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Fascinating FreedomFone

Sabina Panth's picture

As I explore innovative approaches in civilian-led movements, I become increasingly knowledgeable about the latest technological gadgets and devices that have become powerful tools in demand for good governance and democratic reform processes.   Don’t worry, I won’t go on about the Arab Revolution and the role of social media yet again.  Instead, I will talk about a latest invention that does not even require the end users to have a web access, something that can be exploited by just anyone, even the illiterates.  FreedomFone is an ICT invention that has been specifically designed to cater to those that are in most need of information, bearing in mind the barriers they face in accessing information and the opportunities it provides to improve their conditions.

What Role Does Civil Society Play in Economic Development?

Sabina Panth's picture

I recently came across a fascinating initiative where civil society organizations have played a lead role in building public-private partnerships in economic development activities.  The USAID-sponsored Education for Income Generation (EIG) program has brought together local, national and international partners in galvanizing disadvantaged youth to partake in income generating activities toward increasing economic activities and peace building process in post-conflict Nepal. 

Sanumaya’s Tale: Policy Response

Sabina Panth's picture


In my previous post, I narrated Sanumaya’s tale in the context of how development that looks good from the above can be problematic when viewed at the local level, particularly for socially and economically marginalized populations.  The village was building a road that connected to the highway.  Everyone was excited at the prospect of economic prosperity.  Except, it came at the cost of dislodging the poor and vulnerable, like Sanumaya, whose poverty, illiteracy and social status became her entrapment. 

"If we miss the MDGs, who will punish us?"

Antonio Lambino's picture

You’ve probably heard that leaders from around the world have just completed a three day high-level summit  on the Millennium Development Goals in New York.  It’s been a decade since the international community signed up to the MDGs, and two thirds of the way to the 2015 deadline.

In a blog update posted from NY a couple of days ago, World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala cites statistics suggesting progress on various MDG priorities, such as gender parity in primary education, reducing maternal mortality, and access to safe drinking water.  But Ngozi calls for more action, less talk, and points out that behind the statistics are people who continue to suffer from lack of the most basic needs.  Among the various examples she provides, one in particular caught my attention: “Action is about saving lives – (e.g.) a Tanzanian woman who hears on the radio about bed nets at the local clinic.  ”

This example highlights a necessary, albeit insufficient, condition for attaining development outcomes:

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Governance Reform

Naniette Coleman's picture

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance” by Atul Gawande seems an unlikely place to find governance reform ideas and development inspiration but I found both therein last week.  The book was recommended by a dear colleague who knows of my interest in organizational change.   An accomplished non-fiction writer "Atul Gawande, a 2006 MacArthur Fellow, is a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.”    He tackles the “universal struggle to perform well” through the eyes of a surgeon.  Along the way we are introduced to countless examples of organizational seizure, organizational change and the people at the center of these operations. 

The Freedom to Choose What’s Right

Antonio Lambino's picture

I attended a fascinating session recently on Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) in a developing country which shall not be named for various reasons.  Let’s call it Cadania for present purposes.

CCTs, simply put, “are cash payments to poor households that meet certain behavioral requirements, generally related to children’s health care and education” (The World Bank).  In other words, money is given to a qualified household if it can be demonstrated that children are in school or brought in for regular medical check-ups.  It is, therefore, conditionality at the individual household level.

A massive media content analysis, conducted on thousands of newspaper articles over several years, suggests that press coverage was largely favorable toward the project.  Positive and neutral stories outnumbered negative stories by a large margin over a five year period. 

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"... intentions are our best single predictors of whether one will or will not perform a given behavior... according to a reasoned action approach, there are three primary determinants of intention: the attitude toward performing the behavior in question, normative influence or the amount of social pressure one feels vis-a-vis performing the behavior, and one's self-efficacy with respect to performing the behavior.  The relative importance of these three psychological variables as determinants of intention will vary as a function of both the behavior and the population being considered.  Thus, before developing interventions to change intentions, it is important to first determine the degree to which that intention is under attitudinal, normative, or self-efficacy control in the population in question.  It should be clear that very different interventions are needed for attitudinally controlled behaviors than for behaviors that are under normative influence or are strongly related to feelings of self-efficacy.  Clearly, one size does not fit all, and interventions that are successful in one culture or population may be a complete failure in another."*

                                                               -- In Memoriam: Martin Fishbein, 1936-2009

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"There are three complementary models of behavior change implicit in many public health communication campaigns.  The individual effects model focuses on individuals as they improve their knowledge and attitudes and assumes that individual exposure to messages affects individual behavior.  The social diffusion model focuses on the process of change among social groups.  The institutional diffusion model focuses on the change in elite opinion, which is translated into institutional behavior, including policy changes, which in turn affect individual behavior. The models contrast the direct effects of seeing mass media materials... with the indirect effects of the social diffusion model, (wherein) discussion within a social network is stimulated by PSAs (public service announcements) or media coverage of an issue; that discussion may produce changed social norms about appropriate behavior, and affect the likelihood that each member of the social network will adopt the new behavior.  In the institutional diffusion model, media coverage of an issue may operate through either one or both of two mechanisms.  Media coverage may affect public norms that affect institutional behavior or policymaker actions, or media coverage may lead policymakers to think an issue an issue is important and requires action, regardless of whether public norms have actually changed."

- Prof. Robert C. Hornik (2002, pp.14-15)
Public Health Communication: Evidence for Behavior Change

If You Won't Quit, We'll Make You

Antonio Lambino's picture

Yesterday, I attended a session of the World Bank Institute’s Flagship Course on Health, attended by health specialists from various countries.  An expert panel shared experiences of using communication and persuasion toward bringing about pro health outcomes.  Several success stories were shared on applying behavior change communication in areas such as hygiene and sanitation, nutrition and education, and immunization in Africa and Asia.  Complementary to this focus on individual and social change was a presentation by Patricia Sosa, Esq. on experiences of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.   The organization advocates for policy change in various countries and the core of their strategy is changing the rules of the game to reduce tobacco use.

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"There are many approaches to evaluating public health communication programs, all of them struggling to resolve the tension between making strong inferences and making sure that an intervention has gotten a fair test.  There will always be some way to question the inferences made or the generality of the results to other contexts.  That does not take away from the legitimacy of the evaluations.  The fair question for them is whether they have gone reasonably down the path toward reducing uncertainty.  A valuable study is one that can usefully inform the policy community about whether the intervention approach is worthy of support, without promising that there is no risk of a mistake.  A study is valuable if future judgments about programs are better made taking this information into account than remaining ignorant of it."

- Prof. Robert C. Hornik (2002, p. 405)
Public Health Communication: Evidence for Behavior Change

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