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March 2017

What do aid agencies need to do to get serious on changing social norms?

Duncan Green's picture

Earlier this week I spent a day with Oxfam’s biggest cheeses, discussing how we should react to the rising tide of nationalism and populism (if you think that’s a Northern concern, take a look at what is going on in India or the Philippines). One of the themes that emerged in the discussions was how to engage with social norms – the deeply held beliefs of what is natural, normal and acceptable that underpin a lot of human behaviour, including how people treat each other and how they vote.

It’s pretty common to hear progressive types (in which category I include Oxfam) worry that while they have been busy having geeky conversations on the evidence on this or that intervention/project, or the case for this or that policy change, they have ignored the tide of disillusionment with politics-as-usual that underpins the rise of populism. We need to engage the public in a wider conversation aimed at encouraging progressive norms, or opposing exclusionary ones.

Fair enough, but what struck me is just how much would need to change for that to become reality. What would a ‘guide to shifting norms’ cover? Here are a few thoughts; please add your own.

Analysis

There doesn’t seem to be much evidence on how to change norms. Eg what lies behind the increasing acceptance of the rights of people with disabilities? Or the age at which we deem chlldhood to end? Or even why dog owners routinely pick up their pooches’ pooh in my local park, something that was unimaginable a generation ago? How do deliberate attempts at change interact with the forces of demographic, technological or cultural change that also help drive norm shifts? This is one area where we really do need more research, both historical and current.
 

What’s the recipe to cook up networks for resilience?

Megan Rowling's picture

Spreading the word about the need to get ahead of climate change and disasters, linking people and organisations so they can tackle problems better together, discovering new knowledge and resources to build resilience  - apart from that, 'what have networks ever done for us?' we might ask, to steal the famous Monty Python line.
 
It's a question we set out to answer at a panel discussion I moderated at the RES/CON gathering in New Orleans earlier this month. With Zilient.org, we are aiming to build an online "network of networks" - and so understanding the value of networks and the challenges of creating effective ones will be key to what we do.
 
At the conference, a diverse line-up of panelists - from the non-profit, private and public sectors – gave their insights. Here are some of the key ideas that emerged:
 
1. New forms of collaboration: The huge challenges posed to societies and economies by global problems like climate change require an "all hands on deck" approach. The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), set up in 2008 by The Rockefeller Foundation, now helps some 50 cities in the region devise and implement strategies to help urban communities address climate change. Shannon Alexander, a senior director at development agency Mercy Corps, which has also supported the network, said ACCCRN had enabled civil society to have a voice, and work with local governments and business to figure out what the problems are, and how best to solve them.

Quote of the week: Mohsin Hamid

Sina Odugbemi's picture
“Hope is an active state. To hope you have to do stuff. You have to put your finger on the scale. It’s important for people to imagine futures that do involve huge amounts of change and yet where our grandchildren can be all right.” 

Mohsin Hamid - novelist and writer. His novels include Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and Exit West.

Photo credit: By Mr.choppers (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Motivating Haryana’s agri leaders towards peri-urban farming and direct marketing

Abhilaksh Likhi's picture

Surajkund in Faridabad, Haryana on the outskirts of New Delhi, is famous for the International Crafts Fair held annually that showcases the richness and diversity of India’s handicrafts and cultural fabric.  This year it was also the venue for the 2nd Agri Leaders Summit-2017 held from 18-20th March, 2017. Doubling farmers’ income is one of the top most priorities of the Government of Haryana. In this context, the Summit aimed at providing agri leaders a platform for recognition, facilitation and incubation. Within the objective of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable growth in the State, the Summit, more importantly, aimed at creating a direct linkage between farmers, agricultural workers and the agri market to enable learning about value creation chains. Further, with technological innovations revolutionizing agri- industry/business, the Summit was also a forum for farmer leaders and achievers to display their best practices and innovations.

The Summit’s stakeholders included the  political leadership in central/state Government;  farmer leaders (growers, producers, processors and entrepreneurs); Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs)/Farmers Interest Groups (FIGs); agri and allied companies, departments and agencies of the Central and State Government; national and international Institutes/ Universities; eminent scientists; foreign governments/businesses and consumers. This vast amalgam of stakeholders was supplemented by mobilization of over one hundred thousand farmers from all parts of the State who too participated in the three day Summit in its exhibition, seminars and mass engagement sessions with the political leadership!   

