October 28, 2009

Fleeing drought in the Horn of Africa

immigration and climate change- an article from LA Times, Oct. 25. by Edmund Sanders.

October 27, 2009


A very interesting issue- mHealth and e-development. Oby Ezekwesili, Vice President of the World Bank and one of the speaker at the event was at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs last thursday, speaking in front of MASHAV's staff. From the website of the Austrian Network for Information and communication Technologies for Development.

October 25, 2009

Obama hunger plan to help, but must seize momentum

by Roberta Rampton, Reuters.

"The Obama administration has the right approach for reducing world hunger but must move quickly on its plan to make food security a central part of its foreign policy by helping the world's poorest farmers.
The administration wants to spend $3.5 billion over the next three years on projects to help farmers get seed, fertilizer, training and access to markets, dovetailing with pledges of more than $22 billion from other countries".

Hunger, agriculture, climate change... the unprecedented attention to the issue from the highest levels of U.S. government.

“The planet never needed more than now world forestry management

Buenos Aires, Argentina - “We should not exclude any potential means of mitigating climate change¨ said Jan Heino, Assistant Director General of the Forestry Department at FAO, just as the World Forestry Congress drew to a close on Friday 23 October. In as little as five days, a major exercise of discussion, partnership and knowledge sharing occurred, seeing the involvement of the private sector as well as of civil society, the academia, NGOs and international organizations. With an initial expected number of 4 000 participants rising up to over 7 000, the meeting in Buenos Aires was evidence of the momentum generated by this crucial juncture.

October 20, 2009

Hunger breeds violence

"Peacemaking strategies must include denying extremists recruits from a hungry population by providing food to alleviate the suffering". By By Samuel R. Berger. October 16, 2009, Los Angeles Times.
"Children who grow up in the world's poorest countries know hunger as an everyday part of life. The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that every six seconds a child dies of hunger. Those who don't die face a childhood of worry and desperation -- a never-ending empty stomach. Many of them end up foraging in the streets or garbage heaps, where they are prime targets for recruitment by extremist groups or other criminal organizations. That is simply not acceptable when most live in a world of plenty".

To Rebrand America, Unbrand Aid

An article by Ruth Levine, further to the great article of Bono (yes, the Singer of U2...) in the New York Times a days ago on "Rebranding america".
"And by appointing a team of people in the National Security Council, the Departments of State and Defense who have spoken out about the central position of development in U.S. foreign policy". Says Bono:
“From a development perspective, you couldn’t dream up a better dream team to pursue peace this way, to rebrand America.”

October 19, 2009

Israel sent Humanitarian Aid to Burkina Faso

Special aid was sent last week by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC Israel) to Burkina Faso. The West African country is suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis, due to recent floods, and hundreds of thousands of people have become refugees in their own country.

The Foreign Ministry through MASHAV, Israel's Agency for International Cooperation, and in cooperation with JDC Israel (the Jewish Distribution Committee), sent to the stricken country a shipment of tents, blankets, medicines and baby food.

Global Food Crisis Blog

I would like to introduce you... a great blog on the issues of sustainable development and food security. I found it on the website of "Foreign Policy blogs".

October 18, 2009

Ban enlists UN school in war against poverty

“We know that investing in children and securing their rights is one of the surest ways to ending poverty. And I know that no one can better speak for young people than you,” Mr. Ban said, inviting his youthful listeners to first crouch and then rise in a symbolic gesture of the UN’s “Stand Up Against Poverty” campaign on the eve of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty".
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used a visit to the United Nations International School in New York on Oct. 16, to rally children in the battle against extreme poverty, a scourge that afflicts over a billion people around the world.
From the website UN News Center.

Four African Economies among the Top 10 fastest growing in 2010

Every year for the past 9 years, compulsory reading for any economist has been the excellent ‘The World In’ series that is released in November annually predicting the upcoming year for economies, politics to new innovations in industry, and more often than not, they see what the future has in store. What they have predicted well has been the rate of growth of African economies that have hit double digits in many cases, with five African countries in the global Top 10 growers in 2009, and four expected in 2010.
Development Afrique- Oct. 16, 2009

Secretary Clinton's Statement on World Food Day, October 16, 2009

You can find more info on the Department of State’s Global Hunger and Food Security website at http://www.state.gov/s/globalfoodsecurity/.

