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Crisis Camp: another face of humanitarian relief

Aleta Moriarty's picture

The room was deathly quiet apart from the tap-tap-tap of volunteers diligently clacking away at their keyboards. It could have been a library or students studying for exams but appearances are deceptive. It was a Crisis Camp—a gathering of volunteer tech heads who had pulled together for the weekend to build critical mapping data to help Pakistani flood victims.

Usually, when we think of humanitarian relief, images of food drops or internally displaced persons (IDP) camps first come to mind but there is a whole world of altruism that has emerged which is helping behind the scenes in times of crises. Detailed maps are critical to delivering humanitarian relief to the millions of Pakistanis that have been affected by flooding.

ปลาหมึกพอลพยากรณ์เศรษฐกิจไทย: เคลื่อนไหวด้วยหนวดเส้นเดียว

Frederico Gil Sander's picture


Image courtesy of Caitfoto through a Creative Commons license
(Originally posted in English)

หลังจากที่คณะผู้จัดทำรายงานตามติดเศรษฐกิจไทยของธนาคารโลกได้รับความช่วยเหลือจากทั้งหมอดูลายมือเขมรและหมอดูกระดองเต่าผู้โด่งดัง ให้สามารถจัดทำตัวเลขประมาณการด้านเศรษฐกิจของไทยในปี 2553 ให้เสร็จสมบูรณ์ไปแล้วเมื่อเดือนเมษายนที่ผ่านมา    ทีมงานของเราก็แอบไปได้ยินข่าวคราวเกี่ยวกับหมอดูแม่น ๆ คนใหม่ที่โลกทั้งใบต้องตื่นตะลึงในความถูกต้องแม่นยำของเขา  ผมจึงต้องตาลีตาเหลือกไปจ้างหมอดูท่านนี้มาเป็นที่ปรึกษาเป็นการด่วน ทั้งนี้เพื่อให้แน่ใจว่าตัวเลขประมาณการด้านเศรษฐกิจที่ธนาคารโลกจะนำออกเผยแพร่แก่สาธารณชนในเดือนมิถุนายนนั้นใกล้เคียงกับความเป็นจริงที่สุด ไม่อย่างนั้นเสียชื่อนักเศรษฐศาสตร์ฟันธงหมด

Paul the Octopus' forecast on the Thai economy: Swimming with one tentacle

Frederico Gil Sander's picture

Image courtesy of Caitfoto through a Creative Commons license
(Available in: ภาษาไทย)

Following the very successful earlier engagements of a Khmer palm reader and a celebrity turtle-shell fortune teller, the Thailand economic team has recently hired the forecasting star of the moment to divine the future of the economy. I am not talking about Professor Nouriel “Dr. Doom” Roubini, but Octopus Paul, who had to escape Germany in a hurry to avoid becoming “pulpo a la Gallega”. For a hefty fee of a five shrimps, the wise cephalopod spent a few hours in our offices sharing his prognosis for the Thai economy.

What the Public Would Want If It Knew Better

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

We have often moaned about opinion polls and their limited value on this blog. You know, those things where people get asked about their favorite toothpaste and that gets sold as public opinion? The question, of course, is how to do it better. Public opinion is an intricate phenomenon. We don't really know how to define the public to begin with, let alone how to figure out their opinion.

There's been a great model around since the mid 90s: Deliberative Polling. Introduced by James Fishkin, Deliberative Polls are designed to "show what the public would think about the issues, if it thought more earnestly and had more information about them,” to provide a “glimpse of the hypothetical public” (Luskin, Fishkin, and Jowell, 2002). It works like this:

Carbon Expo highlights China's experience in Clean Development Mechanism

Florian Kitt's picture

Ok. We are back again @ Carbon Expo. This year in Cologne. The German weather cannot really keep up with Barcelona (were Carbon Expo was held in 2009) but we are keeping the spirits up and the opening event proved to be very interesting with a speech by the German Environment Minister, Norbert Roettgen.

On his round across the fairground the Minister then visited the China booth and the East Asia Pavilion, where Thailand, Mongolia, Lao, and Indonesia and China are exhibiting. Jiao Xiaoping, Deputy Director General, CDM Fund, China, welcomed the Minister and presented him with the latest report on "Clean Development Mechanism in China". We'll soon have it up here.

Beware the Carrotmob

Naniette Coleman's picture

"It is true that economic and social objectives have long been seen as distinct and often competing.  But this is a false dichotomy; it represents an increasingly obsolete perspective in a world of open, knowledge-based competition. Companies do not function in isolation from the society around them."

Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, "The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Philanthropy"
Harvard Business Review, 2002

Please, hold the door, the Carrotmob is coming. If you are among the un-indoctrinated, please allow me to introduce you to the Carrotmob. “Carrotmob is a type of consumer activism in which businesses compete at how socially responsible they can be, and then a network of consumers spends money to support whichever business makes the strongest offer.” According to Brian Byrnes, regular contributor to and author of “Argentine 'Carrotmob' stick up for green business” they are a global movement that is built on the 'carrot-or-the-stick' concept. Carrotmob rewards -- rather than punishes -- small businesses for employing sustainable practices. Essentially, a Carrotmob is the opposite of a boycott.”  Although the Carrotmob operates in the commercial sphere, they are working to increase, so called, public goods with other stakeholders in their community. Activities like those undertaken by the Carrotmob are an example of creative coalition building and help to begin to address one of the challenges of fostering a collective identity, maintaining both internal and external political efficacy.

The UNESCO Prize on ICT use in education

Michael Trucano's picture

UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for ICT use in Education | image copyright UNESCO, please see bottom of posting for attributionThe UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize is perhaps the highest profile international award given to acknowledge excellence in the use of ICTs in education around the world.  Created in 2005 following a donation made by the Kingdom of Bahrain, it is meant "to reward projects and activities of individuals, institutions, other entities or non-governmental organizations for excellent models, best practice, and creative use of information and communication technologies to enhance learning, teaching and overall educational performance".

The winners for 2009, announced back in December, will receive their awards in a ceremony at UNESCO headquarters in Paris next week. The latest winners are Dr. Alexei Semenov, Rector of the Moscow Institute of Open Education, Russian Federation, and Jordan's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology  (acknowledging its work in leading the Jordan Education Initiative). 

In its short history, the Prize has has done a good job in drawing attention to important work being done related to the use of technologies in the education sector that is, in many cases, largely unknown outside the borders of the host country.

Thailand's economy in 2010: Growth in balance

Frederico Gil Sander's picture

In the years since the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis, the Bank of Thailand (BoT) worked hard to build a heavy fortress around the nation’s financial sector. As a result, at a time when credit markets froze in developed countries and investors “fled to quality,” large amounts of capital still flowed into Thailand, where banks remained solid and well capitalized. Despite the financial strength brought by prudent policies, for the first time since the financial crisis, Thailand will see GDP and household consumption drop, and poverty could even increase in 2009. It is clear that the financial armor was insufficient to protect the economy from another crisis.

The culprit has been identified as Thailand’s excessive reliance on external demand, and talk of “rebalancing” growth towards domestic consumption and investment has become quite common (pdf). The idea of rebalancing makes some sense – but it can also be misleading. Let me explain.

New Google feature lets users quickly search World Bank development data

James I Davison's picture

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.