intervention.

"Facing time and monetary constraints I immediately set about soliciting help by “NGO-hopping”. I went to different institutions, pitched my research, and sought any information or guidance I could. Fortunately, I stumbled my way into a local NGO named DORP, the Development Organization for the Rural Poor, an organization that works to reduce poverty, empower the poor, thwart environmental degradation, and promote human rights. DORP was also instrumental in the initial design of the MAP program and lobbied extensively to get it legislated. The NGO agreed to supply me with lists of MAP beneficiaries and also graciously provided ten interviewers to help with data collection.

"Following translation and piloting of the questionnaires I spent approximately twenty days collecting primary data in the district of Lakshmipur, a rural area five hours from the capital Dhaka. Our team was able to collect data from 700 women and complete a number of focus group discussions and informant interviews with relevant government officials.

"Key problems I faced related primarily to the nuances of the quantitative method of impact evaluation that I used. Other problems included a dearth of information regarding the MAP, problems with identification of the control group, language barriers, faulty information, and other logistical mishaps. Overcoming these setbacks was a function of perseverance, adaptability, compromise, and most importantly support from others. Research in these contexts takes a whole “village” of wonderful people and I am indebted to many for their help and encouragement." His SFU supervisor was John Richards.

In 2015, Qayam Jetha was a Senior Policy and Training Associate at J-PAL SA where he works on policy advocacy and capacity building. Prior to joining J-PAL in 2014, he worked as an intern with UNESCAP in New Delhi, the ILO in Bangkok, and the Canadian International Development Agency. He held a a B.A. in economics from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. in Public Policy from Simon Fraser University.

[BCBW 2015]