October 15, 2009

Economic crisis is devastating for the world's hungry- 1.02 billion hungry people in 2009 - FAO hunger report published

An article from FAO Media Center, again, on the issue of the international crisis and its heavy consequences on developing countries. Have a look at the video- a very interesting analysis from David Dowe, presenting the new hunger report.
"The combination of food and economic crises has pushed the number of hungry people worldwide to historic levels — more than one billion people are undernourished, according to FAO estimates.Nearly all the world's undernourished live in developing countries. In Asia and the Pacific, an estimated 642 million people are suffering from chronic hunger; in Sub-Saharan Africa 265 million; in Latin America and the Caribbean 53 million; in the Near East and North Africa 42 million; and in developed countries 15 million, according FAO's annual hunger report, The State of Food Insecurity, produced this year in collaboration with WFP. The report was published before World Food Day, to be celebrated on 16 October 2009."

World Food Day, October 16

The purpose of World Food Day is to raise awareness and encourage action to alleviate hunger around the world. This year’s events are of utmost importance as the number of hungry people has increased to over 1 billion for the first time in history. A post from the blog of WFP, for those who want to get involved.

October 11, 2009

Telecom: Tools connecting the world and communicating about HIV

A very interesting article about - again- technologies and development, from the website of UNAIDS. October 5, 2009.

"Digital and technological revolutions have dramatically changed the way in which people communicate around the world. Many communities in developing countries don’t yet have access to computers and the internet however according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) an estimated 2.2 billion mobile phone users lived in developing countries by end 2008 – 64% of the global market. Estimates show that by 2012, half of all individuals in remote areas of the world, who often do not have access to clean running water, electricity or the Internet, will have mobile phones. The ITU is gathering the global telecommunications sector together in Geneva this week for Telecom WORLD 2009. The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the conference on 5 October. Delegates will explore areas of societal change including the digital divide, climate change, and disaster relief. With its focus on development opportunities, the event brings together corporate social responsibility and displays cases of best practices.
The explosion of mobile technology presents a great opportunity to scale up the AIDS response in poor countries.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel SidibĂ© is convinced of the value of this approach. “Communication tools are reaching more and more people even in the most remote villages. They connect us all into a global community,” he said."

October 2, 2009

McGill Conference on Global Food Security

McGill Conference on Global Food Security, Oct. 5-7.
The purposes of the conference is to educate, ignite debate and allow for new perspectives on local and global food issues.

Is Aid Responsible for Africa's Poverty? Moyo vs Naidoo

You probably knows the famous theory by Dambisa Moyo on the "dead Aid"… here is a video posted this week on a debate between Moyo and Naido, partisan of "more aid".


Women’s Empowerment in developing countries- a central issue to U.S. Foreign Policy

In a video message (you can click the link!), Ambassador for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer underscored the central role women's empowerment and equality play in U.S. foreign policy. Ambassador Verveer said:"Investing in women is one of the most powerful forces for international development and for advancing the causes of peace and security, democracy and prosperity around the world; and, yet, it’s a force that is still significantly untapped. Equality for girls and women isn’t only the right thing to do -- it’s also the smart thing -- for no country can get ahead if half its citizens are left behind. We still have a long way to go before women have equal economic participation, or equal political representation, or access to education and health care, or are free from violence and have the chance to follow their dreams.
http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/entires/womens_empowerment/ (text and video).

The Mount Carmel Training center, in Haifa, Israel, has major activities in the field of women empowerment, in Israel and in developing countries.

The impact of climate change on agriculture in Africa

Have a look on this very interesting blog, dealing with development issues, agriculture and food security.

