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February 2017

From Nairobi to Manila, mobile phones are changing the lives of bus riders

Shomik Mehndiratta's picture

Every day around the world, millions of people rely on buses to get around. In many cities, these services carry the bulk of urban trips, especially in Africa and Latin America. They are known by many different names—matatus, dalalas, minibus taxis, colectivos, diablos rojos, micros, etc.—but all have one thing in common: they are either hardly regulated… or not regulated at all. Although buses play a critical role in the daily life of many urban dwellers, there are a variety of complaints that have spurred calls for improvement and reform. For users, the lack of information and visibility on services has been a fundamental concern. Having to pay separately for each ride disproportionately hurts the poor traveling from the periphery, who often have to catch several buses to reach the center. The vehicles are old and sometimes unsafe. Adding to concerns about safety, bus drivers compete with each other for passengers in what is known in Latin America as the “guerra del centavo” or “penny war”. Non-users, planners, and city authorities also complain about the pollution and accidents caused by these drivers as well as the congestion generated by the ‘wall of buses’ on key city arterials.
 
To address these issues, cities have attempted to reform these informal bus services by setting up concession contracts and bring multiple bus owners and operators together under formal companies (refer to the attached note: Bus Reform in Developing Countries—Reflections on the Experience thus Far). But even though some of them have made great strides in revamping their bus services (particularly by implementing Bus Rapid Transit systems), the overall success of these attempts has been limited, and unregulated buses remain, in countless cities, a vital component of the urban transport ecosystem.
 
However, we are now witnessing a different, more organic kind of change that is disrupting the world of informal buses using ubiquitous cheap sensors and mobile technology.

Partnering to measure impacts of private sector projects on job creation

Alvaro Gonzalez's picture
Worker in Ghana
For the poor and vulnerable of the world, jobs are key to ending poverty and driving development. But not all jobs are equally transformational.  
Photo: Jonathan Ernst / World Bank

Jobs are what we earn, what we do, and sometimes even who we are. For the poor and vulnerable of the world, jobs are key to ending poverty and driving development. But not all jobs are equally transformational. Good jobs add value to society, taking into account the benefits they have on the people who hold them, and the potential spillover effects on others. For example, inclusive jobs, such as those that employ women, can change the way families spend money and invest in the education and health of children.  

Chart: Marine Catches Have Stagnated While Fish Farming has Grown

Tariq Khokhar's picture

While aquaculture, or fish farming, has grown in recent years, the global marine catch has stagnated since the early 1990s. Almost 90 percent of marine fisheries assessed by the FAO were considered fully-fished or over-fished in 2013. A new report (PDF 2.1MB) estimates that the sector could generate an additional $83 billion in net annual benefits if it moved to a more optimal level of fishing, while improving the size, quality and sustainability of fish harvest.


Read more in "The Sunken Billions Revisited : Progress and Challenges in Global Marine Fisheries"

A hybrid model to evaluate energy efficiency for climate change mitigation

Govinda Timilsina's picture
In response to global calls for climate change mitigation, many countries, especially in the developing world, have considered pursuing policies that can help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and also ensure additional economic benefits. Accelerating the adoption of energy efficient technologies is one of the main options as it may help reduce consumers’ spending on energy besides reducing GHG emissions.

Engaged excellence in research…another buzz phrase or an opportunity

Institute of Development Studies's picture

Katy Oswald, Research Officer in the Power and Popular Politics cluster, and an affiliate of the Governance and Gender and Sexuality clusters, discusses the meaning of "engaged excellence" in research.

Over the last year, amidst the rising tide of populist politics around the world, we have increasingly seen research and evidence dismissed as irrelevant, disconnected, or an unnecessary luxury. 'Truth', 'experts' and their advice are rejected in favour of media spin, emotional appeals or so-called self-evident 'facts' (or indeed lies, masquerading as 'alternative facts'). This post-truth move requires a response that doesn't just reassert the value of academic ivory towers. For the specific context of international development at least, we at IDS argue it requires 'engaged excellence'.

What do we mean when we say engaged excellence? Isn't it just another buzz phrase within development, and do we really need another buzz phrase? No it's not, it is a call to transform the way in which we work. It is, an attempt to capture a way of doing research that is different and could be transformative. It is a phrase that describes research that is directly involved in the real word, not separate or abstract from it. Importantly, it implies that the high quality of our research (excellence) is dependent upon it linking to and involving those who are at the heart of the change we wish to see (engaged).

We have identified four pillars that underpin the concept of engaged excellence: high quality research; evidence that makes an impact; knowledge that is co-constructed with others; and enduring and mutually dependent partnerships. An important point is that these pillars are mutually dependent, they cannot exist in isolation from each other.

