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Passions Fuelling Interests: A Portfolio Approach to Diaspora-Home Country Projects

Yevgeny Kuznetsov's picture
Photo:Istockphoto.com

For 20 years, BP Agrawal led research and development at such companies as General Dynamics, ITT, GTE, and Hughes, helping take new technologies from lab to marketplace. US-based Agrawal and his diaspora peer had a number of discussions on how they can make an impact in home country (India), and concluded that it is not their financial contributions that would make a difference but rather new commercial models of public service provision. In 2006, he won Development Marketplace awards for River from the Sky, a system of community water provision in draught-stricken areas and in 2007 for, Clinics for Mass Care, a system of mobile, kiosk-based clinics.

Recognition of the poor as a major market opportunity has produced bottom-of-the-pyramid innovation, the hallmark of which is global search for home-grown solutions. Diaspora members are natural vehicles for both global search and diffusion in the local context. In reality, diffusion is all that matters. Thanks to Agrawal’ patience, perseverance and persistence, he was able to enter into partnership with a local government which significantly speeded up the diffusion.  

New Pragmatism versus Failing Neoliberalism

Grzegorz W. Kolodko's picture

The source of the current global economic crisis lies deeply in U.S.-style neoliberal capitalism, or contemporary laissez faire. It could not have been triggered in countries with a social market economy, but only in the conditions of the neoliberal Anglo-American model. The intense shock the world experienced could take place only as a result of the coincidence of numerous political, social and economic circumstances (as well as technological ones, since it would not have been possible without the Internet). The overlapping of these conditions in a specific way, which accumulated the crisis-related phenomena and processes, was possible only under a special combination of values, institutions and policies — are typical of U.S.-style neoliberalism.

Mideast Tremors and Sub-Saharan Africa: Is There a Media Divide?

Hannah Bowen's picture

This week, as mass protests continued to sweep across North Africa and the Middle East, observers keep asking, “Where will be next?”  Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, currently under siege, has campaigned throughout his long tenure for African unity, arguing that the similarities tying the continent together outweigh the differences. The events of the past few weeks have highlighted differences between North and Sub-Saharan Africa, however, including one which may be critical in determining whether long-serving leaders south of the Sahara face the same challenges Qadhafi is now battling: access to media and communication technology.

This issue was strikingly evident in Zimbabwe on Saturday, when police arrested nearly 50 people who had gathered to watch videos of international media coverage of the events unfolding in Tunisia and Egypt. As reported in the New York Times, the gathering “allowed activists who had no Internet access or cable television to see images from the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt” and was intended to start a discussion on the implications of these events for Zimbabwe.

Africa's Evolving Infosystems

Antonio Lambino's picture

Our fascination with information and communication technologies (ICTs) crosses many borders.  The public, private, and nonprofit sectors are all atwitter about it.  The same goes for young and old, rich and poor, and the many groups in between.  For the more affluent, it’s partly about aesthetic coolness and conspicuous consumption.  For geeks, it’s partly about what the newest gadgets can do that previous versions could not.  From a development perspective, it’s partly about more effective and efficient delivery of public and private goods and services.  And for all, it probably has something to do with enhanced opportunities for connections among people who might not have known of each other’s existence otherwise.  So, indeed, our fascination with ICTs crosses many borders.

It was this insight that I took away from a lunchtime seminar jointly organized by CommGAP, infoDev, and the Africa Governance and Anti-Corruption (GAC)-in-Projects Team at the World Bank.  At the event, Prof. Steven Livingston presented findings from his new study published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies entitled Africa’s Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Stability and Development.  Summarizing field research from at least six countries in the region, Livingston reasons that

How Human Rights Have Contributed to Development

Otaviano Canuto's picture

The last 20 years have seen a growing engagement between development and human rights practitioners. But are we still mainly talking past each other? Or has there been valuable mutual learning with development results on the ground?

Let’s start by clarifying what I mean when I refer here to human rights. Adapted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, human rights are international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, economic and social abuses, or, alternatively, which serve to secure and preserve extremely important goods, protections and freedoms in these various areas, for all people everywhere. These rights are now embodied in the 1947 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and nine core international covenants and treaties.