October 1, 2009

Israel to the rescue: Curing Pacific islands of obesity

Israeli experts attempt to cure Pacific Ocean Islanders of diabetes, obesity starting with junk food die-hard Samoans. Experts' delegation devises national prevention, treatment program for Polynesian country. by Itamar Eichner, Ynet


Prenatal Care Through 09.22.09, by CorinneRamey

An interesting article related to development and technology, in the spirit of the previous article published today on the subject.

In India, especially in rural areas, men are often in charge of the family mobile phone. But Subhi Quaraishi, CEO of ZMQ Software Systems, thinks that phones are a great way to reach women as well. "The goal of our program is to use technology to empower women," said Quaraishi, of ZMQ's new pilot program.ZMQ is currently running a program to provide women with information on prenatal care via SMS. The messages, which are all in Hindi, contain information on vaccinations, exercise, diet, medication, and how to deal with emergencies that arrive during pregnancy. This is the only program of its kind in India, although other programs -- like a Grameen Bank sponsored program in Ghana -- also use SMS to give advice on prenatal care.

full article:

The Wheel of Development: Rolling Forward, by Julia Margulies

Julia Margulies is the Director General of the Weitz Center for Development Studies, Rehovot ,Israel.

The Weitz Center for Development Studies, a non-governmental, non-profit, public organization, was founded in 1963 in Rehovot to engage in professional activities related to regional urban and rural development in Israel and in other developing countries. The Center was established and later headed (until his death in1998) by Professor Raanan Weitz, one of the leading figures in the planning and development of rural Israel since its independence and until well into the 1990's.

Since its establishment, the Center has been dedicated to the study of rural and peripheral areas in Israel, through extensive research, and has become one of the important sources of information and knowledge on those areas for Israeli students, scholars and practitioners. Moreover, the Weitz Center has adopted the mission of sharing the knowledge acquired in Israel in this field with less developed countries, adapting a working plan to each country's specific conditions, and implementing objectives through an extensive program of training, research, planning and consultancy activities.

The Center has gained international recognition in the development field: In 1972, the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations recognized and recommended the Center’s International Postgraduate Training Program in Integrated Regional Development. In 1991, the Weitz Center Library was designated as the World Bank Depository Library in Israel.

The Rehovot Approach of Integrated Regional Development (IRD)

The Weitz Center formulated the internationally recognized “Rehovot Approach” which promotes integrated socio-economic development at regional and local levels, as a long term measure for improving adaptation to new functions and demands deriving from changes in the global economy. The approach's rural-urban linkage implies that the development of rural areas is imperative in order to secure the quality of life in cities. Rural areas in most developing countries have been neglected – agriculture does not allow a fair standard of living, other sources of income have not been developed, and accessibility to basic human needs – education, health, potable water and sanitation – is poor. As a result, many human indicators such as malnutrition, life expectancy, mortality rates and illiteracy are much poorer than at the urban centers.

Moreover, the majority of poor people in the world live in rural areas, and those who wish to improve their situation have only one path: emigration to urban centers, preferably metropolitan areas. However, these centers are not able to absorb the influx of population, and they suffer in return from problems of poor infrastructures, lack of housing, insufficient services and low personal security.

The main question is not if rural development is necessary, but how to do it best. The apparent shortcomings of previous strategies in tackling the challenges of poverty reduction and equitable development – as well as universal processes such as democratization, decentralization and globalization – have had significant influences on the attitudes towards development in recent years.

It is widely recognized today that poverty reduction requires going beyond a sectoral approach to rural development. The totality of activities in a particular region needs to be promoted in order for rural development to be successful. Mechanisms must be developed for linking together agriculture, agro-industries, infrastructure, health, education, information and other areas with a common goal of raising incomes and creating jobs in rural areas.

For many years, attempts have been made to get the wheel of rural development rolling by reinforcing one segment of the economy. These attempts have in most part failed. The development strategy promoted by the Weitz Center maintains that, in order to move forward, the wheel of development needs the simultaneous strength of all the segments pushing behind it. The Rehovot Approach is based on three assumptions:

1. Agricultural growth is the key to rural development;
2. The development of agriculture requires concomitant development of secondary and tertiary sectors;
3. Social forces play an important role in agricultural development. Since agricultural production is carried out by a multitude of individual producers, their willingness and ability to participate in any process of change is a sine qua non.

