Most conflicts take place in fragile low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, monitoring, measuring, and evaluating the risk of violent conflict in such environments poses a huge challenge, but is necessary to inform strategies and interventions. Can we monitor the risk of conflict, or is this an impossible task? What tools do we have at our disposal for doing so?
According to the World Bank Group’s 2018 #ID4D Global Dataset, an estimated one billion people around the globe face challenges in proving who they are. They struggle to access basic services – including access to finance and even a mobile phone – and may miss out on important economic opportunities, such as formal employment or owning a registered business. The implications of “providing legal identity for all, including birth registration” go beyond individual rights and opportunities: being able to reliably verify the identities of their population is critical for countries to deliver services efficiently, strengthen their ability to raise revenues, and foster growth in the private sector.
This week 1,600 delegates – government officials from 47 African countries, development partners, and the private sector – are gathered in Abuja, Nigeria for ID4Africa to help accelerate progress in closing the identification gap on the continent, where over half of the 1 billion ‘uncounted’ reside. Accurate data on who these people are is vital for all stakeholders to close this gap, and especially to “leave no one behind”.
We live in an age of compounding uncertainty. advances in science and monitoring tools.
The challenge of anticipating and communicating the risk of volcanic eruptions to communities requires complex decision-making. Ecuador’s Cotopaxi Volcano and Indonesia’s Mount Agung are recent examples where the warning signs were present (small earthquakes, increasing gas emissions, and more), yet an eruption came much later than expected. Volcanic eruptions are therefore a double-edged sword that often creates a decision-making dilemma. While signs of volcanic activity can provide adequate time for preparation and evacuation, the very same signs can also create conditions of extreme uncertainty, which can be exacerbated by piecemeal communication around eruption events.
With only 2 people per square kilometer, Mongolia is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. While that can make public service delivery daunting, improving health and education outcomes is possible if we include citizens in the decision-making process.
The country is taking steps to ensure this: Its second Open Government Partnership National Action Plan outlines specific measures to improve transparency, public accountability and citizen participation. With the World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, the government is also working to mainstream social accountability to empower the poor and vulnerable segments of Mongolian society.
The renewed focus on conflict prevention—resulting from the jointly published UN–World Bank study, Pathways for Peace—along with the recent rise in intra-state and regional conflicts, has thrust conflict prevention back to the center of global security sector reform (SSR) discourse.
As highlighted in the 2017 DCAF report, “The Contribution and Role of SSR in the Prevention of Violent Conflict”, security and justice institutions are often the primary interface between states and the populations they are meant to serve. But their protracted ineffectiveness or poor governance can leave the door open for conflict to escalate. It is therefore encouraging that we are going back to the roots of SSR and reassessing its role in conflict prevention.
A child has a fever. Her father rushes to his community’s clinic, his daughter in his arms. He waits. A nurse asks him questions and examines his child. She gives him advice and perhaps a prescription to get filled at a pharmacy. He leaves.
How do we measure the quality of care that this father and his daughter received? There are many ingredients: Was the clinic open? Was a nurse present? Was the patient attended to swiftly? Did the nurse know what she was talking about? Did she have access to needed equipment and supplies?
Both health systems and researchers have made efforts to measure the quality of each of these ingredients, with a range of tools. Interviewers pose hypothetical situations to doctors and nurses to test their knowledge. Inspectors examine the cleanliness and organization of the facility, or they make surprise visits to measure health worker attendance. Actors posing as patients test both the knowledge and the effort of health workers.
But – you might say – that all seems quite costly (it is) and complicated (it is). Why not just ask the patients about their experience? Enter the “patient satisfaction survey,” which goes back at least to the 1980s in a clearly recognizable form. (I’m sure someone has been asking about patient satisfaction in some form for as long as there have been medical providers.) Patient satisfaction surveys have pros and cons. On the pro side, health care is a service, and a better delivered service should result in higher patient satisfaction. If this is true, then patient satisfaction could be a useful summary measure, capturing an array of elements of the service – were you treated with respect? did you have to wait too long? On the con side, patients may not be able to gauge key elements of the service (is the health professional giving good advice?), or they may value services that are not medically recommended (just give me a shot, nurse!).
Two recently published studies in Nigeria provide evidence that both gives pause to our use of patient satisfaction surveys and points to better ways forward. Here is what we’ve learned:
In June 2017, a long-running land dispute was settled in just six days in a community-owned court in Bihar.
Returning to his village after many years, Ramashish had received a rude shock. His cousins had deprived him of the 5.90 acres of land he’d inherited. Over the last 20 years, Ramashish had approached villagers, policemen, and civil court judges to resolve the dispute, but without much luck. Ultimately, Ramashish approached Pushpanjali Singh, the woman Sarpanch (head of the village) of the Wari Panchayat.
This was no easy case, but Pushpanjali summoned the 3 disputing parties — Ramashish and his cousins’ descendants — to the Gram Katchahri (Village Court - a judicial forum for resolving disputes locally). Pushpanjali helped the parties realize how much money they were wasting on their legal squabbles, and convinced them to withdraw their cases against each other. With the help of her husband, she measured the disputed property and allocated plots to each party. After 6 days, the parties agreed to her proposal.
Though this case might be one of Pushpanjali’s more recognized achievements, she has settled more than 100 cases over the last two years. While ensuring speedy justice, Pushpanjali is known by the locals as a fair Sarpanch
Each summer, the World Bank collaborates with the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California to offer the executive education course on Reform Communication: Leadership, Strategy and Stakeholder Alignment.
Apply today! The early-bird deadline is this Friday, April 27!
During the 10-day program, participants learn the most recent advances in communication and proven techniques in reform implementation, including interpreting and using political economy analyses; crafting multi-stakeholder collaboration, coalition and network building strategies and tactics; providing communication skills that support the implementation of reforms; and developing communication metrics and applying monitoring and evaluation frameworks relevant to reforms.
Participants also connect with a global network of development professionals working on initiatives in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Albert Einstein once said: “The only source of knowledge is experience.” For years I have wondered about this. Surely you can understand something without actually having done it. After all, mankind’s understanding of the vast universe is greater than what can be directly experienced, and some of it is derived from theoretical reasoning. I was on my way to the 2018 Africa Carbon Forum to share fiscal policy lessons under the CAPE program and the debate was still raging in my head when I arrived at the UN campus in Nairobi Kenya.
Prices in African agricultural markets fluctuate a lot: “Grain prices in major markets regularly” rise “by 25-40% between the harvest and lean seasons, and often more than 50% in more isolated markets.” To an economist, this looks like a massive missed opportunity: Why don’t farmers just hold onto their harvested grain and sell at a much higher price during the lean season?