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September 2011

Breaking the Mold

Sabina Panth's picture

 Investment in gender equality is smart economics, according to the recently launched World Development Report (WDR 2012) of the World Bank.  Increasing women’s access to resources and participation in economic opportunities can increase productivity, improve outcomes for children and improve the overall development prospects of a country, concludes the report.  However, a number of factors, mainly gender roles guided by staunch social norms and rigid institutional practices, have impeded recognition of women’s participation and contributions in economic activities. To address this issue, WDR proposes focused domestic public policies.  In a recently held brown bag luncheon at the Bank, Dr. Fouzia Saeed shared her experience regarding these topics, and the resultant groundbreaking legislation in protection and promotion of Pakistani women’s rights and contributions to their country’s development.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The Wall Street Journal
World Bank Says National Anti-Corruption Authorities Need to Step Up

“The World Bank’s anti-graft unit says many countries aren’t following through with investigations of corrupt conduct discovered by bank officials.

The Integrity Vice Presidency referred 40 cases to governments and anti-corruption agencies for investigation in fiscal 2011, and 32 cases the year before, but the response has been underwhelming, bank officials said in a report released Friday.

“We expect national authorities to give proper attention and consideration to the Bank Group’s referrals of investigative information,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick in an introduction to the report. ‘Ideally, this should lead to their undertaking competent investigations, prosecutions, and adjudication within the country—but it often has not.’”  READ MORE

Web 2.0 for Development Professionals Part 3: How the Cloud is Relevant for Development Professionals

Tanya Gupta's picture

As I have mentioned before in Part 1 and Part 2 of this three part series, cloud computing is a particularly important topic for development professionals.  In this blog, I will look at sectors where cloud based services are particularly relevant to development professionals and others.

Although  “cloud computing” is a hot subject in development, many are still “cloudy” about exactly what it means.   Very simply it refers to Internet-based use of programs that are are not installed in your computer. Typically usage of such programs are either free or use a subscription model, thus eliminating or reducing the need for capital investment in technology infrastructure.  However much like Web 2.0, the precise definition of cloud computing is still under debate, and as a result it is an over-used term that refers to something that everybody agrees is needed, but no one is quite sure what it is. 

Cloud computing has potential development applications not just in the public sector realm but also areas such as health, finance, agriculture and education.  Here's a look at some of the development sectors that are being influenced by cloud computing.

Quote of the Week: John Kay

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Public  opinion, well briefed and properly marshalled, is a decisive force in public policy. But since there are many issues in public debate, attention to any one is necessarily transient. The attention of vested interests to their own concerns, however, is permanent."

-- John Kay, Don’t listen to the lobbyists: they never go away, Financial Times, September 21, 2011

Developing Independent Media: New PDF Available

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

We've already blogged about the release of our new publication, Developing Independent Media As An Institution of Accountable Governance, but we wanted to let people know that the PDF is now up and available for download here. Previously, the full version was available online but not for download; hopefully, this will now make the toolkit more accessible, particularly in areas without reliable broadband access.
 
We've had some good reactions so far to the toolkit, and hope that it'll continue to prove useful to the broader policy and practitioner community working on issues of good governance, voice and accountability. We welcome additional constructive feedback; please comment here or feel free to email me directly at skalathil1@worldbank.org

'Development Outreach' on the Contours and Possibilities of Open Development

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Is the newly fashionable term 'open development' another masterpiece of imprecision, or does it mean something real, definable and enduring? The latest edition of the World Bank Institute's flagship magazine, Development Outreach, invites you to partake in a meditation on an emerging paradigm shift in development practice.

The World Bank Institute (WBI)  asked me to serve as Guest Editor of the edition. I was delighted to accept. And  the CommGAP team worked on the edition with our WBI colleagues. Together, we brought together a number of leading thinkers from around the world to reflect on aspects of what we think constitutes 'open development'.

I hereby invite you to meet them and to see what you make of what they have to say:

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mobile Active
Mobile Stats for Africa: Video Report on the Growth of Mobiles

“The Praekelt Foundation, a South African organization that runs several mobile-based programs in South Africa, recently produced a catchy video infographic of mobile statistics for Africa. Looking at accessibility, growth, and usage, the video gives a good look at how mobiles have taken off in in the continent of Africa.

