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Around-the-web finds

An open discussion on improving access to development- and aid-related information: Friday, July 10

James I Davison's picture

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)

New web and mobile connectivity report: China, the Philippines lead region in IT jobs

James I Davison's picture
Students take a computer course at a private school in Cambodia.

A number of fascinating web-related findings came out of a World Bank report, released this week, which ties Internet and mobile phone access in developing countries to economic growth, job creation and good governance. Connectivity in the developing world seems to be better than ever. In developing countries worldwide, there are currently three billion mobile phone users, and the number of Internet users in developing countries increased by 10 times between 2000 and 2007.

In East Asian and Pacific countries, the number of Internet users (15 percent) was slightly above the developing-country average in 2007 (13 percent), but was still below the world average that year (22 percent). The connectivity and access to new information and communications technologies changes the way companies and governments do business, while bringing vital health, financial and other market information to people like never before.

While India is the clear leader in creating information technology-related jobs, China and the Philippines both stand out as benefiting by generating new job opportunities. And within the industry, the Philippines is also notable, because its IT services workforce is made up of 65 percent women, who hold more high-paying jobs than in most other sectors of the economy.

You can take your own look at the statistics compiled on each country, or create your own custom reports, from the IC4D Data & Methodology page.

You can also submit questions now for Christine Zhen-Wei Qiang, World Bank economist and editor of the report, for a live online chat on July 28 at 11 a.m. in Washington, D.C.

Can anyone be a changemaker? Website attempts to connect social problem solvers

James I Davison's picture

About a month ago, I came across Changemakers.com (via Change.org’s Social Entrepreneurship blog), a neat website for people to connect and collaborate with others working – on all levels – to solve social problems. The website is an initiative of Ashoka, a nonprofit organization that works to support social entrepreneurship. Changemakers seems to act as a social network of sorts – through competitions, discussion forums and storytelling – for people who want to make a difference. Two aspects of the site quickly appealed to me.

Biodiversity meets social networks in new macroscopic observatory

Claudia Gabarain's picture

A promising web find that should catch the attention of our resident biodiversity expert, Tony, if it hasn't already: scientists from around the world are gathering this week in London for the e-Biosphere Conference, where they'll present and discuss a project to create a "macroscopic observatory" of biodiversity that

Moving sounds from Sichuan to help victims of the earthquake

Claudia Gabarain's picture

Here's a project that makes beauty out of tragedy in the hope of helping alleviate it: an American folk artist and a Chinese electronica producer teamed up to create a unique soundtrack using sounds by survivors of the Sichuan - Wenchuan earthquake. Focusing on children who are still living away from their families, the seven tracks in the EP mix traditional songs by the kids with the sounds their parents make while they are hard at work, rebuilding the homes where they will all live together again.

Video: Getting commuters onto bikes in the Philippines

James I Davison's picture

A couple weeks ago, blogger Chris Pablo wrote here about a project designed to get more people in the Philippines riding bicycles by creating and designating separate bike paths in Marikina City, a medium-sized city at the eastern edge of Metro Manila.

Chris writes:

The project, which started in 2001, seems to have achieved its demonstration effect. From a survey done in 2006, the share of bike trips to all trips in the city increased to 9.5%, from 4% in 1999. Bicycle ownership also grew.

The short World Bank-produced video below gives another look at the successful project:

As prices fall internationally, developing countries still face high food costs

James I Davison's picture

A little more than a month ago, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) introduced a database tool and a press release highlighting a rather disconcerting trend. As the global economic crisis worsened, food prices have fallen at an international level. But, surprisingly, the cost of food has not dropped at the same rate, or at all, in poor developing countries, according the FAO.

The new online tool allows for anyone to easily keep track of food prices in 55 developing countries, comparing the data on both domestic and international levels and tracking change over time. In East Asia, the tool includes data from China, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

I am struck that the release of this data seems to be the first time I’ve heard of this trend. And apparently, even the experts aren't sure what is causing food prices to stay high for those who can least afford it. On his blog, Oxfam’s Duncan Green quoted FAO's Henri Josserand:

"The reasons for this 'stickiness' are not fully understood at this time. We hypothesize that there are several factors, possibly interacting in complex way. So far, we have not found any set of explanatory variables that apply to the whole sample. Actually, we are pretty sure that understanding the reasons will require in-depth analysis at the national or regional levels."

FAO says it hopes the database will provide information for "policy and decision-makers in agricultural production and trade, development and also humanitarian work." Hopefully, this database will help bring attention to high prices and food shortages in the places that can least afford them.

 

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