|Accessing information is a right that comes associated with—at least—the homework of reading, studying and understanding such information. (February 2010, World Bank booth at Library Week in Vientiane, WB photo)|
Big news: the World Bank has launched an open data site with more than 2,000 financial, business, health, economic and human development statistics. Until now, most of this had been available only to paying subscribers. Not only that, but the site and indicators are also available in French, Spanish, and Arabic --with 330 indicators initially, but set to grow.
There’s an extensive literature on dam resettlement, and according to much of this, the track record on rebuilding sustainable livelihoods is not great. For those interested, an excellent starting point is “The Future of Large Dams” by Ted Scudder. Ted has spent 50 years or so studying dams and resettlement, and has been on Nam Theun 2’s (NT2) external Panel of Experts since the early days of project preparation.
The broad reasons behind poor results in dam-related resettlement are intuitive: dams often require the resettlement of entire communities (rather than, for example, the resettlement of specific households to make way for a road), and dams may also significantly impact on existing livelihood opportunities, by, for example, flooding agricultural areas.
(Blog Admin note: please be aware that Gao Xu is no longer working for the World Bank and cannot follow up on new questions or comments on his posts.)
If you haven’t already taken the time to do some development-related Googling after last week’s announcement that World Bank statistics are now available through the ubiquitous search engine’s public data tool, I’d suggest exploring the exciting new feature. Now, anyone can easily access 17 World Development Indicators by searching for them in Google. Give it a try by searching for the GDP of China or CO2 emissions of Indonesia or exports of Thailand – or another country and any of these indicators.
When you click on the search result, an interactive chart page shows you how the data have changed over time and allows you to compare to other countries (or the world). (You can also embed the chart, like the one below.) For example, take a look at how the GDP growth rate of China compares to Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in the last 50 years.
To further explore the data, check out another nifty tool, also launched last week by the World Bank. DataFinder lets you research more about these development indicators and see how they look on an interactive map. Read more about DataFinder here.
Here’s an interesting and quick item to check out on a Friday. This map gives an attractive, at-a-glace look at some of the world’s key natural resources, organized by country. A couple of things to note that are East Asia-related: China leads more categories (at least on this map) than any other country, including wheat, cotton, gold and rice.
A few weeks ago, the World Bank’s migration and remittances team released its latest forecast of global remittance flows, indicating that even fewer migrants from developing East Asian and Pacific countries may be sending home money this year than they predicted in an earlier report. Remittances flowing to countries in the region are now forecast to fall by 5.7-8.8 percent in 2009, according to the report (pdf). Revised 2008 data show China, the Philippines and Vietnam are in the top 10 recipients of remittances among developing countries.
Interestingly, despite indicating falling remittance flows to the East Asia and Pacific region, the outlook states that South and East Asian countries have been relatively strong. There is, of course, a risk of a further slowing down. For example, remittance money flowing to the Philippines appears to still be growing this year. But such positive flows went from 14 percent year-on-year growth in 2007-08 to just 3 percent growth so far in 2009, according to the report.
The report’s authors write that there may be key risks that further threatening global remittance flows to developing countries – including a longer-than-projected financial crisis threatening jobs and income for immigrants in developed countries. However, they write, recovery may come by next year: “We expect that remittance flows to developing countries could decline by 7-10 percent in 2009, with a possible recovery in 2010 and 2011.”
What’s the significance of remittances? One notable example came from blogger Eric Le Borgne last April. Eric pointed out that remittances are a key factor to the economic health of the Philippines, as well as the country’s resilience so far during the global financial crisis.
A few months ago, the World Bank released a new programming interface (API) that allows for a new level of access to the institution’s data. It is just one example of how the World Bank and other organizations are relying on new technology and the internet to increase transparency and improve access to information and data.
On Friday at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., several organizations are hosting an open discussion on the topic of transparency and open access to information. The event, which is dubbed Open Development Camp, is also sponsored by AidInfo, Development Gateway, Forum One Communications, and USAID's Global Development Commons.
According to the event's webpage, spots are filled to attend the conference in person. But it only seems appropriate that anyone will be able to join the discussion through the this website or follow the conversation via Twitter through the #OpenDevCamp hashtag. Tune in starting around 9 a.m. (Washington, D.C. time).
(via Global Development Commons)