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Non-Winner at DM2009 Scores Big

Christian Steiner's picture


The "zero-emission fridge" seed storage silo to help subsistence farmers in northern Mozambique get through the "hunger period" was a non-winning finalist at DM2009.  But I have good news since the competition.  Our project, sponsored by Helvetas (Swiss Association for International Cooperation), will receive approximately US$2 million from the European Commission Food Facility to establish 90 seed banks benefitting 38,000 families in 300 communities.

The success of the clay silo is a story of adaptation on two levels.  First, the silo can help subsistence farmers and their families adapt to climate change that is extending the drought-caused October-to-January "hunger period."  Second, the ingenious design -- woven bamboo covered by clay -- produced a silo that had all the features of the original (and more expensive) metal storage facility, but was affordable to poor farmers.  A native farmer, Gilberto Tethere in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado Province, produced the "Zero Emission Fridge for Rural Africa" (ZEFRA) by developing a low-cost silo using only locally available low-cost materials and applying traditional construction techniques.

The Technical Secretariat for Food Security of the Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture has promised that this innovative silo will be built across all Mozambique.

World Bank Showcases DM2009

Tom Grubisich's picture

Development Marketplace got marquee treatment from the World Bank website this week.  It was featured in the top spot on the Bank's homepage, with a photo of Alejandro Agumedo, director of the Association ANDES project, and researcher Katrina Quisumbing King of the winning Peru finalist project Adapting Native Andean Crops for Food Security to Indigenous Peoples.  The World Bank package included, besides the main story, profiles of three past finalist winners and their subsequent successes.


What's Next for Non-Winning DM Finalists? An Answer From One

Mohammad Abu Musa's picture

Climate change has uprooted 2 million people in the coastal belt of Bangladesh.  They can't afford to be a direct buyer of the refugee resettlement service and economic recovery project that brought me to DM2009 as a finalist (but wasn't a winning entry).  Some third-party economic buyer is required on humanitarian grounds. In the absence of such a buyer, my project got bogged down in frustration, but, gradually, we're trying to recover.

Some other of the 72 non-winning DM finalists where the target beneficiaries cannot afford to be the direct economic buyer may have similar stories.

DM2009 finalists have detailed in this DM blog -- here and here -- the problems of NGOs trying to form climate-adaptation partnerships with national governments.  Too often, collaboration doesn't happen.
The World Bank can help make collaboration happen by exercising its convening leadership -- with international donors and national governments as they prepare their climate- adaptation programs.  “Just because they don’t get a prize from us doesn't necessarily mean they wither away,” said Aleem Walji, the World Bank Institute's Innovation Practice Manager.  “Indeed, we know that many finalists are able to leverage the Development Marketplace experience to get other support. I think we have a responsibility to try and support this entire community of finalists.”

Let there be a “Finalists72 Campaign” to turn all ideas into action to save the planet.

(Photo credit of Bangladeshi woman in search of drinking water after cyclone Aila on May 26, 2009: Abir Abdullah/Oxfam/Flickr.)

Economics of Climate Adaptation: An Expert Examination

Tom Grubisich's picture

Adaptation to climate change presents a cluster of question marks for developing countries:  What works, and where? How can different cost estimates be reconciled?  How should adaptation be integrated with agriculture and other development that are increasingly threatened  by flooding, drought, and rising sea levels?

Answers will be offered by top experts from the World Bank Environment Department's Climate Change Team in the special program "The Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change: The Global Report" on Tuesday, Jan. 12.  The place is the World Bank "J" Building on 18th Street NW between G and H Streets, Room B1-080. This blog will do a followup on the program.

Presenters will be World Bank environmental economists Sergio Margulis and Urvashi Narain, who were lead authors of the widely quoted report "The Costs to Developing Countries of Adaptating to Climate Change: New Methods and Estimates." The report says the cost of adapting to an approximately 2° C warmer world by 2050 is in the range of US$75 billion to $100 billion a year between 2010 and 2050.  The authors note the cost is about the same amount that developed countries now give in aid to developing countries.

To 'decarbonize' electricity supply, significant technological challenges remain

Michael Toman's picture

As WDR 2010 observes in the opening paragraphs of Chapter 7, "Technological innovation and its associated institutional adjustments are key to managing climate change at reasonable cost."  The development as well as diffusion of climate-smart technology was an important part of the debates leading up to Copenhagen.  A recent blog by Professor Geoffrey Heal  of Columbia University, whose work on climate change damages is referenced in the WDR, addresses this topical and controversial issue.  Writing at, a policy portal set up by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, Heal argues that

..."neither costs nor capital requirement will prevent us from decarbonising the electricity supply. The real obstacle to doing this largely with renewables is our current inability to store power, and as long as we cannot store power we will need to use non-renewable sources like nuclear and coal with carbon capture and storage."