Governance and accountability: What role for media?

BBC Media Action's picture
Politics is made of people. We need to be able to question our leaders so that we can hold them to account. How can media play a role in helping people improve governance and accountability? Follow the discussion below to find out!
 


Our panel
-
Angela Githitho-Muriithi, Country Director, Kenya, BBC Media Action
- Duncan Green, Senior Strategic Advisor, Oxfam GB
- Luis-Felipe Lopez-Calva, Co-Director, World Development Report 2017, World Bank
- Stephen King, Partner, Omidyar Network
- Thomas Hughes, Executive Director, Article 19+

The discussion was chaired by the BBC's Ritula Shah+
 

Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

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

World Water Day 2017
Los Angeles Times
More than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the country’s problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. Even those South Sudanese who can find water spend much of their day hiking, fetching and carrying the containers of the precious fluid that is essential to life. As World Water Day approaches on March 22, nearly 27 million people do not have access to clean water in Somalia, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Yemen. About 12% of the world population lacks clean drinking water, and water-related diseases account for 3.5 million deaths each year, more than car accidents and AIDS combined, according to the World Water Council.

World Happiness Report
Sustainable Development Solutions Network
The first World Happiness Report was published in April, 2012, in support of the UN High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being. Since then the world has come a long way. Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. In June 2016 the OECD committed itself “to redefine the growth narrative to put people’s well-being at the center of governments’ efforts”. In February 2017, the United Arab Emirates held a full-day World Happiness meeting, as part of the World Government Summit. Now on World Happiness Day, March 20th, we launch the World Happiness Report 2017, once again back at the United Nations, again published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and now supported by a generous three-year grant from the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

The Lure of Data

Maya Brahmam's picture

There is a new tool TCdata360 that brings together multiple sources of data in a user-friendly way. It is designed around data for trade and competitiveness and the private sector. It includes data from a number of sources too, such as the World Bank, OECD, UN, and the World Economic Forum. Most interesting of all, it’s visual. Visual data can be used to build stories.

An interesting story draws an audience online, but you have to tell it quickly, as the time frames for stories are getting progressively shorter. On Vine, a six second story feels like a moment repeating itself endlessly. Dom Hoffman, the app’s creator told the New Yorker, “It feels like a moment that’s happening over and over again,” Hofmann said, “I think when people remember things in the past, they view those things on repeat.”

The Tribeca Film Festival started six-second films a few years ago. At the SXSW Film Festival this month, Google’s creative director, Ben Jones spoke about this topic in a panel called, "From Six Words to Six Seconds: How the New Age of Storytelling and Innovation Intersect."  (Urban legend has it that Ernest Hemingway published one of these six-word stories, “For Sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”)

Media (R)evolutions: Social media as a main source of news on the rise, new study finds

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

Where do you get your news from? Is it TV, printed media, radio, social media? Are they established or new news sources? Your answer probably differs depending on your own media consumption behaviors, your age, where you live, and many other aspects. And your answer may change from year to year. You probably still read, watch, or listen to the similar familiar and trusted sources, but has the way you get to those sources changed overtime? How do you access news? Trying to understand the changing environment around news across countries, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism commissioned the “Digital News Report.”

The latest Digital News Report 2016 found that across their entire sample, 51% of those interviewed (over 50,000 people in 26 countries) used social media as a source of news each week. For one in ten of those used social media as their main source of news. The infographic below shows clear growth of social media as a main source of news (selected countries) just from last year. According to this report, in Brazil, the growth of social media as a main source of news increased from 10% to 18%, while in Denmark it doubled from 6% to 12%. Other selected countries also experienced significant increase. In Greece, 27% said social media was their main source of news. More than TV (21%) and Print (3%).

How can media inspire accountability and political participation? Findings from massive BBC programme

Duncan Green's picture

bbc media action logoA recurring pattern: I get invited to join a conversation with a bunch of specialists on a particular issue (eg market systems). Cue panic and some quick skim-reading of background papers, driven by the familiar fear of finally being exposed as a total fraud (some of us spend all our lives waiting for the tap on the shoulder). Then a really interesting conversation. Relief!

Last week it was the role of the media in governance, a conversation at the "Ministry of Truth" BBC, organized by the excellent BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international development charity. Recording here.

