If you only read one thing this week…

Bring ‘People Power’ to Pakistan by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 29, 2009, 9:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As intensified fighting between the Pakistan Army and Taliban militants has displaced more than 2.3 million people in Pakistan, one analyst makes the case for why all the necessary factors are in place for large-scale citizen mobilization in rejection of intimidation and violence.  Rick Barton is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think tank in Washington DC, and a member of President Obama’s transition team.  Barton’s Op-Ed in the CSMonitor outlines how Pakistan can draw on recent developments in Pakistan society, like the 2008 lawyer’s movement, and on examples from other counties like Colombia where the use of new media has been instrumental in mobilizing millions of citizens for political change and unraveling networks that perpetuate violence.  Recommendations such as “drowning out the Taliban’s message by ramping up community radio stations and local service groups” are things that INGOs and partners in Pakistan know how to support and that Barton suggests we consider.


Reducing a leading cause of death… by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 19, 2009, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Traffic accidents in the developing world kill as many people each year as malaria and cause twice as many deaths as war and other violence combined. James Habyarimana and William Jack tried a novel approach to reduce this deadly toll in an experiment in Kenya. They posted signs in a random sample of 1,000 minibuses encouraging passengers to speak up and criticize reckless driving. The result: insurance claims for the sample fell by as much as two-thirds, and claims involving injury or death fell by one-half. Learn more in this study published by the Center for Global Development and funded by AUSAID. If you don’t have time to read the full article, the abstract is informative as a summary.

After the earthquake – a stronger civil society by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 12, 2009, 7:59 am
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you only have 15 mins

Volunteerism stands strong one year later – and has even won support from local authorities normally wary of grass-roots movements.

The article is about how one year after the Sichuan earthquake, which left 70,000 people dead and 4.8 million people homeless, over 100 organizations, some INGOs but most are Chinese, are now building houses, counseling survivors, restoring sanitation systems, and undertaking a thousand other tasks that need doing.  And many of them are doing it as volunteers.  One person who has studied NGO activity in China since the earthquake said “It has strengthened a sense of civil society.”  The article goes on to observe that local authorities are taking notice about how useful NGOs can be and, while still wanting to be informed, they do “not to interfere in NGOs as much as they did before … when they had so little confidence in them.”

Forget economic growth – measure happiness instead by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 7, 2009, 10:57 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Bhutan has changed its constitution to require that government programs measure the levels of happiness they produce. This New York Times article has an interesting background to the story and also provides a link to the methodology that the government is using. Whether you are on board with the idea or think it is a gimmick, it raises some interesting questions about what we measure to define the success of a particular environment and whether that is appropriate.