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Public Sector and Governance

What DM Finalist in Threatened Maldives Needs

Tom Grubisich's picture

One of the countries most threatened by climate change is the Maldives, the group of South Asian islands that are coping with the rising waters of the Indian Ocean.  One of the finalists in DM2009 was Innovative Gardening and Education to Adapt to Climate Change in the Maldives.  The Live & Learn project aims to "increase the quality and quantity of local food production, using new techniques resilient to increasing groundwater salinity" caused by the rising waters.  Innovative Gardening and Education would promote women as leaders in building a sustainable community network spreading the message of "no-till" resilient food production that combats encroaching salinity.  In this mini-interview Fathimath Shafeeqa, Country Manager of Live & Learn's environmental education operations in the Maldives, talks about climate adaptation in her country, the national government's relationship with civil society, and what she and other DM2009 finalists who didn't win at the competition need to move closer to success -- in particular, from the World Bank:

Q. Is your country in its adaptation program doing enough to develop capacity -- knowledge and learning -- among government and civil society organizations?

A. Not yet, but the government is still discussing adaptation measures.

Q. Is the national government really listening to local communities in preparing adaptation plans and strategies?

A. new government is in place and trying to decentralise a lot of the decision making.

Q. Since you returned from DM2009, do you plan to work with government so that your project might be incorporated in national adaptation efforts?

A. Trying very much to discuss with the respective government agencies. No luck as yet. However, if the World Bank decides to send a letter of acknowledgement re the finalists to the Finance Ministry of the respective countries, the process would be much faster.

Fragile States Are Hard to Lump Together

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"Fragile states" -- the subject of the next Global Development Marketplace competition -- can't be put in one box.  Or two or even three boxes (i.e. in conflict, post-conflict, or threatened by conflict or political unrest).  The World Bank chart below shows how fragile states that aren't "Heavily Indebted Poor Countries" (HIPCs) can compare favorably to non-fragile HIPCs based on key indicators such as poverty, school enrollment, and mortality rates for children under five years of age.  The exception is in the poverty category in the "last available year" section of the chart where non-fragile HIPCs reverse the 1990-2006 average and perform better. (Some HIPCs have had their debt forgiven wholly or partially, while others have not yet advanced to either stage.)

The World Bank Data Visualization chart (below) in general mirrors the first chart's findings.  It ranks a mix of fragile and non-fragile states by per-capita gross national income (horizontal axis) and per-capita gross domestic product (vertical axis).  The highest-performing countries (green balls) are, right to left, upper-middle-income Gabon, South Africa, Mauritius, and Botswana, all of which are non-fragile and not heavily indebted.  The next highest-performing countries (the cluster of blue [poorest countries] and red balls [lower-middle income countries]) include Côte d'Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Nigeria (biggest blue ball), and Liberia, all of which have been designated fragile but are not heavily indebted.  (Nigeria is a special case.  It was on the World Bank's and other fragile lists as recently as 2008, but off the World Bank's new "interim" "Harmonized List of Fragile Situations" published Nov. 17, 2009.  But the World Bank's 2009 Worldwide Governance Indicators rank Nigeria as the third worst state for "political stability and lack of violence/terrorism," just below Afghanistan and Democratic Republic of the Congo.) Many of the blue balls at the lower ends of the two scales represent non-fragile but heavily indebted states.


 

Path to Innovation Success Is No Straight Line

Tom Grubisich's picture

Need drives innovation.  But even when the need is life-and-death, innovation often follows a path that is crooked and sometimes comes to a (temporary) dead end.  "Eureka" moments may prove to be just that -- momentary.

Consider the cooking stoves used by more than 2.4 billion poor people in developing countries.  The stoves -- fueled mostly by kerosene or biomass (e.g., wood, charcoal, dung) -- kill an estimated 1.5 million people annually because of indoor pollution that causes pneumonia and other diseases (photo from U.N. WHO report "Fuel for Life: Household Energy and Health").

There have been numerous attempts to develop a less dangerous stove, but success has been, at best, only marginal.  Innovative stoves often proved inferior to open fires in cooking local foods, and in other cases they actually turned out to be inefficient energy users.

The 30-year struggle by a group of altruistic American inventors/tinkerers, scientists, and other amateur and professional experts to design a stove that was safe, efficient, inexpensive, and met local cooking requirements and tastes across the globe is described in a fascinating article in the New Yorker magazine, "Hearth Surgery."  (The link requires a subscription; to read the abstract, go here.  Author Burkhard Bilger's blog is here.)

