Syndicate content

East Asia and Pacific

How 'Civic Hacking' Answered Haiti Disaster

Tom Grubisich's picture

From the tragedy and wreckage of the Haitian earthquake come amazing lessons about how information technology and social media can bring help and hope to people trapped in catastrophic circumstances.

A good place to see how this is happening is the Social Entrepreneurship website.  Crisis camps of "civic hacking" throughout the U.S. and abroad are quickly producing base-layer maps that connect Haiti's thousands of orphans with potential adoption families, mobilizing speakers of Creole (photo), and delivering myriad other tech-driven emergency assistance with few layers of action-delaying bureaucracy.

The camps were set up by Crisis Commons, an international volunteer network of tech professionals.  The first CrisisCamp was actually held well before the Haiti earthquake -- in July 2009, at the World Bank.  Participants (scroll down to "Attendee List") included a rich cross section of representatives -- public, private, nonprofit -- from the sometimes rivalrous world of development aid.  "Us" and "them" suddenly became "we."

Civic hacking's Haiti successs stories are producing a flexible template for how emergency assistance can be delivered in other disasters, including those where climate change is at least a secondary cause, like storms and flooding.  Civic hacking's lessons will surely be extended to development aid in general, especially in countries with weak capacity.  Information technology can deepen and broaden capacity, and fast, as the proliferation of cellphones in Sub-Sahran Africa, South Asia, and other developing regions has been proving for years.

Puppet Masters in the Newsroom

Antonio Lambino's picture

There are places in the world that appear to be democratizing.  Their governments claim to be working toward institutionalizing a free press.  But authoritarian control can still be imposed behind the curtain of make-believe.  Let me share a real-world example from a country that shall remain unnamed.

A colleague in international development, let’s call him Abdul Kanak, is originally from a self-professed newly-democratizing Asian country.  We met up for coffee recently, and he told me about how things really work in his country’s media sector.  Having worked as a journalist before moving to the United States, Abdul experienced firsthand how the government effectively controlled the mainstream news media and its coverage of political issues.  Two forces worked in tandem to create the conditions for control.  First, concentration of ownership among privately-owned news organizations.  Second, the placement of cronies in positions of influence within the newsroom. 

China grew faster than its target and most projections in 2009 – what are the key takeaways?

Louis Kuijs's picture
Click image to enlarge.

China’s economy grew 8.7 percent in 2009. This was more than the 8 percent target, despite the global recession that caused global output excluding China to fall about 3 percent. China’s growth outcome is substantially higher than projections made in early 2009. For instance, in our  World Bank quarterly economic update (of which I am the lead author) we projected 6.5 percent GDP growth and some other forecasts were even lower (see Figure 1).

How did these forecasts come about, and what lessons we can draw from the experience of China’s growth in 2009? I cannot speak for my colleagues at the World Bank, let alone for other economists. But, all in all, while I have learned important lessons, I am not sure how differently I would see and do things if again presented with a situation like we were in a year ago.

Зуд: Байгалийн энэхүү гамшиг нь Монголын мал аж ахуйд болон малчдын амьжиргаанд хүндрэл учруулж байна

Arshad Sayed's picture

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Hover over "Notes" for photo information. View photos large.

(Originally published in English.)

Өнөөдрийн байдлаар Монгол Улс ихээхэн хэмжээний цас, хүйтэн хавсарсан цагаан “зуд” хэмээх байгалийн гамшигт нэрвэгдээд байна. Энэ нь зундаа ган гачигтай байснаас бэлчээрийн хомсдолд орж, өвс тэжээл хангалттай базаах боломж олгоогүй улмаар өвөлдөө цас их орж, салхилан цаг агаар хэвийн хэмжээнээс доогуур болж хүйтний эрч эрс чангарсантай холбоотой.  Бэлчээрийг үлэмж их цас дарж, мал сүрэг бэлчих аргагүй болж, өвс тэжээлээр гачигдан зутрах зэрэг өвлийн улирлын нөхцөл байдалд зуд болдог.

