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May 2013

World Press Freedom Day: Freedom for African Journalists

Mohamed Keita's picture

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, many local journalists suffer attacks, imprisonment or even death for reporting on corruption, public spending or the mismanagement of natural resources. In Africa, at least 41 journalists are spending this World Press Freedom Day behind bars. 

While there is a clear recognition by international institutions that corruption and good governance are key to poverty alleviation, there seems to be much less understanding of the importance of an enabling environment, as a complement to training and capacity building, in order for the press to meaningfully contribute to greater accountability and transparency, such as natural resources exploitation.

For example, new oil discoveries in East Africa have the potential to lift millions out of poverty if the profits actually benefit the citizens in that region. The optimism is dashed by the proverbial “resource curse,” that’s plagued the likes of Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, where poor governance, wealth disparity and poverty persist. The fog of secrecy and opacity surrounding oil exploitation deals has also caused concern.

May 3 Links: Finding your “thing” as a researcher, programs for female self-employment that work, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • From the indecision blog – as a young researcher, how do you find out what your “thing” is, that is, your research agenda -  interesting hypothesis that for many researchers research preferences “reveal themselves”.
  • From the 3ie blog – does economics need a more systematic approach to replication to be considered a hard science? – interesting link contained within to an AER editor’s report on the replication policy there.
  • New results published in the New England Journal of Medicine from the Oregon Health Experiment look at impacts of access to Medicaid on simple health measures like cholesterol and blood pressure (see our discussion of the original set of results here), and for summaries of the new results either the Washington Post Wonkblog or NPR). One of the big measurement issues is of course that even with a sample of approx 6,000 treated and 6,000 control, it is not clear there are enough cases over 2 years of the sort of health events that easier access to medical care can fix.
  • After Markus’s post this week showing how a package of grants and training helped women grow small businesses in Bangladesh, Chris Blattman has a post on new results from an evaluation he did in Uganda, which also finds positive impacts of training and grants on getting women to start businesses. We’ll wait for a working paper to render our thoughts on this – there are worrying issues (phased in randomization where the control group was guaranteed treatment at a known later date, potentially causing them to delay current business activities) and intriguing-sounding findings (general equilibrium effects on village economies) that pique my interest.

The voices of the people: street art in MENA, a visual guide

Simon Bell's picture

Simon Bell

After decades of suppressed voice, an inability to say what one thought, to protest, to offer a contrary point of view or dissent – the Arab world is at last unshackled to say exactly what it wants and wherever it wants. Nowhere is this more true than on the streets of the Arab capitals where an explosion of graffiti is voicing the views of the people in both words and pictures.

When the People Say Yes and the Leaders Say No

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Does the state of public opinion on a public policy issue create obligations for political leaders, obligations they ignore at their peril? This is an issue being debated in the United States right now about a specific public policy controversy – gun control – but the core issue applies everywhere. In the specific case of the United States, many readers will know that there was an attempt to pass legislation requiring background checks before you can buy guns online or at gun shows. The legislation was blocked in the US Senate in spite of the fact that opinion polls say again and again that 90 per cent of Americans polled support the measure. So, the question is being asked and debated: how can 90% of the people support a measure and it does not become law? Very often the question is asked with real heat. Now, we are not going to get into the Byzantine complexities of American politics. What I am interested in is bringing to your attention what professional political scientists who blog have been saying about the core, universally relevant issue: does the state of public opinion create unavoidable obligations for political leaders?

In a couple of blog posts Jonathan Bernstein (he writes the excellent A Plain Blog about Politics) offers the following insights:

Prospects Daily: Chinese Yuan rises to 19 year high, Eurozone and developing countries’ manufacturing PMIs drop

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture
Financial Markets… The Euro and European shares rose slightly after the European Central Bank (ECB) cut its benchmark interest rate to a fresh record low of 0.5%. The single currency gained for a fifth day versus the dollar, climbing 0.1% to $1.3198 in afternoon trading in London, while it rose 0.7% to 129.28 yen. The Stoxx Europe 600 stock index strengthened 0.3%, bouncing back from earlier loss in morning trade.

