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December 2016

The power of art: A call to action on the Early Years

Dirk Wouters's picture
View a slideshow of photos by Lieve Blancquaert here

Ed’s note: This guest blog is by Dirk Wouters, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the United States of America in Washington DC
 
A Kenyan mother seated in the hallway of a hospital, holding a newborn. She looks troubled, the baby has one thin arm up in the air. An Indian mother is resting after giving birth to twin girls. She already has two daughters at home. A Cambodian family looks to the future with hope as they take their newborn child back to their village. Nine babies, wrapped in colorful blankets, have been placed on a hospital bed in Kenya’s Pumwani hospital just after their birth. In this hospital, a 100 children are born every day.

Nepal’s post-earthquake recovery is going well

Annette Dixon's picture
Earthquake survivors set up bank accounts to receive the first installment of 50,000 Rupees each.

The rebuilding has long begun in Nuwakot District in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal.

Twenty months after the earthquake that took lives and devastated livelihoods, people are receiving their first payments under a housing reconstruction project and are rebuilding their homes to higher standards. This will hopefully make them safer when the next earthquake hits.
 
The villagers I met were pleased to be getting financial and technical support to rebuild their lives but their frustration over the slow start still lingered. This is understandable given the suffering the earthquake caused and the slowdown in recovery efforts that came soon afterwards because of the disruption at Nepal’s border. But signs of enthusiasm dominated as stonemasons, engineer trainees and local officials mobilize in the rebuilding effort.

Reducing demand must be a core component of combatting wildlife crime

Claudia Sobrevila's picture

©Pauline Guilmot/CC by-NC-ND 2.0

Every place where I travel in Africa and Asia I hear stories about the dramatic loss of wildlife and the destruction of ecosystems and habitats. Most recently, while attending the third high-level Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in Hanoi that was attended by heads of states and delegates from 54 countries and international organizations, the World Bank’s Vietnam Country Director Ousmane Dione shared his own personal story on the disappearance of wildlife.
 
In Ousmane’s home country of Senegal, the lion is a national symbol, displayed on the coat of arms, the President’s exclusive seal, and is even the namesake of the national soccer team: The Lions. However, in the past 20 years, 80% of the lions in West Africa have been lost and in Senegal a mere 16 lions remain relegated to the Niokolo Koba National Park where their prey is diminishing as a result of the bush meat trade and competing resources with grazing livestock. Ousmane fears his children will never see a lion in their native country. 

S.O.S. from La Paz: send water, please!

Mauricio Ríos's picture
If you wonder what climate change means in real time, and how it impacts people’s lives on a daily basis, just read the news about the on-going water crisis in Bolivia.

Over the past six weeks, hundreds of thousands of people living in El Alto and La Paz -the world’s highest capital- have been subjected to constant water shortages and cuts, which are now reaching dangerous limits:  more than 90 neighborhoods are getting water only every three days, and for three hours only. Others don’t see a drop for more than a week. And the luckier ones are getting water for two hours daily.  (I know this because my extended family lives there).

The administration of President Evo Morales recently declared a state of emergency to cope with one of the worst droughts in the last 25 years. But the water situation has been deteriorating for a long time given that around 25 per cent of the water supply for La Paz and El Alto comes from the rapidly shrinking glaciers in the surrounding Andean Cordillera. Other cities around the country are also being affected by water shortages due to the climate-induced drought.

Add to that the fact that three main dams that supply water to almost two million people in the highlands are almost dry, and no longer depend on the glaciers’ runoff. 

Interactive poverty maps at your fingertips: The case of Bangladesh

Monica Yanez-Pagans's picture
Education indicators screenshot from the interactive poverty maps for Bangladesh
Education indicators screenshot from the interactive poverty maps for Bangladesh

Poverty maps are a useful tool to visualize and compare poverty rates across geographic areas, and learn about how poverty is distributed within a country, which is often times masked in national or aggregated statistics. For instance, the national poverty rate in Bangladesh in 2010 was 31.5 percent, which is the latest year for which a household survey was collected by the government to produce official poverty numbers.

However, a look at zila (district) and upazila (sub-district) level poverty rates suggests that poverty levels differ quite substantially across the different areas of the country with large pockets of poverty concentrated in the north and south-west part of the country. For example, some of the zilas in the north belonging to the Rangpur and Dhaka divisions are among the poorest in the country with poverty rates well above 50 percent while some of the zilas in the south-east belonging to the Chittagong division have poverty rates well below 20 percent.

While country level poverty maps are generally widely available, accessing the underlying information is not always easy or is unavailable in a user-friendly format. Moreover, there is not a straightforward way to link these disaggregated poverty statistics with other socio-economic indicators and even if one attempts to do, it might take a substantial amount of time to put together all this information.

Specifically, poverty maps are often times disseminated in the form of printed reports, which do not allow users to directly access the data in a digitized format or link it to other socio-economic statistics. Lowering barriers to access poverty statistics and facilitating the linking of these indicators to other non-monetary living standards statistics is important to facilitate the use of poverty statistics, make them more relevant for policy and program planning, and promote more evidence-based policymaking.


 

Value for money: Costing Open Government reforms

Daniel Nogueira-Budny's picture



How can governments ensure that they get their money’s worth when they embrace open government reforms?
 
Ongoing research suggests that open government reforms—those that promote transparency, participation, and accountability—may lead to better development outcomes if properly implemented by governments. However, governments must navigate the myriad of initiative options as they strive to improve citizens’ quality of life and achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Without a rough idea of the potential costs and benefits different reforms might offer, how can governments allocate their resources efficiently?
 
Multiple stakeholders are collaborating to answer this question. The Research Consortium on the Impact of Open Government commissioned a study to determine the financial costs associated with particular open government initiatives.  

Campaign Art: #2BillionCare – do you?

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report “Trees, forests and land use in drylands” (the first global assessment) 23 hectares of land per minute are lost to desertification. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification defines desertification as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climate variations and human activities.” Desertification in return reduces the biological and economic productivity of drylands. Drylands are the land areas that receive relatively low overall amounts of precipitation in the form of rainfall or snow, referring to all lands where the climate is classified as dry, dry-sub-humid, semi-arid and arid, exclusive of hyper-arid areas.

Desertification poses direct threat to the livelihoods of an estimated 2 billion people who live in drylands, which covers about 41 percent of the Earth’s land surface. Desertification, land degradation, scarcity of water, draughts, food shortages, hunger and violence disrupts the lives of millions of people, and pushes them into forced migration. Therefore, the need to deepen our knowledge about desertification, the status of drylands globally, and the ways to improve the management and restoration of them cannot be underestimated.

In order to raise awareness about the importance of the world’s dryland forests, and bring attention to the urgent need to improve the management and restoration of drylands, FAO launched a global campaign #2BillionCare.

#2BillionCare – do you?

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Let’s turn the lights on! The PISA test and FYR Macedonia

Bojana Naceva's picture
 

In 2015, over half a million students—representing 28 million 15-year-olds in 72 countries and economies—took the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test. The Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia has participated in international large scale assessments since 1999.

Debates about the country’s performance have always focused on a comparison with other counties’ mean scores; and, after a few days, everyone - including the education authorities – have continued with business as usual.  The available data was rarely used to underpin policy decisions or shape reforms.

The system has operated in the dark for decades.Addressing these challenges requires the mobilization of all available expertise in the country, regardless of political or ethnic affiliation. The time is now, tomorrow may be too late.

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