These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Accountability, Transparency, Participation, and Inclusion: A New Development Consensus?
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Four key principles—accountability, transparency, participation, and inclusion—have in recent years become nearly universal features of the policy statements and programs of international development organizations. Yet this apparently widespread new consensus is deceptive: behind the ringing declarations lie fundamental fissures over the value and application of these concepts. Understanding and addressing these divisions is crucial to ensuring that the four principles become fully embedded in international development work.
Ebola communication: What we've learned so far
This week, a World Health Organization infectious diseases expert reported the death rate due to Ebola in West Africa has now climbed to 70 percent, higher than previous estimates. And by December, new cases could hit 10,000 a week. For front-line medical workers, the projections couldn’t be grimmer. They are overwhelmed and their numbers are dwindling — Médecins Sans Frontières has already lost nine staff members to the epidemic — but reinforcements remain sparse. For organizations involved in communication and awareness-raising campaigns, meanwhile, this situation means they need to be more aggressive and robust, and their messaging fool-proof. We know many of them are on the ground, conducting door-to-door campaigns and spot radio announcements, putting up posters and distributing pamphlets to inform communities about the disease. Some have even resorted to using megaphones to reach people who choose to remain indoors, conduct skits in schools and communities via youth drama troupes. A few aid groups are even considering perceived viral forms of communication like music and video messaging led by former football player and now UNICEF ambassador David Beckham. But are these campaigns actually working? Will the new plans be effective?
Household data may be leading development astray
Development studies that rely on household survey data may be reaching the wrong conclusions because such data often fail to reflect realities on the ground, heard attendees at a meeting in London, United Kingdom. To tackle the issue, social scientists such as anthropologists must play a much greater role in collecting development data and conducting surveys, Carlos Oya, a development economist at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, told the meeting last week (13-17 October) during the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation’s London Evidence Week. Government statistics offices and international aid agencies must also involve social scientists in the design of household surveys, widely used to assess socioeconomic development, to make the questions relevant to developing world communities, he said.
Microfinance veterans face up to new technologies and new competition
Thirty years ago, Rupert Scofield began working in microfinance. Back then, he was helping to pioneer “the provision of financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs” that some would hail as a cure for poverty. Now, he is a veteran in an industry that is morphing rapidly as new technologies and new players enter the arena. New credit providers – including mobile phone operators, traditional banks, e-commerce companies like China’s Alibaba and online lending platforms such as Kiva – have emerged to serve people once excluded from the financial sector by their poverty. These newcomers are able to use web-based technologies to speed up the loans process, track clients’ spending patterns, and design appropriate financial services using that information.
Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, India Powering Next Wave Of App Growth, Says App Annie
A new report by mobile app analytics firm, App Annie, and mobile content and commerce association MEF, has identified Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and India as the next growth markets for app publishers — with rates of app downloads in these five markets growing substantially between Q3 2013 and Q3 2014. Brazil topped the charts for app download growth, with 100% growth over this period; followed by Indonesia with 70% growth; Mexico and Turkey on 60% apiece; and India growing by 30%. While China is identified as the largest of the growth markets, app downloads here only grew 10% over the period.
The State of the World’s Children 2014
Thirty years have passed since The State of the World’s Children began to publish tables of standardized global and national statistics aimed at providing a detailed picture of children’s circumstances. Much has changed in the decades since the first indicators of child well-being were presented. But the basic idea has not: consistent, credible data about children’s situations are critical to the improvement of their lives – and indispensable to realizing the rights of every child. Data continue to support advocacy and action on behalf of the world’s 2.2 billion children, providing governments with facts on which to base decisions and actions to improve children’s lives. And new ways of collecting and using data will help target investments and interventions to reach the most vulnerable children. Data do not, of themselves, change the world. They make change possible – by identifying needs, supporting advocacy, and gauging progress.What matters most is that decision-makers use the data to make positive change, and that the data are available for children and communities to use in holding duty-bearers to account.
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