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December 2017

#7 from 2017: Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Lower Food Miles

Vivek Prasad's picture
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2017. This post was originally published on May 2, 2017

Millions of urban dwellers cultivate vegetables and fruit trees in home gardens, both for their families and for sale. In Dakar, 7500 households “grow their own” in micro-gardens. In Malawi, 700 000 urban residents practice home gardening to meet their food needs and earn extra income. Low-income city gardeners in Zambia make US$230 a year from sales. In cities like Bamako, Accra and Kumasi, depending on crop and season, between 60 and 100 per cent of leafy vegetables consumed are produced within the respective cities with employment figures ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 jobs. Even megacities such as Shanghai, with about 15% population growth per year, one of the fastest growing cities on the planet, maintains its urban farming as an important part of its economic system.


Farm plots amidst apartment blocks in Chaozhou, China.
 

Around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supply food to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population.    

Most cities in developing countries are facing challenges to create formal job opportunities. Urban agriculture can play an important role not only in enhancing food security but also in contributing to the eco-system - improved nutrition, poverty alleviation, local economic development and job creation as well as productive reuse of urban wastes.

Cuba has a system of urban organic farms called Organopónicos, which provides a fresh supply of organic food to the community, neighborhood improvement, beautification of urban areas, as well as employment opportunities. Cuba has more than 7,000 organopónicos, with some 200 gardens in Havana alone, covering more than 35,000 hectares of land, which supply its citizens with 90% of their fruit and vegetables. In Havana, 117,000 jobs in Havana and income for 150,000 low income families were directly provided by urban and peri-urban agriculture.

 


 

#8 from 2017: Blockchain for Development: A Handy Bluffers’ Guide

Duncan Green's picture

Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2017. This post was originally published on May 15, 2017.  

Top tip: if you’re in a meeting discussing anything to do with finance, at some point look wise and say ‘you do realize, blockchain is likely to change everything.’ Of course, there is always a terrifying chance that someone will ask what you actually mean. Worry not, because IDS has produced a handy bluffer’s guide to help you respond. Blockchain for Development – Hope or Hype?, by Kevin Hernandez, is the latest in IDS’ ‘Rapid Response Briefings’ series, (which itself is a nice example of how research institutions can work better around critical junctures/windows of opportunity). It’s only four pages, but in case even that is too onerous, here are some excerpts (aka a bluffer’s guide to the bluffer’s guide).

‘What is blockchain technology?

At its heart, the blockchain is a ledger. It is a digital ledger of transactions that is distributed, verified and monitored by multiple sources simultaneously. It may be difficult to think of something as basic as the way we keep and maintain records as a technology, but this is because record-keeping is so ingrained in daily life, albeit often invisibly. The ubiquity of ledgers is in part the reason why blockchains are held as having so much disruptive potential. Traditionally, ledgers have enabled and facilitated vital functions, with the help of trusted third parties such as financial institutions and governments. These include: ensuring us of who owns what; validating transactions; or verifying that a given piece of information is true.
 

#9 from 2017: Virtual Reality - The Future of Immersive Learning for Development

Sheila Jagannathan's picture

Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2017. This post was originally published on March 7, 2017.  

In the blink of an eye, virtual reality can take you from a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan to a first responder’s mission in Nepal, from practicing surgery in NigeriaFormer Bougainvillean combatant, now cocoa farmer Timothy Konovai tries out VR for the first time (World Bank/Alana Holmberg to tracking storms from earth observation satellites across South America. Virtual reality adds a new dimension to the learning experience: presence, the feeling of actually being in another place.
 
Learning from this new generation technology is becoming available at your fingertips for a minimal cost. Although virtual reality is still in its infancy, its cutting-edge approach and storytelling is already impacting development education, where it can draw us closer to the many development challenges we face.
 
What Exactly is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality refers to technology that generates realistic images, sounds, and other sensory inputs that replicate an environment. A headset completely immerses the individual in the environment being generated. Immersion is a word you will hear quite a bit related to virtual reality: immersive learning, immersive simulations, or immersive applications. The most famous virtul reality tool now is probably Oculus Rift.

What Exactly is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality refers to technology that generates realistic images, sounds, and other sensory inputs that replicate an environment. A headset completely immerses the individual in the environment being generated. Immersion is a word you will hear quite a bit related to virtual reality: immersive learning, immersive simulations, or immersive applications. The most famous virtul reality tool now is probably Oculus Rift.

