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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
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.

Scaling up the impact of development interventions: Lessons from a review of UNDP country programs
Brookings Institution
This paper reports on a review of whether and how the programs and projects supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in four countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Moldova, and Tajikistan) apply a systematic approach to scaling up in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The paper applies an operational framework consisting of six basic questions: (i) Is there a pathway to scale? (ii) What is the problem to be solved, the vision and target of scale? (iii) What ideas, innovations or models are to be scaled up? (iv) How can the enabling conditions (drivers and spaces) be put in place? (v) How about the sequencing of key steps? (vi) Does monitoring and evaluation support learning for scaling up? The paper concludes that many of UNDP’s programs and projects pursue pathways to scale, but that overall a more systematic operational approach along the lines suggested in this paper would be desirable.

The Power Of The Impact Evaluation Revolution With David Evans Of The World Bank
I invite you to pause just for a second and take a moment to think about the last time you changed your mind about something. Specifically, I’d like for you to identify something that was either very important to you or your worldview, or something that you had taken for granted, that today you have either the complete opposite or at least a very different perspective on. Got it? Now ask yourself, what was it that made you change your mind? And, again specifically, what evidence did you unearth, or were presented with, that made the case for changing your mind?  For most of us, a profound change of mind doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, the effects of such a change alter lives, communities, and entire belief systems.

Autocratic Elections: Stabilizing Tool or Force for Change?
World Politics
Do elections reduce or increase the risk of autocratic regime breakdown? This article addresses this contested question by distinguishing between election events and the institution of elections. The authors propose that elections stabilize autocracies in the long term but at the price of short-term instability. Elections are conducive to regime survival in the long run because they improve capacities for co-optation and repression but produce short-term instability because they serve as focal points for regime opposition. Drawing on data from 259 autocracies from 1946 to 2008, the authors show that elections increase the short-term probability of regime failure. The estimated effect is retained when accounting for the endogeneity of autocratic elections; this finding is critical, since some autocrats may or may not hold elections because of perceived effects on regime survival. The authors also find that this destabilizing effect does not operate in the long term.

Reaping Digital Dividends: Leveraging the Internet for Development in Europe and Central Asia
World Bank Group
The internet is creating new opportunities for individuals and businesses across the globe today. However, not everyone is benefitting equally. The economic gains or digital dividends associated with the internet often go to those with higher incomes, with the right set of skills or in the suitable enabling environment. As a result, growing inequalities between and within countries may follow. As the new World Bank regional report Reaping Digital Dividends argues, this not need be the case. If the right set of policies are put in place, digital dividends have the potential to be the driving force of poverty reduction and shared prosperity in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region. The report argues that the main challenge that ECA countries are facing is high aversion to the changes that new technologies may bring. Aversion to change manifests itself in the backlash that sharing economy platforms have suffered in the richer economies of the west, while in the east this aversion is manifested in the fear that more information could disrupt societies. While the report acknowledges that the internet - as most technological changes - may bring disruptions, its potential efficiency gains would overweigh those costs.

Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

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