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Africa

Day trip to Dachau

Nicholas van Praag's picture

I was in Mozambique last week trying to work out how to dodge the volcanic ash and get back to Washington DC. Checking my itinerary on-line, the system advised me that I could use my stopover in Munich to visit Dachau concentration camp.

Was this for real? A day trip to one of the most horrendous killing grounds of the twentieth century (alternative suggestions were a boat ride on the Danube and a tour of Munich’s beer gardens).

Screenshot of the website showing a menu of activities available in Munich.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at UN Security Council Debate on Peacebuilding

Natalia Cieslik's picture

 

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director of the World Bank, spoke during a day-long debate on post-conflict peacebuilding at the UN Security Council.  Referring to research for the upcoming World Development Report on ‘Conflict, Security, and Development’ she said that no fragile state had yet achieved a single Millennium Development Goal.  She added while violent conflict was one of the most profound development challenges, focusing on peacebuilding alone was insufficient. True development in conflict-affected countries was only possible through recognizing the importance of country context, working in true partnership, and be fully accountable.

To read her full speech click here.

Addressing violent conflict, one innovation at a time

Nicholas van Praag's picture

The best thing about my job is the amazing people I meetand 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.

Cell phones are ubiquitous in many developing countries (with 70% penetration in Africa) and the internet offers those with access the chance to turbo-charge the change process.  So it was no surprise that new communications technologies were a leitmotiv that ran through many of the projects showcased in Cape Town.

But I guess my key take-away from the meeting is that innovation is not about technology.  Rather, it is the way the revolution in communications is bringing people together into new kinds of communities.  As one participant said, "innovation is most likely when kindred spirits unite." 

Here’s my pick of innovative projects that struck me as relevant to some of the ideas we are exploring in the World Development Report.

Moving beyond conflict

Natalia Cieslik's picture

Right now in Cape Town, the Development Marketplace is holding the first of a new generation of DM activitiesan Innovation Fair on Moving Beyond Conflict tied to the WDR 2011 and drawing on a pool of innovative solutions discovered during an on-line competition last month.  It registered 2,000 users, producing 223 projects from 40 countriesmany of them focusing on the use of new technologies for preventing or overcoming conflict.

You can follow the action and join the event virtually through this website: http://innovationfair.ning.com/

  Moving beyond conflictonline and offline.

The rape of Congo

James Martone's picture

War is officially over in eastern Congo, but the violence continues.  23 year old Amani can tell you.  She was raped last year in the forests of North-Kivu by men she refers to as “rebels,” and has since given birth to a baby girl.  Then there’s 15 year old Neema who was held and repeatedly raped for a week last July outside Goma by an “older man” after being lured to his house by a classmate.  She too will give birth soon. “I want him to be imprisoned for life,” said Neema of her rapist.  “He destroyed my life and I don’t study anymore.”

     Cameraman Justin Purefoy filming displaced Congolese in Eastern Congo. Pictures © James Martone.

I met Amani and Neema at the Heal Africa Hospital and other sites in Eastern Congo as part of a WDR 2011 research mission in February.  The team was looking into the causes and consequences of this conflict that has been going on for over 15 years and killed an estimated 3.5 million people.  I was there with cameraman Justin Purefoy to film people affected by the conflict and document their stories.  The effect of massive sexual violence and overall lack of security were two of the issues we were exploring on video. The films and interviews will be published as part of the Bank’s upcoming 2011 World Development Report.

Let them drink milk

Nicholas van Praag's picture

Reflections on a journey through the Rift Valley..

My main take-away from a visit to Kenya last month is that the ‘post-electoral violence’ has deep pre-electoral roots.  While inter-ethnic violence is not uncommon, the legacy of the displacement of tens of thousands of people in early 2008 seems to have created a Balkanization of Kenya. There is so much poverty, so much hatred, so much fear, and so many politicians willing to exploit this, that I felt a long-term peace is still elusive.

Driving up the Rift Valley, ground zero for much of the violence that erupted after the disputed elections in December 2007, I got a chance to hear tale after tale of loss and disruption, and to learn about people’s hopes and fears for the future.

   Hoping for a better future. Photos © Nicholas van Praag

At first it is hard for me to remember all the ethnic groups and follow the history of decades of social and ethnic disparity.  In many places Kikuyu were attacked by Kalenjin.  In others, Kikuyu gangs killed and displaced Luos and Luyas and Kalenjins.

The outcome today is a redrawing of many towns and villages along ethnic lines.  Most prominent of all is the town of Naivasha, reknowned for its flower farms that export roses and carnations around the world.  Once home to many different groups, it is almost entirely Kikuyu now. Luos and Luyas have been kicked out, their jobs taken.  None dare to return.

View from the bottom: the conspiracy of violence in Nairobi's slums

Nicholas van Praag's picture

Urban violence has reached unprecedented levels in many cities around the world, destabilizing whole societies and making life miserable for its victims.  It is a trend we are looking at in detail in the upcoming World Development Report which looks at conflict, violence and development.

To get a better understanding of the complicated inter-play between poverty, gangs, and bare-knuckled politics, I visited Nairobi's Mathare slum which is home to 850,000 people.  Julius, who runs the Julius Mwelu Foundation, showed me around.  I took a small video camera with me and this is my report:

Video blog: Nairobi's slums from WDR Video on Vimeo.

Great expectations in Southern Sudan

Nicholas van Praag's picture

When I last visited Juba in 1981, it was a sullen garrison town.  Today the mood in Southern Sudan’s capital is more upbeat, but it is tempered by concerns about the present and hard-to-realize expectations for the future.    

 
    Basic services remain basic.  Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank.

As Sarah Cliffe and I discovered on a trip there last month, there is a lot going on.  Trade is as brisk in the town’s market places as traffic is slow on its crowded streets.  We did not get a chance to leave town but I would have loved to discover what's happening beyond the city limits. 

The city itself has grown rapidly—to half a million people—since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005, ending decades of fighting and setting out a timetable for self-determination. 

At the open-air cafes along the river Nile, talk is all about next’s April’s national elections and the referendum that follows in January 2011 when voters will decide whether the South will remain part of a unified Sudan or become independent.

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