Vox has an informative article by two South African economists, Peter Draper and Gilberto Biacuana, highlighting the effects of declining trade flows on African growth. The first half of the piece offers an excellent summary of Sub-Saharan Africa's economic state as a result of the crisis. The authors argue that the crisis has affected Africa mostly through reduced exports and commodity prices, along with declining capital inflows.
In the film, Venus, an old and frail Peter O’Toole discovers the Greek goddess in the guise of his best friend’s niece. The ironic and good humored story explores the theme of the games played in a mutual seduction between the older man with experience, money and a nostalgic yearning for carnal desire and the young woman who soon finds out the power she wields and negotiates three kisses in return for a pair of earrings. In the final scene, wearing only one of his boots on a cold beach, O’Toole feels the caress of the sea’s salty foam with the sole of his foot and smiles. His face expresses the happiness of someone who knows the joys of being alive.
It is impossible to weigh up Peter O’Toole’s smile, measuring the degree of his happiness or comparing it to what you would feel if walking barefoot in the sand. But, the idea that his feelings can be measured as a metric has become fashionable, ever since the King of Bhutan decided that GDP fails to portray the well-being of his subjects and summoned a team to create the Gross National Happiness index.
The DM2009 competition, whose theme was adaptation to climate change, especially how it impacts the poor and vulnerable on the local level, would seem to have been the perfect fit for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. The poorest countries are expected to pay the highest price of climate change on their human, natural, and economic resources. With generally weak capacity in regional and national government and infrastructure, they would seem to be well suited for the early-stage, community-focused projects of DM2009. In fact, criteria for National Adaptation Plans of Action for LDCs give No. 1 ranking to "a participatory process involving stakeholders, particularly local communities."
But the fit proved less than perfect. The 49 LDCs worldwide produced only 26 of the 100 finalists. Only four were winners -- two from Sub-Saharan Africa (Burkina Faso and Ethiopia) and one each from Middle East and North Africa (Djibouti) and East Asia and the Pacific (Samoa). Five finalists were from the most populous LDC -- Bangladesh, in South Asia -- but none of those was a winner. LDCs Tanzania and Uganda -- two of Sub-Saharan Africa's most populous countries -- had only three finalists between them, none of whom was a winner.
Is it too late for the 22 LDC finalists who didn't pick up crystal globes at the Nov. 13 awards ceremony? Maybe not. According to most recent findings, the 49 LDCs globally aren't making enough progress in pinpointing potential local climate adaptation projects.
What if the 10 LDCs from which the 22 non-winning finalists come took a close look at those projects and considered them for funding in their National Adaptation Plans of Action? Some DM2009 jurors said they had a tough time choosing winners because all the finalists presented strong entries.
Development Marketplace's decision makers are looking at ways to help all the finalists succeed. Aleem Walji, Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute, which includes the secretariat for the Development Marketplace consortium and other innovation platforms, said in a mini-interview on this blog: "I think we have a responsibility to try and support this entire community of finalists. We went from 1,750 applicants to a hundred finalists. What can we do to connect these hundred finalists to everyone who we know who can help them go forward -- funders, capacity builders, past DM winners, each other."
For themselves, their projects, and their countries, the 20 non-winning finalists from LDCs should keep their hope in their hearts.
- The World Region
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Indigenous Peoples
- Climate Change
Last Wednesday, before heading to California for the long Thanksgiving weekend, I wrote that "Dubai is looking to be the ultimate boom and bust story&qu
November marks the eighth anniversary of the Doha Development Agenda– the first multilateral trade negotiation under the auspices of the World Trade Organization. But what started as a real opportunity to help poor countries prosper through trade, for some it has now become a lost cause. But Doha doesn’t have to be a metaphor for failure. We can still save it and make it work. After all, if we can’t fix Doha, how can we hope to address much greater challenges that confront us, such as climate change?
A couple of weeks ago, a few World Bank staff members teamed up with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA-AMES, disaster relief experts, and the software developer community in Mountain View, California to help find better ways to support disaster relief efforts.
The result, the Random Hacks of Kindness Codejam, brought together about 150 people at the Hacker Dojo, and resulted in some innovative hacks (or solutions to technical problems) that will hopefully shape the way the developer community supports disaster relief efforts going forward.
There has been a lot of coverage of the event already (including a great post on the East Asia & Pacific on the rise blog), so instead of going in to that, here's a quick list of posts and articles about the event that you might want to check out:
- East Asia & Pacific on the rise: Random Hacks of Kindness: software developers create and share code to tackle disaster relief
- Humanitarian FOSS Project: Random Hacks of Kindness
- Emergency Management: Random Hacks of Kindness
- In Case of Emergency Blog: “Random Hacks Of Kindness” Starts Today
- openNASA: Random Hacks of Kindness
- CNET: Hackers Create Tools for Disaster Relief
- CNET Photos: Random Hacks of Kindness
- ESRI at the Random Hacks of Kindness Codejam
- AFCEA: “Random Hacks of Kindness” to Aid Emergency Response
- CMU: Carnegie Mellon Team Wins First Prize at Random Hacks of Kindness
A bunch of software programmers get together, listen to a list of desired projects formulated by aid, emergency, and development experts that would help tackle issues related to disaster relief, work for two days and the result is eleven applications that will allow users to easily report their status in the event of a disaster, locate family, provide data needed by emergency responders, or that will automatically process aerial images taken by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), among others.
Indigenous Peoples have been contending with destructive weather like cyclones, flooding, and drought for centuries -- as the development community has sometimes belatedly discovered. Nine of DM2009's winners are projects that tap into that special know-how to help indigenous communities survive the increasingly destructive weather that climate change brings.
Indigenous know-how is invariably practical and low-cost -- like the winner from Samoa. That project would build three traditional Samoan houses -- called fale, for "open house" -- as models of "safer, accessible, resilient, and sustainable housing."
Here's how a fale is built, as described in a fascinating story on the East Asia & Pacific website of the World Bank: The structure is "lashed and tied together with afa -- an organic sennit rope. Afa is made by twisting together the fibers of dry coconut husks. The lashing work is traditionally done by elderly men while women make the thatch for the domed roof of the fale – either from coconut palm leaves or sugar cane." (Photo after recent rain shows 80-year-old Pousea, ceremonial house in Samoa that was restored by DM winner Afeafe o Vaetoefaga Pacific Academy of Cultural Restoration, Research, and Development two years ago.)
Lessons from the mobile revolution
The spread of the mobile telephone over the past decade has been nothing short of a revolution. According to market tracking firm Wireless Intelligence, in September 1999 there were about 340 million mobile telephone subscriptions worldwide. Ten years hence, that is less than the number of subscriptions in India or China alone, and worldwide the number has grown to 4.5 billion. There are valuable lessons from this revolution for the transformation we are hoping to see in broadband access and use.