PPPs need PALS

Malcolm Morley's picture



In my previous blogs I have argued that to realize the potential of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), the public sector needs to develop Public to Public Partnerships (P2P Partnerships). The more the public sector can work as P2P Partnerships, the more it can change the economic and social value achievable by PPPs above what the public sector can achieve alone.
 
As P2P Partnerships develop to create an increased scale and scope of PPP opportunities, so too will the need for the private sector to evolve to enable it to respond to those opportunities. This may be in the form of diversified organizations or consortia of private sector organizations through Private to Private Partnerships (Pr2Pr Partnerships).
 
A key test of organizations seeking to achieve “joint working” (working collaboratively or in partnership together) whether for PPPs, P2P Partnerships, or Pr2Pr Partnerships, is whether they have PALS. PALS is an acronym for the key activities in joint working that stand for Prioritize, Aggregate, Learn and Share.

Modernizing property registration: Four lessons we can learn from Russia

Wael Zakout's picture
 Wael Zakout

I just came back from a trip to Russia. Back in 2006 and 2007, I had traveled to Russia frequently as the lead for the Cadastre Development Project. This time - as a Global Lead for Land and Geospatial at the World Bank - I saw something I did not expect to see.

Privatization of real-estate properties and protecting property rights became two important pillars of transformation following the end of the Soviet era. But, while they were important policy goals in the 1990s, the system did not really function properly: rights were not fully protected and people waited for many months to register property transactions.

Charting a path to valuing the world’s most precious resource

Willem Mak's picture
Most people agree that water is an extremely valuable resourcefor farmers who depend on it to grow crops, for factories that need it to cool machines and spin turbines and, of course for life itself. But unlike most other valuable resources, it’s hard to place a price on water. The very fact that water is so important to people, economies, and the environment means that it is tough to even agree on a common way of valuing it.

Meet four women leading the drive for open data in Africa

David Mariano's picture

Editor’s note: This is a guest blog from Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute. This article was first published by This is Africa on 17th January 2017​.

 
Nkechi Okwuone

Across Africa, innovators are using open data to gain greater insight into local issues, and create new public services. From government open data platforms to startup accelerator programmes, open data is increasingly recognised as a tool for tackling challenges across a range of sectors including health, education and agriculture.

This autumn, in six cities across South Africa the Responsive Cities Challenge encouraged designers and entrepreneurs to use open data to develop solutions that will improve local government services. Meanwhile, in Burkina Faso, the CartEau project is using open data to map safe drinking water points and latrines across the country for the first time. These examples show how open data is a powerful vehicle for addressing complex problems.

Increasing digital connectivity is important for economic growth, education and democratic participation but the equalising force of the Web is only meaningful when everyone is included in the digital sphere. According to the Web Foundation, women face disproportionate barriers to access, with poor women in urban areas in 10 developing countries they looked at 50% less likely to be connected to the Internet than men in the same age group.

Open data – data anyone can access, use or share – is transformative infrastructure for a digital economy that is consistently innovating and bringing the benefits of the Web to society. Open data often goes hand in hand with open working cultures and open business practices. While this culture lends itself to diversity, it is important that those who are involved in open data make sure it addresses everyone's needs. It is therefore encouraging to see that open data initiatives in African countries are being led by women.

Handy NGO Guide to Social Network Analysis

Duncan Green's picture

Social Network Analysis has been cropping up a bit in my mental in-tray. First there was my Christmas reading – Social Physics, by Alex Pentland. Then came yesterday’s post from some networkers within Oxfam. So here are some additional thoughts, based on a great guide to SNA by the International Rescue Committee.

Complexity and Systems Thinking seems to push people into two divergent sets of conclusions. One camp says ‘planning and toolkits suck, stick to close observation and response to any given context, and work from instinct, judgement and fast feedback’.

Another group cries ‘whoopee, a whole new set of toolkits!’ The problem with the first is how to ensure rigour and accountability, when everyone is just taking decisions according to their ‘instinct’ (what if someone’s instinct is disastrously wrong?) The problem with the second is that it can create exactly the kind of alluring but false certainty that complexity and systems approaches criticise elsewhere (logframes etc).

I lean towards the first group, with qualms, but like to keep an eye on the second, both to see if it is being oversold, and in the hope that it really does contain the seeds of a more rigorous approach to complexity. Social Network Analysis (SNA) looks like one of the most promising type 2 approaches. I’ve been worried that it is primarily being conceived as a tool for big guys with a lot of resources (see this post on Ben Ramalingam’s work, which prompted an impressive set of comments), so I was happy to come across the IRC’s excellent ‘SNA Handbook’, which provides a practical guide that seems well suited to NGO capacities.


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