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Encouraging News on Private Sector-Led Transparency and Collaboration in China

Kerina Wang's picture
Where was the lettuce in your salad grown? How was it cultivated, sourced, packaged and distributed? How many suppliers were involved and who are they? How much energy and water did it take from growing it in the farm to serving it on your table?

These questions might not be the typical things you would contemplate when eating a salad, but rapid urbanization and changes in climate, agricultural, and food production patterns are raising a host of alarming questions for many. How is the world going to sustainably feed more than 9 billion people by 2050, when farm lands are being converted into industrial and commercial use, and extreme weather events are jeopardizing our future resources?

This is a more daunting problem for China, where under-investment in the food industry and environmental pollution have aggravated the situation. A recent official Chinese government report issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Land and Resources shows that more than 16% of China’s soil and 19.4% of farm land is polluted, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

Stunted Children, Stunted Economies: African Leaders Pledge Action on Nutrition

Meera Shekar's picture



Action on reducing child stunting across Africa is imperative for driving economic growth and reducing poverty. That was the message emanating from a  roundtable of African heads of state, ministers, CEOs and civil society leaders this morning, on the eve of President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.

Do Cash Transfer Programs Lower Child Labor?

Do cash transfer programs - social protection programs that provide income to poor households often on the condition that children in these households attend school - lower child labor? Answering this question is important for a variety of reasons. Child labor is widely prevalent. According to the latest estimates of the International Labour Organization, about 10% of the children aged 5 to 14 worldwide are engaged in economic activities, often despite national child labor regulation prohibiting their involvement in work. Participation in child labor is often feared to affect children's ability to learn in school, to affect their health both in the short and long-run, and to result in negative externalities. And, while cash transfer programs are currently operated by many countries around the world and many of them target populations with high child labor prevalence rates, in theory their effect on child labor is ambiguous.

Quote of the Week: Junot Diaz

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"I believe wholeheartedly that the experience of reading powerfully invites the reader to reach out to other people, to form community when they encounter language that they do not understand.”

- Junot Diaz, a Dominican-American writer and author of critically acclaimed DrownThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller. The duality of the immigrant experience is central to Díaz's writing.  He is also a creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and fiction editor at Boston Review.  
 

Powering up Africa’s Renewable Energy Revolution

Makhtar Diop's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | العربية

As African Presidents, Prime Ministers, and business leaders arrive in Washington to attend the first US-Africa Summit, one topic that will be paramount in their discussions with President Obama and his Cabinet is: how governments and families can access affordable electricity across the African continent.

Consider the facts: one in three Africans, that’s 600 million people, has no access to electricity. Neither do some 10 million small and medium-sized enterprises. Those homes and businesses fortunate enough to have power pay three times as much as those in the United States and Europe; furthermore, they routinely endure power outages that cost their countries from one to four percent in lost GDP every year.

Akosombo Dam in Ghana, June 18, 2006. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst)Despite the fact that Africa is blessed with some of the world’s largest hydropower and geothermal resources (10-15 GW of geothermal potential in the Rift Valley alone), bountiful solar and wind resources, as well as significant natural gas reserves, total power generation capacity in Africa is about 80,000 megawatts (MW) (including South Africa), roughly the same as that of Spain or South Korea.

As Africa enters its 20th consecutive year of economic expansion, with the World Bank forecasting that Africa’s GDP growth will remain steady at 4.7 percent in 2014, and strengthening to 5.1 percent in each of 2015 and 2016, the continent needs more electric power. Specifically, Africa needs to add 7,000 MW of generation capacity each year to meet the projected growth in demand, yet it has achieved only 1,000 MW of additional power generation annually.

Over the last week I visited Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two of Africa’s so-called ‘fountain states.’  The resources in these two countries – along with Guinea, Ethiopia, and Uganda – can generate enough hydroelectricity to satisfy the growing demand in Africa. I saw the range of applications for which this power is needed, and I saw clear solutions.

In Eastern Cameroon I visited the construction site for the Lom Pangar hydropower project. Once construction is complete and the reservoir is filled in the next couple of years, this new dam on the Sanaga River will improve the reliability of power supply and lower the cost for up to five million Cameroonians. The Lom Pangar project will also pave the way for developing the full 6,000 MW of hydropower potential of the Sanaga River by regulating the flow of the river.      
 
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, last week, I visited the Inga hydropower site on the mighty Congo River. DRC’s overall hydropower potential is estimated at 100,000 MW, the third largest in the world behind China and Russia, yet only 2.5% of this key resource has been developed. With 40,000 MW of generation potential, Inga is the world’s largest hydropower site. Its proper development can make Inga the African continent’s most cost-effective, renewable source of energy with an estimated generation cost of US$ 0.03 per kilowatt hour with little or no carbon footprint--a significant added virtue.

Blog Post of the Month: World Bank’s Four Year Access to Information Policy Update

Thomas Browne's picture

Each month, People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that garnered the most attention. 

For July 2014, the featured blog post is "World Bank’s Four Year Access to Information Policy Update."  

It’s been four years since the World Bank enacted its Access to Information Policy, and to mark the occasion this blog post covers the facts, figures, and developments that has made this Policy a success.  Read the blog post to learn more!

 

Three things I learned at the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival

Tariq Khokhar's picture
 

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I was lucky to be in Berlin with some colleagues earlier this month for the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival and associated fringe events.

There’s really too much to distill into a short post - from Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, making the case for “Embracing the open opportunity” to Patrick Alley’s breathtaking accounts of how Global Witness uses information to expose crime and corruption in countries around the world.

A few things really stuck with me though from the dozens of great sessions throughout the week, here they are:

Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life

Leslie Elder's picture
 UNICEF
Photo credit: UNICEF

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For the 22nd year, August 1-7 marks World Breastfeeding Week.  This year’s theme focuses on the connection between breastfeeding and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the slogan for the week is Breastfeeding: A winning goal for life!

Reflections on Indonesia’s teacher reform

Andrew Ragatz's picture


In 2005, I had the great fortune of being in Indonesia just as its major teacher reform effort was beginning to take off.  Indonesia’s parliament had passed a comprehensive law on teachers, along with its ambitious agenda. Its signature program of certification intended to dramatically improve both teacher welfare and quality.  Certified teachers would receive a doubling of salary, and certification was to require that teachers hold a four-year degree and demonstrate possession of competencies necessary to provide good quality education.
 
The key ingredients for major change seemed in place.  Good legislation, and an effort led by a dynamic champion who headed a newly established directorate in the Education Ministry, with the specific mandate of improving the quality of teachers and of educational staff.
 


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