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East Asia and Pacific

Act Globally, Act Locally

Antonio Lambino's picture

Like Silvio Waisbord (see previous post), I was also at the International Studies Association Conference in New Orleans.  One of the sessions I attended, “Institututionalisation and Norms in Global Governance”, spoke to CommGAP’s interest in how global standards emerge and spread.  How do norms wend their way to the top of the global policy and decision agendas and get embedded in the policy regimes of various countries?  It’s a massive question and no single panel or conference can comprehensively explore its multiple dimensions.  This panel, however, did a good job at pointing toward some promising directions.

Social Entrepreneur -- With an Emphasis on 'Entrepreneur'

Tom Grubisich's picture

We're hearing more and more about the "social entrepreneur" as the development community looks for new ways to achieve better results, especially with many developing countries struggling to meet their 2015 Millennium Development Goals and at the same time cope with destructive climate change.

Ashoka, itself a pioneer in social entrepreneurship, has a pretty good definition:

"Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change."

But maybe the definition should also emphasize a special breed of social entrepreneurs -- those who tackle major social issues by launching projects that seek to be profitable.

When Fast Company magazine in 2008 honored 45 nonprofit social entrepreneurs "who are changing the world," it also tipped its hat to 10 for-profit companies with social missions.

Trying to change the world with a project funded by development donors can be maddeningly frustrating.  Even with a successful pilot, a nonprofit company is likely to encounter repeated funding snags and gaps in its quest for sustainability and replication.

Joel Selanikio was a Marketplace 2003 winner with the innovative idea to collect health-care data with hand-held computers.   DataDyne, the company that pediatrician Selanikio and his partner, technologist Rose Donna, co-founded, is a not-for-profit limited liability corporation (LLC).  Its personal digital assistant -- EpiSurveyor -- was an immediate success in health care in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries.  But Selanikio had to keep making the rounds of donors for each step of his growth.  He was the model of the "ambitious and persistent" social entrepreneur -- but: "I got tired wearing out the knees of my trousers" making successive proposals to development donors, he said in an interview.

Do Cities Matter?

Ejaz Ghani's picture

It is a paradox that India which is among the most densely populated countries in the world, is also among the least urbanized. The figure below compares urbanization rates with income for more than 100 countries. It shows that an increase in urbanization rate is positively associated with real per capita income. This is the iron law of development—i.e., growth is associated with the reallocation of labor and capital away from traditional (rural) sectors to modern (urban) sectors. Spatial transformations that give rise to urbanization accelerate growth because households and firms benefit from scale economies, mobility, and specialization. Increased urbanization contributes to growth, job creation and poverty reduction. This can indeed become a virtuous circle.

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.


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