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Communities and Human Settlements

Meaningful Citizen Participation in Decentralization and Local Governance

Sabina Panth's picture

We expect decentralization to bring decision-making governance closer to the people/citizens.  Donors use this rationale to push governments, mainly in developing countries, to devolve central power and authority towards strengthening civic engagement in local governance processes.  But according to Dany Ayida, a governance expert who shared his field experience in Central and West Africa at a recent presentation at the World Bank, meaningful civic participation in a decentralization setting depends on various factors, including:  a) vitality of the public sphere or political environment; b) the culture and political history of the country; and c) the capacity and incentives of both civil society organization and local governments to interact and interface meaningfully with one another.

There is nothing ‘Natural’ in Natural Disasters

Joaquin Toro's picture

In the last few months we have witnessed "natural events" that have resulted in huge disasters with tragic consequences. From the November Rio de Janeiro mudslides to the March Japan tsunami and, more recently and closer to home, the tornadoes that devastated large parts of Missouri, 'natural disasters' are becoming household names.

Why do Kenyans want to live in cities?

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Every day, Kenya’s capital Nairobi is facing endless traffic jams. Our colleagues spend hours every day to commute to and from work. One Kenyan colleague escapes traffic by leaving home at 4.30am, others by leaving the office as late as 9pm. Given this congestion, escalating costs of living and high crime, why are Kenyans moving into cities more rapidly than ever – more 250,000 every year?

The Oxford Millennium Villages Debate

Gabriel Demombynes's picture

In March at Oxford, I had the opportunity to debate John McArthur on the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) evaluation, which is the subject of a paper I co-authored with Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development.

The World Challenge is Back!

Dougg Jimenez's picture

2 Weeks left to nominate and win US$20,000!

 

The World Challenge LogoFor the 7th consecutive year the World Challenge is searching for grassroots community projects that promote sustainable development through innovation and original thinking. Their mission is simple: to reward small businesses which have found solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems.

If you have what it takes, they would like to hear from you. Please check their website and fill in an application form. You have until the 19th of June, at midnight. Their judging panel will select the best 12 entries to be filmed by BBC World News and featured in a special ad series in Newsweek magazine.

Moving towards a 'Digital Bangladesh'

Rubaba Anwar's picture

“My country finally owns me!" was the delighted reaction from a high level private sector official to the possibility of a national identity system in Bangladesh. A lot of brain-wracking thought went into the possible economic benefits of such a project.

The sleepless nights of complicated financial analyses and exasperatingly fruitless brainstorming sessions that reach a point when you are not willing to say anything until you find something that will make the rest of them jump on their chairs, make things very difficult sometimes! But, the answer was there, short and simple. Such a refreshing start to an interview for the purpose of identifying the probable benefits to service delivery agencies of having access to a near-immaculate database of citizens, was hardly anticipated.

Rolling out robust, digitized national ID (NID) cards to 100 million citizens over a period of five years is the daunting task ahead for Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) Project. One may argue about the novelty offered by this initiative when Bangladeshi citizens with voting eligibility actually have NIDs since late 2008. A solid counter argument would be the “digitized nature” of the sophisticated NIDs of ‘digital Bangladesh’, enabling machine readability of biometric citizen information embedded in the card, as a replacement of the paper based, easily faked cards with little printed information and near-alien photos that gave rise to popular groups like I hate my NID photo” on Facebook!

Development Marketplace in India supports the vision and ‘can-do’ spirit of social entrepreneurs

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

Satyan Mishra, founder of DrishteeDrishtee is a network of over 14,000 rural enterprises that provides villages in India with access to internet connections, consumer products and critical community services.

Brainchild of Indian national Satyan Mishra, the Drishtee model is perfecting a “last mile delivery system” to reach villages that governments are unable to.

Mishra’s success was due in part to the faith that Global Development Marketplace (DM) — a Bank sponsored partnership that provides grant funding to support testing and scaling up of innovative ideas — had in his idea. In 2003 he received a $68,100 from DM allowing him to transform a budding idea into reality and scale up into three states: Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh.

After the long walk to freedom, an affordable bus ride to work

Sandeep Mahajan's picture

Almost two decades after Nelson Mandela's globally-inspiring long walk to freedom, millions of his compatriots find it prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to simply get to work. Millions more have no work, and the geographical separation of the poor from centers of economic activity has a lot to do with it.

Take the case of Lydia (pictured here), who is a soft-spoken, gentle mother of two boys -- a one-year old baby and a fifteen-year old teenager. Each in his own way needs his single mother's attention and time. Time that she has very little of, because she has to spend close to five hours commuting to and from her place of work, the World Bank office, where she is one of the housekeeping and cleaning ladies.

Social Contracts Promoting Bangladesh Local Governance: Learning From the Field

Nilufar Ahmad's picture

Under the Bangladesh Local Governance program, social audits are being conducted in Union Parishads (UPs) for strengthening social contract between the citizens and their local governments. A weekly TV program "Amader Union" or Our Union was launched by TV Journalist Shykh Seraj, who is documenting and broadcasting these social audits. This is generating lot of interest among both rural and urban citizens. The UP functionaries are also keen to participate in these social audits, so as to showcase their good work and responsiveness to citizens.

I observed a social audit in March 2011 on a LGSP scheme (a 350 feet rural road with brick-soiling in Sarabo Mouza, Kashimpur UP, Gazipur district) conducted by the citizen group (CG). The CG conducted a social audit at the local market by this road. The CG put a large poster detailing the Community Score card (CSC), that had questions and possible responses indicated by symbols. Symbols were used as a large number of rural poor are illiterate. The scores are given over a total number of 100, so that people can distinguish bad performance (below 40%), medium (60%) and good (80% or more).

Tuberculosis: A Pre-Historic Disease in Modern Times

Saurabh Mishra's picture

We will not make any serious inroads to reduce incidence unless we address poverty, crowding and stigma.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a social disease and a syndrome of poverty. The epidemic has evolved and so has its treatment, yet TB mortality cases are reported to almost two million people around different pockets of the world. It was a standard epidemic since antiquity and continues to infect at least nine million new individuals in the first decade of the 21st century.

Historically, TB has been one of the major causes of mortality worldwide and as recently as 2009 claimed approximately 1.7 million lives globally. Approximately 11-13 percent of these individuals are also HIV positive and of these, almost 80 percent reside in the African continent. However, incidence rates are falling globally very slowly in five of WHO’s (World Health Organization) highlighted regions. The exception to this is the South and South East Asia belt where the incidence is stable. These facts demonstrate that the race is being won in some quarters but the finishing line is still a mere dot in the horizon.


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