An article in yesterday’s New York Times observes that, with the number of mobile subscriptions exceeding five billion, more people today have access to a cell phone than to a clean toilet. Leaving aside the relative value of these two appliances, the surge in cell phones in Africa—some 94 percent of urban Africans are near a GSM signal—is transforming the continent. Farmers in Niger use cell phones to find out which market is giving the best price; people in Kenya pay their bills and send money home using M-Pesa.
Agriculture and Rural Development
|28 year old mum Sewdini with Kuveneshi. The future is theirs. Photograph © Chulie de Silva|
They come carrying babies in arms, toddlers in bicycle baskets, the disabled in wheel chairs, the old and the young, to gather under a tree to plan and build back their village and the community. The meeting at Jeyapuram South in the North of Sri Lanka is held under the Cash for Work Program (CfW) a component of the World Bank’s Emergency Northern Recovery Project (ENREP). The meeting of resettled villagers commences with songs of inspiration, with everyone joining in. The voices are strong, they sing in unison, and hands are raised, the spirits revived.
The CfW program is the only source of employment for a large number of the people in most of the resettled villages immediately after their return to their home villages. The program provides incomes to the returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) a minimum of 50 days of employment to rehabilitate their own houses and gardens, clean and repair wells, irrigation canals, roads, drains, schools, mosque and church buildings. The aim of the CfW is to bridge the income gap between the time of return of the returnees (after receiving emergency resettlement provisions) and until the IDPs are able to obtain an income from regular livelihoods.
One of the cardinal rules of development aid -- the new cardinal rule -- is, Don't just “deliver” assistance, but instead make sure it's "accepted.” DM2009 competition winner Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) has been following that not-always-embraced rule since the community-based nonprofit indigenous environmental organization was formed in southern Belize in 1997.
SATIIM’s mission is "to safeguard the ecological integrity of the Sarstoon-Temash region and employ its resources in an environmentally sound manner for the economic, social, cultural, and spiritual well-being of its indigenous people.” For SATIIM, this isn't just window-dressing verbiage.
The Q’eqchi Maya Indigenous People of Crique Sarco in southern Belize have been active participants in SATIIM programs to rescue the region's rich but endangered 13 forest ecosystems while collaborating with the Q’eqchi to reduce poverty by creating jobs and also delivering a range of social, health, educational, cultural, and civic benefits.
As SATIIM awaits the arrival of its DM2009 grant of US$200,000, it is already involving the Q’eqchi in the forest-management/community betterment project that will be financed. With its long history of working with the Q’eqchi in Crique Sarco, SATIIM knows the total tapestry of the community –- as shown in this richly informative report to the DM Blog by SATIIM technical coordinator Lynette Gomez (photo at left), with the help of SATIIM Executive Director, DM project leader, and Maya activist Gregory Ch'oc:
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Indigenous Peoples
- Climate Change
|Two macaws in the Amazon.
Photo © istockphoto.com
Although the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen badly failed to achieve legally binding agreements, including on the specific mechanism of REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), there was nevertheless a general sense that this mechanism is something worth pursuing. Meetings and discussions continued to take place after the conference was over, and a fund of US$ 10 billion is being set up to promote initial steps for tropical developing countries to prepare for REDD.
What lessons can be learned from the Brazilian Amazon, where deforestation rates have been steadily declining for 5 years?
Compared to estimates of land-cover change emissions from elsewhere in the tropics, estimates in the Brazilian Amazon tend to be relatively more certain because they are calculated from annual, satellite-based monitoring of land cover change for over two decades for the Brazilian portion of the Amazon. That is the work of the PRODES Project carried out by the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) of Brazil.
Deforestation in the Amazon changes a lot from year to year. The proximate causes are not totally known. They have to do with economic drivers such as prices of commodities (beef, soy, etc.), the opening of roads, but they are also influenced by the effectiveness of law enforcement to curb illegal deforestation.
The latter may have played a key role in reducing deforestation in the last 5 years. During that period, annual deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon plummeted from over 27 thousand km2 (August 2003-July 2004) to around 7 thousand km2 (August 2008-July 2009), an amazing 74% reduction over 5 years!
People skeptical of hearing water experts talking about water crises put their faith in the human capacity to innovate. They point to the rapid decline in costs of taking the salt out of sea water as evidence that – when we really have to – we will innovate and make sure we can meet our water needs.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Israel, one of the driest countries in the world, has invested heavily in non-conventional sources of water. Desalination currently provides around 40 percent of Israel’s municipal water supply and the plan is for this source to provide 70 percent by 2015. In March, a team from the the World Bank's WDR2010 and Middle East North Africa units visited the largest operational reverse osmosis desalination plant in the world, in Hadera.
Desalination does indeed have potential to meet the municipal water needs of many people in the world – but only those who live near the sea.
Costs have come down to about $0.55 per cubic metre, about half what it was a decade ago. How have engineers managed this? Economies of scale are important. They have also been able to save on costs by designing an efficient system within the plant and by clever energy saving technology. Will the costs come down much further? About 10% say the Israeli experts. Not more.
Israel’s very careful management of every drop of water has led to an interesting problem.
Climate change in the news (Mar 20- 26, 2010)
Climate change is real and likely to drive increasingly dramatic changes in our environment. While ecosystems and disease dispersion may be affected, some of the greatest impacts are anticipated due to increases of extreme climate events such as droughts, floods and storms. We are already seeing these changes but often do not connect them with our lives. The question arises, “should communities wait for our governments to plan, address, and find resources to respond to risks of climate change?" I believe not. Much can be done in small ways through local actions. Keeping this in mind, the Civil Society Fund in Sri Lanka is focusing on “Development and Climate Change – Building Community Resilience in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka”.
I am an aggie who is passionate about land use. When I started working at the Development Marketplace in 2008, I had the great good fortune to be starting a job that focused on my two favorite things as an international development specialist; grassroots responses to development challenges and agriculture. Because my first DM competition was on Sustainable Agriculture, I was in seventh heaven.
The Bangladesh Local Governance Support Project (LGSP) was initiated in 2005 when local leaders voiced their demand for discretionary funds among others to serve their constituencies at a meeting. Union Parishad (UP) is the lowest tier of rural local government has a history over 170 years and held regular elections, however, UPs never received direct funding.
Funds were previously allocated by line ministries at the Upazila (sub-district) level for certain activities; neither the local government (UP) nor local people had a say on their own development priorities. The UP act of 1983 designated 38 mandates on the UP, but made no fund provision for carrying out those mandates. The average population of an UP was about 35,000 and UPs are the closest service delivery institutes to citizens. In 1998, an UP amendment ensured direct election of women in three seats.
While the Minister of Local Government was supportive of the project, most of the national political leaders (ministers, members of parliament) and bureaucrats were against autonomous local governments. Nationwide consultations were organized between local leaders and communities, supported by civil society, for mobilizing a united voice of local needs and incorporating these in the project design. It was a challenging time with episodes of violence.
The perceived communications fiasco of the last few months about what is known and not known about the science of climate change led one of my students, Andy Lubershane, to try a different approach—animation. His effort is meant to communicate in a clear, humorous, memorable way the reasons why we need to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
Andy is one of 160 Master’s students using the World Development Report 2010 as a textbook on Environmental Assessment at the University of Michigan.