Tag Archives: development

Global Development Needs Grassroots Activation

President Obama addresses the White House Summit on Global Development (Photo: VOA)

President Obama addresses the White House Summit on Global Development (Photo: VOA)

Looking back at the global development efforts over the last few years, one theme tends to reoccur: too many reforms are owned by the elites and civil society leaders in the capital with too little engagement at the grassroots. This common disconnect was raised at the White House Summit on Global Development, and it looms large over future initiatives of the international community.

At a session devoted to transparency, accountability, and open government Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, talked about how crucial these factors are to unlocking economic development and fulfilling Goal 16 – the enabler – of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She also highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships such as Open Government Partnership (OGP) for advancing this approach and providing a hook that civil societies in countries around the world have been able to latch on to for reforms.

A global growth of demand for accountability and transparency, fueled by the rise of communication technology, is definitely a reason for optimism. At the same time, serious problems persist. Rakesh Rajani, Director of Democratic Participation and Governance at Ford Foundation, emphasized that despite progress and path ahead charted by initiatives such as SDGs and OGP serious challenges remain when it comes to authoritarian backlash and reversals of democratic culture. Even in established democracies such as India non-profit organizations increasingly come under undue pressure. As governments in many countries are clamping down on civic space, international efforts to counteract such trends do not resonate sufficiently with citizens on the ground.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #25: Medhawi Giri and Stephanie Bandyk on Working in International Development

Guests Stephanie Bandyk (left) and Medhawi Giri.

Guests Stephanie Bandyk (left) and Medhawi Giri.

In this episode of the Democracy that Delivers podcast, CIPE’s Medhawi Giri, Program Assistant for South Asia, and Stephanie Bandyk, Program Assistant for Global Programs, discuss how they got interested in international development, democracy, and economic reform issues, their academic and career backgrounds, and what they’ve learned since working at CIPE.

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What Does “Intersectionality” Mean for International Development?

Participants at a Women's Business Network meeting in Nepal in 2014.

Participants at a Women’s Business Network meeting in Nepal in 2014.

By Hanna Pioske

The word “intersectionality” is thrown around a lot these days. Political candidates use intersectional rhetoric in their campaigns, and organization after organization publish reports on the benefits of creating intersectional programming. Everyone seems to be using the term as a buzzword to add legitimacy to their beliefs. But what does intersectionality truly mean, and what lessons can the international development community take away from it?

Intersectional theory originated in academia as a way to explain the dual oppressions African-American women faced from the combined effects of racism and sexism. In 1989, African-American legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality in her seminal work “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.”

In the article, Crenshaw compares multiple axes of oppression to a car accident in an intersection. Much as a car in the middle of an intersection can be hit by vehicles coming from any or all directions, an African-American woman can be discriminated against through racism, sexism, or both. Since this first use, the term has expanded beyond the particular struggle of African-American women to include multiple intersections of gender, such as class, disability, religion, and sexual orientation.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #16: USAID’s “Innovation Evangelist” Alexis Bonnell on How Innovation is Changing International Development

Alexis Bonnell (@alexisbonnell) from USAID’s Global Development Lab (@GlobalDevLab) talks about how innovation is changing the way development work is done around the world, harnessing 21st century technology to create more development impact, and how some of the most effective innovation tools can be both simple and inexpensive. Bonnell also talks about what it takes to have a successful career in international development today. Learn more at www.globalinnovationexchange.org.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #9: CIPE’s Abdulwahab Alkebsi on What’s Needed to Build Democracy in the Middle East

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with Abdulwahab Alkebsi (right).

CIPE Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa Abdulwahab Alkebsi’ s passion for democracy work goes back to his childhood in Yemen.

In this podcast, Alkebsi discuses how his childhood in Yemen informs his democracy work today, the success of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans in the United States, in contrast to the situation in Europe, and the need for a reassessment in the Middle East of what Islam is and what it is not.

He also talks about the correlation between the institutions that build the Islamic faith and those that build democracy, what is happening on the ground in the Middle East today that makes him hopeful for the future, and the exciting contribution the private sector is making to building democratic institutions in Africa.

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Making Digital Development Projects Work

Photo: United Nations

A farmer checks market information on a mobile phone. Photo: United Nations

In the last decade, countless development projects have piloted new tools to reach more beneficiaries or to make current systems more efficient. While the intentions of such initiatives are good, often the results are not stellar.

This is because digital development projects often favor one-off activities, like hackathons. The best solutions are focused on identifying an immediate solution for a particular sector and location. As such, products are developed in silos and many never go beyond the pilot phases.

A good example of this disaster is what happened in Uganda with mHealth initiatives. In 2008 and 2009, Uganda had 23 similar mHealth projects led by different development organizations that failed to scale up and ended shortly after the initial funding. The problem got so bad that Uganda’s Ministry of Health declared a moratorium on pilot mHealth initiatives.

map-of-mhealth-pilots-in-uganda

Map of Mhealth Pilots in Uganda. Source: Sean Blaschke, Technology for Development Specialist at UNICEF Uganda

To prevent such failures, leading global development practitioners, including the Gates Foundation and UNDP, have endorsed the Principles for Digital Development. What exactly are the Principles? They’re a community-developed set of guidelines to help the development community integrate best practices into technology or digital-based projects.

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An Agenda to “Do Development Differently”

Chart_of_UN_Sustainable_Development_Goals

Successful implementation of the post-2015 development agenda requires some important behavior changes and a commitment to “do development differently” by the various stakeholders pledging to reach this ambitious set of goals. What does that involve exactly?

In this month’s Economic Reform Feature Service article, James Michel, a renowned expert in international development cooperation and a senior adviser to CSIS, discusses the ambitious post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The article is a continuation of Michel’s earlier work on shaping the new development agenda and it is based on a research paper recently published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

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