Why is it so important to develop all the sectors in coordination? First, agriculture does not develop by itself, but requires a system of support such as professional advice, facilities which enable access to markets, and so on. Second, even when agriculture develops, many of the hands working in it will be idle unless alternative income generating activities are promoted as well. Developing other activities, such as agro-industries, will create working places and add to internal capital of the rural areas. Third, the rural community also needs services such as education, health, and public facilities.

The Weitz Center for Development Studies has translated this approach into a planning methodology.

The IRD Methodology regards planning in terms of a cross-functional process. Regions are viewed as the meeting points between economic opportunities and social and environmental concerns. The regional development plan presents itself as the point of intersection at the regional level of the two planning functions – the vertical and the horizontal. The concept of cross function permits the achievement of simultaneous consistency between the following factors:

· Coordination and interrelationship between the various levels, from national to regional and local (usually national, regional, district, city and village);
· Coordination and relationship between the three economic sectors, primary (agriculture), secondary (industry), and tertiary (services);
· Integration within the regional plan of the economic, social, organizational and spatial aspects.

The IRD approach avoids the adoption of a structured “recipe” for regional development. Rather, a flexible approach, based on local conditions and predominant institutional structures, is embraced.
Moreover, the Rehovot Approach stresses the fact that development planning is a dynamic process that enhances the capacity of territories to contribute to the creation of economic activities, and to attract investments in competitive national and international environments.

Training Activities

Since its establishment more than 40 years ago, the Weitz Center has been involved in the dissemination of the Israeli experience in regional and local development among developing countries through training and related activities. Over 5,000 professionals from some 80 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Europe have graduated from this program.

This role has been carried out within the framework of MASHAV – The Center for International Cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The experience gained by Israeli development institutions has been used as a practical example for the thousands of professionals that have been trained in the Center. Professionals from both national and non-governmental institutions take an active role in transferring their knowledge via the training program to the international participants.

All Weitz Center courses are interdisciplinary by nature, and participants are professionals in the fields of agriculture, economy, sociology, civil and industrial engineering, environmental studies, and more. Further on, following requests from individual governments, international organizations, and NGO’s, the Weitz Center conducts tailor-made courses designed according to specific needs of the commissioning organization. These courses are conducted either at the Weitz Center or onsite, and include a follow-up component.

Planning for the Future

The globalization process has not diminished the importance of local development; on the contrary. Future efforts must concentrate on strengthening local capacities to cope with globalization and influence its processes. However, this is not sufficient. Efforts must be made in regional cooperation among developing countries, as a way of creating markets and common projects - based on the utilization and positive exploitation of local resources and potentialities. In this way, the wheel of development will gain the momentum to roll on.