Heal's blog can be found at

How Social Media Transformed DM2009

Edith Wilson's picture

Through the Web and social media, DM2009 became a truly global event.  The competition among the hundred finalists and the week of dialogues, panel discussions, and other activities unfolded in Washington, but people around the world were able to become virtual participants.  From Russia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Djibouti, Uganda, Belize, and scores of other countries, instant connections were made via YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, and the DM blog.

During the four-day competition, more than 180 videos about what local communities are doing to adapt to climate change were posted on the DM2009 Channel on YouTube. Since the channel launched in late October 2009, it has drawn 12,000 views. Ninety percent of the viewing audience comes from outside the United States, mostly from the developing world. Videos have been recorded in 14 languages. (Visit the Channel on the right side of this page.)  More than 300 photos were posted on the DM2009 Flickr site, which attracted more than 8,000 views during competition week.

The DM2009 blog has posted more than 32,600 page views since its re-launch in late October, and the DM Twitter account enlisted more than 123 global followers who tweeted 600 times. New social media connections continue to be made weeks after the competition, and, as you can see, this blog continues to draw new posts and comments.

The World Bank tells the story of DM2009 here.

(Photos, on DM2009's Flickr pages, are [above] from competition-week video of "Meet Climate Change Practiontioners" featuring [from right] Valerie D'Costa, Product Manager of infoDev, and interviewer Habiba Gitay, Environmental Specialist at the World Bank Institute, and [right] DM video command center.)

In Vanuatu, Let There Be Light

David Stein's picture

David Stein is the founder of Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association (VANREPA), whose Solar-Powered Desalinator Would Serve as Model for Small Coastal Communities for the Pacific Island country of Vanuatu was a finalist in DM2009.  In this post, David talks about a crippling human, economic, and environmental problem shared by 260 million mostly rural people in poor countries globally.

Most of the people of Vanuatu spend half their day in darkness.  For them, there is no electric grid.  Instead they must rely on kerosene and other polluting and sometimes dangerous power sources.  But safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and accessible power sources are coming on the market in Vanuatu and other, mostly rural countries in the Pacific islands and elsewhere. 

The devices are are battery-charged, easy to maintain, and simple to install, and they outperform other rural options like "two-light" solar home systems.  Costing from US$20-$100, depending on the product type, they are cheapter than solar home systems, which are priced from US$800-$1,000, and far more affordable than kerosene, which can cost a rural family US$30 a month.

The devices are described as"picosolar" ("pico" meaning very small).  They usually consist of a solar panel and a combination light emitting diode (LED) and built-in battery.

Thanks to a partnership between VANWODS (Vanuatu’s premier micro-finance institution), VANREPA (Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association), and Green Power (VANREPA’s “trading arm”), thousands of rural Vanuatu households are enjoying solar-powered electric lighting this holiday season.

Civil Society and Climate Change: Some Ill Winds

Tom Grubisich's picture

Will civil societies be real as opposed to figurehead partners in what are sure to be numerous climate-adaptation projects in developing countries in the decade of the 2010s?  Accumulating comments from DM2009 finalists who have had experiences dealing with governments in their countries suggest the question is, at the very least, an open one.

Ann Kendall, whose Cusichaca Trust project in Peru was a winning DM entry, had this to say: "Currently NGOs [in Peru] are undervalued, with exclusion from paid participation in government programs because of the support of some activists to communities in some notably conflictive situations."

To be eligible for international donor-country funding that's beginning to gather momentum post-Copenhagen, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are mandated to give highest priority to partnering with civil society in developing their National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs).  Completed country plans generally pledge there will be such partnering, but here's what DM2009 finalist Nazrul Islam, Country Director in Bangladesh for the finalist project of RELIEF International, said: "Certainly we would love to be part of the [Bangladesh] NAPA since my project perfectly fits into the government's current agenda to educate people about climate change. Since the government agencies themselves will implement most of the projects, I am afraid it would be a little challenging for civil society organizations to join directly in this NAPA."

From Brian Peniston of the finalist project in Nepal developed by the Mountain Institute: "My experience is that host governments will only share resources with NGOs under duress."

In this mini-interview, Carlos Daniel Vecco Giove, whose Native Community Kechwa Copal Sacha project in Peru was a winner at DM2009, offers further corroboration that there are problems, but holds out some hope:

Q. Is your country in its adaptation program doing enough to develop capacity -- knowledge and learning -- among government and civil society organizations?

A. Definitely it isn't doing enough. The level of knowledge is very low among politicians and they aren´t able to design adequate politics to adaptation.

Q. Is the national government really listening to local communities in preparing adaptation plans and strategies?

A. Definitely it isn't. The government imposes programs and it usually doesn´t listen to local communities.

Q. Since you returned to Peru from DM2009, do you plan to work with government so that your project might be incorporated in national adaptation efforts?

A. Yes, we will do so. We hope to improve knowledge and sensitize politicians and urban people. We have good relations with technical units within regional and local governments and we are sure they will participate actively in our project.