Unlocking Solutions - R4D's Blog

Et cetera

A random collection of links that stuck with me this week.

What Sesame Street Can Teach the World Bank, on the World Bank’s EduTech Blog.

Taming Fragility, a guest post on the Aid on the Edge blog, about the need to understand more deeply the interconnected-ness of problems and the importance of supporting solution-seeking systems not just solutions themselves.

The agency imperative

For starters, my faith in humanity and the media has been partly restored today. The big story has shifted from viral video to the oversimplification of complicated issues, the accuracy of advocacy, and the white savior complex in aid. Really. Newspapers are taking a nuanced view of aid and advocacy. This is big.

Thinking out loud

It feels good to rant, to get something off your chest, to say what needs to be said, to speak from experience, frustration, emotion, or conviction in a forum of lower stakes than a conference presentation or project proposal review. 

Even if you learn later you were wrong, at least you can point to a major step in that learning process—that moment you decided to think out loud and expose your thoughts to the world.

Aid workers and bloggers: we want your rants.

Less Talk, More Do on Capacity Building for Development

Imagine that a country is in fact in the driver's seat of a car, driving up the development road.

Transparent pricing of vaccines would help poor as well as rich countries

The BMJ’s editor, Fiona Godlee, recently challenged the UK government to publish the price it pays for vaccines, including the new vaccine Cervarix, which helps prevent cervical cancer (BMJ 2011;343:d6239, doi:10.1136/bmj.d6239). Price transparency is not just a matter for the United Kingdom, however: it is a point of vigorous debate and growing urgency in countries around the world.

Do I hear wedding bells?

Those of you who manage clinical social franchises…imagine for a moment a world where: You don’t have to rely completely on donor funding. Decisions about your service offerings are made based on the needs of your communities rather than the special interests of donors. The poor coming to your franchisee clinics can just as easily afford services as their slightly better off neighbors. Your franchisees are completely focused on meeting the standards you set, for fear of losing a major revenue stream.

An attractive newcomer has recently entered the picture

Reflections on Development

I have worked in development for 40 years. The first 30 were at the World Bank where I worked in a number of different sectors and geographical regions, in operational and policy work. The last 10 years have been in teaching and research, which has give me a chance to reflect on the broader issues of development and what I learned over the previous 30 years. I also have been advising a number of developing countries on their development policies and programs.

Making Market Strategy a Global Life-Saving Tool

Can reducing health commodity costs (i.e. the cost of HIV drugs or malaria bed nets) save millions of lives worldwide? Can it invigorate increased giving at a time when donor countries are struggling to tighten their belts and balance their budgets?

Recent news indicates that the answer to both of these questions may be a resounding and increasingly urgent "yes."

Getting Better or Dead Aid? Making sense of the aid effectiveness debate

Charles Kenny, a former World Bank and Center for Global Development colleague, and one of the most thoughtful people writing on development these days, has produced a fascinating and informative book, Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding – and How We can Improve the World Even More.

Using Prizes to Promote Life Saving Health Tools

In these times of tight budgeting, the U.S. government, foundations and private companies are exploring a new idea: awarding prizes for the development of innovative drugs, vaccines and tests for the world's biggest health problems. This would mean spending money only when there is a new product that will actually make a difference in the lives of millions.