For all their altruism and expertise, not to mention innovation, the designers met setback after setback.  One big obstacle was getting international donor funding.  "For groups like the Gates Foundation and USAID, the metric is cost-effectiveness," said team member Jacob Moss.  "How many people are you going to save with a hundred million dollars?"

DM2009 Finalists Could Be Models for Climate Adaptation

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The big question of whether developed nations will get serious about funding climate adaptation in developing countries was at least partially answered by the "Accord" at the recently concluded U.N. negotiations in Copenhagen.  Big global warmers -- the U.S. and the OECD nations primarily -- will pony up billions.  Exactly how much money and how it will be divided between mitigation (measures to hold  temperatures increases to under 2 degrees Celsius) and adaptation (proofing people, ecoysystems, and economies against the destructive impacts of worse weather) is not detailed.  But the developing world seems sure to get major help.

There's another big question that doesn't have even that half-answer: Will the unspecified billions that go to adaptation be effectively spent to do their intended work?  With adverse weather trends intensifying flooding, drought, and rising sea levels, especially in poor and other developing countries within the equatorial belt, adaptation is urgent -- particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, low-lying parts of South Asia, and among the Pacific island states.  Much of the adaptation will require capacity development -- learning and knowledge that must reach broadly through the organizational fabric of government and civil society and foster innovative adaptation.  But developing nations and donors alike are having a hard time doing that. The World Bank Institute's new "Capacity Development Results Framework" (published in draft form in June 2009), says bluntly: " ...the results of efforts to develop capacity have persistently fallen short of expectations."

At a June 2009 forum co-sponsored by the WBI, consultant Robert Theisohn said: “You cannot do capacity development for others. Learning is voluntary and capacity development must be home-grown so we need to move from supply to demand, from delivery to acquisition.”

Interestingly, the projects of the 100 finalists at DM2009 were very focused on active as opposed to passive learning -- where participants don't just sit and take notes but become players in change that aims to protect people and natural resources and energize often faltering rural economies.  The DM projects would be great models for developing countries that want to start implementing their adaptation plans -- once those pledged funds from developed nations start to materialize.

DM2009 Finalists Collaborate to Make Innovation Succeed

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Successful innovation in development often begins with one person's passionate belief in an idea that may exist only on a piece of paper.  But for an idea to make successive leaps to funding to implementation and, finally, scaling up invariably requires extensive networking and the forging of strategic, sometimes multiple, partnerships.  That's the story of Development Marketplace successes like 2006 winner PumpAid (photo) from Sub-Saharan Africa, 2006 winner Self-Sustainable Rainwater Harvesting from India, and 2003 winner Ha-Tien-Habitats-Handbags from Vietnam.

Beginning with a US$120,000 DM grant, PumpAid brought its clean-water project to early-stage development in Malawi and Zimbabwe, and went on to get financing of US$25 million to reach an additional eight million people in those two countries.  PumpAid has two partners. 

Ha-Tien-Habitats-Handbags, which has partnered with the International Finance Corp. (the commercial arm of the World Bank Group) and Kien Giang Province's Department of Science and Technology, was a 2007 winner of the US$30,000 UN-Habitat/Dubai Municipality International Award for Best Praces to Improve the Living Environment.

Self-Sustainable Rainwater Harvesting went through a series of expansions aided by the nonprofit Aakash Ganga that was financially seeded by Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA).  That led to a US$50,000 grant from the Asian Development Bank, and U.N. Development Programs (UNDP) has given Aakash Ganga a grant to expand to several hundred villages.

DM2009 Finalists Rank Far Down as CO2 Emitters

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The 44 developing countries represented among the hundred DM2009 finalists produce very modest amounts of carbon dioxide (the major man-made source of global warming) on a per-capita basis.  The World Bank data visualization (above) divides the 44 countries into low income (green balls), lower-middle income (orange), and upper-middle income (blue).  For comparison, the high-income U.S. is represented by the purple ball in the upper-right-hand corner.

The vertical axis shows emissions per capita in metric tons among finalist countries.  A group of Sub-Saharan African nations -- represented by the green balls at the far left -- produce the lowest per-capita emissions -- as low as a fractional .10 metric tons.  Russia --  the highest blue ball -- has the highest CO2 emission rate among finalist countries -- 10.5 tons.  The U.S. rate is 19.5 tons.  Per-capita emissions by India -- the largest orange ball -- are among the finalists' lowest rates, although the South Asian county is a major emitter overall because it is so populous.

Climate change's adverse affects, including drought, flooding, and rising sea levels, will hit developing countries the hardest, and that includes their economies as well as people (particularly the poor and other vulnerable) and natural resources.  The effects are already being felt.  The horizontal axis of the chart shows gross domestic product per capita in finalist countries.  Many countries' per-capita GDP is already precariously low -- below $500 -- and some others, including India's, aren't much higher.

