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Varieties of African successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Tolstoy notwithstanding, the 20 African success stories described in the booklet “Yes, Africa Can” show that success comes in many different forms.  Broadly speaking, the cases fall into three categories:

- Success from removing an existing, major distortion.  The best example is Ghana’s cocoa sector, which was destroyed by the hyperinflation and overvalued exchange rate in the early 1980s.  When the exchange rate regime was liberalized and the economy stabilized, cocoa exports boomed (and continue to grow).  Similar examples include Rwanda’s coffee sector and Kenya’s fertilizer use.  Africa’s mobile phone revolution, too, is an example of the government’s stepping out of the way—in this case by deregulating the telecommunications sector—and letting the private sector jump in. 

Segregated, Ghettoized, Polarized and Insular? Who, Me?

Naniette Coleman's picture

A few weeks ago David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times, unearthed the roots of an important discussion that began with Cass Sunstein’s 2001 essay entitled “The Daily We: Is the internet really a blessing for democracy?” Brooks’ take on Sunstein branches in two directions:  tension and composure. Tension because “the internet might lead us to a more ghettoized, polarized and insular electorate”. Composure due to recent work by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro called “Ideological Segregation Online and Offline” which presents a different take on our what Sunstein called “personalization”. 

From the Conflict Blog: Addressing violent conflict, one innovation at a time

Nicholas van Praag's picture

by Nicholas van PraagWorld Bank Conflict Blog

"The best thing about my job is the amazing people I meet—and last week was better than most.  I was in Cape Town for a meeting of social entrepreneurs and peace-builders.  They were gathered under the banner of the World Bank Institute’s Innovation Fair to surface new ways of addressing conflict and delivering services to poor people in fragile states..."

Continue reading on the Conflict Blog

 

Paul Collier and his Plundering Planet: When Both Economists and Environmentalists Don’t Get it Right

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Do you remember The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier’s 2007 book which became a classic? If you do, you will certainly like his latest work, The Plundered Planet. He came to launch his new book to the Bank this week, and I found it both fascinating and provocative. Let me give some examples of why.

Professor Collier, now the Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, declares a two-front war on economists and environmentalists at the same time. He is against what he calls “utilitarian economists,” because if left on their own, they would end up plundering the planet. But Collier also takes on “romantic environmentalists,” who would be unable to eradicate hunger in case they’re given the chance to rule the world. So as you can see, the book’s premises don’t really fit into the script of the blockbuster, Oscar-winning movie Avatar.

For Collier, who also worked as the Bank’s Research Director some years ago, Nature is the lifeline for the countries of the bottom billion – and thus cannot remain untouched. With a strong faith in the power of well-informed ordinary citizens, Collier proposes a series of international standards that would help poor countries rich in natural assets better manage those resources. Technology, which enlarges the capacity of ordinary citizens, is also necessary to turn Nature into assets. But of course, in order to be effective and benefit the bottom billion instead of just the few at the top, regulation, which requires governance, is another seminal element of the equation to create prosperity. If you leave regulation out of the equation, as some Libertarians do, the result is nature plundered. But if you end up with too much regulation – curbing the use of Nature – and thus preventing technology, then the result is hunger. And I’m certainly not one of those radical, romantic environmentalists who can imagine a bottom billion who is hungry but happy.

Innovation Fair Kicks off in Cape Town and Online

Edith Wilson's picture

Innovation Fair Ning SiteRight now in Cape Town, the Development Marketplace is holding the first of a new generation of DM activities -- an Innovation Fair on Moving Beyond Conflict tied to the 2011 World Development Report  and drawing on a pool of innovative solutions discovered during an on-line competition  (the new innovation "radar") last month which registered 2,000 users, producing 223 projects from 40 countries. 

You can follow the action and join the event virtually through this website hosted by our local partner:

http://innovationfair.ning.com/

“Whatever we lost we will regain” – The North Revives After Conflict in Sri Lanka

Chulie De Silva's picture
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.

Back to the Future

Eliana Cardoso's picture

Imagine if, in 1799 – the year in which Napoleon seized power – a research institute had published its global forecasts for the next 20 years. Its researchers would have known about the tremendous changes that took place over the previous two decades: from the United States’ declaration of independence, through the French Revolution and the execution of Louis XVI, up to Napoleon’s victory over Austria in his Italy Campaign.

Even so, the chances of the researchers accurately predicting the events that came to pass over the subsequent 20 years, including their impact on the 19th century’s world order, would have been infinitesimal. No one could have anticipated that Napoleon would have plunged Europe into non-stop war for a decade until being overcome at Waterloo, or that, by the time of his defeat, he would already have swept away the foundations of traditional structures and initiated an unstoppable wave of reforms.

Because of its industrial might, this Europe would dominate the rest of the world during the 19th century. When European rivalries exploded into World War One, the face of the earth had already changed considerably compared to the previous century. And, having changed the world, Europe set the conditions for the demise of its own empire. Even before World War One, Teddy Roosevelt had heralded the start of the United States’ ascension to its current hegemony.

Innovation Fair: What Happened, What Happens Next...

Here's an update on the new Innovation Fair: The on-line competition which has been running for the last 3 weeks officially closed at midnight on Sunday March 7. The response received, especially given the short time, surpassed our expectations with over 1900 registered users and 223 submitted projects from over 40 countries. Ideas ranged  from innovative uses of crowdsourcing to map peace in Kenya to tools that can improve governance in Haiti in post-earthquake recovery. The participation has been a truly global one with entries from conflict-affected countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Burundi, and those from countries that, per se, are not considered conflict-affected but still experience some of the same issues such as youth violence. What impressed me most was the dialogue that sprang up among many of the users -- exchanging ideas on how to replicate one project in a different context, how to improve an idea based on experience and in same cases, simply words of encouragement.

It was this same crowd of users that through their votes selected the proposals that were passed on to be now reviewed by a panel of experts composed by World Bank and International Finance Corporation staff, academics and practitioners. All proposals that received 8 votes and up made it to the second stage this time and are now being reviewed by the panel of experts that will select the 30 projects that will make it to the Fair in South Africa. The list of 30 selected projects will be posted on the innovation radar platform next Wednesday, March 17. Thanks to everyone who's contributed and for the great ideas you send in -- this is a pilot and we are already learning how to do this even better next time!
 


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