Can we break poverty traps? An interesting new paper by Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Narayan Das, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul, and Munshi Sulaiman adds to this emergent literature with a definitive “yes we can.” Bandiera, et. al. evaluate a program run by the NGO BRAC which provides a significant infusion of capital, coupled with training, for Bangladeshi women.
Nearly a week ago, we began the second World Bank-Annenberg Executive Course in Communication and Governance Reform, which is being hosted at the University of Southern California. The last few days have been filled with interactive courses and engaging discussions between top notch researchers, communication practitioners, and program participants from Uganda, Yemen, Serbia, Zambia, Morocco, and Pakistan, among other countries. The participants of this year's program have all come together to pursue a similar goal: develop core competencies essential for the successful implementation of governance objectives, even in the most difficult reform environment.
This endeavor was launched a year ago with an inaugural course in July 2011 in Washington, DC through the partnership of the World Bank’s External Affairs Operational Communication division, the World Bank Institute’s Governance Practice, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. In the last year, these partners have focused on creating the 2012 Summer Institute, which continues to develop networks of specially trained communication practitioners that can provide effective implementation support to reform leaders and change agents.
Can the sharing of technical mapping tools and datasets help to change longstanding political relations? This is exactly what’s happening between the World Bank and some of its longstanding advocacy CSO interlocutors. Several recent training sessions and technical workshops co-organized with CSOs on the Bank’s open data tools, are leading to increased collaboration around a common transparency and accountability agenda.
One example is a hands-on training workshop co-organized by the World Bank and the Bank Information Center (BIC) on the Bank’s Open Development Programs on March 7, 2012. Some 20 representatives of well known policy advocacy CSOs from the Washington area (see photo) participated in the two-hour session which featured presentations on a number of Bank data platforms and search tools: Projects and Operations, Open Data, Mapping for Results, and Open Finances. With individual computers stations and Internet access, participants were able to carry out individualized exercises and interactive tutorials. Building on the positive feedback received from this session, an extended 4-hour training session was held during the Spring Meetings on April 18. Some 25 CSO and Youth leaders from developing countries participated in this second session. (see Summary)
I’ve been catching up on our accountability work in Tanzania recently, and it continues to be really ground-breaking. Rather than churning out the standard logical framework of activities, outputs and predicted outcomes before the project even starts, the programme, known as Chukua Hatua (Swahili for ‘take action’) uses an evolutionary model of change (try out numerous approaches, drop the less successful ones, scale up and develop the winners). It’s more like a venture capitalist backing ten start-up firms knowing that most will fail, but some will win big. This has been possible partly because DFID has been willing to fund such an experimental approach as part of its ‘Accountability in Tanzania’ (AcT) programme (props to them).
18 months into the programme, it’s good to see that Chukua Hatua is, errmm, evolving, according to programme coordinator Jane Lonsdale.
The first phase piloted six approaches:
One of the things I learned from other folks at the Bank I work with is the usefulness of doing a workshop early in the early design of an impact evaluation to bring the project and the impact evaluation team together to hammer out design. With one of my colleagues, I did one of these during my recent trip to Ethiopia and a bunch of things stuck out.
News story by Susana Seijas, Mexico City
Recalling its monstrous 1985 earthquake, Mexico City trains 10,000 of its civil servants in disaster recovery techniques.
MEXICO CITY – Japan’s cataclysmic March 11 earthquake and tsunami have evoked painful memories of Mexico City’s 1985 quake and made many here reflect on how well prepared the city is for a similar disaster.
“You can never really be ready for a disaster like the 1985 earthquake, or a catastrophe of that magnitude,” says Carlos Morales Cienfuegos, a search and rescue volunteer who pulled people from Mexico City’s crumbled buildings.
One of the things I have been doing for the past year and a half is working on my business skills. The reason? Well, I feel that skills like leadership, team-work, orientation to goals, financial intelligence and time management, among others, are part of what we need if we want to achieve those great things we dream of, even if they’re not business related. If you’re an assiduous reader of Youthink! blog, chances are that you have great dreams about our world becoming a better place to live, so business skills may also be important for you.
What makes media development work? It seems that even development specialists don't always know. To close this knowledge gap, CommGAP is working on a media development toolkit for governance advisors, giving recommendations on how to implement successful media development projects.
When we visited a poor village in Qingxing county of north Guangdong a few weeks ago to work on a study of inequality, I was struck by the severity of poverty in places only a few hours away from the most dynamic and prosperous Pearl River Delta. One family that we visited had almost no furniture. Another only lived on 90 yuan (US$13) per month from the social assistance program.