I’ll let Mark Graham (links to Graham’s blog), a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, do the talking. From his blog post earlier today on The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog:
“East Africa is in the process of reinventing itself. The government of Rwanda has invested heavily in IT infrastructure to bring high speed internet connections to even the most remote parts of this small, resource-poor country. Kenya, similarly, has ambitious plans to become a highly wired nation and attract a share of the growing market in international business outsourcing.”
But Graham doesn’t stop there. He goes on to pose the difficult and important questions about technology and developing countries:
“Will altered connectivity really allow firms in east Africa to become hubs in the global economy? Or will improved connections simply allow foreign firms to better exploit the demand in east Africa for IT services? Perhaps most importantly, who stands to benefit? And who will be left out of these transformations?”
Thoughts or insights?
Read about Heifer International’s successes in Rwanda and Kenya.
Another great article from the latest issue of World Ark magazine. In “Go Away for Good,” Lauren Wilcox explores the rise and ramifications of voluntourism–the combination of tourism and volunteering:
“For those who want to become more engaged in hunger and poverty work, educational travel can be an invaluable tool. ‘Nothing beats face-to-face interaction if you want to learn about an issue, a community or an organization,’ said Nancy McGehee, a sociologist at Virginia Tech who studies volunteer tourism. ‘All the Web surfing, social networking and YouTube videos in the world cannot come close to the actual person-to-person experience.’
“But all education travel and ‘voluntourism’ opportunities are not right for all travelers. Determining how a visit is run, identifying your own goals for the trip and having an idea of what you can expect are all essential to ensure that the experience is a positive one—for the people and the places you are visiting, as well as for you.”
And we’re not the only ones who think it’s a great article. Fox Business cites the World Ark piece in its own article, “The Selfishness of Good Deeds”:
“In the summer issue of World Ark, the magazine of Heifer International, Lauren Wilcox writes about learning- and service-based travel in a piece titled “Go Away for Good.” In it, she quotes Katherine Lu, director of Heifer’s Study Tours.
“ ‘For our Study Tour participants, the real service work of the trip comes after participants return home and begin to make changes in their own lives based on what they have seen and learned,’ Lu says.
The May 17 edition of the New Yorker profiles Esther Duflo, an M.I.T. professor of development economics who co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in 2003. The article offers insight into the study of poverty issues from a new perspective. Click here for a sneak peek.
A MacArthur “genius” fellowship winner who also won this year’s John Bates Clark medal for the best economist in America under age 40, Duflo is counted among the economists who believe there is something that can be done about poverty. According to the article, “she boldly told the TED conference that she could ‘take the guesswork out of policymaking.’”
Writer Ian Parker tracks her on trips to India and Rwanda, where she helps conduct and evaluate randomized control trials (like those used in drug trials) to test social policy questions like: Does microfinance work? Can watching a play that demonstrates the worth of women in leadership roles prompt social change?
It’s an interesting discussion of one economist’s theories of how governments and NGOs should tackle poverty alleviation. The New Yorker requires a subscription to read the whole article online; but you can also pick up a newsstand copy almost anywhere.