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August 2005

Low-cost, high-impact technology: the Simputer

Vivek heads to college on his Yamaha motorbike with a frown. Upcoming exams are not his concern - it is a hand-held gadget the traffic police have started using. the first city in India to be given the Simputer to fine traffic offenders. Described as "the people's computer" for its affordable price and ease of use, this paperback-sized console can fine traffic violators even for previous offences.

How to increase aid effectiveness?

The U.K.’s DFID and the finance ministers of Burkina Faso and Tanzania were recently asked how they would increase aid effectiveness.

DFID favors greater country ownership:

…the most promising path to better aid is a “country-led” approach, in which governments of developing countries themselves define and lead the poverty reduction agenda.

2005 Commitment to Development Index

The Center for Global Development has released the 2005 version of their popular index. The index ranks the world’s 21 richest nations in terms of their aid, trade, investment, migration, security, environment and technology policies.

Dani Rodrik on the 'trade-and-aid myth'

Domestic efforts trump everything else in determining a country’s economic fortunes… What matters most is whether a country adopts the right growth strategy… It is far from clear that expanding market access and increasing aid are the most productive use of valuable political capital in the North. Development should focus not on trade and aid, but on improving the policy environment in poor countries.

Private health insurance for the poor

Development countries bear over 90% of the world’s disease burden. The OECD DevCentre offer’s their policy insight on how private health insurance can help lighten this oppressive weight:

Private for-profit and not-for profit schemes are emerging… [as] a potential improvement in risk sharing for a larger part of the population… In particular non-profit group-based insurance schemes could become an important pillar of the health-financing system.

Fighting corruption: hospital extortion

The New York Times reports on a disturbing practice in Indian hospitals:

Just as the painful ordeal of childbirth finally ended and Nesam Velankanni waited for a nurse to lay her squalling newborn on her chest, the maternity hospital's ritual of extortion began. Before she even glimpsed her baby, she said, a nurse whisked the infant away and an attendant demanded a bribe. If you want to see your child, families are told, the price is $12 for a boy and $7 for a girl.

Deregulating electricity markets

Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith writes in the Wall Street Journal to advocate vertical separation for the US electricity industry, to prevent the monopolistic wires business from sitting on potential competition elsewhere in the supply chain.

From Marginal Revolution. Browse World Bank resources on utility regulation.

LifeStraw: invention of the century?

The aptly-named LifeStraw... is a personal, low-cost water purification tool with a life time of 700 litres - approximately one year of water consumption for one person... that could become one of the greatest life-savers in history. It is a 25 cm long, 29 mm diameter, plastic pipe filter and purchased singly, costs around US2.00. (source)