Open Development round up - March 2014

12 March 2014 ⋅ 

What’s been going on in the world of Open Development over the past couple of weeks? Here’s a short summary of some of our favourite articles, projects and posts.

Start ups are getting interested in remittances (and check out number 15 in this list, too). In many countries - especially those lacking formal banking systems- remittances sent back to home countries by immigrants living in other countries rivals, or in some cases, is considerably more than international aid flows to the country. The World Bank estimated that in 2011, remittances to low-income countries came to a total of $351 billion, whereas Official Development Assistance from OECD countries came to $133.5 billion.

Somaliland v Somalia: great new paper on an extraordinary ‘natural experiment’ in aid and governance - Oxfam have reviewed Sarah Phillips’ new paper which compares Somalia to its neighbouring Somaliland, which includes some uncomfortable truths; the fact that Somaliland is not internationally recognised has meant that it receives practically no direct financial aid, for example. Check out their blog for more, or the paper directly.

Just in time for International Women’s Day, Patrick Meier compiled this inspiring list of Women in Crisis Mapping.. Did you know that the vast majority of volunteers engaged in the Ushahidi-Haiti Crisis Map project (January 2010) were women? Same goes for the Ushahidi-Chile Crisis Map of March 2010. Hats off to you all!

The OECD’s Jon Lomøy is pushing for the development community to ‘get smart with aid’. What does that mean? Taking into account how the world has changed, for one; recognising and responding to vast diversity within low-income countries, rather than taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach; working more closely with other global issues, such as climate change; and learning from our mistakes, to name just a few of his poignant suggestions. The article also includes an interactive aid visualisation (another one to add to the list!).

The World Bank launched their webinar series, “How Can Technology Accelerate Citizen Engagement?”, starting by looking at “Maximizing the Impact of Mapping and Crowdsourcing”. It was open to the public, and by all accounts a really useful webinar. We’ll be on the look out for future events.

Linda Raftree has written up the activities of the recent NYC Technology Salon, looking into “Bigger, better data and resilience”; the post is full of thinking points, first defining the terms used, the links between the issues, and tackling briefly the age-old issue - can big data really ‘empower’ people? She also touches upon the need for responsible use of data in terms of using it as a decision making tool; in cases such as international development, the ethical risks coming from misinterpretation and consequently inaccurate (or in some cases harmful) decision making are huge. All in all, the NYC Technology Salon sounds like it was a great event with a wide range of topics covered - more on the Salons here.

Following the recent Mobile World Congress 2014, Nancy Ngo has written up 4 Takeaways for Developing Countries) - while there are some interesting insights, the complete lack of privacy or security mentions, especially around these mobile technologies which are collecting enormous amounts of data, is unsurprising but worrying.

The very first map of Nairobi’s informal ‘matatu’ transit system has been produced, thanks to students who rode every matatu route in the city and catalogued the stops along the way. The maps reveal that the seemingly chaotic system is, in fact, “remarkably standardized” and detailed, with over 102 different routes. The data has been made fully open, with the government responding well, private companies already using the data, and citizens being able to - for the first time ever - see and understand their city’s transit system. Download the map here, and read more on the project here.

Got more interesting blogs, projects or articles from the past couple of weeks? Let us know @OpenDevToolkit!