A free and independent media plays an important role in monitoring public servants and holding them accountable for their actions. In this way they promote transparency and accountability within a country. The role of media in good governance is widely acknowledged. The Worldwide Govern
Last month, I had the pleasure to meet again with Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Advisor at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, during her visit to Washington. Sina and I first met Beyerle in Doha and were impressed by her research on civic campaigns to fight corruption; I had the chance to speak with her by phone in December and was happy to continue our conversation in person in February. Having examined a multitude of non-violent grassroots campaigns against corruption around the world for her own research (for those interested, here is the link to her research description), Beyerle shared with me not only numerous interesting cases for CommGAP to look into in our research, but also her observations about the factors that contribute to the success of civic efforts to fight corruption.
When I recently traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I spoke with several government officials in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs who told me about the many problems encountered by their migrant workers in the Middle East. As more Ethiopians, especially women, have been migrating to the Middle East as domestic workers, the embassies and consulates have received many complaints about false contracts being issued, passports of their nationals being taken away by their employers, and abuses in the work place. In order to tackle these problems, the government created the Overseas Employment Service, which is modeled after the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration.
Similar to the Philippines, the office regulates the private recruitment agencies to ensure that the migrants are not signing false contracts. All private recruitment agencies are required to obtain a 300 Birr (USD$30) license from the Ministry to recruit workers for one year (renewable), report the status of their workers, and are subject to auditing by the office to ensure that the workers are not being cheated by the agencies or their employers abroad. The office also provides pre-departure orientation seminars to educate Ethiopians about the rules of their employment contracts, how to send remittances, and the culture and work conditions in the destination country. This three hour orientation is conducted in the Ministry offices in Addis Ababa and the government has started 3 years ago to make it mandatory for those departing the country on overseas contracts.
|A recently released Post-Disaster Needs Assessment tells of big numbers: total damage and losses following typhoons Ketsana and Parma was US$4.3 billion. (Photo by Nonilon Reyes)|
My mind raced back to the remote town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar, as the Philippines government, development partners and the private sector were discussing the findings of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) in a recent dialogue in Makati City.
The PDNA—prepared by a team of local and international experts from the government agencies, private sector, civil society and development partners—tells about big numbers: total damage and losses following two typhoons, Ketsana and Parma, was US$4.3 billion. And resources needed for the Philippines to pick up the pieces and eventually get back on its feet is equally big—more than US$4.4 billion (pdf). There were discussions about how the PDNA could serve as a framework for recovery and reconstruction, but my mind kept telling me that one of the key principles to effectively address floods and disasters in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon—on top of the required resources, processes, and governance reforms—lies in the experiences of residents of that remote town in the Visayas Islands.
|Some recipients of a scholarship given to young girls in Cambodia at the end of primary school. The program has had a significant effect on girls’ secondary enrollment. (photo by Deon Filmer)
Those of us who have had the pleasure of raising an adolescent girl – and survived the experience – might blanch at the thought of a program to stimulate education that gave her, rather than the doting parent, a grant equivalent to 3% of the family’s average per capita monthly consumption. And yet, that’s exactly what a policy experiment, conducted by my friend Berk Ozler and other researchers, did in Malawi. What’s more, they found that raising these girl-targeted cash transfers increased school attendance much more than raising those given to parents.
Empowering women with resources has long been recognized as a powerful weapon to safeguard investments in human capital. Research has shown that transfers to women have a more powerful effect than to men in raising school attendance and ensuring that kids are immunized. But more recent research, like Berk et al.’s, is showing that policies aimed directly at adolescent girls and young women may have an even greater effect, not only in encouraging schooling but in ensuring reproductive health. Pascaline Dupas’ policy experiment in Kenya showed that simply giving young women information showing that older men were more likely to be HIV-positive led them to eschew partnering with ‘sugar daddies’.
Updates to monthly remittances data
- Remittances to Guatemala declined 10.9% y-o-y in October. Year-to-date decline is 9.9%.
- Remittances to El Salvador declined 7.1% y-o-y in October. Year-to-date decline is 10%.
- Remittances to Jamaica declined 17.3% y-o-y in September. Year-to-date decline is 15.5%.
- Remittances to Nicaragua declined 8.4% y-o-y in September. Year-to-date decline is 6.3%.
- Remittances to Pakistan grew 62.7% y-o-y in October. Year-to-date growth is 26.7%.
- Remittances to Nepal grew 2% y-o-y in September. Year-to-date growth is 14.2%.
- Remittances to the Philippines grew 8.6% y-o-y in September. Year-to-date growth is 4.2%.
Remittances to Latin America and Caribbean are falling:
If you haven’t already taken the time to do some development-related Googling after last week’s announcement that World Bank statistics are now available through the ubiquitous search engine’s public data tool, I’d suggest exploring the exciting new feature. Now, anyone can easily access 17 World Development Indicators by searching for them in Google. Give it a try by searching for the GDP of China or CO2 emissions of Indonesia or exports of Thailand – or another country and any of these indicators.
When you click on the search result, an interactive chart page shows you how the data have changed over time and allows you to compare to other countries (or the world). (You can also embed the chart, like the one below.) For example, take a look at how the GDP growth rate of China compares to Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in the last 50 years.
To further explore the data, check out another nifty tool, also launched last week by the World Bank. DataFinder lets you research more about these development indicators and see how they look on an interactive map. Read more about DataFinder here.
Is transparency delayed, transparency denied? How about when disasters, such typhoons or earthquakes, strike? Should transparency and citizen access to information as regards the disbursement of calamity funds be considered a priority? Or should transparency temporarily take a back seat during disasters with all efforts going into emergency response?
|David Manalo's organization wants to distribute unique floating generators to provide electricity to people in a remote part of the Philippines.|
Editor's note: This post is part of Blog Action Day on climate change. For more information, visit blogactionday.org.
Apologies for having been out of touch since Carbon Expo. I needed a break, and summer in Croatia proved one can have a life beyond international development and carbon finance. Climate change, however, very much stayed on my mind with reports of wildfires in the United States and Greece. Clearly, one cannot escape all-encompassing global change, in particular when negotiations have now started in earnest on a post-2012 treaty to reduce carbon emissions and provide financing for developing countries.
Some still think that climate change is just a buzz topic and will quietly disappear from global attention. Let me assure you that many people in East Asian and Pacific countries would disagree. They are hit by natural disasters, which in recent years not only steadily increased in frequency, but also in intensity.