What emerged was a picture of increasing churn and fragmentation – a media and information ecosystem that is casting off vestiges of linearity (a few big newspapers and one or two big TV and radio stations) and becoming far more complex (social media, online, local radio, ever more channels of everything).
 

Social development and the global community: Why the legitimacy of the change process matters

Roxanne Bauer's picture

This is the first post in a series of six in which Michael Woolcock, Lead Social Development Specialist at the World Bank and lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, discusses critical ideas within the field of Social Development.

Both globalization and international development bring a wide range of people into contact with one another, linking distant communities to transnational networks and opening up spaces to new ideas. Alongside the state, multilateral development banks (MDBs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), private contractors, and development professionals converge on project sites, often interacting directly with local communities.

This influx of people brings global values concerning trade, democratic governance, human rights, and environmental sustainability— among many others— in contact with local conceptions of these values. This can create friction when international actors push for global liberal values that local communities are unfamiliar with or when they disregard traditional patterns of discourse. The tussle over values also occurs within states as district and national communities debate how development should progress. Urbanization, immigration, and the arts, for example, can all be experienced differently by various groups within a society.

Michael Woolcock asserts that, “putting a very strong premium on the legitimacy of the change process” is critical to a credible and accountable development intervention. Further, he states that if multi-level stakeholder engagement can be sustained over time, “then a lot of the process of dealing with contention can be acquired and incorporated into the way in which systems get managed.”
 
Michael Woolcock

Quote of the week: Dilma Rousseff

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“When you are a woman in authority, they say you are hard, dry and insensitive, while a man in the same position is strong, firm and charming. One day, after tiring of hearing how tough I was, I said [sarcastically] that yes, that’s right, I am a hard woman surrounded by sweet men; all of them so sweet.” 
 
-
Dilma Rousseff - 36th President of Brazil from 2011 to August 2016.

Quoted in Financial Times  print edition December 10, 2016 "Spectrum | Women of 2016."  

Governance in the Age of Digital Media and ‘Public Sector Branding’

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In the years that I have been working with international development professionals (especially the governance specialists),  I have been baffled by the refusal of many of them  to see the central importance of communication systems as well as communication approaches and techniques to the glories, and the pathologies, of governance systems around the world. So, I have tried to contribute in a small way to the evidence base on the subject by joining others to produce publications like Public Sentinel: News Media and Governance Reform (edited by Pippa Norris), Accountability through Public Opinion: From Inertia to Public Action (edited by Sina Odugbemi and Taeku Lee) and Making Politics Work for the Development: Harnessing Transparency and Citizen Engagement (an effort led by my esteemed colleague, Stuti Khemani). My convictions on the subject arose from having worked in the media and interacted with leaders of governments across West Africa and thereafter working for the government of the UK and seeing how much the media matters to leaders, especially how strong government communication capacity is now at the bladed edge of state effectiveness.

The good news is that political scientists are increasingly taking the phenomenon seriously and studying it. For instance, in the January 2017 edition of Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions there is an excellent article titled: “Governance in the Age of Digital Media and Branding “by Alex Marland, J.P. Lewis, and Tom Flanagan, all from three different Canadian universities. I really enjoyed the piece because it is on all fours with my experience inside government. Through a thorough analysis of the Canadian example, especially the years that the Conservatives ruled Canada (2006-2015), the authors are able to make their general point. It is as follows:

The proliferation of Internet connectivity, smartphones, and digital media is revolutionary for society and governance. Political events and information can increasingly be viewed live from almost anywhere. Issues management personnel are branching out from worrying about tomorrow’s headlines to dealing with the last five minutes’ tweets and Instagram posts, and the forward march of technological change suggests that we are on the cusp of real-time media and image management. Continual communications control is the new reality of governance. (p. 125) {Emphasis mine}.

KIAT Guru: Engaging communities to improve education in Indonesia

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Indonesia successfully reduced its poverty rate over the last two decades. Yet, this growth was accompanied by one of the fastest increases in inequality in East Asia and the Pacific.  While the poverty rate in urban areas has fallen to 8.2%, in remote and rural areas it remains around 14%.

This inequality is exacerbated by the persistent poor quality of public services, such as education, in rural and remote areas. While various government initiatives have improved access to education, quality and equity remain major challenges for those in rural and remote areas.
 
To address these issues, the World Bank has partnered with the government of Indonesia to launch a pilot project called “KIAT Guru,” which aims to improve teacher presence, teacher service quality, and student learning outcomes, while enhancing community engagement and participation in remote areas.

