Government budgets matter to the mother in Bihar in India who relies on the midday meal in a government-run school to feed her daughter, and to the smallholder farmer in Timor-Leste who needs better roads to transport his produce to Dili, the capital. Despite the fact that government budgets have a direct impact on people’s lives, particularly the poor, still few countries provide significant budget information. According to the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey 2012, only 23 out of 100 countries examined provide “extensive” or “significant” information on their budgets, while 41 countries provide “minimal,” “scant or no” information.
Innovation Labs can “be catalysts, distillates of ideas and centrifuges for separating out the sediment.” At the same time, innovation is, by its nature is risky and creating a lab to foster innovation can be both expensive and time-intensive. In many large organizations, established processes and protocols have grown into barriers that can hinder or stymie ideation. Yet, interest in frugal innovation, user centric design, crowd sourcing, and rapid prototyping, is growing and leading some organizations to seek the formal structure provided by an innovation lab, as the spearhead of the effort to make an innovation-friendly environment for all staff.
Poverty alone is not a comprehensive marker of deprivation and this fact is now well recognized. Quite often, exclusion is driven by social identity like race, ethnicity, gender or religion to name a few. These often become stigmatized markers that leave individuals, groups or households out of a range of processes and opportunities. Based on their ascribed status, individuals from these groups have lower social standing, accompanied often, by lower outcomes in terms of income, human capital endowments, access to employment and services.
Never in the history of humankind have we been given the opportunity to use technology to communicate, educate, connect, employ, mobilize, and give voice to the voiceless. Until now! With universal access predicted to become a reality by 2020, increased attention is focused on how to ensure that anyone, anywhere can use information and communications technologies (ICTs) for education, skills, job creation, health and empowerment.
There are several reasons why developing countries still face significant hurdles in making essential medicines available to the patients who need them. These reasons are complex and range from lack of research and development (R&D) for neglected diseases which primarily affect those in poverty, to patent issues that impact affordability and availability of generic versions of medicines, to procurement inefficiencies, and last mile logistics of stocking, delivery, quality assurance and monitoring.
Complex problems seep across sectors. Increasingly, there is a recognition that "large-scale social change comes from better cross-sector coordination rather than from the isolated intervention of individual organizations." Poverty alleviation solutions need to engage those outside the nonprofit sector and find ways to involve citizens in the local community. Leaders of successful collective impact initiatives have to embrace "a new way of seeing, learning, and doing that marries emergent solutions with intentional outcomes." But how do leaders determine the specific problems to solve (and the measurable outcomes), identify stakeholders, bring them to the table, and still encourage effective participation of the poor constituents who may be seen as disinterested or problematic?
The benefits of citizen engagement may be significant for all stakeholders. For the marginalized poor, participation mechanisms can provide channels for shaping solutions and holding governments accountable for policies and services delivered. For organizations, governments, and funders, engagement with communities is beneficial in that citizens will support, adopt, champion, and eventually share in the ownership and success of programs. However, there are a number of possible barriers to citizen engagement.
Newly available data sources are being used to improve people's lives. We're just starting to understand the potential of data for social good, but some of the challenges are clear: key data and reliable statistics either are not being produced, are of poor quality, or are locked behind government and corporate doors; a lack of technical and political skills is holding back potential users; and there's a gap between what data advocates think citizens want and what the data citizens know will improve their lives.
Informal settlements or slums are home to an increasing number of the urban poor. The lack of basic services, from sanitation and waste removal to water and electricity, has resulted in untenable conditions. Innovations in infrastructure, services, public-private partnerships, and programs aim to give slum dwellers a voice in planning decisions.
Climate change is one of the major developmental concerns of this century. In the absence of global mitigation efforts, climate change can have significant effects in the global economy — and poorer nations face disproportionate impacts.
Failings in public contracting are undermining development. Public revenues are not being generated, allocated and spent as effectively as they should be. Such factors as corruption, opaque contracting processes and poor oversight are undermining results. Citizens, particularly the poor, are paying the price.
Conversation active 31 October — 13 November 2012
Michael D. Jarvis, World Bank Institute
Dr. J. Chris Anderson, Rio Tinto Limited
Daniel Kaufmann, Revenue Watch
Marinke van Riet, Publish What You Pay
Reducing disaster risks is an integral part of the fight against poverty. As the Center for Hazards and Risk Research explains, "Disasters represent a major source of risk for the poor. These natural events can wipe out development gains and accumulated wealth in developing countries." In fact, more than two million people have been killed by natural disasters around the world over the past 30 years.