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Making Open Data Work for Citizens: Four Lessons from Code4Kenya

Christopher Finch's picture

Code4KenyaEighteen months ago we watched President Kibaki launch the Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI) to broad acclaim and fanfare.  All our initial expectations were very high. Some expected that Kenya’s vibrant ICT community would rapidly embrace open data, that there would be a rapid outpouring of open data sets from government agencies, and that open data would drive more informed development decision making.

However, although Kenya has a strong ICT sector, skilled development professionals, high cell phone penetration, a relatively open media and active CSOs, open data uptake has not been as rapid as some  expected. Traffic to Kenya’s open data portal has been consistent, with the Government’s portal generating around 100,000 page views a month, mostly from Kenya. The number of datasets on the portal has doubled from the initial 200 to more than 400 today, but still represents a tiny fraction of the data in Kenya.

So even in a country like Kenya with a dynamic ICT sector, simply making data available is only one step in a longer process.

Talking to the UN Security Council about Climate Change

Rachel Kyte's picture

Flags at the United Nations. UN Photos

This morning, I had the honor of speaking to the UN Security Council about an increasingly dangerous threat facing cities and countries around the world, a threat that, more and more, is influencing everything that they and we do: climate change.

World Bank President Jim Kim is in Russia right now talking with G20 finance ministers about the same thing – the need to combat climate change. Every day, we’re hearing growing concerns from leaders around the world about climate change and its impact.

If we needed any reminder of the immediacy and the urgency of the situation, Australia Foreign Minister Bob Carr and our good friend President Tong of Kiribati spoke by video of the security implication of climate effects on the Pacific region.

World Bank Is Committed to Forest Communities

Rachel Kyte's picture

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Curt Carnemark/World Bank

Here at the World Bank we believe that independent internal evaluation is central to strengthening our work. Rigorous, evidence-based evaluation informs the design of global programs and enhances the development impact of partner and country efforts.

The World Bank Group’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has undertaken a review of the implementation of the 2002 Forest Strategy. The strategy emphasized the positive developmental benefits of forest conservation and management, while strengthening environmental and social safeguards.

The report confirms that the World Bank’s forest work has:

  • contributed substantially to positive environmental outcomes;
  • successfully reduced deforestation when forest protected areas are designed and managed by people who live in and around them;
  • improved livelihoods, especially through support for participatory forest management initiatives, which involve and empower local communities;
  • advanced the rule of law in a sector plagued by patronage, corruption, and rent-seeking by increasing transparency and accountability and by putting environmental standards in place.

But to be most useful, an evaluation must meet a quality standard.

While we agree with some of IEG’s findings, we – and our Board - strongly disagree with others.

Bloomberg, Kim on Need for Greener, More Efficient Transport in Cities

Donna Barne's picture

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World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speak outside the Transforming Transportation 2013 conference.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in January 18 on what it will take to shape the future of cities — and cut pollution, road deaths, commute times, and poverty.

A large part of the answer: greener, more efficient and cost-effective urban transportation that is designed to move people, not cars.

“We have to start looking at other ways to move people. Traffic does hurt your economy,” Mayor Bloomberg said at the 10th Annual Transforming Transportation conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the World Bank and EMBARQ.

With 90 percent of city air pollution caused by vehicles, finding transportation solutions also will help confront emissions that drive climate change, Dr. Kim added.

City Transport: It’s About Moving People, Not Vehicles

Rachel Kyte's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Español | Français

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The number of vehicles on the world’s roads is on pace to double to about 1.7 billion by 2035. Pair that with a rapidly urbanizing population – six in 10 of us are likely to live in cities by 2030 – and the world’s cities have a transport problem in the making.

It’s also an opportunity, one that cities, particularly the fast-growing urban centers in developing countries, must take now.

Those that build efficient, inclusive urban transport systems can connect their people with jobs, health care, and education. They can reduce congestion, and they can limit carbon emissions that are contributing to climate change.

Longreads: Mobile Internet Traffic Gaining Fast, Polar Ice Melt Quantified, Africa’s Lions Declining, Best Small Ideas of 2012

Donna Barne's picture

Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.

