While global economic growth has been sluggish in recent years, Africa has been growing. We’ve seen a resurgence of traditional sectors such as agriculture and the extractive industries as well as promising new ones such as ICT. Not surprisingly, these booming sectors need highly skilled technicians, engineers, medical workers, agricultural scientists and researchers. Yet large numbers of African graduates remain unemployed as their skills are often not in line with industry requirements.
What does open data and development mean for Afghanistan?
Last November, the first open data mission revealed Afghans’ interest and commitment to foster knowledge sharing, collaboration and openness for a broader and targeted engagement in Afghanistan. In my blog, Afghanistan’s First Open Data Dialogue Delivers, I described my first-hand experience on Afghans enthusiasm about improving data dissemination, national dialogue and partnership between users and producers of statistics, and the drive for more effective aid and technical assistance through better coordination and alignment to the agreed National Statistical Plans.
A critical element in India’s 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017) is the generation of productive and gainful employment on a sufficient scale. The aim of such planning is to systematically absorb the growing working population in the unorganized sector of an expanding economy. This sector contributes about sixty percent of the country’s GDP. Infact, it employs workers in micro enterprises, unpaid family work, casual labor and home based work on a mammoth scale. In addition, it also absorbs migrant laborers, farmers, artisans and more importantly out of school rural youth.
In the last decade, the Indian economy has witnessed a structural transformation from agricultural activities to manufacturing and services oriented activities. A distinct feature of this transition has been a substantial decline in the absolute number of people employed in agriculture. However, according to the Planning Commission, a crucial factor in the migration of the labor force from rural to urban areas is its temporary nature and occurrence only in lean agricultural seasons. Besides, this large chunk of labor force is not available to participate in the manufacturing or the services oriented activities due to severe lack of appropriate skill sets. According to the Commission, the latter reflects rural distress, driven by the fact, that more than eighty percent of India’s farming households are small and marginal, tilling only less than 2.5 acres of land.
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.