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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.

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.

Three flawed ideas are hurting international peacebuilding
Washington Post
Violence disrupts the lives of some 1.5 billion people worldwide. International interventions such as peacekeeping missions or negotiations aim to bring peace to people affected by violence, but they rarely do so. The inability of United Nations peacekeepers to contain the fighting in the Congo, Mali and South Sudan, or mediators who are unable to broker an end to the Syrian war, are among many examples in the news these past few months. Journalists and academics writing about peacebuilding tend to focus on these kinds of failures. But the obstacles to peacebuilding are so substantial that the more puzzling question is why international efforts sometimes succeed, rather than why they fail.

Why do countries become donors? Assessing the drivers and implications of donor proliferation
Despite growing aid fatigue in the global North, the number of bilateral aid-providing states is at an all-time high and continues to expand. This increase presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the global development community. This report examines the paradox of new donor countries’ (NDCs) dramatic growth by asking two questions:

  • What is driving donor proliferation?

  • What sort of donors are emerging from this rapid increase?

The report draws on sociological theories of normative diffusion and quantitative analysis of 26 NDCs, comparing their achievements to those of traditional donors.

How teachers use mobile phones as education tools in refugee camps
In a simulation presented by Doctors Without Borders, participants had to choose the few items they would take with them if forced to flee. They faced a wall of plastic cards with pictures on them: shoes, medicine, passport, food, water. Even young children rushed to grab the card with the phone printed on it. Without phones of their own, they too knew instinctively the power of this connection (see also BBC’s “Where R U” video). Mobile phones are increasingly defining the way information about conflict is shared, humanitarian assistance is delivered, and how relationships through flight and exile are experienced.

The Civic Media Crisis and What Philanthropy Can Do
Stanford Social Innovation Review
The media, civil society, and democracy are under unprecedented duress around the world. It is important to see these phenomena as interconnected—to understand that the decline of the civic media poses a threat to civil society and, ultimately, to the democratic process itself. And it’s vital that philanthropy responds to this threat. In the face of these disturbing contemporary trends, philanthropy offers one of the few social resources with the potential to protect the civic role of the media and sustain civil society’s vital function in democratic life. In the past, the media’s complexity, political sensitivity, and historical tradition of support by commercial or governmental sources have all been deterrents to philanthropic investment. Additionally, the current philanthropic mindset tends to gravitate toward solving concrete, technically fixable problems and away from engagement with such knotty challenges as protecting and improving the quality of civic discourse. Yet the urgency of current circumstances demands new thinking.

Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

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