That was the first question up for debate at the Citizen Voices Conference on March 18. And the communal answer was a clear and resounding "yes."
The next question up posed more of a challenge – How do we build our public and private institutions so citizens can access information and influence decisions impacting their own lives? The answer to this was pulled apart for eight hours by technology innovators, development specialists, government officials, academics, civil society representatives, and members of the private sector at this interactive and multilingual conference.
Youth Forum Breakfast, Abuja, Nigeria. Photo: Bamidele Emmanuel Oladokun / World Bank
In 2011 African heads of state met in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the African Union Summit. It was held under the theme: "Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development." The main aim of the gathering was to deliberate on Africa's youth which is growing faster than any other continent. More than 200 million people in Africa are between ages 15 through 24.
“Africa is the youngest continent. The current youth of Africa are not only important for Africa but also for the world,” said Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist for the World Bank’s Africa region. Young people are usually the ones who lead innovation and are a source of labor force of any economy, Devarajan added.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is putting policies to meet and combat climate change on top of the Bank’s agenda. That is extremely timely and has the potential to fundamentally revitalize the Bank, making it more relevant in today’s world.
Global finance for new clean energy projects is currently at $300-400 billion per year, of which the Bank funds about $10 billion. The International Energy Agency estimates that a minimum agenda, compatible with a two-degree temperature target, requires “green” energy investments of about $1 trillion per year. The Bank alone will only be able to provide a small portion of such additional finance.
Dr. Robert Kibugi is a Legal/Institutional Expert for Ministry of Water and Irrigation in Kenya and a lecturer at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP), University of Nairobi.
Legal and institutional changes in the Kenyan water sector are not new; the current water law was enacted in 2002. The law introduced extensive changes and reforms, including a separation between water resource management and water services that allows specialized agencies to perform the tasks.
This resulted in creation of the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) to manage and regulate water resources, and the Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB) to regulate water services. The latter regulates the functions of Water Services Boards (WSBs), responsible for developing infrastructure, and those of water service providers (WSPs), which are primarily utilities that purchase water from WSBs and sell to consumers. Beyond water services and resources, the areas of water storage and irrigation, which address harvesting and productive use of water, were not part of the 2002 reforms.
THE WORLD BANK 2013 INDIA DEVELOPMENT MARKETPLACE COMPETITIVE GRANT
With a grant pledge of USD 1 million, the 2013 India Development Marketplace (India DM) seeks to build on the work it has done in supporting social enterprises in India so far. This World Bank initiative aims to surface high-impact social development solutions that have demonstrated initial outcomes and provide catalytic support in helping to scale their work further.
Applying a multi-layer approach, the DM meets this objective first by providing crucial funding to back these projects (USD 50,000 to USD 100,000 per project funded) and then by enabling necessary technical assistance (through an empaneled group of local and regional firms & experts) to help organizations effectively address challenges of scale.
Launched on January 21st of this year, the 2013 India DM focused on 3 low-income states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The call for proposal invited all social sector organizations (for-profit and non-profit entities) seeking to scale projects in these states, to apply for the grant. Over 190 project proposals have been received from across India in response to the call for proposal, within the stipulated timeline of 30 days, while the call was open.
Yesterday, on the eve of World Water Day, NASA and the United States Geological Survey released the first images from the thermal imaging band of its latest launch of the LANDSAT satellite. The satellite will begin regularly producing data on May of this year. Why does that matter? It is the latest improvement in a technology that, in my opinion, has the power to revolutionize water management around the world.
Few projects to introduce ICTs at scale across an entire education system have received as much global attention as that of Plan Ceibal in Uruguay, which has (among other things) provided free laptop computers to all public school students.
Anticipating that some of the lessons learned in Uruguay may be relevant to scores of other countries (developing and developed alike) in the years to come, we at the World Bank have been keenly following related developments in this small South American nation over the past half-decade. In additional to maintaining the typical sorts of on-going dialogues we have with countries around the world on education issues, last year the World Bank sponsored a study tour for policymakers from Armenia and Russia to visit Uruguay and see with their own eyes what has been going on, and to talk directly with some of the people who have helped make it all happen. We also helped coordinate an online 'ideas festival' to help connect educators across Latin America to share lessons about 1-to-1 computing initiatives, with a special focus on Uruguay. A presentation on Plan Ceibal by the president of the initiative, Miguel Brechner, at one of the previous global symposia on ICT use in education that the World Bank co-sponsors each year with the Korean Ministry of Education and KERIS each year in Seoul, remains one of the highest rated sessions in the six year history of that event.
That said, there has not been a terrific amount of information available in English about the project for global audiences. Those handy with online translation tools can perhaps make their way around the information-rich Plan Ceibal site (and may stumble across the occasional report in English, like this one [pdf] summarizing official results from the first national monitoring and evaluation exercise). Dedicated readers of the EduTech blog, as well as sites like the independent OLPCnews.com web site, will probably have read some of periodic posts looking at various aspects of the Ceibal program. YouTube fans may have come across some of the related subtitled videos available on that popular site (like this one), many of them on the dedicated Canal Ceibal channel, or of presentations by Miguel Brechner at events like WISE 2012 or ALT-C.
Such information sources, while certainly useful, are by their very nature backward looking. A fascinating new report commissioned and recently released by Plan Ceibal aims to help chart the way forward for the project. Ceibal: Next Steps [pdf], written by Michael Fullan, Nancy Watson and Stephen Anderson, provides very useful short summaries of the first two phases of pioneering Uruguayan initiative before offering four concrete recommendations to help guide the project as it enters its 'third phase' of activity, which Fullan and company have labeled "focused implementation".
This report is highly recommended for people with an interest in learning more about the Ceibal project, as well as for those wondering about potential examples of what might most usefully come 'after' the initial period rolling out and supporting hardware and software infrastructure that defines most large scale 'big bang' attempts to introduce ICTs across an education system.
Considering potential 'next steps' for Uruguay may help shed some light on emerging issues and options potentially relevant to other countries. This may be especially true for middle and low income countries which, while perhaps currently not as far along in the process in rolling out ICTs and connectivity as Uruguay is, would do well to consider what they may want to do after they have declared their initial large scale roll-outs of hardware, software, digital content and initial teacher training to be a 'success' -- and are then faced with the more difficult ongoing challenges of utilizing these investments to help bring about more fundamental and long-lasting changes to teaching and learning practices inside and outside of schools.
After months of coding away during the Sanitation Hack@Home challenge, 10 teams of hackers were selected as finalists. The Hack@Home challenge is part of the Sanitation Hackathon, a yearlong process that included a global event in December where dedicated programmers worked on apps geared at addressing the global sanitation crisis, namely the 2.5 billion people who lack access to adequate sanitation.
During a trip to South Africa last week, I was saddened to read this newspaper headline: “24 people killed, 14 seriously injured, and 44 with minor injuries after bus smashed into a mountainside.” The bus was bringing people back to Cape Town's township of Khayelitsha from a church gathering in eastern Mpumalanga—most of the occupants were women and children.