In the Philippines and Guatemala, local groups have taken the mantra “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle” to a whole new level. MyShelter Foundation and Hug It Forward use discarded plastic bottles as ‘eco-bricks’ to work with local communities to build “Bottle Schools” – providing an innovative response to the problems of plastic waste and the chronic lack of educational infrastructure.
"All people want to do is live their lives." Dr. Suneeta Singh made that simple yet powerful statement during a panel discussion on “Empowering Gender Minorities in South Asia” on March 14, 2012 at the World Bank. Singh, a former Bank staffer and CEO of consulting firm Amaltas, spoke via videoconference from Delhi, India, while Nepal’s first openly gay elected official, Sunil Babu Pant, dialed in from Kathmandu.
Pant told the story of how he built a grassroots movement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people in Nepal, beginning in 2001. A turning point was in 2007, when the Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgendered people “are natural” and mandated certain benefits and an end to discriminatory laws. Today, the country is drafting a new constitution, and Pant said that if passed, it will be one of the most progressive in the world with regard to the rights of sexual and gender minorities.
Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN) was awarded a DM grant in 2009 to test an innovative strategy for scaling up and accelerating the recruitment and training of Nubian Vault (NV) apprentices and the growth of a self-sustaining market in NV houses in Burkina Faso. The Nubian Vault is an ancient Egyptian technique of building vaulted roofs made from local bricks without using any wood, instead of typical tin roofs that are more expensive and use scarce wood during construction. AVN is transforming traditional housing available in the harsh climate of the Sahel region by providing a sustainable housing alternative and helping to avoid further deforestation.
AVN has taken on the Buckminster Fuller Challenge (BFC) and is in the running for $100,000 for the submission of our Earth roofs in the Sahel program. Our entry was published in the BFC Idea Index 1.0 on Tuesday, February 14.
Named "Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award" by Metropolis Magazine, the Challenge is an annual international prize program that awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a solution with significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.
In Calcutta a few days before Christmas, December 2011, Ashoka India brought together Fellows from the North and North East around a thematic workshop with Innovation Alchemy. The theme was ‘Scale’. The issue of increasing the IMPACT of the work that the Fellows are implementing through their diverse initiatives.
The two days of engagement was a quick immersion into the complex Development world of the North East. The region is perceptibly isolated from the rest of the country, politically, geographically, economically... A brief research of the core challenges in this part of the country points to porous borders, leading to migration, infiltration and huge demand on a weak economy. High degree of ecological instability and recurring natural disasters repeatedly impacting livelihoods, increasing displacement and further reducing opportunities. Adding to the complexity is a feeling that ‘the Central Government does not care about the North East‘.
Combine all this – human rights struggles, cross-border violations, weak economy, limited opportunity and lack of any strong progressive policy frameworks – and what you get is a situation ripe for human conflict.
More often than not, “we” criticize the “system” for being corrupt; yet it is simply a reflection of what we make of it. For example, what would happen if “we” decided never to collect bribes from users in our health service system? Or if we implemented and respected the rule of ‘first come, first served’ instead of paying or collecting bribes for faster service delivery? What would happen when it is brought to our knowledge that there are irregular practices operating within our health centers?
These questions are for everyone, particularly for authorities in health centers. These kinds of questions are being answered by winners of the Cameroon 2011 Development Marketplace competition. Nowadays, advances in ICT tools and social media channels provide us with various ways to monitor and expose corrupt practices. When I first visited the website of I Paid a Bribe by the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, I was amazed by the innovation, frightened by testimonies, and thankful to those who had the courage to report irregular practices. My next move while browsing the website was to check if Cameroon was amongst those countries participating on this platform. Unfortunately not!