The recent massive streets protests against the brutal and deadly assault on a young woman in a private bus in India capital, New Delhi, have been likened to the Arab Spring of India, a definitive turning point in the country’s political evolution. Clearly, in both its composition and content, the protests resonate with, not only the revolutionary street demonstrations in early 2011 in many countries in the Middle East, but also with a number of other movements that have burgeoned in countries across the world over the last couple of years. In the wake of the Arab Spring, and supposedly drawing inspiration from it, demonstrators occupied the financial centers of the US and Europe, conjuring up images of the 1960s. Unrest over austerity measures in European capitals hit by the global financial crisis continued. In the UK and Chile, students took to the streets protesting against high university fees. And in India itself, the anti-rape protests came on the heels of an anticorruption movement, unparalleled in its mass participation, media attention, and longevity.
The water sector is very much a matter of supply and demand – and you better not forget about the demand side. Reform in any sector depends on public support. A new Learning Note on “Communication for Water Sector Reform: Obstacles and Opportunities,” published by the World Bank’s Operational Communications department, showcases the role of strategic communication in making water sector reform successful and sustainable.
The World Bank Institute's Leadership and Governance Practice, the World Bank's External Affairs Operational Communications Department, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California are pleased to announce the 2013 Summer Institute in Communication and Governance Reform.
The course is primarily designed for strategists and advisers in the public sector and civil society, senior development professionals, and seasoned communication specialists who want to strengthen critical competencies in providing implementation support to change agents and reform leaders in developing countries.
The 9.5-day course will be held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, May 28 - June 7, 2013. It will equip participants with knowledge about the most recent advances in communication and proven techniques in reform implementation. Participants will develop core competencies essential to bringing about real change, leading to development results in a wide range of sectors.
Participants will acquire critical skills in five key areas:
It is now 2050. Globally, we are 9 billion strong. Only 20% of us are directly involved in agriculture, and poor country economies have diversified. Yet we all have enough food. Technological innovation has played its part, but increased production has been largely driven by institutional reform. For example, industrialized countries have eliminated the subsidies that once undercut poor country agricultural production and exports. Land reform has spread in Latin America. Water reform has proceeded in Asia. Irrigation, which once constituted 70% of freshwater use, now consumes less than 50%. New agronomic practices are taking hold worldwide. The world is eating more healthily and locally. The sustainability of our agricultural systems is taken as non-negotiable by the world’s politicians.
The key? Institutional reform. And the key to institutional reform has been placing citizens and primary producers in more central oversight and ownership positions, with governments stepping back and taking more responsibility for managing at watershed and ecosystem levels.
In practice, theory is something else. I've already heard variants of this expression in several countries and languages. Very often from people referring to the gap between abstract, generic principles and the implementation of projects and policies.
The United States Institute of Peace has a very interesting paper out on ‘Democratic Breakthroughs: the Ingredients of Successful Revolts.’ It's a bit reductionist, but identifies some potentially informative patterns. This from the summary:
The cases of successful breakthrough examined in this study are the Soviet Union in 1991 and Russia in 1993, Poland in 1989, Serbia in 2000, Ukraine in 2004, Indonesia by 1999, Chile in 1988, and South Africa by 1996. Cases of failed and then ultimately successful democratic transition are Ghana by 2000, Mexico by 2000, South Korea by 1987, and Turkey by 1983. Finally, the cases of failed transition examined are Algeria in 1991, Iran in 1979, China in 1989, and Azerbaijan in 2005.
As always after an intense ‘immersion’ in our programme work, I left the Philippines with my head buzzing. Here are some impressions, memories and ideas that don’t fit into a more structured blogpost:
Migration: One in 9 Filipinos are outside the country, constituting a major export sector (the government deliberately trains more nurses than the country needs, to encourage outmigration). On the way in from Qatar, I sat next to a Filipino gold miner, working for an Australian/Filipino company in Tanzania, 2 months on, 1 month off. OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers – this country loves acronyms) even have their own immigration channels at the airport (see pic).
“The biggest obstacle to reform is that insiders can devote time and energy to maintaining their position. For ordinary citizens, political reform is a sideshow that hardly repays such efforts.”
-- Samuel Brittan, Financial Times, July 5, 2012, Nil desperandum in the fight against crony capitalism
After reciting the familiar evidence on the learning achievement problems in poor countries, Justin Sandefur offers an even more familiar ‘one-stop’ solution – a market-based fix, with low-fee private schools, vouchers, and the apparently talismanic Pearson corporation leading the way to a better, smarter future. It seems that only for-profit school providers and corporate entrepreneurs know the secret of raising education standards of marginalized kids in poor countries, and that public provision is part of the problem rather than part of a potential solution.
Nothing in the research cited by Justin makes the case for his prescriptions. Let’s start by being clear about our differences.
Nearly a week ago, we began the second World Bank-Annenberg Executive Course in Communication and Governance Reform, which is being hosted at the University of Southern California. The last few days have been filled with interactive courses and engaging discussions between top notch researchers, communication practitioners, and program participants from Uganda, Yemen, Serbia, Zambia, Morocco, and Pakistan, among other countries. The participants of this year's program have all come together to pursue a similar goal: develop core competencies essential for the successful implementation of governance objectives, even in the most difficult reform environment.
This endeavor was launched a year ago with an inaugural course in July 2011 in Washington, DC through the partnership of the World Bank’s External Affairs Operational Communication division, the World Bank Institute’s Governance Practice, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California and the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. In the last year, these partners have focused on creating the 2012 Summer Institute, which continues to develop networks of specially trained communication practitioners that can provide effective implementation support to reform leaders and change agents.