A well-known musician from Mozambique, Feliciano Dos Santos, was recently featured in a New York Times article on his use of pop music toward changing people’s sanitation habits, especially in far-flung rural villages. His songs include messages regarding boiling water to prevent diarrhea and washing one’s hands before leaving the bathroom. His band, Massukos gained international fame via a combination of pop and socially relevant songs, while his nonprofit Estamos (“We are”) installs latrines and provides services to AIDS patients.
The 2008 presidential election in the United States has been touted as an epic battle over many things – over whether and how to continue US military involvement in Iraq, over whether and how to boost private companies’ efforts to dig their way out of a global financial markets crisis, over whether and how to change the overarching course of the country from the trajectory it has been on for the past
Like Sina, I too was recently in Cape Town as part of a team of trainers delivering a course titled 'People, Politics and Change: Communication Approaches for Governance Reform'. The participants were 29 senior government officials from 10 different African countries.
I was in Cape Town, South Africa, last week as part of a team of trainers. We were delivering a course titled 'People, Politics and Change: Communication Approaches for Governance Reform'. The participants were 29 senior government officials from 10 different African countries, each one being responsible for a specific governance reform initiative.
As one of our trainers explained it, the idea of a 'learning laboratory' is an adult-learning moment where three-way learning occurs: the participants learn from the trainers, the participants learn one from the other, and the trainers learn from the participants. And that is what happened over those four days in Cape Town.
The reason I chose such a title is due to the difficulty of mainstreaming (i.e., understanding and institutionalizing) the emerging conception of communication in development required to support and address the challenges in the current process of democratization, especially when dealing with governance issues.
In last week’s blog I argued that to ensure survival on a crowded planet, technical solutions and their economic viability are important – but that changing governance at many levels is a key hinge for enabling societies across the globe to take the necessary decisions and to make the major adjustments that are needed. This week’s blog looks further at possible solutions.
An important domain for experimenting with better governance are cities. About 50 per cent of the world’s population is now living in cities, and 70 per cent are expected to do so by 2050. Air and water pollution are often concentrated in and around large urban centres. Improving governance of cities could make a huge contribution to addressing the challenges of a crowded planet.
I was asked to join forces with other bloggers to blog on Blog Action Day (October 15) and write about Poverty. What better platform than the World Bank’s People, Spaces, Deliberation blog? I encourage others to do the same.
I need to explain how this came about. I was in London recently and I wanted a fabulous example of English prose style to read on the flight back to Washington. I have always believed that the golden age of English prose style is somewhere between the 18th and 19th centuries. So I went to Waterstones, the booksellers, and bought a copy of Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay's (1800-1859) magisterial History of England, specifically the condensed Penguin Classics version of it. As a masterpiece of English prose style it has not disappointed me. The work itself tells the story of how James II, King of England in the late 17th century, lost public support and William of Orange was able to come over from Holland to replace him, almost without firing a shot in anger. The revolution is known as the Glorious Revolution of 1689, and it more or less resulted in the constitutional system that is still the basis of government in the United Kingdom today.
In March, Jeffrey Sachs published his latest book Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet – an urgent plea for societies across the globe to reduce and better manage their impact on the earth’s ecosystems if we want to survive and prosper in an ever more crowded world.
As Sachs warns, continuing ‘business as usual’ will make life on our planet increasingly unsustainable. Air pollution and global warming present the biggest risks. But as humans have come to use almost any natural resource intensively, there are also major risks related to the availability of water and of fertile top-soil. At the same time, Sachs argues that we have the technical tools and the economic means to save the planet and to accommodate a rising global population – as well as increasing global wealth and rising consumption in today’s poorer countries.
If one were to believe all these surveys that ask people about their media use, then people who are found to be “in the know” regarding public affairs are usually those who read newspapers and, to a lesser degree, watch the news. People who primarily consume or self-report a preference for entertainment usually score lower on these political knowledge questions (themselves controversial) than news junkies.
The World Bank office in Sydney has established a Facebook group called "Young People for Change" for youth in the Pacific, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea to air their thoughts and ideas on how they could help spur change.
I love this innovative approach that seeks young people where you find them these days: on social network sites. One could argue that the respective cultures of the Pacific, PNG and Timor Leste are rather distinct, and yet, the views and concerns of these young people might prove to be remarkably similar and indeed provide valuable food for thought for politicians and policy-makers. For governments, and development institutions supporting them, integrating youth in their strategic planning and addressing their hopes and grievances has been notoriously difficult and often simply overlooked. This shortcoming has come at a high price at times; high youth unemployment and a sense of social and political alienation have long been recognized as a proximate cause for political instability.