Since 1947 much has happened. And in the last two decades, there has been a growing convergence between human rights and development. Paralleling the broad reach of human rights concerns, the scope of development has also extended enormously. From mainly being concerned with economic growth, the term has broadened to include poverty reduction, inequality, human and social development, the environment, governance and institutions, just to name some. From GDP figures, we now also think about households and the specific needs of specific groups.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

POLIS Journalism and Society (LSE)
After Tunisia and Egypt: towards a new typology of media and networked political change

"Social media did not ’cause’ the revolutions in Tunisia or Egypt. But if I want to find out where the next uprising in the Middle East might occur, that is certainly where I would look. Social media is now a useful indicator, if not predictor, of political change.

And regardless of the causal relationship, social media does seem to be a critical factor in the evolution of a new networked kind of politics.

Of course, the most important pre-conditions for revolution are economic. Both Tunisia and Egypt had recently suffered economic downturns on top of gross income inequality in societies that are relatively developed."

Got syringes?

Alaka Holla's picture

In Cambodia, similar to many developing countries with considerable service delivery challenges and weak regulatory environments, the first choice for health care is often a private medical provider. But despite the overwhelming popularity of such facilities – in Cambodia, more than 76 percent of health care visits in 2005-2006 were to private providers according to the most recent Demographic and Health Survey --  research and interventions mainly have focused on public sector health services.

India's Karnataka State Pioneers a Holistic Approach to Watershed Development

South Asia's picture


The Karnataka Watershed Development project - also known as Sujala - has increased the availability of water in seven drought-prone districts of northern Karnataka. Treatments on the upper and lower reaches of watersheds have helped raise water tables, brought degraded lands under cultivation, enabled farmers to diversify into higher value crops and horticulture, and raised agricultural productivity. State of the art remote sensing has been used to monitor impacts. Incomes for both the landed and landless poor have increased.

Come to this Malaysian province to see an alternative path on energy

Daniel Kammen's picture

 

   Photo courtesy Willem V.
   Strien/Flickr under Creative
   Commons License

It is all too easy to see environmental protection and economic development simply as competing philosophies, and nothing more. A range of studies attest to the fact that this is a false dichotomy. In my earlier blog, I described the alternative vision that became a reality in a small Nicaraguan coastal community that chose to invest in a diverse set of clean energy alternatives.  Even with cases like this one described in the literature, there remains in some circles a sense that these must be concocted.

 

The headlines often reinforce this simple dichotomy of environment versus economic growth, where the choice presented is “preserve a forest and forego the lumber”, “save a river and deny a community hydropower”, or “find the financing for more expensive solar power or accept ill-health and global warming from coal.” I have been convinced that another path or paths exist, ever since reading a remarkable paper on the `valuation’ of a tropical rain forest (Peters, Gentry and Mendelsohn, `Valuation of an Amazonian Rainforest', Nature). This short paper got me thinking about how we ignore the longer-term economic wins of sustainability for short-term profit.

 

I recently had the wonderful fortune to get involved in a case that reinforced the fact that options always exist, if we work together to find them.

 

Early in 2010, a consortium of citizens from Sabah, Malaysia came to my laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, convinced that unexplored options must exist to provide the energy needed for this Malaysian Province without placing a 300 MW coal fired power plant on the edge of the ‘coral triangle’ off the coast of North Borneo. This plant was planned at a site only 20 kilometers from the last remaining reserve for the critically endangered Sumatran Rhino of Borneo (of which there may be only 30 individuals or so remaining). This plan would have required the weekly import of coal from South Borneo (Kalimantan). Just a few years ago, the coal plant seemed inevitable.

Deconstructing People Power

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

If you're interested in some of the nuts and bolts behind "people power," this short piece on nonviolent resistance is worth checking out. As my colleague Anne noted in her earlier post on coalition building, even the most amorphous-looking of crowds often have a strategy and discipline behind them that is based on core principles and smart organizational strategy. 

The article highlights three key ingredients for success: 1) overcoming fear and obedience/apathy; 2) targeted noncooperation; and 3) nonviolent discipline. Of these, the fascinating one to me (from a CommGAP perspective) is the first one: after all, this basically entails engineering a mass (and rapid) shift in public opinion under what must be, by definition, adverse circumstances. How does this occur when the government is able to literally pull the plug on major communication channels? Could it have something to do with the nature or robustness of the public sphere in the country concerned? I suspect it does, but unfortunately we do not yet have the tools or the conceptual frameworks to properly consider this question (from an operationally oriented development perspective rather than an academic standpoint). At the very least, it would be worth exploring how we might develop frameworks and diagnostics that would shed further illumination on these important events.


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