Our Perspective

      • International Day of Democracy / Lamin Manneh (Op-Ed)

        15 Sep 2012

        On 8 November 2007, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 15 September as the International Day of Democracy, inviting Member States, the United Nations System and other regional, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to commemorate this day each year. Today we look back on yet another year of remarkable events in the story of democracy – a story that continues to be written by people who yearn for dignity and human rights, for an end to corruption, for a say in their future, for jobs, justice and fair share of political power. The” Arab Spring” is the most recent example of youth, women, and men from all social strata demanding greater space for civic engagement in decision making. These calls for transformational change were not so much about elections but rather a popular cry for choice, participation, transparency and respect for people’s legitimate quest for democratic space. These events have reaffirmed the pivotal importance of democratic governance as a system premised on inclusion, participation, non-discrimination and accountability. Democracies are not born overnight, nor are they constructed by holding one or two elections. Democracies are about acceptance and respect for the principles of equity, participation, transparency and accountability. It is also about the respectRead More

      • Disaster Risk Reduction: Global Lessons for Rwanda / Auke Lootsma (Blog)

        10 Jul 2012

        Recently, the World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was held on 2-4 July in Sendai City, Japan.   The Conference was about how to build resilient societies and to mainstream disaster risk reduction at the local, national, and regional levels. It is also an opportunity to be part of the consultation process, initiated in March by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), to shape the agenda for disaster risk reduction beyond the Hyogo Framework for Action, which expires in 2015. The Conference highlighted the need to build resilient nations and communities to address their vulnerability to disasters. It also provided a platform to share lessons learnt from large- scale  disasters  and to shape  the agenda for disaster  risk reduction beyond the Hyogo Framework  for Action which expires in 2015. The latter was adopted by 168 countries, including Rwanda, in 2005 to make the world safer by putting in place national disaster risk reduction policies and strategies. Development challenge Disaster Risk Reduction is a serious development challenge. While no country is immune to disasters associated with natural hazards, we are all well aware that there is much which can be done to reduce their impact by better preparingRead More

      • Getting data used/ Rajiv Ranjan (Blog)

        04 Jun 2012

        In late 2003, when I was looking for contents and services for the telecentres (or ICT Kiosks) in Orissa-India, one of things that kept on coming up in discussions within our team was, ensuring their usage. And that meant, among many other things, making certain that the content or services provided are relevant to the community, which the telecentre is intended to serve. Usage was the key driving force! It shaped our work around the telecentres. And there were many aspects identified as obstacles to it (some coming from demand side and some coming from supply side). Our efforts were concentrated to mitigate them – as much as possible. Today, almost a decade later, while working with official statistics, my one of the concerns is to ensure its wider reach and development impact – and I’m faced with the same question – how to ensure its usage? Recently, I read an article in The Guardian (online): about how a student used open data to beat national rail enquiries at its own game. The story is about a graduate student who created a user friendly service of rail enquiry, based on the data made open recently by the Association of Train OperatingRead More