Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

07 July 2010

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Turning over a new leaf

(published in the July 2010 edition of the ADVOCATE)

Change must be in the air.  We are approaching the rainy season, and the weather has made its gradual shift away from the dry, dusty harmattan to the more humid rainy season.  Elsewhere, change is also afoot.  Most notably, the World Bank recently held what is known as the “Spring Meetings”.  Coming out of these talks were a number of decisions taken that I believe bode well for Africa.  Significant changes were announced, and some key decisions were made.

Most importantly, the World Bank agreed to the first capital increase in more than twenty years.  Additionally, the WAY that “The Bank” is viewing Africa is changing.  It seems that they are moving away from the traditional “aid/donor” paradigm, to a more partner-centric view of development, which I think is a very positive step indeed.   And the Bank wants to give Africa a voice on such important topics as climate change and how best to foster reforms, particularly in post-conflict areas and in fragile country settings.

Indeed, how Africa is perceived is also changing.  Although the whole world is still reeling (and recovering) from the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/2009, Africa has been one of the fastest recovering regions from this economic set back.  In 2010, output on the continent is project to expand by around 4.3 percent.

Other reforms are also taking place at the halls of power of the World Bank, including a change in voting structure, a third seat on the Bank’s Executive Board for Africa, and greater transparency in its actions.

This last point is a key one, as the World Bank has long been an excellent “data gatherer”, but it has been difficult (if not impossible) to source some of the information they had collected.  That is now, fortunately, old news, as the Bank has opened up a new data site that frees up more than 2,000 indicators of development that were previously only available to paying subscribers.  I am excited about this initiative, because it means that so many NGOs (ours included) can now source data, and analyse that data, for their own needs, without having to go and “reinvent the wheel” to ensure that aid is being appropriately targeted to the right people in the right places.

I am excited about such a large, influential organisation taking a bold step, and moving in a new (and dare I say, better) direction.  I know how difficult it is for large corporations to make change, to admit past errors, and to move on.  But it certainly seems that the World Bank is doing exactly that, and I raise my hands in salutation for this encouraging move forward.

It was Albert Einstein who said something along the lines of: “doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results is the definition of insanity”.  Let’s all look at development a little bit differently, and collectively we can move to a better place for all.

Written by Mar(k)

July 22, 2010 at 9:48 am

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