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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.

How much do we really know about inequality within countries around the world? Adjusting Gini coefficients for missing top incomes

Brookings
The topic of inequality has been trending globally for the past several years. Attention has focused especially on the very top of the income distribution in each country, which traditional measures of inequality, drawn from representative household surveys, struggle to capture accurately. In place of surveys, researchers have made use of tax data, which provide a more robust account of incomes of the richest segment of society. In a handful of countries, analysis reveals that the share of income accounted for by the top 1 percent has grown sharply. This presents a quandary. The more new information we uncover about top incomes, the less faith we have in traditional survey-based inequality measures, and the less knowledge we can claim to have about the distribution of income across an economy’s entire population.
 
The “5Ds”: Changing attitudes to open defecation in India
World Bank Water blog
In the village of Bharsauta in Uttar Pradesh, India, construction worker Vishwanath lives with his wife, four children and their elderly parents. Three years ago, the government paid to build a toilet in their house. But the job was not done well: the pit was too shallow, it overflows frequently, and the smell makes it suffocating to use. Cleaning the toilet requires carrying water from a community tap. Vishwanath and his family have decided it isn’t worth the hassle. Mostly, they continue to defecate in the open. Vishwanath’s family is not alone. Research has shown that that households which constructed their own toilets, rather than receiving a government subsidy, are more likely to use them. But what are the most effective ways to persuade people to construct their own toilets?

Security in the urban century - a new research stream at IISS
International Institute for Strategic Studies
The first decade of the twenty-first century brought a flurry of articles warning of security risks linked to rapid urban population growth in the Global South. The most popular included ‘Feral Cities’, ‘The New Middle Ages’ and ‘Cities without Joy’, forecasts every bit as fearful as their titles suggested. Security, development and humanitarian experts worried that the lightning pace of urbanisation was raising the risk of war, gang activity and large-scale instability.
Many of these fears remain. But recent urban development has been more positive than the gloomiest articles predicted. By 2008, over half the world’s population was living in cities, yet we haven’t been torn apart by ‘feral’ urban communities. However, millions of people do live in metropolitan areas where criminal violence, sectarian conflicts and even war are very much a reality. For example, the violence in Syria and fight against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) have severely affected cities, forcing militaries and humanitarian organisations to work in densely inhabited areas.
 
Watergrabbing - An Atlas of Water
European Journalism Centre
What is the future of water? How much water is available? Who doesn’t have any? “Watergrabbing – an Atlas of Water” aims to provide a framework for examining the current the global water situation. The project outlines a number of substantive issues for today’s world, which is increasingly subject to the heavy pressure of climate change. A targeted selection of countries illustrate examples of the major problems related to water systems: the impact of large dams, food sovereignty and the mining sector. Join us on this visual journey. This is a tool for students, researchers and social workers, but also for the general public, and anyone who wants to quickly and immediately visualize the complex phenomena related to water.
 
Exploring the feasibility of demand based approaches for sanitation in fragile contexts
Centre For Humanitarian Change/ Waterlines Journal
Fully subsidized latrine construction as part of emergency WASH programming have failed to have an impact on sanitation in many fragile and insecure contexts. A bold and different approach is needed and WASH professionals should not be afraid to experiment with the use of development tools in a humanitarian context. There are signs of early success in Somalia and Sudan and research into the impact of Concern’s WASH programme in eastern Chad shows impressive increase in sanitation coverage (from 10% to 81% in 10 months) using a combination of CLTS, PHAST and Barrier Analysis approaches. These experiments came at a time when other water and sanitation actors were exploring the broader applicability of more demand-driven approaches in fragile and post emergency situations. CHC has been studying and documenting how the CLTS approach can be adapted to achieve sustainable results in fragile states and insecure contexts and specifically how it contributes to building community resilience.

Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

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