“We [have] two different mechanisms. One of them is community empowerment… The community develops a service agreement with schools so they can agree upon the five to seven indicators that they think are a priority,” says Dewi Susanti, Senior Social Development Specialist, who leads the project.

In this video, Dewi Susanti and World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) discuss the KIAT Guru project and the lessons learned from its early stages.  
 
KIAT Guru project

Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

This Kenyan village is a laboratory for the biggest basic income experiment ever
Vox
Jacklin Okotch Osodo, age 29, lives in a small hut with her son and daughter in a tiny village on the southwestern edge of Kenya. Their home is part of a larger compound centered on her husband’s father and his four wives. She is expecting her third child very soon. Her husband lives in Nairobi, and every week and a half or so he sends back money: about 200 shillings ($2) in lean times, about 500 ($5) when things are going better. I asked Jacklin if she’s ever gone the whole day without eating; she has. I asked when the last time this happened was. She told me, “Last week.” But when the nonprofit GiveDirectly told her that it would give her, and every other adult in her village, a basic income payment of 2,280 Kenyan shillings (about $22) a month for the next 12 years, she knew immediately that she would not spend the money on food. Her plan is to save the money and then use it to pay her children’s school fees.

Connecting the Next Four Billion: Strengthening the Global Response for Universal Internet Access
USAID/Digital Impact Alliance/SSG Advisors
As the global community approaches the third decade of the 21st century, the importance of the Internet in our social, economic, and political lives will only continue to grow. The prospect of billions of the most vulnerable people left without access and, therefore, unable to participate fully in our increasingly digitally intermediated world ought to be cause for alarm for policymakers, industry, and civil society alike. The recommendations in this report are a call to action for building on the progress to date and ensuring that the global community focuses on Internet access as a foundational element for sustained socioeconomic development.

Campaign Art: By 2050 more plastic in the oceans than fish?

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire
 
Did you know that 60-90% of marine litter is plastic?

Did you know that each year about 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans?

Did you know that each year, over 4 billion coffee cups end up in landfills?

Did you know that up to 51 trillion micro plastic particles are already in our oceans?

Did you know that by 2050, an estimated 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic?

Why do these numbers matter? With increased human activity both on land and seas, and unsustainable production and consumption habits, our oceans and other world’s bodies of water are getting more and more polluted. These numbers matter, because not only are the oceans a source of protein to millions of people worldwide, they also produce more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. According to some estimates by year 2050 oceans will be populated more by plastic than fish, if the current trend of plastic dumping continues. This is unacceptable.

In response to this global environmental problem, this month, UNEP launched an international campaign called “CleanSeas.” Committed to eliminate major sources of marine littering, waste created by humans that has been discharged into the coastal or marine environment, by the year 2022, UNEP is urging governments, private sector, and consumers to reduce production and usage of micro plastics and single-use plastics.

Future Jobs for youth in Agriculture and Food Systems: Learning from our backyard in DC

Iftikhar Mostafa's picture

When we think of agriculture and food, we think of a farmer working in a rural area producing food for consumption and selling some surplus.  With growing urbanization and increasing demand for food, food system has moved away from just agricultural production. It involves aggregating, value addition, processing, logistics, food preparation, restaurants and other related services.  Many enterprises from small to large are part of the enterprise ecosystem.  The potential for new jobs for youth who start and are also employed by their enterprises is significant. The Africa Agriculture Innovation Network (AAIN) has developed a business agenda targeting establishment of at least 108 incubators in 54 African countries in the next 5 years focusing on youth and women among other actors. At least 600,000 jobs will be created and 100,000 start-ups and SMEs produced through incubation and 60,000 students exposed to learn as you earn model and mentored to start new businesses.

In recent past, there have been many innovations in areas of technology, extension, ICT, education, and incubation leading to new generation of enterprises and enterprise clusters resulting in the creation of good quality and new jobs in agriculture and food systems. A key challenge in the future is how we create more and better jobs in the agriculture and food system value chain. One of the major requirements for creating more jobs is a radical change in the way youth are taught agriculture and entrepreneurship. The skills required for a modern agriculture and food system are of a higher order and need to be upgraded significantly.

It's a bird...It's a plane...It's an edible aid drone!

