The participation of civil society representatives at the World Bank and IMF’s Annual Meetings, which brings together the world’s finance ministers to discuss international development policy, has grown steadily over the past six years. The most recent Annual Meeting, held in October 2011, saw the largest CSO participation to date, with a total of 600 CSO representatives from 85 countries in attendance. They represented a variety of civil society constituencies: non-governmental organizations, youth groups, foundations, faith-based groups, and trade unions. They came to discuss a broad range of issues ranging from financial transactions tax and aid effectiveness, to energy policy. In order to ensure that Southern CSO voices are also heard, the Bank and Fund sponsored 60 CSO and Youth Leaders from developing countries to participate in the Meetings.
At least not in Benin. This week, I take a look at interesting paper by Leonard Wantchekon documenting an experiment he did in Benin with this year’s presidential election. In this paper, Leonard compares the results from a deliberative sharing of a candidate’s platform in a local town hall against a one-way communication of the candidate (or his broker) with a big rally.
"Freedom of the Press ... is freedom to print such of the proprietor's prejudices as the advertisers don't object to."
Hannen Swaffer (1879-1962)
British journalist and drama critic
3 November marks five years since CommGap writer Caroline Jaine was evacuated from the Iraqi city of Basra. In 2006 she was heading Press & Public affairs at the British Embassy Office, during what proved to be one the most perilous moments during the British occupation. Today her book - a personal account of her 100 days in Iraq - is launched with a seminar at the House of Lords in London. The seminar, like the title of the book, draws from the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s plan for a “Better Basra” and looks at whether the city is in fact any “better” today.
An extract from A Better Basra appears below:
Here was that movie feeling again, but this time the soldiers, perhaps about a hundred or so of them, were like extras waiting to go on set. I was intrigued about where they had been, what they had done in Iraq so far and where they were off to. What was their day like? Why weren’t they at that moment busy “soldiering”.
Emerging from decades of violent conflict, with more than half its population living below the national poverty line and three quarters of the population never having attended school, South Sudan may seem like an unlikely place for setting up a successful, modern manufacturing business.
However, we recently saw an exciting example of what the private sector can achieve even under these conditions: the Southern Sudan Beverages, Ltd (SSBL) plant, which produces beer, soft drinks, and bottled water for the local market.
SSBL started production in 2009 after investing $37 million to build the facility; a $15 million expansion is now underway. The plant looks like a modern manufacturing enterprise—with one exception: it is largely self-contained, with its own generators and a treatment plant for the water that is pumped up from the White Nile.
The gender dimensions of corruption have typically been approached from the point of view of whether women are less corrupt than men and whether women are disproportionately affected by corruption. While the concept of women inherently possessing a higher level of integrity has been challenged, studies have confirmed that women do indeed bear significant negative consequences from corruption, at least in fragile states and weak institutional settings. In an article published on Transparency International's Anti-Corruption Research Network, Farzana Nawaz discusses these issues, the highlights of which I will cover in this blog.
Today, October 31, 2011 our planet reaches a new milestone: we are 7 billion people on earth.
In the past, when the world’s population was a fraction of what it is today, the expansion of humanity was a source of alarm and many apocalyptic tales. More than 200 years ago, Thomas Malthus, one of the leading scholars and economists at that time predicted that the world would simply run out of food. Then, we were less than one billion people.
Now I want to take you on a journey into the future.
"You may well ask: 'Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?' You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored."
That's it - CommGAP is closing shop. October 31 will be the last day of the program. We look back on five years of research, advocacy, capacity building, and operational support in communication for governance reform. And yes, we are a little proud. As a friend of CommGAP told us last week, this end is an occasion to celebrate. And never fear - the blog stays on! The World Bank's External Affairs Operational Communication department will take over, with Sina Odugbemi and Diana Chung at the helm. Look forward to some new bloggers who will share with us new ideas and experiences from new areas of operational communication in development. CommGAP's many resources will remain accessible on our website.
It is hard, especially on the eve of only the second democratic elections in DR Congo, to find a topic about which a diverse group of distinguished Congolese agree. So, we expected little agreement when we brought together a diverse group of Congolese to contextualize the September 14, 2011 seminal speech of World Bank President Robert Zoellick at George Washington University on the theme “Beyond Aid.”
We were hoping to promote a public debate on policy choices and foster demand for good governance. We also aimed to set the foundation for the implementation of our Africa Strategy in this country. Participants included Congolese intellectuals; renowned politicians; parliamentarians; a respected cleric; renowned journalists; a lady who once ran for president; a key member of the current government; a prominent lawyer; and a women’s rights advocate.
Our guests dealt with the speech as if it had been written about DR Congo. The discussions went further. The talk could have been convened under the title “Beyond, Beyond Aid”.