This week, the World Bank launched a global conversation on social media centered around a question: what it will take to end poverty? People from around the world have begun responding using the hashtags #whatwillittake and #ittakes.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released today by Freedom House. Despite these threats,Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories.
"The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier - but no less dangerous - methods for controlling online conversations," said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House.” READ MORE
Our World Bank community has been out in the field with video cameras asking families, farmers, workers and parents from all corners of the globe: What will it take… to improve your life?.. to get a better job? … to end poverty?
As part of our global conversation on social media and multimedia, we have received video from countries like Brazil, Ecuador, Tanzania, Laos and India. People are sharing their ideas, their hopes and their solutions for creating a better life for all.
Here are three views on #whatwillittake:
In Brazil, Maria José dos Santos tells us that providing more schools and childcare would allow mothers to get fulltime jobs. “It would be great if everybody had more access to child care and all day schools. That would enable mothers to work in peace.”
It’s not every day that you see a video in the back of a New York City taxicab asking people to tweet about ending global poverty. Though the most recent data tell us that global poverty has been declining, it’s shocking that some 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.
That's half the amount of the base fare of a taxicab ride in Manhattan. It's not right.
The taxicab video, which is airing this week during the UN General Assembly, is part of a new conversation we’ve launched at the World Bank. We’re asking a simple question: What will it take to end poverty?
While education is one of the cornerstones of development and is enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals, the pay-offs from a Bachelor’s degree or higher do not enjoy the same confidence. In the wake of the global financial crisis, for some, a college degree is a “lousy investment.” (Read the Daily Beast article to know why). But new data prove otherwise. Adam Looney and Michael Greenstone at the Hamilton Project, through chart illustration, show that “the more income you earn, the more likely you are to have gone to college.” To find out more, read the post “College, still worth it” on the Economix blog here. While we are still discussing education, here’s another interesting finding from the OECD “Education at a Glance 2012” report. According to the report, a college education not only makes you wise and wealthy, it also makes you healthy. Curious? Read this Economist article to know how.
What will it take …to improve your life? …for your children to be better off? …for mothers to be healthy? …for all to get a good education? …to end poverty? More than 1.3 billion people around the globe live on less than $1.25 a day. Fighting poverty in times of crisis may be challenging, but we can’t take our eyes off the most vulnerable.
At a fishing enclave called Baie des Anges on Guinea Conakry's Atlantic coast, the country's development challenges are laid bare. In this make-shift settlement shrouded with blue tarpaulins and weighted down with stones and old tires, families battle the constant threat of flooding while they struggle to make a living from fish they smoke on cinder-block stoves. For the poor people of Guinea, better times can't come fast enough.
The statistics are tough to read. Here in Guinea, it rains for six months a year and yet drinking water is hard to find. The country has some of the world’s largest deposits of bauxite and iron ore, and still one in two people lives in grinding poverty. And it’s getting worse. The poverty rate has jumped from 53% of the population in 2007 to more than 55% in 2012. Blessed with some of Africa’s most significant agricultural and hydro-electric potential, few homes outside downtown Conakry have power at night unless they run generators; and food is often in short supply.
I joined the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, on a recent trip to Guinea where he held development talks with the President, Professor Alpha Condé, the Prime Minister, Mohamed Said Fofana, Cabinet Ministers, and local business leaders. In his discussions Diop was optimistic about the country’s development future and its potential to tackle its energy shortages, boost its agriculture production, and use its rich mining resources to transform the economy and development prospects of some of Africa's poorest people.
Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.
The Economist’s much tweeted-about "Geography of Poverty" highlights a "poverty paradox" – that more of the world’s extremely poor people now live in middle-income countries rather than in the poorest ones. The finding comes from a new paper by Andy Sumner of the Institute of Development Studies. But the situation could change by 2025 if the number of poor people grows in fragile states, say Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institution and Andrew Rogerson of the Overseas Development Institute in the Economist. Veteran journalist Katherine Boo, author of a new book on life in a Mumbai slum, discusses the challenge of portraying poor people as individuals in the media, in an interview with Guernica in "Reporting Poverty." Big Chinese cities are starting to adopt measures with the potential to ease pollution and "improve the long-term quality of Chinese growth," according to a story in the New York Times. "A Chinese City Moves to Limit New Cars" describes, among other things, restrictions in Guangzhou expected to cut the number of cars on city streets in half. And finally, imagine vicariously smashing mosquitoes, riding a motorbike through the streets of Lagos, or remembering life in a rural village. The BBC writes about a Nigerian video game-maker who believes Africans and non-Africans alike may want to tap into the African experience through games.
Photo Credit: Arne Hoel/World Bank
The numbers are jarring: Global prices for key food staples such as corn and soybean were at an all-time high in July 2012, with corn rising 25 percent and soybeans 17 percent in a single month.
Globally, food prices jumped 7 percent between April and July. In some countries, people now pay more than twice as much for sorghum  as they did a year earlier, the latest issue of the World Bank’s Food Price Watch shows.
This is expected to hit certain regions with high food imports, such as the Middle East and much of Africa, especially hard.
We’re looking at a significant price shock, but does that mean we’re headed for a food crisis similar to the one we experienced in 2008? World Bank economist José Cuesta, the author of the quarterly Food Price Watch report, gives his perspective on the situation.
Last month, while World Bank President Jim Yong Kim launched the gender data portal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that “data not only measures progress, it inspires it”. Indeed when data is both relevant and effectively communicated, it can help to inform policies, identify challenges, and catalyze changes and innovations that deliver development results.
With that goal in mind, we started an Open Data Lab. One of our objectives is to help the development community become more effective data communicators by experimenting with different data visualization techniques and tools. The human brain finds it easier to process data and information if it is presented as an image rather than raw numbers or words. And visualizations that let and encourage users to interact with data can deepen their understanding of the information presented.