We see donation appeals everywhere these days - to help the people in Japan, to help the people in Darfur, to help the people in Haiti. What influences our decision to give? An interesting study comes from British psychologists, who analyzed how individuals respond to donation appeals in the wake of man-made disasters - like war - versus natural disasters. The authors around Hanna Zagefka from Royal Holloway University in London found that natural disasters elicit more donations than those caused by people. Their explanation: people tend to assign some blame to the victims of man-made disaster, while they blame no one for being overrun by a Tsunami.
Building partly on a previous post on the value of indices, I'm highlighting this week a new edited volume published by Peter Lang Press, entitled Measures of Press Freedom and Media Contributions to Development: Evaluating the Evaluators. This rich and informative collection of essays, edited by Monroe Price, Susan Abbott and Libby Morgan, focuses a spotlight on well known indices in the area of press freedom and media independence, raising valuable questions about what the indices are measuring, what they are not measuring, and the linkage between assistance to independent media and democratization. I've contributed a chapter to this volume, as have expert colleagues such as Guobin Yang, Andrew Puddephat, Lee Becker and Tudor Vlad, Craig LaMay, fellow CommGAP blogger Silvio Waisbord, and many others.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Reasons Advanced for Lack of African FOI Laws
"Why does Africa have comparatively few freedom of information laws?
The reasons were explored in a number of papers presented at The First Global Conference on Transparency Research held May 19-20 at Rutgers University-Newark, N.J. (See overall report in FreedomInfo.org.)
One reason is that the western, liberal concept of access to information conflicts with different traditions of citizenship and governance in Africa, said Colin Darch, of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. “Indeed, the fact that the African campaigns for legislation per se have either lasted for decades or failed to get off the ground at all may be evidence that the wrong tree is being barked up.”" READ MORE
Philip Thigo and his partner, John Kipchumbah, were a part of the Infonet Project in Kenya that was hosted by the World Social Forum in 2007. The project proposed the use of technology to create an open information and communication infrastructure to enable communities to build social capital for democratic actions. The duo were concerned that no marked changes had occurred in the poverty rate in Kenya, despite the apparent economic progress in the country. The technical skills they acquired from Infonet prompted them to conceive the idea of a Budget Tracking Tool that would connect communities directly with the national development agenda, without the need for a third party or civil society organizations working on their behalf.
Having lived through the 1989 fall of the Berlin wall – and its subsequent domino effect through the region– we have been watching the ongoing Arab Spring with a strong sense of familiarity.
"Associations may socialise individuals into practising core civic and democratic values, such as tolerance, dialogue and deliberation, trust, solidarity, and reciprocity."
I'd mentioned in a previous post that I had a few more thoughts on this report on citizen engagement from the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability (Citizenship DRC) at the UK's Institute of Development Studies (IDS). In light of recent conversations at the Bank regarding civil society, I've been thinking about the significance of framing civil society in instrumental terms (i.e., as a means toward an end in achieving sectoral reforms) vs. framing it as a fundamental institution of good governance.
There is something elusive about the workings of government. “We have virtually no adequate bureaucratic theory that can help us deal with the fundamental structural problems that exist with respect to the public sector. ” One might be forgiven for assuming this statement was written recently. Quite the contrary, this was E A Brett, expressing in 1986 what seems to be a perennial concern of public sector management.
Education has long been a focal point of struggle in South Africa: the 1976 Soweto uprising, which set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the end of apartheid, was led by schoolchildren. In the 1980s, the contribution of youngsters to the liberation struggle took a starker turn: ‘No Education before Liberation’ became the watchword of many.
In countless movies about America's wild, wild west- - think about the many classic westerns you've seen -- the story follows a familiar pattern. There is a town known as, say, Tombstone where law-abiding citizens go about their daily lives. Outlaws ride into town. They steal, pillage, plunder, kill and maim. Then they ride out of town -- hard. The sheriff, furious, gathers a body of armed citizens on horseback. They are known as the posse. The posse rides out of town, determined to catch the outlaws. It is a hunt. The posse hunts down the outlaws, and there is a showdown. The bad guys are killed or unceremoniously hanged. Justice is deemed served. The sheriff and his posse ride back into town as the music picks up. Citizens welcome them joyously. They are heroes. The moral order is restored, and all is well.
Since the unceremonious dispatching of Osama bin Laden and the huge, visceral reactions to the event by the citizens of the United States - also known as 'a fist pump' moment -- I have been thinking about all my favorite wild, wild west movies. The modern posse is, of course, no longer a group of citizens, but Navy SEALS with superlative skills. And the modern outlaw is a terrorist from another tribe but one able to kill thousands. And the sheriff? Well, who would have believed who the modern sheriff turns out to be!
In the two weeks that the draft PSM Approach for 2010-2020 has been published on this blog for consultation, many experts and colleagues have taken the time and trouble to offer comments. These comments have enriched the debate and, plus or minus a few contradictions, offer some very clear ways forward.