#10 from 2017: Campaign Art: Food Waste

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2017. This post was originally published on January 18, 2017.  

People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.
 
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), annually around the world 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted. In the world, where about one in nine people do not have enough food (that’s some 795 million people), food waste presents an enormous opportunity for tackling food insecurity.
 
In order to bring more attention to the issue of food loss and waste and promote food loss reduction, FAO is leading the Save Food global initiative, partnering with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and others in the private sector and civil society.
 
#NotWasting

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

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

Is Life Better Now Than 50 Years Ago? The Answer May Depend On The Economy

National Public Radio, USA
The way people perceive their country's economic conditions plays a big role in whether they view their lives more positively now compared with the past, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. Of the nearly 43,000 people surveyed in 38 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North and South America, Vietnam had the most positive self-assessment: Eighty-eight percent of respondents said life is better today in their country than it was a half-century ago.
 
The Conversation
Improved human well-being is one of the modern era’s greatest triumphs. The age of plenty has also led to an unexpected global health crisis: two billion people are either overweight or obese. Developed countries have been especially susceptible to unhealthy weight gain, a trend that could be considered the price of abundance. However, developing countries are now facing a similar crisis.
 

Using Geospatial and Temporal Value Chain Analysis in a Project

Maya Brahmam's picture
Since Geospatial Days are being celebrated at the Bank this week, I wanted to share the experience of my team in using this type of analytic study to provide insight for a Regional Trade and Connectivity Project in Bangladesh. 

My co-team lead, Yuka Makino, and I received funding from the South Asia Regional Trade Facilitation Program to undertake a geospatial and temporal analysis of agricultural supply chains in trade/transport. Our objective was simple: To help integrate rural women into cross-border trading and ease their access to better transportation networks and competitive markets. We also wanted to understand the very low participation of women in the workforce, which has remained low over the last 20 years.

We hoped this analysis would help us answer several questions:  Where are skilled women located? What are the gaps in capacity? Who are the entrepreneurs and what sectors can they focus on? What sectors can be developed along transport corridors?
 

A Market for Values as an Option to Foster Individuality, a Sense of Community and Good Policies

Marco Senatore's picture
How can societies find an agreement on the importance of moral values such as solidarity and of cultural values such as the ability to cooperate, when professions are highly specialized and most relationships are superficial?

The market economy, as it is generally understood, does not endorse specific moral and cultural values. In general, workers are not directly paid and companies do not directly profit based on their will to, say, reduce pollution or inequality. 

What if values were formally a part of our social and economic interactions? A market for values might be the way to do that. Individuals and companies would exchange documents each of which would describe the benefits of applying a given moral, organizational, or cultural value. For instance, Company A that has invested in precision agriculture – choosing environmentalism as a value - would be able to describe how this has improved the use of nutrients.
 


Company A might transfer its expertise on environmentalism to Company B, that in exchange would describe the benefits of another value, perhaps propensity to innovation, such as lower capital investment, thanks to digitization. The insight about environmentalism could then be transferred to Individual C, in exchange for expertise on social justice, and so on.

How can communication generate successful and sustainable reforms?

Umou Al-Bazzaz's picture

For one, communication should be the first step to a reform process by enabling reform agents to begin the process of developing policy initiatives and programs and seeing reform not from the government or institution's perspective but from the point of view of those who are meant to benefit from these reforms.  It also plays a key role at various stages of reform, governmental or institutional.  However, there are many obstacles to a successful reform agenda.  Most noted are political, changes in people's knowledge, attitudes and behaviors and the conflicting interests of opinion leaders and stakeholders.
 
At the start of reform process leaders can use communication to articulate a rationale for change, and engage people in a consultative process to better understand the nature of the problem that reforms intend to affect. After the reforms are launched, their target audiences will need to develop support which often requires changes not only in what people know, but also in their attitudes and practices. To sustain the success of reforms, policymakers and program managers need to continuously respond to people's concerns, reduce barriers to adoption of new practices, and encourage people to maintain positive behaviors.
 
So, to find out how reform leaders can use communications to generate broad support for reforms, join us for the 2018 World Bank - Annenberg Summer Institute in Reform Communication: Leadership, Strategy and Stakeholder Alignment to get answers and learn more about the art and science of reform communication