eLearning Africa (eLA) bills itself as 'the premier annual event bringing together e-learning and ICT-supported education and training professionals from across the continent'. If you want a 'crash course' in what is happening in a variety of contexts related to ICT use in education in countries from Algeria to Zambia, you could do much worse than to attend this increasingly informative and useful event. This year the event was held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and featured over 1700 participants (and over 300 speakers) from 90 countries around the world; it included daily plenary and 65 parallel sessions to share and debate emerging lessons from experiences in this fast-moving field.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Space for Transparency
Mobilising to Make Aid Transparent
"How much money are donors giving to Liberia, Peru and Sri Lanka?
It sounds like a simple question and one that should have a quick answer – but it does not.
Donors have pledged in international agreements to provide such information by making their aid more open and effective, but most have failed to fulfill these promises. Making aid more transparent allows citizens in countries giving and receiving aid to know what it is funding and where. It is information that is essential for ensuring aid has the most impact. It is critical to make sure aid is not wasted or lost to corruption." READ MORE
The potential for expanding the industrial sectors of African countries is substantial – this was a message I delivered on a recent trip to Italy, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. This can happen through an improved understanding of the mechanics of economic transformation as well as by focusing on how such countries can follow their comparative advantage in natural resources and labor supply.
During my site visits and meetings with the private sector for the African segments of my trip, I became more convinced than ever of the strong untapped potential for private sector-led industrialization. Yet that can only happen when the government plays a facilitating role, such as by overcoming information asymmetries, coordination failures and externalities associated with first-mover actions. In Tanzania, initial experiments with industrial parks look promising, as do agricultural development projects and rural transport initiatives currently under way. In the case of industrial parks, it’s important to have a one-stop shop for registration and other administrative obligations, adequate electricity and water supply, and good transport/logistics links.
Low birth weight, usually defined as less than 2500 grams at birth, is an important determinant of infant mortality. It is also significantly associated with adverse outcomes well into adulthood such as reduced school attainment and lower earnings. Maternal nutrition is a key determinant of low birth weight and it’s no surprise that nutrition interventions targeted at pregnant mothers can have significant impacts.
Markus’ s post yesterday is the first on what will be one recurring blog theme here- measurement. I’ll continue the trend today with a focus on one of the most fundamental welfare constructs in economics: consumption. Specifically, how might the development researcher accurately measure household consumption through survey?
When Jane Goodall spoke Tuesday at the World Bank, she said she had recently begun to understand the exciting potential value of REDD – reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. For decades, Dr. Goodall and others have been fighting for the conservation of forests to preserve and protect animal habitat– in the case of Dr. Goodall, that of chimpanzees in Tanzania. And now, many people like Jane Goodall are making the connection between this battle and the fight against climate change.
By granting greater value to trees that are alive and standing rather than cut down, and making payments to reduce emissions by preserving forests, not only does the climate benefit but biodiversity is also protected, including species that are under the threat of extinction.
In her talk to staff, Dr. Goodall spoke about her shock when she discovered the extent of deforestation surrounding the national park in Tanzania in which her famous study of chimpanzees has taken place over the past 50 years.“It was in early 1990 that I flew over the Gombe National Park – it’s tiny, it’s only 30 square miles, but we flew over all the land around it and it was absolutely horrifying to me to see that, yes, I knew there was deforestation outside the park but I had not realized it was total deforestation“, said Dr. Goodall .
REDD provides a new opportunity to scale up initiatives like those of Jane Goodall to the national level, raises the profile of conservation work, and potentially creates new sources of funding for forest protection. But REDD also has a lot to gain from Dr. Goodall’s experience and wisdom. She is arguably the greatest ambassador for wildlife and forest conversation in the world today. Now she squeezes the annual UN conferences into her astounding, 300-day-a-year travel schedule. Anywhere she goes, she greets audiences with the call of the chimpanzee, and proceeds to make a compelling case about what REDD could be on the ground – forest protection, stewardship of flagship species, but also socio-economic development (the Jane Goodall Institute funds myriad projects aimed at improving communities’ well-being).
When my wife and I were looking for where to live in Washington DC, an important part of the decision was the quality of the local public school that our children would (eventually) attend. But how to judge quality? Talking to lots of people was the first step. Taking schools tours was another. But researching test scores was a key factor. We wanted a school with a good learning environment, a sense that parents had a positive feeling about the place—but also wanted to know that the school had a track record of good learning outcomes. Thankfully, the performance of public schools in Washington DC is accessible online and can be compared across schools. This information was an important input into our decision. And it remains an important way in which we monitor school performance. We pay close attention to our own children’s academic development, talk to their teachers regularly, and try to be attentive to the many subtle indicators of the quality of education that they are receiving. But the annually released test scores provide an externally validated stock-taking of one aspect of that quality.
