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April 2010

2010 Spring Meetings: Highlights

Sameer Vasta's picture

Does working from home limit women’s ability to do business?

Mohammad Amin's picture

Anecdotal evidence suggests that working from home makes it easier to balance work and family life. Women may be particularly likely to work from home since they are often viewed as the primary caregivers in the family in most developing countries. However, there is some concern in the literature that family responsibility may limit women’s ability to run a business, leading to fewer hours of operation and lower efficiency for home-based businesses run by women.

Complaints Handling: Small is Beautiful

Sabina Panth's picture

I wish to share some thoughts on the design of a new governance tool that I recently came across – Grievance Redress and Complaint Handling System, which entails a genuinely focused bottom-up methodology that instills permanent strength to demand-driven accountability.

An effective system of complaint handling is characterized by multiple complaint uptake locations and channels for receiving complaints with a standard set of procedures. While this is promising, formalizing and improving already existing informal and traditional structures of grievance redress, such as panchayat village councils in South Asia and chieftaincy systems in Africa, can be easy to manage, cost effective and sustainable.  Moreover, many donor projects now mandate formation of local user groups, such as village-road-user-committees, district-road-user committees that comprise of labor employees and beneficiaries of the project and function as watch dogs during project implementation. These groups can be mobilized to institute local grievance redress committees, which would work to address and resolve their concerns and queries pertaining to a project.

From the Conflict Blog: Addressing violent conflict, one innovation at a time

Nicholas van Praag's picture

by Nicholas van PraagWorld Bank Conflict Blog

"The best thing about my job is the amazing people I meet—and last week was better than most.  I was in Cape Town for a meeting of social entrepreneurs and peace-builders.  They were gathered under the banner of the World Bank Institute’s Innovation Fair to surface new ways of addressing conflict and delivering services to poor people in fragile states..."

Continue reading on the Conflict Blog

 

Paul Collier and his Plundering Planet: When Both Economists and Environmentalists Don’t Get it Right

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Do you remember The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier’s 2007 book which became a classic? If you do, you will certainly like his latest work, The Plundered Planet. He came to launch his new book to the Bank this week, and I found it both fascinating and provocative. Let me give some examples of why.

Professor Collier, now the Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, declares a two-front war on economists and environmentalists at the same time. He is against what he calls “utilitarian economists,” because if left on their own, they would end up plundering the planet. But Collier also takes on “romantic environmentalists,” who would be unable to eradicate hunger in case they’re given the chance to rule the world. So as you can see, the book’s premises don’t really fit into the script of the blockbuster, Oscar-winning movie Avatar.

For Collier, who also worked as the Bank’s Research Director some years ago, Nature is the lifeline for the countries of the bottom billion – and thus cannot remain untouched. With a strong faith in the power of well-informed ordinary citizens, Collier proposes a series of international standards that would help poor countries rich in natural assets better manage those resources. Technology, which enlarges the capacity of ordinary citizens, is also necessary to turn Nature into assets. But of course, in order to be effective and benefit the bottom billion instead of just the few at the top, regulation, which requires governance, is another seminal element of the equation to create prosperity. If you leave regulation out of the equation, as some Libertarians do, the result is nature plundered. But if you end up with too much regulation – curbing the use of Nature – and thus preventing technology, then the result is hunger. And I’m certainly not one of those radical, romantic environmentalists who can imagine a bottom billion who is hungry but happy.

Looking at the future: Will mobile social media fuel improved governance in developing countries?

Tanya Gupta's picture

A free and independent media plays an important role in monitoring public servants and holding them accountable for their actions.  In this way they promote transparency and accountability within a country.  The role of media in good governance is widely acknowledged.  The Worldwide Govern

Malawi and the Millennium Development Goals

Kavita Watsa's picture

Malawi Minister talks about MDGs

At an event a few days ago at the Spring Meetings on Africa and the Millennium Development Goals—or MDGs for short—the speaker who left me with the strongest impression of hope for 2015 and beyond was Ted Sitima-Wina, Malawi’s Principal Secretary, Planning. Malawi, a small landlocked country with a per capita income of $280, is on track to meet five out of the eight goals, no small achievement in a region where most countries appear off-track on most goals, and many started from a very low base in 1990.

So what worked in Malawi? According to Sitima-Wina, it was aligning the Malawi National Development Strategy closely to the MDGs. “Papers signed in 2000 showed us goals and targets,” he said, “but what we did in Malawi was to contextualize them in our own poverty reduction strategy.”

Perhaps one of the most famous steps that Malawi took to cut poverty and hunger was a targeted subsidy which allowed poor farmers to afford fertilizer and hybrid seeds. With this, the country has moved from being a net importer to a net exporter of food. A recent survey showed that over the past few years, people in rural areas have reported that food is available, despite the crisis.

The Power of 1-to-1 Computing for Education

Nicole Goldstein's picture

Is he learning? The month of February played host to the OECDInter-American Development Bank– World Bank’s international knowledge sharing on '1-to-1 computing' in Austria. This was the first event of its kind looking specifically at the idea that, if technology is to fundamentally help transform educational practices, this can only be done where each  student has her/his own personal computing device. 

1-to-1 computing is not only happening in OECD countries: every student in Uruguay has her/his own laptop.  Peru and Rwanda have made massive commitments to purchase laptops for students, and pilots are underway in many additional developing countries.These interventions are based on the belief that by enabling every pupil to connect to the Internet, and to each other, to access valuable resources irrespective of place and time, countries  can help to bridge the digital divide while at the same time transforming education and increasing learning through the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Given the context of this event, I thought I would provide a timely survey of the existing research on their use in education. I also advise you to check out  Michael Trucano’s one year old blog, Edutech which provides incisive analysis on a wide array of ICTs in Education topics.


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