When President Jimmy Carter opened the Africa Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information in Accra on February 7, 2010, he explained why the Carter Center had organized the conference. The main reason, he pointed out, was that with regard to access to information 'Africa has lagged far behind'. South Africa was the only good example he cited. Yet this is at a time when the transparency revolution is sweeping through the rest of the world. For instance, since 2000 an average of six countries per year have passed Freedom of Information Acts, and 80 had done so by 2008.
An article in yesterday’s New York Times observes that, with the number of mobile subscriptions exceeding five billion, more people today have access to a cell phone than to a clean toilet. Leaving aside the relative value of these two appliances, the surge in cell phones in Africa—some 94 percent of urban Africans are near a GSM signal—is transforming the continent. Farmers in Niger use cell phones to find out which market is giving the best price; people in Kenya pay their bills and send money home using M-Pesa.
by Rebekka E. Grun
Why save the banks, and not their clients?
|28 year old mum Sewdini with Kuveneshi. The future is theirs. Photograph © Chulie de Silva|
They come carrying babies in arms, toddlers in bicycle baskets, the disabled in wheel chairs, the old and the young, to gather under a tree to plan and build back their village and the community. The meeting at Jeyapuram South in the North of Sri Lanka is held under the Cash for Work Program (CfW) a component of the World Bank’s Emergency Northern Recovery Project (ENREP). The meeting of resettled villagers commences with songs of inspiration, with everyone joining in. The voices are strong, they sing in unison, and hands are raised, the spirits revived.
The CfW program is the only source of employment for a large number of the people in most of the resettled villages immediately after their return to their home villages. The program provides incomes to the returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) a minimum of 50 days of employment to rehabilitate their own houses and gardens, clean and repair wells, irrigation canals, roads, drains, schools, mosque and church buildings. The aim of the CfW is to bridge the income gap between the time of return of the returnees (after receiving emergency resettlement provisions) and until the IDPs are able to obtain an income from regular livelihoods.
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
- Winston Churchill
A few months ago, I was at a dinner at Erik Hersman’s (also behind Ushahidi). His team has started a new project called iHub, basically a technology (web and mobile) incubator in a great new office building in Nairobi. Fledgling programers submit an application for membership and, if accepted, are given free & fast wireless internet and a great place to work with like-minded people.
Innovative climate change projects that succeed in raising at least $4,000 will be eligible for bonuses that could win the top performer up to $13,000 extra in the Green Open Challenge sponsored by "online marketplace" GlobalGiving.
In particular, the Challenge is a perfect fit for DM2009 finalists -- whose projects are built around climate adaptation -- and DM2008 finalists -- whose agriculture projects almost always include climate adaptation. Other nonprofit climate projects that emphasize innovation and are locally based -- like the DM ones -- are also prime candidates. Fund-seeking projects can find out how to join the Challenge here. The deadline for applying is April 25.
Participating projects that meet the $4,000 threshold in donations from at least 50 donors during the Challenge period from July 5 to July 30 will be showcased by GlobalGiving on its website and have ongoing access to the organization's considerable, and proven, fund-raising know-how. Since 2002, 96,147 donors have given $27,596,968 to 2,538 projects promoted by GlobalGiving. The nonprofit organization's specialty is matching givers to specific development causes around the globe. On top of that, GlobalGiving keeps donors up to date on what their targeted money achieves in results.
Green Open Challenge is just one of a series of challenges that GlobalGiving sponsors annually to build and energize relationships between givers -- anyone anywhere who contributes at least $10 -- and nonprofit causes and developing countries. Targeted donations can be made quickly on GlobalGiving's website.
Editor's Note: Yara Salem is a Private Sector Development Specialist with the Doing Business project and manages the Starting a Business indicator.
One of the cardinal rules of development aid -- the new cardinal rule -- is, Don't just “deliver” assistance, but instead make sure it's "accepted.” DM2009 competition winner Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) has been following that not-always-embraced rule since the community-based nonprofit indigenous environmental organization was formed in southern Belize in 1997.
SATIIM’s mission is "to safeguard the ecological integrity of the Sarstoon-Temash region and employ its resources in an environmentally sound manner for the economic, social, cultural, and spiritual well-being of its indigenous people.” For SATIIM, this isn't just window-dressing verbiage.
The Q’eqchi Maya Indigenous People of Crique Sarco in southern Belize have been active participants in SATIIM programs to rescue the region's rich but endangered 13 forest ecosystems while collaborating with the Q’eqchi to reduce poverty by creating jobs and also delivering a range of social, health, educational, cultural, and civic benefits.
As SATIIM awaits the arrival of its DM2009 grant of US$200,000, it is already involving the Q’eqchi in the forest-management/community betterment project that will be financed. With its long history of working with the Q’eqchi in Crique Sarco, SATIIM knows the total tapestry of the community –- as shown in this richly informative report to the DM Blog by SATIIM technical coordinator Lynette Gomez (photo at left), with the help of SATIIM Executive Director, DM project leader, and Maya activist Gregory Ch'oc:
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Indigenous Peoples
- Climate Change
Climate change in the news (Apr 2 - Apr 9, 2010)