The DM2009 finalist projects' triple objectives are to protect people at the community level -- particularly the most vulnerable -- and the natural resources on which they depend, and energize generally faltering rural economies.

A Graphic View of the Wide Split in Copenhagen

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This World Bank data visualization shows how the lowest-income countries compare with the highest-income ones on carbon-dioxide emissions (the main man-made contributor to global warming) and energy use.   The lowest-income countries -- blue, purple, and pink balls -- are clustered at the low end of both axes.  CO2 emissions per capita are visualised horizontally and energy use, vertically.  The highest-income countries -- orange -- are at the higher end of both axes. 

The big purple ball in the lower-left-hand corner is Bangladesh, the most populous of the 49 Least Developed Countries.  It's per-capita CO2 emissions are .030 metric tons and its energy use per capita is the equivalent of 160.5 kilograms of oil.  By comparison, the U.S. -- the biggest orange ball toward the upper-right-hand corner -- produces 19.50 tons of CO2 per capita --- 65 times Bangladesh's - and its energy use is the equivalent of 7,760 kilograms of oil -- 48 times Bangladesh's.

The size of each ball reflects the population of the country it represents.

The visualization also includes the fast-growing middle-ncome countries of China (the biggest pink ball),  India (the biggest purple ball southwest of China), Brazil (the green ball to the left of China), and the Russian Federation (the blue ball in the middle of all the smaller orange balls).  All those countries are becoming major emitters of CO2.

National Governments and NGOs: The Friction Point

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Ann Kendall represents the Cusichaca Trust's winning entry in DM2009 that would use pre-Hispanic water-management systems to respond to the adverse affects of climate change in an Andean community of 2,350 families in Peru. In this mini-interview she has some very interesting things to say about the competition and how it could better help finalists, winners and non-winners alike.

Q. What impressed you most about DM2009?

A. The variety of levels of knowledge, experience, issues focussed, and the finalists' desire to contribute. Plus the effort and thought the World Bank staff had put into creating a program to encompass this range.

Q. What improvements would you like to see?

A. This year’s agenda and the series of sessions were very intensive and had all the strains of a crash course in order to communicate/educate at all levels of experience. It provided lots of opportunity but was perhaps too intense for some, so that there was less space for taking initiatives and advantage for more specific choices of dialogue developed with individuals and concerning more project specific interests, which could have included a deeper exploration of connections between fellow finalists objectives and appreciating the points of value of their issues and presentations and how these might interact with their own objectives. In 2006 I remember there was more collegial, general interaction with World Bank staff who took the time to visit and take a relaxed interest in the stands. Their conversations and reactions to the finalists about their specific presentations were most useful, as were their own matured interests and concerns, sharing their World Bank experiences and views. The interaction in 2009 with the World Bank managerial staff...was excellent and greatly appreciated. It would have been good to have had a couple of free hours one afternoon and some info on book shops in Washington for acquiring/reviewing available published materials. Maybe this was available on the Friday and the winners missed out on it!

Q. Should there be a bigger money pool to produce more winners or to extend winning projects beyond the early-stage period?

How to Help Tame Scary Adaptation Funding Estimates

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Such intimidating numbers: To adapt to destructive climate change, developing countries need US$30-$50 billion annually between now and 2020, and US$100 billion annually thereafter, according to U.N. and World Bank estimates.

By the end of the U.N.-sponsored climate negotations wrapping up this week in Copenhagen, developed nations are likely to pledge more.  But most of the funding gap is not likely to be closed.

A ray of hope: What if all hundred finalist projects of DM2009's "Climate Adaptation" competition were to be financed?  Their total cost would be about US$17.5 million.

These early-stage projects are as solid as any adaptation proposals anywhere in the developing world.  They all survived rigorous scrutiny to be among the 6 percent of more than 1,700 applications that made it to the DM finals.  They focus on helping poor and other vulnerable people who are those most affected by climate change.  Most of the projects are designed to be replicated widely, so they have the potential of helping millions of people threatened by flooding, drought, and rising sea levels -- and also protecting many ecosystems throughout the globe.

The Secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) could help to make this happen by recommending that up to US$17.5 million of any new adaptation funding for developing countries be earmarked for the DM finalists.

The issue is not billions or even hundreds of millions of dollars -- just a tiny fraction of the lowest estimated cost of adaptation in developing countries.  Could developed nations, who are responsible for most of the global warming that is hitting the poorest countries hardest, say anything but yes to that?

 

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