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July 2010

Seeing, hearing and reading about how we help small farmers in Latin America

Molly Norris's picture

The cheep-cheep of newly-hatched chicks is the sound of a growing livelihood to Adriana and Nalcy Banderas, smallholder farmers hard at work in a verdant Colombian village. And we wanted to bring you down that red clay road to see how the Banderases, and other people like them have changed their lives with opportunities supported by the World Bank.

Sanctioned Secrecy: EurekAlert!

Naniette Coleman's picture

Is secrecy the anti-thesis of transparency or an important tool in a reformist’s toolbox? In a world struggling for transparency is there a role for secrecy.  A number of reputable medical and science journals including the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), the New England Journal of Medicine and Science magazine seem to think so. They have been practicing the fine art of secrecy since their inception. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, "Triple A-S" (AAAS), an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world and publisher of Science magazine, is even in on it. In fact, Triple A-S created a website to help further the cause of secrecy, more commonly called embargoed news. The site is EurekAlert! and it is currently available in both English and Chinese

 

Paul the Octopus' forecast on the Thai economy: Swimming with one tentacle

Frederico Gil Sander's picture

Image courtesy of Caitfoto through a Creative Commons license
(Available in: ภาษาไทย)

Following the very successful earlier engagements of a Khmer palm reader and a celebrity turtle-shell fortune teller, the Thailand economic team has recently hired the forecasting star of the moment to divine the future of the economy. I am not talking about Professor Nouriel “Dr. Doom” Roubini, but Octopus Paul, who had to escape Germany in a hurry to avoid becoming “pulpo a la Gallega”. For a hefty fee of a five shrimps, the wise cephalopod spent a few hours in our offices sharing his prognosis for the Thai economy.

A choice between feeding or saving the planet?

Elwyn Grainger-Jones's picture

News from the Sahel region of Africa is not good – failed rains leading to famine. Worst affected is Niger, where half of that nation’s 15 million people now face severe food shortages after several years of drought. Climate change will only increase the frequency of such events.

 

For most people living in this area, agriculture is their main source of income. The International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD) believes that good agricultural and rural development programs can both help to feed a growing population and conserve the planet we live on. For example, last week one of my team met Baraka. Her family farms a small patch of land in the Maradi region of Niger, where we are helping her and the others in the village introduce zero-till agriculture and regenerate degraded ecosystems to increase food production. Farming in a sustainable way also strengthens their capacity to deal with climate change.

 

It was images of villages like this that were in my mind when earlier this month, I was invited to the World Bank in Washington to discuss the links among climate, environment and agriculture. We―bank staff and representatives of the NGO development and research communities―asked ourselves one simple question: Are we linking these issues together or do we still see them in separate boxes?

Marguerite Sullivan on Independent Media, Persuading Policymakers, and Jailed Bloggers

Antonio Lambino's picture

CommGAP recently interviewed Marguerite H. Sullivan, Senior Director of the National Endowment for Democracy's Center for International Media Assistance (NED-CIMA).  She talked  about the need for a broader conception of independent media, how to persuade policymakers on Capitol Hill, and the alarming number of jailed bloggers around the world.  Here's a partial transcript:

CommGAP: What is your definition of “media development” or “media assistance”?

SULLIVAN: When we talk about the environment in which an independent media can flourish, it’s like a stool with a number of legs, which include the following: professional journalists; a strong legal enabling environment for journalists; and media literacy on the part of the public. This means that citizens should be enlightened consumers of the media. It also means good governance; that the government has an operative system that is responsive to media inquiries, and has in place efficient and effective mechanisms to get information of public interest out to the people.

2010 SEED Awards Reach Out to Social Entrepreneurs

Tom Grubisich's picture

"Green"-themed social entrepreneurs are invited to compete for 35 SEED Awards that are focused on seven countries in Africa.  Winners will receive expert advice on their business plans, access to tailored workshops, and be profiled through the SEED Initiative's international network.

Start-up social and environmental entrepreneurs working in developing and emerging countries are invited to apply.  The deadline for applications is Aug. 16.  Here's how to apply

(Photo at right shows precious metals miner in Chocó Bioregion of Ecuador and Colombia where 2009 SEED winner Oro Verde is helping to reverse environmental degradation by promoting certified mining practices.)

What the Public Would Want If It Knew Better

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

We have often moaned about opinion polls and their limited value on this blog. You know, those things where people get asked about their favorite toothpaste and that gets sold as public opinion? The question, of course, is how to do it better. Public opinion is an intricate phenomenon. We don't really know how to define the public to begin with, let alone how to figure out their opinion.

There's been a great model around since the mid 90s: Deliberative Polling. Introduced by James Fishkin, Deliberative Polls are designed to "show what the public would think about the issues, if it thought more earnestly and had more information about them,” to provide a “glimpse of the hypothetical public” (Luskin, Fishkin, and Jowell, 2002). It works like this:


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