A recent Poverty Matters blog post in the Guardian noted that mobile technologies and social media are creating cheap ways for citizens to interact with their governments and that development projects are trying to tap into these technologies. It gave a plug to the Bank’s new Open Finances mobile app that lets users find and monitor bank-funded projects near where they live, using mapping and GPS technology.
With the advent of the New Year and given the on-going work in the Bank on the open agenda, here are three things we may accomplish in 2013:
SENDAI, JAPAN | When natural disasters hit, the bonds of community are what fuel the push to rebuild.
Governments and others should help instill resiliency into the social fabric of communities – in addition to the usual resources -- so that when disasters happen, recovery is within reach.
That was the message echoed by several speakers at TEDxSendai, a dialogue on natural disasters set amid an area of Japan hard hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The tree provides shade but scant respite from the heat. Chantal, four months pregnant, has just returned from washing her family’s clothes in the nearby river.
Her small village, just twenty houses and a single dirt road located about 60 kilometers north of the capital Port-au-Prince, has no health facilities of any kind. The nearest health post (staffed for two hours a day by a high school graduate) is an hour’s walk away while the nearest health center is two.
In less than 3 weeks, TEDxSendai will bring together an interesting group of thinkers and doers to focus on the theme of natural disasters.
Moderated by Toshi Nakamura, Co-founder and CEO of Kopernik, a technology marketplace for the developing world, TEDxSendai will explore this theme from the lens of a survivor, a historian and gender specialist, a CEO with a supply chain, an innovator of new technologies, a doctor working on emergency evacuation, a classical pianist who plays on a piano that survived the tsunami, a global expert in sustainable development, a specialist in reconstruction, and an inventor of engineering prototypes.
Two sessions -- Cherry Blossom Indomitable in the Aftermath and The Bouncing Ball: Building Resilience – will pull the varied strands of these different perspectives together and share ideas about disasters –recovery, resilience and hope.
During the latest round of the global Development Data Challenge held in London at the end of August, various members of the open data community got together at the Guardian to explore the limits of recently released aid and government spending data. One of the challenges proposed was to explore whether media coverage influenced funding for disasters.
This is interesting, not only because a fair amount of research has been done on the topic, but also because popular wisdom supports the idea that media coverage spurs disaster funding – the so-called "CNN effect."
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Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods or droughts are the same worldwide. Whether in Mexico, Colombia, Haiti or Pakistan, these are natural events or "disasters" of varying intensity.
What changes are the effects and consequences. Water and land become the mortal enemies of populations who pay the highest price with their lives and property.
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No two earthquakes in the world cause equal damage, according to scientists. This is particularly true in Latin America, a land of contrasts.
Whereas in 2010, an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale ravaged Haiti, claiming nearly a quarter of a million lives, a few weeks ago in Mexico, an earthquake of similar magnitude (7.4) caused only a few cracks and minor injuries.
Floods are the most frequent among all natural disasters. In 2010 alone, 178 million people globally were affected by floods. More than 90 % of the global population exposed to floods lives in Asia.
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The number just kept getting bigger and bigger. At first it was a staggering 13,000. The next day, over 25,000. And then, 58,000. By the end of the week, on January 1st, 2005, the death toll of the Asian Tsunami had reached 122,000. Yet the number kept climbing, and nobody knew when it would stop.
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Three interlinked global crises—food, economic, climate—were high on the agenda of this year’s Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. At a conference organized by the Independent Evaluation Group and World Bank Institute, a panel of experts—Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner; Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute; Trevor Manuel, Minister, National Planning Commission, South Africa; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank; Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor, Government of UK— discussed not only the impact of each crisis, but crucially the links among them in seeking joint solutions.
Global warming may have severe consequences for developing countries prone to extreme weather events. Projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the World Meteorological Organization suggest the frequencies and/or intensities of climate extremes will increase in the 21st century. Some recent extreme weather events illustrate how severe their consequences can be. Examples include heavy floods in Australia and Brazil in 2011, extreme winter weather all over Europe, heat wave in Russia, devastating floods in Pakistan, India, China, and Mozambique in 2010, and super cyclones in Myanmar (in 2008) and Bangladesh (in 2007).
Earlier this month, Japan experienced one of the worst natural disasters in its history, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that claimed the lives of thousands of people and drastically changed the lives of countless more. Sadly, this tragedy is another in a string of natural disasters that have occurred over the past few years, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, wildfires in Russia, and floods in Pakistan, West Africa, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Australia.
They inhabit two different worlds—buildings and climate change—both outside and within the World Bank. It should not be that way as the building sector could be central to both mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Buildings are important for climate mitigation because they account for about 30% of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the International Energy agency (IEA), energy use in this sector is expected to increase globally about 30 % over the next two decades if recent trends continue; however, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report concludes buildings offer by far the largest potential source for low cost reductions in CO2 emissions. The World Bank has many projects and analyses addressing this opportunity including a recent ESMAP (Energy Sector Management Assistance Program) report on the benefits and obstacles to effective building codes. These could address over 60 % of building energy use but remain weak and often unenforced in most Bank client countries.
|A power substation in Yingxhou, Sichuan Province was almost totally destroyed in the magnitude 7.9 Sichuan-Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.|
The statistics are startling. 75% of global flood mortality risk is concentrated in only three Asian countries: Bangladesh, China and India. 85 % of deaths from tropical cyclones are in just two Asian countries: Bangladesh and India. Indeed, Bangladesh alone accounts for over three-quarters of people dying from tropical cyclones. 85% of global earthquake risk is concentrated in only 12% of the earth’s surface—a large part of it in Asia. In 2009, six of the ten countries with the highest mortality rates and GDP losses from natural disasters were in Asia. 82% of all lives lost in disasters since 1997, are in Asian countries.