Magdalena Mis's picture
Also available in: Français

Edible drones filled with food, water or medicine could soon become indispensable in humanitarian emergencies by delivering live-saving supplies to remote areas hit by natural disasters or conflict, their designers said on Monday.

With 50 kg (110 lb) of food stocked inside its compartments, each drone costing 150 pounds ($187) would be able to deliver enough supplies to feed up to 50 people per day, they said.

The frame of the prototype version of the drone - called Pouncer - is made of wood but the designers are planning to use edible materials in the next version.

"Food can be component to build things," Nigel Gifford, an ex-army catering officer and founder of UK-based Windhorse Aerospace, the company behind the design, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"You fly (the drone) and then eat it," he said in a phone interview.

With up to 40 km (25 miles) reach, the drone can be launched from an aircraft or catapulted from the ground with an accuracy of about 7 metres (23 ft), giving it an advantage over air drops - often used as a last resort in emergencies.

"In combat zones like we have in Aleppo or Mosul nothing will work except what we have," Gifford said.

"With parachuted air drops the problem is you can't guarantee where the loads will land.

"In Aleppo we could have put aid straight into some of the streets and we could have done that out of the sight of ISIS (Islamic State)."
 

10 reasons to apply for World Bank-Annenberg Summer Institute

Roxanne Bauer's picture
 
How can professionals looking to lead reform initiatives find the best way forward?

They can start at the World Bank-Annenberg 
Summer Institute in Reform Communication: Leadership, Strategy and Stakeholder Alignment, held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, from June 5 - June 16, 2017.

The course is designed for leaders, strategists and advisors who want to strengthen the critical competencies necessary to support change agents and reform initiatives in developing countries.  

If this sounds like you, but you need a little nudge, check out these 10 reasons why attending the Summer Institute is a good decision.

1. Strengthen the critical competencies necessary to support change agents and reform leaders in developing countries: The program was developed on the premise that successful implementation of policy reforms depends significantly on non-technical, real-world issues that relate to people and politics. 

2. Develop the skills necessary to bring about real change: Finding a way to push a reform forward can sometimes be elusive. Political or sectoral change is usually needed.  The course will develop your skills to analyze policy options and effectively mobilize support.


How change happens (or doesn’t) in the humanitarian system

Duncan Green's picture

I’ve been in Stockholm this week [February 13-17] at the invitation of ALNAP, the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action, which has been holding its annual meeting on the banks of a frozen Swedish river. I was asked to comment on the background paper for the meeting, Changing Humanitarian Action?, by ALNAP’s Paul Knox-Clarke.  I read the paper on the flight over (great believer in Just in Time working practices….) with mounting excitement. It’s a brilliant, beautifully written intro to how change happens (or doesn’t) in the aid business, and to a lot of different schools of thought about change.

The paper starts off with the widespread frustration in the humanitarian sector. Despite dozens of new initiatives, impressive sounding statements and resolutions, and endless organizational change processes, ‘everything has changed, but nothing has changed’ in the words of one African humanitarian veteran.  Changes include an avalanche of information technology, the rise of cash programming, geopolitical shifts towards new donors, growth in the number and size of humanitarian emergencies, organizations and the budgets allocated to them. Yet still people ‘did not see these ‘big’ changes as having made a real difference to the lives of people affected by crisis.’ So the paper is as much as study in how change doesn’t happen as how it does.

The bit of the paper that really grabbed me was the succinct summary of three conventional models of change that underpin humanitarian thinking, and three new ones that could shed new light. None of them are definitive; all contribute to a deeper understanding.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

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

Refining advocacy assessment: reflections from practice
ODI
Efforts to assess advocacy – and thinking about how best to do so – are relatively recent compared to other fields. However, in the past decade a number of advocacy evaluation frameworks have emerged. This working paper looks at how these existing frameworks classify people and activities, and define and assess outcomes. It identifies problem areas, discusses implications for practice, and offers suggestions on how they can be addressed. The paper is derived from work over the past five years, revisiting recommendations from existing guidance, many of which the authors have followed and suggested to others. The working paper aims to contribute to further adaption and refinement of conceptual thinking and practical tools to assess advocacy.

Humanitarian Connectivity Charter Annual Report 2016
GSMA
The 2016 Annual Report tells the story of the growthof the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter from its launch in 2015, to the end of 2016, charting how its footprint has expanded to more than 75 countries, becoming a globally recognised industry-wide initiative. This report also details signatory and partner achievements in upholding the HCC principles.