The video covers a lot of facts about mobiles, from a breakdown of the rapid growth of mobile phones compared to other forms of media (like radio and television) to the huge drop in price points (the first mobile phone cost US $3995 in 1973 compared to roughly US $15 for certain models today).”  READ MORE

Phil Howard on Information Technology and Political Islam

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Last week I went to listen to a talk by Philip Howard of the University of Washington. He spoke about the "Digital Origins of Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam." The story was mainly the one we keep hearing about ICT and the Arab Spring, although Howard cautioned that ICT don't actually topple dictators, they rather catch dictators off-guard. And while ICT don't cause political change per se, they provide "capabilities and impose new constraints."

Howard went on to show a table of Arab countries with a few characteristics that may or may not be helpful in predicting future civic unrest. The variables in the table were: country, years of ruler in power, approximate proportion of people connected through ICT, average age of the population, and next elections. This kind of collection of variables is seductive because it seems so easy to use them to predict civic uprisings in the Arab World.

Getting Ukrainians to Use Their Right to Information

Dmytro Derkach's picture

The Ukrainian Law on Access to Public Information came into force on May 9, 2011. Before this new law was adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, international bodies had described the effective legislation as “confusing” and having overly broad exemptions.

Several international organizations, including OSCE and the Council of Europe, as well Article 19 and International Media Support (IMS)  have repeatedly urged Ukraine to move forward with the adoption of the new Access to Public Information Law and provided expert support to the draft.  The World Bank had not been directly involved in this process, but I participated in developing and promoting this law both as a media professional and a member of the Donor-Civil Society Working Group in Ukraine.

The Art of the Posse-able

Michael Green's picture

If you want a model for how the world can solve its most pressing problems in the 21st Century, it is the posse. As governance systems go, the Wild West approach of rounding up a few available hands and driving the bad guy out of town is certainly messy, but, if our favourite westerns are any guide, it could be highly effective. Political theorists who can see the potential dress it up in highfalutin’ language as "coalitions of the willing" and governance based on "flexible geometry", but we prefer to call it what it is: a posse. And this week, in New York, we are going to see plenty of evidence of why, increasingly, solving global problems is all about the art of the posse-able.

Quote of the Week: Michael Shermer

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Anyone who follows political commentary on a regular basis through the standard channels of talk radio and television, newspaper and magazine editorials, popular books, blogs, and the like knows the standard stereotype of what liberals think of conservatives:

Conservatives are a bunch of Hummer-driving, meat-eating, gun-toting, small-government promoting, tax decreasing, hard-drinking, Bible-thumping, black-and-white-thinking, fist-pounding, shoe-stomping, morally dogmatic blowhards.

And what conservatives think of liberals:

Liberals are a bunch of hybrid-driving, tofu-eating, tree-hugging, whale-saving, sandal-wearing, big-government promoting, tax increasing, bottled-water-drinking, flip-flopping, wishy-washy, Namby Pamby bedwetters."

-- Michael Shermer, Liberty and Science, September 6, 2011

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Nieman Journalism Lab
From Nieman Reports: How social media has challenged old media in the Middle East

“In the wake of the Arab Spring, a vigorous debate is taking shape. While Facebook and Twitter are recognized broadly for playing a pivotal role in broadcasting information from inside the demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere, views differ on the fit they will — or should — have in territory that has been the traditional reserve of journalists.

Throughout the Arab region, web forums — general and themed — have long served as hosts for civic discussion. These online spaces held the place of social media before global sites like Facebook and Twitter came along. From 2004 to 2007, when I lived in Morocco, Facebook was nascent, still closed off to users outside certain networks, and Twitter, launched in 2006, had not yet emerged. Blogs were still new, so much so that the Moroccan blogosphere, now a force to be reckoned with, consisted of just a handful of largely disconnected writers posting in diary style, dipping briefly into politics or sports. It was Yabiladi, Bladi, and others — Morocco’s forums — that were sources of unreported news, discussion and social commentary.” READ MORE

U-Report

Sabina Panth's picture

Yet another performance monitoring tool has been introduced that directly engages citizens in the decision-making process regarding public services.  The project, called U-Report, solicits citizen feedback via SMS polls and broadcasts the results through radio, press, face-to-face meetings and websites.  The method of using both modern and traditional media devices to inform and solicit feedback from the public is expected to enable both the donor and the citizens to identify priority areas for development interventions and get an overall picture about how services work in a given community. 

