Antibiotics are the first line of defense in protecting humans and animals against bacteria and other microbes. Microbes, like humans, want to survive. They can do that by mutating to adapt to their changing environment, unfavorable conditions and any threats they encounter — threats such as antibiotics.
Impressed with their success in Kenya, the donor installed state-of-the-art hand pumps along Somalia’s Jubba River, confident that community members would also benefit from the highly effective water delivery system.
A year later, the water pumps sat broken and unused.
When my colleagues and I visited the community to ask why folks weren’t using the pumps, they told us that a regular (earthen) catchment system to capture water during the rainy season or a hand-dug well along the riverside would have better jibed with their way of life. That’s what they would have preferred. But no one talked to them before installing the hand pumps.
It’s a scenario I’ve witnessed time and again in global development, whether the goal is to improve reproductive health outcomes for women or rebuild communities in the wake of a natural disaster or conflict. For too long now, donors and development practitioners have taken a top-down approach to addressing complex global challenges — or even the seemingly simple ones, like providing water during the dry season. We predetermine the solutions. We package them into artificial, often unrealistic time frames. And we do it all alongside of rigid funding structures.
Our thinking about development has been dominated by the metaphor of the machine. But, as deterministic systems, machines must be predictable to run smoothly, and their behavior is dictated by their structure and parts, along with the instructions of an external operator. The smallest change or variation can bring a machine crashing to a stop.
Using the same mechanistic model, project managers apply multiple controls to reduce variety in the system, with the goal of trying to make input-output relations more predictable and efficient.
When this approach is applied to complex development problems, it falls woefully short. It can even be dangerous. The realities we try to change — the big questions of development — are not machinelike at all. They involve exceedingly complex systems of interaction, coevolution and emergence, which are more like ecologies than machines. In ecosystems, as well as economies, variation or innovation provide the very possibility for change.
Read the remainder of the blog here.
From Kendari to Mosul and Abuja to San Francisco, people across the world will celebrate Dec. 31, the close of another year and the promise of a brighter year to come.
But this New Year’s Eve will be more than a time for personal reflection and writing resolutions. It also marks the end of the Millennium Development Goals and the start of a new chapter for the international development community.
It is the launch of the sustainable development goals — our road map for the next 15 years.
As we prepare for this milestone, we’re reflecting as a community on what has worked and where we can improve. We’re also setting our priorities for the future and how we set about achieving our new goals.
As an international human development organization dedicated to addressing some of the world’s most enduring challenges, FHI 360 is committed to helping to create an environment where all individuals and communities have the opportunity to reach their highest potential. It is this vision that inspires us to have a voice in global policy discussions on the issues important to our work and mission. To that end, FHI 360 is pleased to have been recently granted general consultative status from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a unique opportunity for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to interact with global leaders.
ECOSOC is the principal entity that coordinates the economic, social and related work for the 14 United Nations specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. It serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system.
Consultative status benefits both NGOs and the UN. This collaboration allows the UN to secure advice and information from organizations with special expertise in their areas of interest, while also enabling organizations to express their views and opinions on an international stage.
With general consultative status, NGOs have the ability to:
- Provide data and expert analysis directly from the field
- Help monitor and implement international agreements
- Raise public awareness of relevant issues
- Play a major role in advancing the UN’s goals and objectives
- Contribute information to and make statements at UN events
- Enter the United Nations premises
May is the last month for NGOs to apply for ECOSOC consultative status in order to be considered by the 2014 NGO Committee. For more information about ECOSOC consultative status, go to http://csonet.org/index.php?menu=17. To apply, please click here.
As I reflect back on my first week as Chief Operating Officer with FHI 360, the first thought that comes to mind is that the people at FHI 360 know how to make a newcomer feel welcome. During my first week, I heard some of the ways that FHI 360 staff characterized the organization, its people and their work: exciting, amazing, creative, thoughtful, a place filled with talented and resilient people. Based on my interactions and experience, I would add committed, driven and serious to the list. If you care about effective human development, this is a place you want to be.
Many people sent me welcome messages that described their groundbreaking work in health research, HIV/AIDS, education, family planning, livelihood and job creation, environment, finding innovative solutions to real-world problems through technology, social marketing and behavior change, and strengthening institutional capacity. The scope and depth of the work is overwhelming, and one quickly understands why “360” is in the name.
Today, the United Nations Development Programme released its 2013 Human Development Report. The theme of the report is The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World and examines the rapid progress made by many developing countries toward improving the lives of their citizens by bringing millions out of poverty.
“The rise of the South has resulted not from adhering to a fixed set of policy prescriptions, but from applying pragmatic policies that respond to local circumstances and opportunities — including a deepening of the developmental role of states, a dedication to improving human development (including by supporting education and social welfare) and an openness to trade and innovation.”
Read the report here.
On Friday, March 9, FHI 360 is hosting Human Development: The 360-Degree Perspective, an event that aims to open the discussion on what human development means. Speakers include author Charles Kenny, Dr. Catherine Hankins of UNAIDS, Dr. Michael Bzdak of Johnson & Johnson, photographer Jessica Scranton, and more. This event is open to the public and we encourage you to attend!
To RSVP for the event, please visit the reservation page here.
Join the #HumanDevelopment Conversation
Alongside this inaugural event, we are launching the hashtag #HumanDevelopment on Twitter in order to hear your thoughts on the subject. For us at FHI 360, human development is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests. What does human development mean to you? How is human development crucial to creating lasting change around the world? Let us know! Be sure to include #HumanDevelopment in your tweets!
For more information about human development, please visit UNDP’s 2011 Human Development Report.
Today, October 31, 2011, the 7 billionth world citizen is born.
Only 50 years ago, the world population was 3 billion — less than half what it is today. What does this mean? Is our population growing too quickly, or is this milestone a testament to advances in agriculture, medicine and technology? As we look to the future — a future with more youth and more elderly than the world has ever known — how do we nurture opportunity and benefit from every person’s vast potential?
Together we can accomplish a great deal, but the world faces many challenges. The most rapid population growth is taking place in the poorest countries. An estimated 215 million women have no access to family planning. Persistent gender inequities fuel high fertility rates, which in turn hinder development. People across the globe are moving more — some in search of opportunity, others fleeing famine, violence or economic despair at home. And in some regions, the environment is in danger under the added strain of increased population.
We have our work cut out for us, but with 7 billion minds and hands working together – including individuals, families, communities and governments, along with the private and public sector – we can continue to innovate to improve lives worldwide.
The State of the World Population (UNFPA) examines where we have been, where we are now and what these numbers mean for our collective future. View The State of the World Population Report.
What do you think?
Interactive Presentation by UNFPA