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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Scaling up innovation

"Characteristics that determine the potential of an innovation to go to scale'
"Valued outcomes: The ability of the innovation to generate income and enhance well-being at community level or to achieve policy objectives at the institutional level. An example of the former is a high-value cash crop with a ready market in urban centres. An example of the latter is a methodological innovation within a research or development organisation that promotes institutional objectives (e.g., farm-level value capture, market-oriented research), or demand-driven service provision.'
"Effectiveness: The ability of the innovation to meet the goals and aspirations of beneficiaries. For example, an approach or process that emphasises equitable technology distribution or sharing among individuals and among villages will appeal to the majority of farmers, especially those with meagre resources and formerly excluded by research and development programmes.'
"Efficiency: What is being piloted is cost-effective, thus enhancing its potential for scaling up and out. Production of a unit of good or service is termed economically efficient when that unit of good or service is produced at the lowest possible cost, relative to the value it generates. With limited financial resources, this consideration is particularly important in an organisation's decisions to invest in particular research or development activities.'
"Sustainability: The potential for the benefits from the innovation process to be enjoyed over prolonged periods by the recipients, even after those supporting its dissemination are no longer involved. This is a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely. Although the term is used more in environmental circles, it is relevant to social processes (e.g., participation, collective decision-making, institutional collaboration) that work in tandem with technologies."
(IDRC-CRDI – Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Highlands of Eastern Africa: From concept to practice – Edited by Laura German, Jeremias Mowo, Tilahun Amede, and Kenneth Masuki, p. 244)

Genetic resources in China

"Given the nature of the land-use system (land is state owned), genetic resources are in the public domain. There is no compensation for farmers' efforts to conserve and manage genetic resources vital to the country's food security and other societal needs. Because of the value of genetic resources, incentives should be provided by the government and the public sector to farmers and their communities to carry on in-situ conservation and management. This would protect farmers' rights and enhance local genetic diversity and, just as important, enhance public awareness of the need to protect biodiversity and farmers' rights. 'Conservation villages' could be selected, with a focus on different crops, plants and livestock, where dynamic systems of crop conservation and improvement are set up through the joint efforts of scientists and local farmers. Incentives should be given to these villages to encourage collective decision-making and collective action for management and conservation.'
"Farmers and their communities should also be compensated (in cash) when genetic resources are collected from them – by individuals, public-sector agencies or private business. The funds should be available to local communities for their own use relating to ABS (access and benefit sharing) issues."
(IDRC-CRDI – The Custodians of Biodiversity: Sharing access to and benefits of genetic resources – Edited by Manuel Ruiz and Ronnie Vernooy, p. 116)

Post-tsunami women power

"The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami devastated thousands of coastal communities and resulted in the death of more than 225,000 people, over 18,000 of whom were from India. Tamil Nadu was one of the most affected with about 8,000 deaths. In its Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts, up to 196,184 and 99,704 of the population, respectively, suffered direct and indirect damages.'
"The number of deaths among women (25-300 per cent more than men) in the two districts underscored a gender differentiated impact of the tsunami. Women were more vulnerable to the killer waves because of their familial roles and the nature of their livelihoods. As the family's caregivers, many of them stayed behind after the first wave to look for their children and other family members. Moreover, while many men were out at sea fishing, a large proportion of the village women were at the beach conducting their daily livelihood activities of purchasing and cleaning fish in order to sell at local markets. On the other hand, men at sea were relatively safe from the waves that only passed under their fishing boats. These same waves hit the shore with full force, swept away and killed many of the women.'
"While the tsunami brought horrific destruction and suffering, ironically, it drastically changed gender roles and the local power structure in the two Tamil Nadu districts, unleashing the potent and critical role that women have since played in the reconstruction and development of affected communities. A wealth of lessons can be drawn from their story by people and groups who are in relief work, post-disaster reconstruction, and community development. More importantly, this case study shows how important it is to understand how women can and should be included in the process of recovery and resilience building."
(IDRC-CRDI – Strengthening Resilience in Post-Disaster Situations: Stories, experience, and lessons from South Asia by Julian Gonsalves and Priyanka Mohan, p. 596)

