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Governance

Reflections on the Chile Earthquake and Disaster Response

Isabel Guerrero's picture

So many feelings and thoughts as I watch and digest the earthquake in Chile…some of them very relevant to understanding the importance of disaster preparedness in South Asia, a region that is exposed to so many natural shocks.

Immediate feelings of admiration and pride. The incredible reaction from Michele Bachelet as the leader of the whole country: less than an hour after the earthquake at the center to manage disasters, gathering the facts, coming out to tell the people of Chile what was happening, and taking a helicopter to the worst affected areas. She was not dramatic. Quite knowledgeable, deferring to the experts on things she didn’t understand, and empathic throughout. Not looking down on people, not overly reassuring, but holding. One felt glad to have her as a President in this moment; sure she would do the right thing. No ego and the right tone.

Still a Niche? ICTs for Disaster Response and Development

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

When I try to wrap my head around the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development, I usually don't get much further than "blogging" and "text messages." It was therefore enlightening to attend today's World Bank Institute Keys to Innovation Discussion Series on "Developers for Development: Using Open Source Technology in Disaster Response and Beyond." Five presenters from open source organizations introduced their projects. The relevance of those projects is painfully obvious in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.

Involving Afghans for Success

Nancy Dupree's picture

Current rehabilitation and development rhetoric calls for listening to the Afghans and giving them the lead. Sadly, actions too often defy these wise words. The challenge is to make way for genuine in depth Afghan involvement at a time when the problems inherent in a lackluster government beset with corruption are so complex, and, particularly, when the aid-dispensing agencies so often disregard coordination and cooperation.

Politics within the prevailing environment of conflict imposes a sense of great urgency, no doubt, but many basic development principles are being set aside when they are most needed. Plans that rest on massive projects designed by outsiders lavishing too much money and demanding instant implementation are bound to be ineffective. Quick fixes never have worked. Throwing around money indiscriminately just compounds problems and raises new dilemmas. Sustained development, as has been established for decades, requires patient on the ground interactions over time.

Quote of the Week

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"A vast change has happened in politics in the past half-century. The media have become crucial to the business of governing. Though they do not rule the country, the media sometimes rule the rulers, forcing them to spend long hours wooing, refuting, dodging and complaining."

-- John Lloyd, Power and the press, Financial Times, February 20 2010

 

Developers for Development: Using Open Source Technologies in Disaster Response and Beyond

Richard Murby's picture

keys2innovJoin us on Monday March 1st at 2:00 pm EST for the 2nd event in the keys2innov series. This event looks at the innovative solutions used by the crowdsourcing community in their stunning response to the Haiti Disaster and will explore how these initiatives are changing the landscape of development.

The event will be streamed online in English, French and Spanish. You can also follow updates and put questions to the panel by using the #keys2innov tag.

Full event details below
 

'Hot Spots,' 'Bright Spots,' and Hidden Strengths in Capacity

Tom Grubisich's picture

There is a laser-like focus on the capacity of developing countries to respond effectively to the steep challenges of their Millennium Development Goals and

Ethiopian farmer, with his children, shows newly irrigated crop to extension agent.

destructive climate change.  Capacity gaps are relentlessly pinpointed.  Sometimes national governments themselves provide the toughest evaluations, like this one from Bangladesh's Ministry of Environment and Forest on the country's climate adaptation action program:

"...institutional capacity including human resource quality [is] weak and poor and needs substantial improvement if the challenges of climate change are to be faced squarely....A lack of awareness, both of the potential gravity and the extent of the problem as well as possible actions that could be taken, is the foremost [barrier]. This lack of awareness exists at all levels from national level policy makers to sectoral and local level officials as well as amongst civil society and the most vulnerable communities themselves...."

There are, to be sure, capacity gaps in Bangladesh and other developing countries, and identifying what and where they are is the first step in closing them.  But there are also "bright spots" and, perhaps more important, underlying strengths, especially at the local level across all developing countries that can be masked by the emphasis on gaps.

Act Globally, Act Locally

Antonio Lambino's picture

Like Silvio Waisbord (see previous post), I was also at the International Studies Association Conference in New Orleans.  One of the sessions I attended, “Institututionalisation and Norms in Global Governance”, spoke to CommGAP’s interest in how global standards emerge and spread.  How do norms wend their way to the top of the global policy and decision agendas and get embedded in the policy regimes of various countries?  It’s a massive question and no single panel or conference can comprehensively explore its multiple dimensions.  This panel, however, did a good job at pointing toward some promising directions.

Results’ Agenda and Economists

Eliana Cardoso's picture

In the book, The Idea of Justice, Amartya Sen motivates the discussion on the importance of processes and responsibilities by relying on an example. In the Gita (part of the Mahabharata), on the eve of the crucial battle episode in the epic, Arjuna expresses his doubts about leading the fight which will result in so much killing. Lord Krishna, tells him that he, Arjuna, must perform his duty, that is, to fight. And to fight, irrespective of the consequences.

Krishna’s blessing of the demands of duty is meant to win the argument from a religious perspective. But most of us would share Arjuna’s concerns about the fact that, if the war were to occur, with him leading the charge on the side of justice and propriety, many people would get killed. He himself would be doing a lot of the killing, often of people for whom he had affection.

Right analysis, wrong conclusion?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

During my recent seminar in Geneva, where I was also meeting with the Africa Progress Panel, a couple of members of the audience (which consisted of ambassadors, U.N. staff, civil society and academics) said, “I liked your analysis, but not your conclusions.” 

The seminar summarized many of the points I have been making on this blog:

  • For the decade before 2008, Africa was experiencing sustained and widespread economic growth, thanks to aid, debt relief, private capital flows, high primary commodity prices, and improved macroeconomic policies
  • Despite being the least integrated region, Africa was perhaps the worst hit by the global crisis
  • Contrary to some people’s fears, African governments continued to pursue prudent economic policies during the crisis—even though the visible payoffs to these policies (growth and poverty reduction) had suddenly diminished
  • Conclusion:  Economic policy in Africa, which had been improving before the crisis, and either stayed on course or improved during the crisis, has never been better.

    Since my conclusion followed directly from the analysis, I had three possible explanations for the reaction mentioned above:

Keeping Haiti on My Mind

Antonio Lambino's picture

The snow is finally melting in Washington, D.C. and its surrounding areas.  Things seem to be on their way to returning to business as usual. 

We have just gotten through back-to-back blizzards worse than most seen in a century, evidenced in part by the stunned old-timers and record-setting snowfall levels.  That said, what we have recently experienced here is a far cry from the devastation and suffering caused by natural disasters in other parts of the world, such as the recent typhoon in Southeast Asia and earthquake in Haiti.  But that’s not the impression one would take away from the local and national news coverage of these snowstorms.

Rarely warranted hyperbole has become typical in coverage of natural disasters.  Take, for example, what some print and broadcast news outlets named their snowstorm coverage: “Snowmageddon”, “Snowpocalypse”, and “Snowtorius B.I.G.”  Jon Stewart, executive producer and host of Comedy Central’s fake news program The Daily Show, poked fun at these ridiculous appellations.  And quite rightly, I think. 


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