Internet + trends + mobile, along with an image depicting the rapid rise of mobile Internet access in India, gained on Twitter and the Web after venture capitalist Mary Meeker shared the findings of her new Internet Trends report with Stanford University students December 3.  A key finding of the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers report—an update to one released in March—is that, “Mobile traffic is growing so fast globally that in some places it has already surpassed desktop traffic,” says CNET. Meeker also notes several ways we are re-imagining our lives because of rapid technological development and Internet access. Polar ice melt is the topic of a new research paper in Science, A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance, containing the “most definitive” estimate so far of polar ice melt over the last 20 years (11mm), says the BBC, noting that “sea-level rise is now among the most pressing questions of our time.”  Africa’s lion population has declined to as low as 32,000, down from nearly 100,000 in 1960, says a study led by Duke University researchers and funded by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative. In a short overview, Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment also highlights the continent’s rapid loss of savannah ecosystems where lions live. Small innovations are “quietly changing the world in big ways,” says author Tina Rosenberg in Foreign Policy. Such ideas include “pay for performance” to get kids in school or keep young men out of jail, or helping people with cash or vouchers rather than food aid or refugee camps.

Climate Lessons from a Hotter Arab World

Rachel Kyte's picture

Photo credit: Curt Carnemark/World Bank

This week in Doha, the marble corridors of the Qatar National Convention Center resonate with voices from around the world. Over half way through the UN Climate Change Conference, as ministers arrive and the political stakes pick up, a sense of greater urgency in the formal negotiations is almost palpable. But in the corridors, negotiations are already leading to deals and dreams and action on the ground.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the discussions by saying we need optimism, because without optimism there are no results. He reminded us all that Superstorm Sandy was a tragic awakening. He reiterated the call for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement and 100 billion in climate finance by 2020.

Meanwhile our focus was firmly on the region ...

The 24 Hours of Climate Reality Is about to Begin

Charles Cormier's picture

Teacher and students at a cyclone shelter in rural Bangladesh, 2011. Stephan Bachenheimer / World Bank
Photo: A teacher and school class stand at a cyclone shelter in rural Bangladesh. Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank

Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project launches its “24 hours of Reality: Dirty Weather Report” today. It’s a global online multimedia event that seeks to demonstrate how climate change is manifesting itself around the world, showcasing countries, communities and individuals leading through innovative solutions.

Longreads: Women and Political Power, Developing Countries Turn to Each Other for Conservation, Skills Are the Test of Progress

Donna Barne's picture

Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.

The new Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum inspired tweets and stories all over the world, including this one in Bloomberg Businessweek highlighting the finding that women represent only 20% of elected officials.  Also check out the gender inequality data visualization in Slate.  Biodiversity and ecosystems popped up on Twitter during the UN biodiversity meeting in Hyderabad, India, in October. While developed countries doubled pledges for conservation, India also made headlines when it announced a $50 million grant to help developing countries preserve biodiversity. The move, along with other examples of recent conservation efforts by emerging countries, hints of a future in which larger developing economies “play a more active role in saving the environment – not just at home, but also abroad,” reports the New York Times blog, India Ink.  With global youth unemployment at critical levels, a new Education for All Global Monitoring Report finds that 20% of young people in developing countries don’t have enough education or skills for work.  Kwame Akyeampong, an Education for All senior policy analyst, looks at the situation for themost vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in his native Ghana in an Al Jazeera opinion piece.  Once available only to paid subscribers, academic research papers are now increasingly accessible through open access publishing, according to a story in The Guardian. “The exponential rise in open access publishing shows no sign of slowing down,” writes Stephen Curry, a professor of structural biology at Imperial College. 

Inside ICRISAT's Seed Banks & Test Fields, Research Is Changing Farmers' Lives

Rachel Kyte's picture

Deep inside the ICRISAT campus just outside Hyderabad, there are two sub-zero rooms that house the seeds of 120,000 plants from over 100 countries and 120,000 chances to change poor farmers' lives. The rows of plastic containers and freeze-dried metallic packages resemble a huge and very cold medicine cabinet.

These seed banks, or genebanks, hold the keys to growing more productive, hardier, healthier food crops that could help feed the 9 billion people who will be living on Earth by 2050. Scientists use the collection to map characteristics that enable individual plants to withstand water shortages, pests, and disease, or increase yields and nutrient levels. Over 800 improved crop varieties have been developed from this seed bank and now grow in 79 countries.

ICRISAT is the international crop research institute for the semi-arid tropics and one of 15 CGIAR research centers. Scientist here work on sorghum, millet, chickpeas, pigeon peas, and ground nuts - the food crops that smallholder farmers from the driest parts of the world depend on for their survival.

A walk through the campus reveals the power and potential of international research.

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