What keeps kids from learning? It’s a question that is on everyone’s mind – and an important one -- as the global community looks to move beyond universal access to universal educational achievement. Watch below as Shanta Devarajan, the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa, interviews Rakesh Rajani of the East African NGO Twaweza, who gives an excellent overview of the learning problem faced in Tanzania and by many other low-income countries around the globe.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
"People who argue for more transparency in development cooperation are often eager to point out all the merits of transparency. Unfortunately, often we are not very sure whether our claims are well founded. Even worse, there are very few examples who can illustrate how exactly, "more transparency" could look like. The International Aid Transparency Initiative which will be implemented by the first donors in 2011 is a concrete example of governmental and multilateral donors representing a large percentage of global ODA making aid information available and accessible.
Also, in non-governmental development cooperations efforts are underway to increase accountability and transparency. The UK-based NGO OneWorldTrust even created a website to map over 300 NGO accountability initiatives around the world. But there are few concrete examples of making the information about work of more than one NGO transparent and easily accessible."
My life has always been connected to nature -- from the banks of the River Boyne in southern Ireland where I grew up as a child, to the shorelines of California and Hawaii where I reside with my wife Keely and our sons. Between these two worlds and an ocean of time spent traveling the world as a working actor, I have seen the beauty of what man can achieve on this earth and also what can happen when he lets nature slip through his fingers.
Last evening I was at the World Bank where we saw excerpts from National Geographic’s soon-to-be aired global programming event, “Great Migrations”, that show just how fragile the lives of some of the great animals of our world are today. The majestic African elephant, or the fleet wildebeest, are confronted with obstacles in their daily existence that threatens their very continuation as a species. As we expand our human footprint across the planet, we have paved over their breeding grounds, plowed under their grazing areas, depleted their sources of water, and disrupted their historic migratory routes.
Climate change is adding to the immense dangers facing bio-diversity. In my native Ireland, at least eight species of birds, such as the gray partridge, face extinction, due to the loss of habitat, reduction in food supplies, poisonings from pesticides, and wide scale development. In my adopted home, here in the United States, the Grey Whales that migrate north and south just off our California coast have survived since the ice age. Yet, these whales face more threats today than ever before from ship strikes, loss of habitat, pollution, and other human activities. Climate change is destroying the food chain they need to survive.
and this is no joke. Some time ago, I travelled to rural Nepal to supervise joint DFID/World Bank work in improving access to remote communities. To reach the first village, Dailekh, we took a morning flight from Kathmandu and then drove for many hours. The further we travelled, the more uneven and less engineered the roads became, until the last ten miles to our destination were mere mud tracks. Night fell, the roads grew dark, and rain began to fall.
The scene was heart-wrenching. Janet, a young mother in rural Tanzania is having trouble giving birth, despite being way past her due date. She visits a nearby clinic where the nurse asks her if she has any food to eat, as she doesn't have enough strength to push the baby. “Without food, the baby will not come out,” says the nurse.
Using large international events to get attention for a development objective is a pretty good idea. Events like the Soccer World Cup are so called media events - events that capture the attention of a large audience, that break our routines, and unify a large scattered audience. Whatever team you were cheering for, you weren't the only one cheering for it, and didn't you feel like your team's friends were also your friends? This kind of mood - attention and a feeling of community - provides a great environment for campaigns that want to raise awareness about certain issues or that want to change norms and behaviors.
- South Africa
- Cote d'Ivoire
- World Cup 2010
- Public Viewing in Africa
- Media Events
- Japan International Cooperation Agency
- Give AIDS the Red Card
- Elihu Katz
- development communication
- Development Campaigns
- Daniel Dayan
- communication for development
- Communication Campaigns
- Brothers for Life
- behavior change
- Awareness Raising
Twaweza is a Swahili word that means “we can make it happen.” In Tanzania and Kenya, it is also the name of "a citizen-centered initiative, focusing on large-scale change in East Africa.” Earlier this week, at the Center for Global Development, Twaweza head and founder Rakesh R. Rajani delivered a presentation the title of which tickled my imagination: “Why Ownership and Capacity Building Don’t Work: Lessons from East Africa.”
Governments and development agencies have devoted many years and hundreds of millions of dollars developing democratic governance in countries around the world. The idea of creating democracies is still the primary driver of many governance improvement agendas. Clearly, democratic systems often bring with them improvements in governance and economic development, but simply putting a democracy into place is not enough.
Last week, this blog featured a quote by Elinor Ostrom, which contains an interesting sentence: “Yet I worry that the need for continuous civic engagement, intellectual struggle, and vigilance is not well understood in some of our mature democracies and is not transmitted to citizens and officials in new democracies….We have to avoid slipping into a naïve sense that democracy – once established – will continue on its own momentum."