Google's balloon-based internet seems to be working. After some hiccups, one bad demo, and lots of redesign, Google's Project Loon (previously) is bringing some internet to some people in the developing world.
Fluffier socks play a crucial role. (SLS)
Fluffier socks play a crucial role. (SLS)
"I have worked at international development NGOs almost my entire career ... I’ve been frustrated by the same inefficiencies and assumptions of my sector that are now getting picked apart in public. Like the authors, donors, and governments attacking international development, I’m sometimes disillusioned with what my job requires me to do, what it requires that I demand of others. Over the last year, I read every book, essay, and roman à clef about my field I could find. I came out convinced that the problems with international development are real, they are fundamental, and I might, in fact, be one of them. But I also found that it’s too easy to blame the PlayPumps of the world. Donors, governments, the public, the media, aid recipients themselves—they all contribute to the dysfunction. Maybe the problem isn’t that international development doesn’t work. It’s that it can’t."
"... now, my sight and my world and my life have all returned." Vision: Healing the Blind in Ethiopia [vimeo, 10m] [more inside]
A documentary film about Norman Borlaug, the Iowa farm boy who saved over a billion people from starvation. (1:06:47) Americans have little knowledge of one of their greatest sons. Why do schoolchildren in China, India, Mexico, and Pakistan know the name and work of Nobel Peace Prize winner [His speech] Norman Borlaug while so few of his countrymen have never heard of him? How did a dirt-poor farm boy from rural Iowa grow up to save a billion people worldwide from starvation and malnutrition and become the father of the Green Revolution? What were the inherited traits and environmental factors that shaped his astonishing journey and led to successes that surprised even him? What can we learn from his life and views that might help the human race survive the next critical century? [more inside]
Stuffyourrucksack.com is an online community that helps responsible travelers make a practical difference to the lives of those in developing countries. [more inside]
The documentary A Walk to Beautiful, follows five women in Ethiopia suffering from fistula, isolated from their villages and some from their families, seeking treatment at one of the few charity clinics. It can be viewed online at the PBS NOVA site. Dr. Catherine Hamlin, who runs the hospital in Addis Ababa, is interviewed here. There's also been a couple of recent articles on fistula: one from Nicholas Kristof who's been one of the most prominent voices on this issue, a piece by Kate Harding, and an older piece where Abby Frucht describes living with fistula in a developed country with a supportive family. For those inclined to donate, links to charities can be found in the Kristof op-ed. Other Metafilter posts on fistula: 1, 2
As the global climate changes, agriculture is sure to be affected. The Stern Review explains that "developing countries - in particular the poorest - are heavily dependent on agriculture, the most climate-sensitive of all economic sectors." Working Group II of the IPCC says that: "Smallholder and subsistence farmers, pastoralists and artisanal fisherfolk will suffer complex, localised impacts of climate change (high confidence)." Meanwhile, some important staple crops are especially threatened by rising temperatures (though genetic engineering may help). You can experience a taste of it yourself, with a climate change awareness fast, taking place on Tuesday, September 4th.
Fast Company covers the twisted economics and ironies of the bottled water industry. "In Fiji, a state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water."
The beginning of the end for Dear Leader? This Times (of London) report is filled with telling details.
Science and technology in the developing world. SciDev.net went online last month, with the backing of the UK Department for International Development. Its main goal "is to enhance the ability of all its users to engage in informed debate on ways of applying science and technology to social and economic development in an environmentally responsible way." Hopefully, a useful tool for globalisation discussions.