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More cell phones than toilets

Shanta Devarajan's picture

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.

“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.

Community Connections -- How One DM2009 Winner Develops Them

Tom Grubisich's picture

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:

Moving Towards Fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals in Bangladesh

Joe Qian's picture

In 2000, 192 countries and 23 international organizations agreed to work towards fulfilling the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Although progress has been uneven between regions and much remains to be done, global poverty rates have been reduced from 52% of the world’s population living under $1.25 a day in 1981 to 26% in 2008.

Bangladesh has been quite successful through taking a multifaceted approach into achieving these goals. Initiatives such as Notun Jibon which means “New Life” in Bengali not only have emphasized community driven development but also stresses the role of women in education and the community decision making process. The country has already achieved gender parity in primary and secondary schooling and is on track to meet the majority of the MDG’s such as halving infant and maternal mortality rates by 2015.

DM2009 Siberia Winner Reports on Indigenous Peoples' Progress

Tom Grubisich's picture

The 40 Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and Far East in Russia have had to struggle mightily -- not only against a hostile environment but also what they see as sometimes arbitrary governmental action. But they're making fresh progress, according to this emailed report from DM2009 winner Rodion Sulyandziga (holding award in photo at right), Director of the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN), which has spearheaded recognition and -- more important practically -- enforcement of Indigenous Peoples' rights:

 

"On April 14-15 in Moscow the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) -- the umbrella organization that includes CSIPN -- will be hosting (in partnership with the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation) the Arctic Indigenous Leaders Summit, with the main focus on climate change in the Arctic. The participants are international experts, academia, Arctic states, regional governments, business, and Indigenous Peoples. The Summit will create a good basis for our future activities and networking. It's vital for us to involve federal, regional governments, and business from the scratch.

"We are also invited to the high-level international meeting "The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue" on April 22-23 under Russian Premier Putin to make a presentation on behalf of Indigenous Peoples. This is a good progress."

Brazil Announces Phase Two of the Growth Acceleration Program

Ihssane Loudiyi's picture

(All credits go to SECOM for this information)


President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announces US$ 526 billion in public and private investments over 2011-2014

Yesterday, Brazil launched phase two of the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC 2), announcing estimated investments of US$ 526 billion (R$ 958.9 billion) for the period from 2011 to 2014. PAC 2 includes new investment projects for the periods 2011 to 2014 and post-2014, as well as projects initiated during PAC 1 with activities that will conclude after 2010. For the period following 2014, the estimated investment is US$ 346.4 billion (R$ 631.6 billion). The two periods combined reach an amount of US$ 872.3 billion (R$ 1.59 trillion).

PAC is a strategic investment program that combines management initiatives and public works. In its first phase, launched in 2007, the program called for investments of US$ 349 billion (R$ 638 billion), of which 63.3% has been applied.

Similar to the first phase of the program, PAC 2 focuses on investments in the areas of logistics, energy and social development, organized under six major initiatives: Better Cities (urban infrastructure); Bringing Citizenship to the Community (safety and social inclusion); My House, My Life (housing); Water and Light for All (sanitation and access to electricity); Energy (renewable energy, oil and gas); and Transportation (highways, railways, airports).

“I consider PAC 2 as a portfolio of projects that the next administration can build from rather than starting from scratch, as there is no time to lose,” said President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during the announcement of the program.

PAC 2 Initiative in Detail...

Africa and the Millennium Development Goals

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Can Local Actions Contribute to Climate and Disaster Risk Management?

Darshani De Silva's picture

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”.

Empowering Local Leaders for Sustainable Development in Bangladesh

Nilufar Ahmad's picture

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.

I want to ride my bicycle

Flore de Préneuf's picture


"Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
..."

Earlier today, I was stuck in a herd of slow-moving, smoke-belching traffic (also known as the Beltway in Washington D.C.), when I heard an uplifting feature about electric bikes on the radio. Electric bikes are apparently all the rage at this year’s ongoing bike show in Taipei.

The WDR 2010 described in its chapter on innovation how the electric bike market took off in China over the last 10 years as a result of “technological improvements, faster urbanization, higher gasoline prices, and increases in purchasing power.” Not surprising, in the Kingdom of the Bicycle. But will e-bikes sway car addicts elsewhere?

On today’s “Science Friday” radio show, callers shared their enthusiasm for Do-It-Yourself mitigation. There are now dozens of kits out there to help retrofit ordinary bicycles -- so you can chug up a hill without a sweat. A brother and sister team, 59 and 61, are setting off on Earth Day on an electric bike tour of the United States to show that older people are never too old to pedal.


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