Smoking promotion

"BAT is very active in Zambia and targets most of its advertising to a younger audience. It sponsors the ambiguously named Youth Free Smoking Campaign, which underwrites community projects. Tobacco control advocates argue that the campaign's main purpose is to introduce children to tobacco since it seeks to attract the youth with attractive billboards, posters, and banners, and by giving away tobacco-themed T-shirts and baseball caps.'
"According to BAT's own annual reports, the range of community projects that it underwrites is enormous. Ironically, the projects are often related to community health, such as digging boreholes for drinking water, anti-malarial spraying and HIV/AIDS public awareness campaigns. BAT also interacts directly with schools through donations to individual schools and colleges and by sponsoring interscholastic trophies for athletic competitions. Many of these efforts resemble the 'corporate good neighbour' behaviour seen in post-industrial countries, suitably and effectively tailored to Zambian needs and cultural practices…'
"BAT also donated a large quantity of T-shirts and caps to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing at the launch of the Youth Smoking Prevention Programme. The T-shirts were later donated to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ), which is comprised of mayors and town clerks drawn from various cities and municipalities around Zambia. Rather cleverly on the part of BAT, the meeting's participants are the chief officers responsible for overseeing the implementation and enforcement of the prohibition of smoking in public places."
(IDRC-CRDI – Tobacco Control in Africa: People, politics and policies – Edited by Jeffrey Drope, p. 278)

Young widows

"The strong links that often exist between urban and rural areas in relation to land issues is illustrated by research conducted by the Young Widows Advancement Program in Kenya, a community-based self-help organisation. The program was launched informally a decade ago by five young widows whose husbands had died from AIDS and who had been chased away from their matrimonial homes as a result. All five women tested HIV positive. Because of the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS, they met secretly to support each other by sharing experiences and organising a rotating savings and credit organisation that would provide money to purchase household items or start a business. The group operates from a rescue centre for young widows and orphans in Kayole Estate, a poor area of Nairobi that is home to many young women who lost their matrimonial homes following the death of their husbands.'
"Many of the young widows lost rural property because their late husbands had migrated to Nairobi. Although some husbands had invested in the rural ancestral land, that did not prevent the women from being evicted. Some of these women have little or no connection to their husband's rural land, which exacerbates the challenge of claiming land rights as widows. Other widows have moved to Nairobi for the first time after the death of their husbands. These young women often end up as petty traders or doing domestic or other casual, low-paid work."
(IDRC-CRDI – Women and Land: Securing rights for better lives by Debbie Budlender and Eileen Alma, p. 26)

The virtual Ummah and online Jihad

"Islamic websites resound with ideological splits and doctrinaire conflict. Esoteric arguments are marshalled to declare other points of view un-Islamic, and therefore falling in the category of takfir. Lengthy posts examine the finer points of fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence. One writer dwells at length on Lenin's influence on Sayyid Qutb, the ideological godfather of political Islam. Another scholar examines the Quranic injunctions against music when a blogger asks for the ruling on organising a fund-raising concert at a Muslim school to raise money for a new toilet block. (The conclusion is that such an activity would be un-Islamic.) Skimming over some of these blogs, one is left bemused by how much energy is being expended on these fine points of doctrine. Indeed, some of the exchanges are not dissimilar to the medieval exercise of counting the number of angels that could fit on the point of a needle."
(Harper – Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West by Irfan Husain, p. 126)

Searching for related sites

"There are huge numbers of websites, and yes, Google has visited more of them than you will ever be able to. Google has also read them thoroughly, which means it can make conclusions on their details. The 'related:' command tells Google to suggest similar websites to the one you suggested. Example: 'related: www.hindustantimes.com.' That's a newspaper website and Google does a good job recommending another newspaper's website www.indianexpress.com as the first choice (this was true during the time this handbook was published). This command can be of great help when you finally reach the website on the topic you want to find out more about, as you can then demand related sites."
(Harper – I Thought I Knew how to Google: 50 tricks for refining your search by Miha Mazzini, p. 22)