Media (R)evolutions: Media use in the Middle East

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
Also available in:  Françaisالعربية 

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.
 
Digital divides are narrowing between generations and social classes within countries in the Middle East, according to a report published by the Northwestern University in Qatar in partnership with Doha Film Institute. This six-nation (Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates) survey provides a comprehensive overview of media use in the region. Here are some of the findings of the report:
  • “Cultural attitudes
    • A majority of nationals in all six countries want more entertainment media based on their culture and history, ranging from 52% of Tunisians to 80% of Qataris.
    • Use of entertainment media in Arabic is widespread, but use of English is much lower and—in some countries—declining. Only about four in 10 nationals watch films or access the internet in English. Majorities of nationals consume entertainment content from Arab countries, while consumption of film, TV, and music from the U.S. decreased since 2014.
  • Censorship and regulations
    • Three in 10 internet users worry about governments checking their online activity, a slight decline from 2013 and 2015.
    • A majority of nationals supports the freedom to express ideas online even if they are unpopular (54%).
  • Online & Social Media
    • About eight in 10 national internet users in the region use Facebook and WhatsApp, the dominant social media platforms.
    • From 2013 to 2016, internet penetration rose in all six countries surveyed, but most dramatically in Egypt, as well as Lebanon.
    • Nearly all nationals in Arab Gulf countries use the internet.

Virtual Reality: The Future of Immersive Learning for Development

Sheila Jagannathan's picture

Former Bougainvillean combatant, now cocoa farmer Timothy Konovai tries out VR for the first time (World Bank/Alana HolmbergIn the blink of an eye, virtual reality can take you from a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan to a first responder’s mission in Nepal, from practicing surgery in Nigeria to tracking storms from earth observation satellites across South America. Virtual reality adds a new dimension to the learning experience: presence, the feeling of actually being in another place.
 
Learning from this new generation technology is becoming available at your fingertips for a minimal cost. Although virtual reality is still in its infancy, its cutting-edge approach and storytelling is already impacting development education, where it can draw us closer to the many development challenges we face.
 
What Exactly is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality refers to technology that generates realistic images, sounds, and other sensory inputs that replicate an environment. A headset completely immerses the individual in the environment being generated. Immersion is a word you will hear quite a bit related to virtual reality: immersive learning, immersive simulations, or immersive applications. The most famous virtul reality tool now is probably Oculus Rift.

Does the Gates’ Letter 2017 answer Warren Buffett’s questions?

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture

Melinda and Bill Gates have made an annual tradition of publishing their thoughts on their work in global development, the challenges they face, and their goals for the future. These letters are a manifesto for their philanthropic work, most of which is channelled through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gates structured their 2017 Annual Letter as a response to Warren Buffet’s (CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.) letter to Melinda and Bill Gates, where he asked them to reflect on their work so far – on what had gone well, and what hadn’t; and to describe their goals for the future. He further said:

There are many who want to know where you’ve come from, where you’re heading and why. I also believe it’s important that people better understand why success in philanthropy is measured differently from success in business or government. Your letter might explain how the two of you measure yourselves and how you would like the final scorecard to read.

Buffet’s questions assume great significance given that in 2006, he pledged to donate 85% of his wealth to charity, and allotted a sum of about $31 billion to the Gates Foundation. These questions, from one of the most successful investor of our times, are essentially about how well his philanthropic investment in the Gates Foundation was doing. What had he helped them achieve?

Quote of the week: Fareed Zakaria

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"The world has been transformed by the globalization of goods, services, and information, all of which have produced their share of pain and rejection. But we are now witnessing the globalization of people, and public reaction to that is stronger, more visceral, and more emotional."  

- Fareed Zakaria - host of CNN's international affairs program Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Quoted in Foreign Affairs print edition November/December 2016 "Populism on the March."

Four crises of liberal democracy by Alasdair Roberts

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Angst produced by the current bout of ‘democratic malaise” – that feeling that things are falling apart for the modern world – is often both confused and intense. The new book that I am going to discuss furnishes us with a way of thinking about what might be wrong with liberal democracy in any specific national context that is as elegant and as thought-provoking as anything that I have encountered recently. The formulation is the very opposite of the often bewildered and bewildering musings of perturbed pundits.