The Science of Delivery: whatever we call it, we have a problem - a reply to Wagstaff

Nick Manning's picture
In two posts (post one and post two) over the last month Adam has tried to get hold of the science – or “sciences” – of delivery. He boils them down to the idea that “the world has invested too much in what to deliver and too little in how to deliver it,” as a result of which millions of people are not reached and fail to benefit from development projects.

China Phase-Out of Ozone Damaging Chemicals Brings Climate Benefits

Karin Shepardson's picture

A slew of air conditioning units in a building. - Photo: Shutterstock

Also available in Chinese

Last month, China was granted US$95 million to reduce its production of hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), substances that are used primarily for cooling, refrigeration, and the manufacture of foam products. The funding comes from the Multilateral Fund (MLF) of the Montreal Protocol, because HCFCs deplete the ozone layer and are controlled under the Protocol. With access to these funds, between now and 2015 China will reduce its production of HCFCs by 10%, or 47,000 metric tons from 2010 levels, allowing it to meet the first reduction targets set by the Protocol.

This alone is worth celebrating because China is the world's largest producer of HCFCs. Nearly 50% of its production is consumed by other developing countries, all of whom also face HCFC consumption reduction targets under the Protocol. Herein lies one secret to the Protocol’s success: its ability to regulate both production and consumption worldwide simultaneously, putting into practice an economist’s dream to tackle both supply and demand in tandem. By addressing the supply side of the problem through support to China’s production phase-out, the demand side - in China and in developing countries around the world - can build a sustainable HCFC consumption phase-out response. The ozone layer, and human and environmental health, will all be the better for it.

Panama: plan, prepare, mitigate – key actions for disaster prevention

Jeannette Fernandez's picture

Tiny homes made of non-reinforced concrete blocks, without columns in the corners or ties where the walls and roof and the walls and foundation meet. These are dwellings that can collapse like a deck of cards in the event of an earthquake. Photo: World Bank.

I have lived in Panama City for nearly two years and there are two things that still capture my attention: the traffic that gets worse by the day due to the more than 36,000 new vehicles on the road every year and the pace of construction.
The number of new buildings popping up in the city daily is amazing.

Huge, luxurious, expensive buildings in fashionable areas, but also housing projects promoted by the national government and a large supply of houses for the Panamanian middle class responsible for the private sector.

Strengthening Croatia’s economy as it joins the EU

Paulo Correa's picture


Boosting research and innovation in Croatia can strengthen the economy ( Credit: Jisc, Flickr Creative Commons)

An injection of much-needed investment funds awaits Croatia when it joins the European Union on July 1: An amount equivalent to about 4 percent of the country’s GDP will become available to Croatia through the EU Cohesion Policy when it becomes the EU’s 28th member nation. The funds offer Croatia a unique opportunity for financing strategic investments, aiming to restore the country’s growth prospects and generate better employment opportunities.
Experience shows, however, that seizing this opportunity is not easy: New member countries of the EU have often allocated those funds to projects with low economic and social returns, or have simply failed to effectively deploy these funds.

Tapping the Youth Bulge

Maya Brahmam's picture

At the Global Voices on Poverty discussion on ending poverty during the World Bank-Fund Spring Meetings, Muhammad Yunus talked about the pressing need to engage young people and leverage their creative capacity in order to end poverty. He noted that young people are a completely different force that could be engaged on larger social issues – e.g., reforesting a country like Haiti – and that this could be accomplished via social business funds.

Given the recent gloom on youth unemployment, could social entrepreneurship be a silver lining? Certainly the global challenges are many and large. But so are the youth populations in many countries. Instead of reaping the demographic dividends, many countries fear future instability owing to the very large youth bulge. The Economist, in a recent article “Youth unemployment: Generation jobless,” calculates that all told, almost 290,000,000 (almost a quarter of the planet’s youth) are neither working nor studying.


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