Congrats to our 2019 Photo Drive winners!

This post was written by Dustin Marshall, CEGA Events and Communications Associate.

CEGA’s annual photo drive brings our mission to life, and our network closer to the people and places that motivate our work. This year, submissions covered a range of topics relevant to CEGA — from agricultural technology adoption to digital credit and local labor markets.

We asked our five finalists to tell us a bit about their submissions; their responses and photos are below.


1st Place: Andres Sanchez, “After a flood, women created communal crops to cope”

Credit: Andres Sanchez

“This photo was taken in Santa Lucia, Colombia, a predominantly rural village on the Caribbean Coast, where communities live under high incidence of poverty. I was conducting fieldwork for a project appointed by the Central Bank of Colombia, which sought to assess the impact of a juggernaut flood that hammered the area in late 2010. Information in the wake of disaster was scant, so I decided to take pictures, documenting people’s response to the catastrophe. This particular snapshot captures women’s resilience during a time of crisis. Since the upheaval sent men spinning towards a persistent idling state, with lingering waters disrupting farm practices on nearby fields, earnest women created communal plots in order to secure food, a major concern among inhabitants of Santa Lucia at the time.”

Andres Sanchez is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at the University of Washington and a junior researcher for the Central Bank of Colombia. His research studies the effects of the government response to the calamity depicted above on households’ behavior and outcomes.

2nd Place: Matthew Mayes, “Artisan rinses tapestry dyed with natural indigo”

Credit: Matthew Mayes

“In summer 2018, I was part of a research team working for Sustainability and Resilience Company (, an environmental “think and do” tank located in Bali, Indonesia.’s focus is developing solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation within rural areas across Indonesia that incorporate clean energy, climate-smart agriculture, green business development, and policy. Over the course of 11 weeks, we spearheaded’s latest initiative involving the support of traditional Indonesian naturally-dyed textile practices and explored indigo’s potential as a value-added crop, resilient to climate change.

My team conducted a feasibility analysis of a proposed project that will help the Ciwaringin cooperative create added value by integrating biogas and bio-slurry into its batik production process. This is part of a proposed sustainable agricultural project in which indigo can be grown locally and processed into a dye, ensuring an affordable and sustainable supply for the textile makers.”

Matthew Mayes is a second-year candidate in the Master of Development Practice (MDP) program at UC Berkeley focused on the relationships between sustainable development, energy generation, and climate change.

3rd Place: Harshit Bawa, “Women making bangles”

Credit: Harshit Bawa

“[This photo] was clicked while we were trying to get small scale household workers in Bhatta Basti, an urban slum in Jaipur, to adopt digital transactions. The lady in the picture due to some family constraints was not allowed to show her face to the camera or the people who were not from their community. That’s the reason for hiding her face behind the bangle. Through this picture, I wanted to depict the art of making bangles pursued by such dexterous ladies to make others look beautiful.”

Harshit Bawa is an Aspiring Documentary Film Maker from New Delhi, India. Photography has always been a part of his work in some way or the other. He has been working in the development sector for the last 2 years now with IFMR Lead as a Visual Communication Executive.

Honorable Mention: Kyle Gaiser, “Best friends lock arms on a leisurely Saturday stroll”

Credit: Kyle Gaiser

I spotted these children, out of their school uniforms and locking arms for a Saturday afternoon caper, in the rural trading village of Rwanteru, Rwanda. I taught math and physics at the nearby high school, and facilitated renewable energy awareness programs, with a focus on locally-sourced hydropower. During that year, Rwanteru transformed from a village to a town. Flickering lights, powered by an unreliable diesel generator, gave way to lesson planning by candlelight (the utility grid put the man with the generator out of business), and finally to reliable CFLs, for residents who could afford the grid connection. Among the rolling hills of banana trees and rice paddies, a gas station was built, high-speed fiber was laid, an internet cafe opened, and overnight, trash cans lined the single street through town as if decidedly ushering in a new era of economic growth.

But most impressive was the resourcefulness of the people I met. One boy jerry-rigged an off-grid small-hydro system, making turbines from scrap sheet metal and generators from rewound truck alternators. Stories like this made me wonder just what these three kids were scheming about on their weekend escapade.”

Kyle Gaiser is a research and development engineer whose goal is to create socially and environmentally sustainable technologies and to evaluate their impact so that developing communities are empowered to effectively use their resources for innovation and endogenous growth. He currently works in the San Francisco Bay Area as an engineer designing next-generation flywheel technology for distributed energy storage.

Honorable Mention: Ale Wall, “A walk through Kibera, an urban slum in Nairobi, shows the penetration of Safaricom and its agent network”

Credit: Ale Wall

“In January 2019 I traveled to Kenya to conduct qualitative interviews with borrowers and non-borrowers of mobile loans. While the advertisement of Safaricom’s mobile loan product (M-Shwari) was nowhere to be seen, quite the opposite was true for its mobile money product (M-PESA). This photo was taken in Kibera, an urban slum in Nairobi. On the walk back to the matatu station after an afternoon of interviews, I strolled past endless Safaricom signature green signs advertising SIM card replacements, airtime purchase, and cash-in & cash-out services. I could have just as easily taken a photo five steps earlier and captured a different sign. ‘“Safaricom Twaweza: When we come together, Great things happen.’”

Ale Wall is a Graduate Student Researcher at the Center for Effective Global Action, where she used to work as a Senior Program Associate on CEGA’s financial inclusion program. She is currently pursuing a Master of Development Practice at the University of California, Berkeley.


The CEGA blog is a platform for discussing key issues…

The Center for Effective Global Action

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CEGA is a hub for research on global development, innovating for positive social change.



The CEGA blog is a platform for discussing key issues related to poverty alleviation and global development.

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