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C4D

Hoping for a cloudy future for Caribbean statistics

Michael M. Lokshin's picture
Photo Credit: Lou Gold

Hurricanes Irma and Maria recently devastated the Caribbean region. Infrastructure in Dominica was severely damaged and the country suffered a total loss of its annual agricultural production. The entire population of Barbuda had to be evacuated to Antigua and other islands. Estimates by the World Bank indicate that Irma caused damages equivalent to 14 percent of GDP for Antigua and Barbuda, and up to 200 percent of GDP for Dominica. The increasing frequency of hurricanes poses a threat to the economic development and wellbeing of 40 million people living in the region.

The World Bank and other development institutions acted quickly by offering support to assess damages and losses, respond to the disaster, and assist with recovery by delivering financial packages and supporting emergency operations. However, in the longer term, the focus is on building the resilience of these small island states to natural disasters.

Data: critical for responding to disasters, but also vulnerable to them

Systems of national statistics can provide critical information about the extent of a disaster, help guide recovery operations, and assess the preparedness of countries to future shocks.  At the same time, the reliance of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) on local IT infrastructure makes them highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Computers, servers, and networks cannot operate without power; flooding and high humidity destroys hardware and storage media; looting and breaking into abandoned buildings puts sensitive information at the risk of falling into the wrong hands. Fortifying NSO buildings to withstand Category 5 hurricanes and enabling the offices to continue functioning afterwards is prohibitively expensive. Even if such structures were built, staffing would remain an issue, particularly if the entire population of the country was evacuated (as in case of Barbuda).

Cloud computing provides a very effective way to resolve that problem at a small fraction of the cost.

A role for media: Empowering local voices in development debates

Mina Akrami's picture

“All human and development processes rely on the flow of information and communication between individuals and groups,” begins a PANOS paper. For communication helps donor countries, NGOs, development organizations, and other actors to understand the needs of the poor in developing countries, to form partnerships, to build consensus, and to facilitate change.   

Kindness Nehwon and Moses Kowllie work on producing a piece in the studios of the Liberian Media Initiative, which creates and produces radio and television shows, informercials and PSAs Media can play a crucial role in facilitating this flow of information. As outlined in a POLIS report, media can work to both build public awareness and support for development issues. It can also work to build a pluralistic public sphere where actors working in the field of development are constructively critiqued.

Public awareness is beneficial for both the public in donor countries and the recipients of aid in developing countries. As explored by a Guardian, media can help the public in donor countries understand how their money is being spent and that complex problems such as food insecurity require solutions that take a long time to demonstrate results.

To individuals, communities, and societies affected by the problems of poverty, terms such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are of little significance as these individuals are more concerned with daily struggles than global targets, elaborates the POLIS report.  Media can assist these communities in understanding how such targets could improve their daily lives while creating space for them to question these targets or other development strategies. It also provides a medium for them to push for development targets that are more aligned with the reality on the ground.

Blog Post of the Month: Ebola and the Role of C4D

Paolo Mefalopulos's picture

Each month People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that generated the most interest and discussion.

In November 2014, the most popular blog post was "Ebola and the Role of C4D" by Paolo Mefalopulos of UNICEF.

In this post, Paolo describes the urgent need to use communication for development (C4D) in the fight against Ebola.  While a medical response is clearly necessary, there is also an urgent need to monitor and prevent the spread of the disease. Like many other public issues, monitoring and prevention of Ebola requires informing the public of the scope of the problem as well as the possible solutions. C4D is helpful in this regard because it helps educate people and encourages community members to change social norms, attitudes and behaviours. 

Paolo asserts, "C4D experts should be given the space and autonomy to address and engage communities with a blend of expert-driven messages as well as knowledge derived from local norms, maintaining a rigorous and effective approach without being pushed by external pressures that value immediate products over long-lasting results through community engagement."