Mobile phone health apps could improve care in developing countries

September 29, 2009 Dean Takahashi, from twitter

"Healthcare in developing countries could get a shot in the arm from mobile health apps being developed by startups, according the executive director of the mHealth Alliance.
David Aylward, who is being named head of the alliance today, said in an interview that the personal healthcare monitoring apps being developed for the iPhone and other smart phones could ultimately prove useful in improving healthcare in developing nations.
“It’s going to take time to get the apps on phones like the iPhone in developing countries, but maybe not as long as you think,” he said. “Even in the poorest parts of the poorest countries, you can find mobile phones.”
Lots of companies are vying to get U.S. consumers for these services, but Aylward said that makers of apps often fail to consider overseas markets, where the competition might be slimmer.
One new company that just announced a mobile healthcare app is Ringful, which demonstrated its technology at the DEMOfall 09 conference last week. The idea is for caregivers to distribute information to patients via the phone and to collect healthcare data that can be analyzed by the caregivers.
The mHealth Alliance in Washington, D.C., is a partnership of the UN Foundation, the Vodafone Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Its mission is to support and advance mobile health initiatives in the developing world. The alliance was announced in February at the GSM World Mobile Conference. The goal is to generate collaboration between nonprofit, government and private parties in the interests of global health. Right now, most of the projects funded are in pilot stage.
At the core of the alliance is the notion that most people in the developed and developing countries have cell phones now. If you can deliver healthcare through those phones, you can keep people out of hospitals and thereby reduce overall healthcare costs. Since 80 percent of healthcare costs are due to chronic illnesses that send people to the hospital, much of the effort in saving money is to keep people at home and to treat them there, as noted in our recent piece on healthcare and technology.
“The apps that are being developed for the first world are the kind we’re interested in for the developing world,” he said. “We have apps that are collecting data. What hasn’t happened so far is integrating the data with the healthcare system.”
Aylward said that one of his missions will be to introduce startups with interesting mobile healthcare solutions to big carriers that can help the technology spread widely. Since 2006, the UN Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation have made investments in technology to support global health goals. In that respect, Aylward said that the mHealth alliance is like an angel investor. It can foster startups and introduce them around and then get them moving toward full-scale deployment, Aylward said. Thanks to support from Qualcomm, Aylward said 21 mHealth projects will be highlighted at the upcoming CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment conference in San Diego, Calif.
VC-backed companies could benefit from getting information from masses of people on mobile phones in developing countries. For instance, companies could collect data on how people respond to drug treatments. That data could be valuable to drug makers. Also, companies could use mobile phones to ensure that drugs that are reaching people in developing countries are authentic, not counterfeit, and have not been tampered with en route.
One of the success stories is EpiSurveyor, which made software for gathering healthcare data about spreading illnesses via mobile phones. It is being used by health ministries in 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, it took months to find out what kinds of diseases were spreading in local countries. Now it’s nearly instantaneous.
“It’s simple and straightforward but it radically changes the reporting of infectious diseases,” Ayalward said".

Obama's Speech to the United Nations General Assembly, September 23, 2009

Once again, the issue of development is a major component of Obama's speech, in the continuation of Cairo's speech and more recently Accra's speech in Ghana during his visit to African countries.

"At a time of such interdependence, we have a moral and pragmatic interest, however, in broader questions of development -- the questions of development that existed even before this crisis happened. And so America will continue our historic effort to help people feed themselves. We have set aside $63 billion to carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS, to end deaths from tuberculosis and malaria, to eradicate polio, and to strengthen public health systems. We are joining with other countries to contribute H1N1 vaccines to the World Health Organization. We will integrate more economies into a system of global trade. We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year's summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time".

For the full speech:

Global Food Security: U.S. Commitment to Action

Global Food Security: U.S. Commitment to Action
"The question is not whether we can end hunger, it's whether we will." — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Since the election of Barak Obama and the nomination of H. R. Clinton as Secreatary of State, a lot has been done in the field of international cooperation and engagement with the people of the world. The new media is a major tool used by Obama's administration in order to raise awareness of development issues and completely transform the face of American diplomacy.
Look at this clip by State Department - a good example of use of web 2.0 tools. Here's the youtube:


a blog for MASHAV

As I said before, Mashav is the Israel's Aid Agency. what do we want and why we are here? First of all, we would like to share with MASHAV's staff, MASHAv's affiliates and partners, and the staff of the other departments at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our ideas and analysis about the current trends in the field of international development. We would like also to enhance the understanding of the development issues and policies, while contributing to the public diplomacy efforts and sharing news and updates on development, foreign aid and other related issues.

Welcome to MASHAV's blog!

MASHAV Development News is a blog moderated by the external relations desk of the Israel's National Agency for International Development Cooperation in Jerusalem, Israel. MASHAV is a division within the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since its conception in 1958, MASHAV has trained about 250,000 people from 140 countries, in Israel and in developing countries. MASHAV provides training in a variety of areas, including agriculture, public health and medical programs, community development, integrated rural regional development and other areas. MASHAV cooperates with several international organizations and other countries' national aid agencies. The purpose of MASHAV Development News is to encourage debate and constructive exchange of ideas on subjects related to international development, as well as to publish articles, forums and analysis of latest news on development and foreign aid.