These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“A regular old orange-colored sweet potato might not seem too exciting to many of us.
But in parts of Africa, that sweet potato is very exciting to public health experts who see it as a living vitamin A supplement. A campaign to promote orange varieties of sweet potatoes in Mozambique and Uganda (instead of the white or yellow ones that are more commonly grown there) now seems to be succeeding. (Check out this cool infographic on the campaign.) It's a sign that a new approach to improving nutrition among the world's poor might actually work.
That approach is called biofortification: adding crucial nutrients to food biologically, by breeding better varieties of crops that poor people already eat.” READ MORE
Research for Development
Risks of corruption to state legitimacy and stability in fragile situations
“Examining the cases of Liberia, Nepal and Colombia, this study asks how corruption poses risks to political legitimacy and stability in fragile situations. The report focuses on the key role of elites and their views of the state's legitimacy in determining the extent to which there will be instability or stability. Qualitative interviews of elites show that two particular patronage scenarios are seen as threatening stability. One is when the state or illegal actors sustain a corrupt network by violently eliminating opponents. The other is when corruption benefits few people, the benefits are not distributed "fairly," and the population’s basic needs are not met. Public opinion data suggest that despite corruption, the legitimacy of governments and public institutions in the three countries studied is reasonably high. The impact of corruption on legitimacy and stability is mitigated by other factors. Anti-corruption initiatives potentially strengthen state legitimacy, but undermine it if they fail to deliver or become too far-reaching. In conclusion, the report makes recommendations to the international community for prioritising action on corruption.” READ MORE
“While volunteering at the recent International AIDS Conference in Washington DC, I had the opportunity to talk with Stephanie Nolen, a foreign correspondent for The Globe and Mail in Canada and author of “28 Stories of AIDS in Africa,” about her most recent project, the Museum of AIDS in Africa. The Museum is currently an online memorial with the goal of building an actual physical museum in South Africa by 2016.” READ MORE
United States Institute of Peace
Blogs and Bullets II: New Media and Conflict after the Arab Spring
“An extraordinary wave of popular protest swept the Arab world in 2011. Massive popular mobilization brought down long-ruling leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, helped spark bloody struggles in Bahrain, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and fundamentally reshaped the nature of politics in the region.
New media—at least that which uses bit.ly linkages—did not appear to play a significant role in either in-country collective action or regional diffusion during this period.
This lack of impact does not mean that social media—or digital media generally—were unimportant. Nor does it preclude the possibility that other new media technologies were significant in these contexts, or even that different Twitter or link data would show dif¬ferent results. But it does mean that at least in terms of media that use bit.ly links (especially Twitter), data do not provide strong support for claims of significant new media impact on Arab Spring political protests.” READ MORE
The village women who dare to bring change
“There is a common belief that only a law maker or an activist with backing from a powerful organisation can challenge a tradition or bring about change. But I have always believed that as individuals each one of us can be an agent of change. Today I want to share some examples of that.
In our community, men take most of the important decisions: what crop should be sown in the field, which school a child should attend and most important of all, how the money should be spent. This is often seen as a tradition, rather than something wrong.
Since this is a tradition, few want to or dare to question it. But there are women in my community who are breaking these traditions in a very subtle way, without creating conflict.” READ MORE