Web 2.0 for Development Professionals Part 2: Innovative Uses of Existing Cloud Services

Tanya Gupta's picture

In my last blog I wrote about some useful cloud based services that could be used by development professionals for their convenience, and also for understanding the broader implications of moving towards the cloud.  Today we will look at some innovative uses of cloud services.  

A service or a tool is only as good as the use you make of it.  Two interesting uses of cloud services are the use of Google Docs to do surveys, and the potential for real time collaboration. 

Deliberation and Self-Interest

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

A reader of this blog recently pointed out that "deliberation is infused with issues of power, self-interest, bargaining ... it seems that the position now endorsed by the hard core of deliberative theorists presumes levels of equality and so forth that presuppose many hard development issues already are surmounted or (minimally) addressed." We thank this reader for pointing to an interesting article in the Journal of Political Philosophy by Jane Mansbridge and colleagues, which addresses issues of self-interest and power in deliberative democracy and calls for accepting (constrained) self-interest as integral part of democratic deliberation.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mobile Active
uReport: Citizen Feedback via SMS in Uganda

“For aid organizations, knowing what local communities and beneficiaries want and need is the key to running successful, sustainable programs. In Uganda, UNICEF is using mobile phones and broadcast media to get direct feedback from Ugandans on everything from medication access to water sanitation. The project, called uReport, allows users to sign up via a toll-free shortcode for regular SMS-based polls and messages. Citizen responses are used both in weekly radio talk shows to create discussion on community issues, and shared among UNICEF and other aid organizations to provide a better picture of how services work across Uganda.

Sean Blaschke, a Technology for Development specialist at UNICEF Uganda, explains that uReport gathers information from participants and informs citizens of their rights and available services. Recent polls have included questions about school dropouts, water point availability, mosquito net usage, and youth employment, all collected via SMS polls.” READ MORE

Web 2.0 for Development Professionals Part 1: 5 Useful Cloud Services for Development Professionals

Tanya Gupta's picture

According to a recent Pew survery, 71% of technology leaders believe that in 2020 most people will access “software applications online and share and access information through the use of remote server networks”, rather than depending primarily on their individual, personal computers. They say that “cloud computing will become more dominant than the desktop in the next decade. In other words, most users will perform most computing and communicating activities through connections to servers operated by outside firms”.  Therefore understanding cloud computing is a must for everyone, particularly development professionals who will have to tackle cloud related strategic, implementation and design challenges in their projects. 

Mobile-mapping Corruption

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Here's an interesting example of anti-corruption work in the mobile realm: a new application called Bribespot helps ordinary people report on instances of corruption they witness in their daily lives. According to this piece on MobileActive.org, users can download a mobile app for Android, which they can then use to submit specific instances of bribes. (Users can also submit through a website). A central office checks the submission and removes identifying information before posting to a database. According to the developers of the app, it is not intended to identify specific individuals, but rather to help visualize the extent of corruption, and to provide a basis for anti-corruption agencies and others to follow up. So far, the app is being used mainly in Lithuania and Romania.

Quote of the Week: Ashutosh Varshney

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“It is the between-the-elections conduct of the state that is the focus of the anti-corruption movement. Ironically, though Mr Hazare is rural, the urban middle class, a child in India’s risking prosperity, has formed the base of the movement. That also means it will have the internal resources to last. A political battle has begun to make democracy deeper. The political class should be concerned."

-- Ashutosh Varshney, "India’s battle for democracy has just begun", Financial Times, August 29, 2011

Clearly not 'Rational, Calculating Welfare Maximizers'

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Sometimes you see a set of human beings in action and you say to yourself: these are far braver souls than I am. That has been my reaction to the astonishing efforts of thousands of active citizens in countries like Libya, Yemen and  Syria over the last several months. These hardy souls have kept up a struggle for a different set of governance arrangements where they live...knowing full well that each day they participate they are likely to be beaten, arrested or killed. Yet  they have kept it up, day after day, week after week, month after month. In Libya, help came from the skies above, but citizens have still had to do the heavy lifting. They still are.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Technology Times
Take social media seriously or lose power, CTO tells African leaders

“August 23, 2011: CEO of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has urged African leaders to take fast-growing social media such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and others seriously or potentially risk losing power.

Since the rise of the internet across the globe, the world’s networked population has grown from millions to billions. Social media have become a fact of life for civil society worldwide, involving many actors, regular citizens, activists, nongovernmental organisations, telecoms firms, software providers and governments, among others. Despite the fast growing influence of social media, its usage has not hit its fullest potential on the continent.” READ MORE