In July I wrote a piece about Simulated Realities, Manipulated Perceptions. In it I queried our apparent pre-occupation with the gruesomeness of war, as seen through a media lens. I took Pakistan as a case study for our obsession with disaster and attempted to apply a Baudrillardian theory to new coverage of terrorism in the country. The irony is, that this article was picked up by an editor for one of the biggest Pakistani news agencies, and ever since I have been writing a weekly column for them.
Having spent years watching and commenting on the media, I have crossed sides, and although I remain a “blogger” not a “writer”, I feel as if I am on the periphery of the very beast I have long deplored. My short, but intense time at Dawn has been a real challenge, as I have sought to write in a way that I have advocated journalists to and continue to challenge the mainstream media perceptions from within.
The types of data available to development economists are proliferating – multi-topic household surveys are almost passé today but 25 years ago it was a rare privilege to be able to correlate economic measures of the household with other indicators such as health or community infrastructure. Not only are surveys more sophisticated, and arguably contain less error due to the use of field based computers, but the digital revolution has multiplied the types of data at our beck and call.
The dust had hardly settled from South Sudan’s Independence Day celebrations before the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of South Sudan formerly known as the Southern Sudan Center for Census, Statistics and Evaluation, released the new country’s first estimate of GDP. The long-awaited figures were revealed at a well-attended press conference at the NBS on 16 August 2011.
The proceeds of the bond will be used to fund the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam. This dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed (5,250 Mega Watts). The first one was called the Millennium Corporate bond, and was for raising funds for the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO) . The first diaspora bond issuance did not meet the expectations. Sales were slow during the first months of offering despite the efforts of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the embassies and consulates to sell them. Some risks that the diaspora faced were: i) risk perceptions on the payment ability of EEPCO on its future earnings from the operations of the hydroelectric power; ii) lack of trust in the government as a guarantor; and iii) political risks.
The latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives (all content openly available online), has a symposium on the use of field experiments in economics. We’ve discussed or linked to posts on three of the four papers in previous blog posts: A paper on mechanism experiments by Ludwig, Kling and Mullainathan; a paper on the
- Research ethics
Earlier this month, I participated in a four-day mission to Mandera, a county in northeastern Kenya, some 640 km from Nairobi on the Somali border. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Agency (ECHO) arranged the mission to assess progress of various community-managed drought risk reduction initiatives.
We visited several projects being implemented across Mandera’s central, northern and eastern districts, an area which is home to more than a million people, according to the last census in 2009. The area is classified as arid and receives on average 250 mm of rainfall in a good year. But for the last several months, not a single drop of rain has fallen and all water reserves have been depleted. Famine could be imminent in Mandera and its neighboring counties if policies are not put in place to prevent it.
Being my first visit to Mandera the mission was eye-opening but also disquieting, coming as it did in the midst of what is now accepted as “the most severe drought in the Horn of Africa in the last 60 years”.
As global powers debate ways to solve economic challenges, a more menacing fight is happening in East Africa, where the worst drought in decades has caused widespread hunger, deaths, and the loss of subsistence crops and livestock.
For those of us committed to democracy and interested in matters of governance and citizen accountability, the theatrics in India involving the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare pose a neat little dilemma. For, we love freely-elected governments and positively swoon over articulate civil society advocates, and here we have a situation where the two are in a head-on collision. So who’s the good guy? Whose side should we be on?
Hazare is pushing an anti-corruption bill that would give immense (possibly corruption-inducing and governance-disrupting) powers to an unelected ombudsman. The government is countering with a version that would keep key functionaries out of the ombudsman’s purview, arguably defeating the very purpose. Take your pick.
The New York Times political blog has just posted an interview between David Leonhardt and Sasha Issenberg about Issenberg’s forthcoming book on Presidential candidate Rick Perry’s campaign method. Notable is the use of randomized experiments in campaigning: