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March 2012

AVN is shortlisted for Buckminster Fuller Challenge!

Tony Kaye's picture

Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN) was awarded a DM grant in 2009 to test an innovative strategy for scaling up and accelerating the recruitment and training of Nubian Vault (NV) apprentices and the growth of a self-sustaining market in NV houses in Burkina Faso. The Nubian Vault is an ancient Egyptian technique of building vaulted roofs made from local bricks without using any wood, instead of typical tin roofs that are more expensive and use scarce wood during construction. AVN is transforming traditional housing available in the harsh climate of the Sahel region by providing a sustainable housing alternative and helping to avoid further deforestation.

BFC Logo - credit: challenge.bfi.orgAVN has taken on the Buckminster Fuller Challenge (BFC) and is in the running for $100,000 for the submission of our Earth roofs in the Sahel program. Our entry was published in the BFC Idea Index 1.0 on Tuesday, February 14.

Named "Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award" by Metropolis Magazine, the Challenge is an annual international prize program that awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a solution with significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

 iRevolution
#UgandaSpeaks: Al-Jazeera uses Ushahidi to Amplify Local Voices in Response to #Kony2012

“Invisible Children’s #Kony2012 campaign has set off a massive firestorm of criticism with the debate likely to continue raging for many more weeks and months. In the meantime, our colleagues at Al-Jazeera have repurposed our previous #SomaliaSpeaks project to amplify Ugandan voices responding to the Kony campaign: #UgandaSpeaks.

Other than GlobalVoices, this Al-Jazeera initiative is one of the very few seeking to amplify local reactions to the Kony campaign. Over 70 local voices have been shared and mapped on Al-Jazeera’s Ushahidi platform in the first few hours since the launch. The majority of reactions submitted thus far are critical of the campaign but a few are positive.”  READ MORE

Let's KONYIfy Development through Virtual CDD (KONY 2012, Part 2)

Tanya Gupta's picture

In my last blog, I spoke about how a simple video message about a warlord who lives thousands of miles away from most of the video’s viewers, created by Jason Russell, inspired millions to “make Kony famous”, and end the atrocities of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). 

Many of us development professionals entered the profession with a desire to create a better world.  We knew it would take time and effort but were happy if we knew we made at least a small dent.  With technology, our dreams have suddenly become bigger.  Is it really possible to use technology to amplify development impact?  If anything the KONY 2012 campaign gave all of us believers in the power of technology to do good, something we longed for - HOPE. 

A Tale of Too Many Cities: Happy Birthday Charles Dickens

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Charles DickensThis year marks the 200th birthday for Charles Dickens who is likely the best-known social commentator who documented the more troublesome aspects of the Industrial Revolution and the start of the world’s headlong rush to urbanize. Dickens’ writings give a ringside seat to the turmoil London, and Paris, faced over two hundred years ago. That Dickens’ vantage point was London only made sense; it had just surpassed Beijing as the world’s largest city, and arguably is the birthplace of capitalism and industrialization.

The big question now is, where in the world would today’s most important social commentator choose to live? We obviously know it would be a big city as cities are the most powerful determinants of our futures. But what city best captures today’s and tomorrow’s social milieu?

From the World Water Forum: Feeding Nine Billion People

Julia Bucknall's picture

In a session on water’s role in food security at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, the director of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Mr. Alexander Mueller, has just outlined water's role in meeting the world's food challenges in the most graphic way. By 2050, when the global population is expected to reach nine billion, the world will need to produce 60-70% more food to meet the needs of a larger number of people whose consumption patterns are influenced by higher incomes and increased urbanization. At current rates of water usage in agriculture, that would require an additional 5,500km2 of water. That would mean having to find the amount of water that is stored in Egypt’s Aswan Dam 55 times every year.

When Randomization Goes Wrong...

Berk Ozler's picture

An important, and stressful, part of the job when conducting studies in the field is managing the number of things that do not go according to plan. Markus, in his series of field notes, has written about these (see, for example, here and here) roller coaster rides we call impact evaluations.

Filling empty stomachs: when enough food is not enough

Leslie Elder's picture

Children having a bowl of soup (credit: Jamie Martin).

Save the Children’s recent report, A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition, reminds us that undernutrition is not a new crisis—and that the crisis will deepen if the global community fails to take serious action. If current trends persist, 11.7 million more children will be stunted in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025, compared to 2010.

 

What can we do? Food is part of the answer, but it’s about the right food, at the right time—not just starchy staple foods that fill empty stomachs. According to Save the Children, more than half of children in some countries are eating diets of just three items: a staple food, a legume, and a vegetable (usually green leaves).

 

Availability of food and access to food are necessary but insufficient to ensure good nutrition. Insidiously, malnutrition (undernutrition) is not hunger, although malnourished children are often hungry. And undernutrition is frequently invisible, but increases the risk of child death; steals children’s growth; decreases cognitive potential, school performance, and adult productivity; and contributes to the development of non-communicable diseases later in life.

AIDS: translating scientific discoveries into sustainable, affordable programs

David Wilson's picture

Red ribbon for World AIDS Day, Thailand (credit: Trinn Suwannapha).

We’re entering a phase where AIDS is moving from emergency crisis financing to sustainable development financing—which is a major challenge, but one that we’re continuing to tackle, with the goal of stronger national ownership and responsibility.

 

One of the Bank’s international mandates is to support countries to develop better national health plans and budgets. Today, the Bank released an important study, The Fiscal Dimension of HIV/AIDS in Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, and Uganda, which is a part of this mandate. The study helps countries do the long-range planning that we so desperately need in HIV programs.

 

The Bank has a long-established partnership with ministries of finance and planning, and we understand country systems. We stand ready to help countries integrate HIV into their programs and plan for it in a sustainable way.

 

We’ve seen extraordinary progress in AIDS. Today, we have more antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV than every other virus in history combined. We’ve reduced treatment costs from tens of thousands of dollars to as little as $100. And we’ve expanded our understanding of effective HIV prevention, including the role of male circumcision and the important role that treatment can play in prevention under the right circumstances.

 

Many of us involved in HIV remember the days when 70% of beds in health facilities in Africa were occupied by people with AIDS. Our successes in treatment and prevention have removed this specter and have allowed health systems to focus on other important health priorities.

From the World Water Forum: Idea for a New Water Prize?

Michael Peter Steen Jacobsen's picture

At the World Water Forum in Marseille, I participated in a session on innovative ways to finance water for the poor. Most of the ideas proposed were good, including testing Output-Based Aid, improvements to the water tariff structure, and a sanitation fee on the water bill.Then the organizers asked for ideas and the discussion was opened for plenary...

ICTs: Keeping the Tunisian Spring Evergreen

Tim Kelly's picture

 

The historic changes in Tunisia since the Arab Spring revolution of last year have opened many new opportunities – notably the potential to revitalise a dynamic and entrepreneurial private sector. TechnoCan ICTs keep the revolution in Tunisia going? (Credit: Amine Ghrabi, Flickr Creative Commons)logy and social media played an important role in bringing about the revolution. So it is logical to expect that information and communication technologies (ICTs) will continue to be important in the post-revolutionary phase of Tunisia’s development. But to find out quite what the role of ICTs is likely to be, infoDev – a global partnership program within the World Bank – recently commissioned the wide-ranging study ‘Tunisia: from revolutions to institutions’, describing how Tunisians are using ICTs to build a new future.
 
Imagine you are a young, technologically-savvy college graduate in Tunis with a start-up idea. Although your domestic market is small, your French and Arabic language skills and diaspora ties give you a foothold in both Europe and the Arab States. Furthermore, the historic changes across North Africa present new opportunities in an increasingly networked region. So, what’s stopping you from building the next killer app?


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