Why Climate Adaptation Has to Begin at Home

Tom Grubisich's picture

DM2009 finalists focused on community-based adaptation (CBA) to climate change because the struggle against intensifying drought, storms, flooding, and rising sea levels in developing countries often must begin not in national ministries but at home.  Why that's so is summed up cogently in this slide show from CARE, the global  organization that focuses on helping the poorest individuals and households  The slide show was presented at the pre-Copenhagen U.N. climate meeting in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008, but it's as relevant today as it was then.  Maybe more so.

Dzud: a slow natural disaster kills livestock --and livelihoods-- in Mongolia

Arshad Sayed's picture

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Hover over "Notes" for photo information. View photos large.

(Available in: монгол хэл.)

Mongolia is currently experiencing a white "dzud" – a multiple natural disaster consisting of a summer drought resulting in inadequate pasture and production of hay, followed by very heavy winter snow, winds and lower-than-normal temperatures. Dzuds occur when the winter conditions – particularity heavy snow cover – prevent livestock from accessing pasture or from receiving adequate hay and fodder. 

'Some Current Approaches to Climate Adaptation May Bypass Local Institutions'

Tom Grubisich's picture

Carbon dioxide -- the chief cause of manmade global warming -- doesn't park itself only in the atmosphere over major emitting countries.  So, obviously, the response to climate change requires global action.  But drought, storms, flooding, and rising sea levels demand climate adaptation tailored to circumstances that will vary by region and even locality.  For example, farmers in one part of southern Zambia may have to respond with a hybrid maize seed that differs significantly from what needs to be planted in another part of that climate-besieged food bowl.  The issue in southern Zambia is not just more intense drought, but how it can, and does, vary in intensity even within one region.  Dry weather may be so severe in one area that farmers there may have to give up maize cultivation and plant an entirely different crop.

Such fine-tuned local adaptation can't come primarily out of ministries of the national governments of developing countries trying to cope with the mounting adverse impacts of climate change on people and resources.  It requires local institutions to meet the capacity gap.  But national governments aren't collaborating that closely with civil society at the community level.

This from the new book Social Dimensions of Climate Change (World Bank, 2010):

"It is unfortunate that some current approaches to adaptation planning and financing may bypass local institutions.  The current push to formulate national adaptation plans of action [NAPAs] seems to have missed the opportunity to propose adaptation projects for community- and local-level public, private, or civic institutions."

Should Malaysia's new growth model favor manufacturing or services?

Philip Schellekens's picture

As Malaysia redefines its growth strategy, the question of which sector to promote has been a subject of ongoing debate. Some have argued that the strategy should emphasize manufacturing – and preferably high-tech manufacturing – as innovation activity is most forthcoming in this sector. Others have countered that services are key, as the typical economic structure of an advanced economy is oriented towards services. Tradable services are also fast becoming an engine of growth.

Mongolia: Crisis increases demand for corporate governance

David Lawrence's picture

The President of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, sat at the table behind a Greek salad. We were at a lunch hosted by the Corporate Governance Development Center, an NGO which brings international best practices in corporate governance to Mongolia. Also present were the Minister of Education, the Director of the Financial Regulatory Commission (FRC), the Deputy Chief of Party of the USAID-funded Economic Policy Reform and Competitiveness Project (EPRC), which helped to establish the Center with the Institute of Finance and Economics, and CEOs of leading Mongolian firms. Several International Finanace Corporation (IFC) clients were among them.

The salad looked delicious, but it would have to wait. President Elbegdorj was speaking about the role of corporate governance in Mongolia. "Corporate governance is important for Mongolia's competitiveness," he said. I was delighted. I've been waiting a long time for this moment.

One year later: China’s policy stimulus results in strong 2009 economic growth, reason for optimism

Gao Xu's picture

This time last year, when the dismal 6.8% GDP growth data for China in the 4th quarter of 2008 came out, David Dollar, the former country director of China in the World Bank, asked in his blog whether one should interpret the data positively or


Pages