The author, Alasdair Roberts, is Professor of Public Affairs at the Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri. He is a Fellow of the US National Academy of Public Administration and co-editor of the journal of Governance (the journal is my favorite on governance matters looked at from a global perspective). In February 2015, Roberts delivered the S.T. Lee Lecture in Political Science and Government at All Souls College, University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The book I will be discussing is based on the lecture.

The book is actually titled Four Crises of American Democracy. I have chosen my focus …liberal democracy simpliciter… for two reasons. First, the short book is, in parts, self-consciously global, containing as it does examples from around the world. In fact, the first of the six chapters is almost entirely global in focus. Second, I am not interested in discussing the minutiae of American politics. I always try to find generalizable lessons from the books that I decide, from time to time, to review. As you read what follows I urge you to think about your own context. Does the analysis ring true to you? All of it? Some of it? None?

So, what are the four crises of liberal democracy?

Engaging citizens for better development outcomes

Sheila Jagannathan's picture

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The World Bank Group’s Open Learning Campus (OLC) is launching a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from March 15-April 26—Citizen Engagement: A Game Changer for Development?—through the edX platform. Experts from across the globe critically analyze how citizen engagement can be leveraged most effectively to achieve development results.
 
Partnering with leading institutions—the London School of Economics, Overseas Development Institute, Participedia and CIVICUS—to develop each week’s content, the MOOC aims to provide the best knowledge and cutting edge research on the subject. With over 25,000 global learners having joined previous offerings, this third offering of the popular course will continue to build a genuine community of practice.
 
Why citizen engagement? In an increasingly interconnected world, citizen engagement is critical for improving development outcomes. Around the world we have seen that when citizens are engaged, when they participate, they can improve policymaking and service delivery.
 
Simply put, if we want to solve the social, economic, and environmental challenges, we need to take into account the knowledge, experiences, views, and values of the people most directly affected by them.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

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

Turning the Tide Against Cholera
New York Times

Two hundred years ago, the first cholera pandemic emerged from these tiger-infested mangrove swamps. It began in 1817, after the British East India Company sent thousands of workers deep into the remote Sundarbans, part of the Ganges River Delta, to log the jungles and plant rice. These brackish waters are the cradle of Vibrio cholerae, a bacterium that clings to human intestines and emits a toxin so virulent that the body will pour all of its fluids into the gut to flush it out. Water loss turns victims ashen; their eyes sink into their sockets, and their blood turns black and congeals in their capillaries. Robbed of electrolytes, their hearts lose their beat. Victims die of shock and organ failure, sometimes in as little as six hours after the first abdominal rumblings. Cholera probably had festered here for eons. Since that first escape, it has circled the world in seven pandemic cycles that have killed tens of millions.

The Link Between Internet Access and Economic Growth Is Not as Strong as You Think
CFR-Net Politics
Mark Zuckerberg recently published a manifesto about the future of Facebook and our increasingly technology-saturated world. In it, he argued “Connecting everyone to the internet is…necessary for building an informed community.” For those familiar with Zuckerberg’s statements, this is a familiar claim. He argues that not only should we connect everyone in the world to the internet, but that doing so is a necessary step in solving some of the planet’s most pernicious problems. Zuckerberg is not alone in this thinking. Huge sums of money have been invested in projects that connect the billions of people who lack an internet connection. These schemes tend to present digital connectivity as a mechanism to achieve key social and economic developmental goals. This is especially true in Africa–the part of the world with both the lowest incomes and rates of connectivity. Because of the vigor with which such claims are made, and the vast resources that tech companies are able to deploy, we decided to examine the actually existing evidence base that might support them. In a new paper, we set out to test those claims.

Campaign Art: Raise your voice against cyberbullying

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

“When we curb abuse we will expand freedom” – Ashley Judd.

Cyberbullying has become pervasive, impacting the lives of millions of children worldwide. 9 out of 10 children experiencing cyberbullying never tell an adult. But the consequences of silence can be detrimental. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Clinical Report, being the victim of school bullying or cyberbullying is associated with substantial distress, resulting in lower school performance and school attachment.

In order to raise awareness of the damages of cyberbullying, Norton, an anti-malware software company, published a documentary-style film on their website. Produced by Grey San Francisco Agency, the video features six real life families, and their children telling their stories of being cyberbullied. The kids read some of the messages they have received on their phones, while their parents listen on the other side of the room.

 

Raise Your Voice Against Cyberbullying

Source: Norton