Last month, we explored how policymakers can channel empathy in policymaking, using as an example our work with UNICEF to identify diverse needs and challenges of children in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN). Our community-based approach highlighted success stories as well as services in need of redesign. Today, we’ll go to a casa materna, a “maternity waiting home”, in Puerto Cabezas to see how this important resource for women can better serve as a source of medical and emotional care.
The women of the Puerto Cabezas casa materna have come from near and far. They’ve made journeys of up to multiple hours over rough roads, by foot and in designated ambulances. They’ve come to get the care they need as soon-to-be mothers.
There are 88 casas maternas spread throughout Nicaragua, and seven in RAAN. The government has invested in … Read More »
During the 2013 holiday season, Mazda launched its Mazda Drive for Good Campaign to raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and a collection of charities supported through the Mazda Foundation. Similar company efforts to support social causes, such as Nivea’s donation to the Breakfast Club of Canada, have long been part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.
But it’s hard not to wonder, why is a car company is putting its efforts toward addressing medical research issues?
What is “Alignment” in CSR?
Business and CSR “align” when the selection of social causes, methods of intervention, and implementation partners fit with the existing expertise and resources underlying a company’s business success.
For example, Pfizer capitalizes on its expertise in the pharmaceutical manufacturing business by donating medicine to a wide range of … Read More »
Our ever-growing access to information and tools has profoundly changed the way we can use, digest, display, and share data. Put an internet connection and a laptop together and you have a tool that can empower people—regardless of experience—to visualize and dictate data’s meaning and impact.
But as data use becomes more frequent, more creative, more far reaching, is the information we share and the way we share it using data accurately? Are we sharing knowledge responsibly or perpetuating the obscurity of data?
In a recent post, “Can Data Visualizations Help Mediate Between the Worlds of Research, Policy, and Practice?” AidData addressed data visualization—a way to visually represent raw and unprocessed information in a clear, sharable, and relatable way. The abundance of data we have access to is certainly overwhelming and, as the post suggests, a “vortex”. Data visualization … Read More »
Last week, we explored how policymakers can channel empathy in policymaking, using as an example our work with UNICEF to identify the diverse needs and challenges of children in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN). Our community-based approach highlighted success stories of people designing programs to fit their own needs. Today we’ll go to Puerto Cabezas, RAAN’s capital, to see how local programming has stepped in to provide unique opportunities for the region’s children.
School is out for the afternoon, and boys across Puerto Cabezas are drawn to the ball fields. Some biking and others even running, they are rushing to get to practice on time.
These are the boys of the Puerto Cabezas Baseball Academy.
Dr. Wilfredo Cunningham Kain first funded the Academy to encourage his young son’s love of baseball. Over the years, the Academy has evolved into an after-school and … Read More »
In Nicaragua’s Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), there is no single experience of childhood.
For a child in seaside Prinzapolka, a highlight of daily life might be playing on the town’s sandy beaches. In rural northern Wangky Maya, the picture of home might be mother and sisters standing over a smoking wood stove in the yard. Children may spend their after-school hours helping split firewood and carry well water home; others might join friends around the neighborhood church for a pick-up soccer game or help with a small bread baking business run out of the family house.
Equally diverse are the constraints affecting these children’s lives: economic weakness in RAAN, poor physical infrastructure, lingering effects of conflict and natural disaster, and sociocultural complexity. Almost one-third of RAAN children suffer from chronic malnutrition and poverty affects 34 percent of children up to 17 … Read More »
The word “politics” is loaded. It conjures images of backroom deals, self-interested maneuvering, and elite manipulation. It carries a negative connotation in any context. Outside interference in political affairs is even worse: as unseemly as politics can be, it’s meant to stay within the family.
Nonetheless, there’s been an increasing discussion about politics in aid over the past year.
With aid-receiving countries pushing back on interference by donor nations, technocratic multilaterals frustrated by stymied reforms, and academics searching for the root causes of institutional failures, the political factors that both influence and result from aid have become more apparent.
It’s long been an open secret that bilateral agencies use aid to support friendly regimes. And the sector is admitting that aid has political impacts—both intentional and unintentional—within receiving countries. Though the historical and economic relationships between many … Read More »
For years corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives have been applauded, criticized, and debated. Between headlines like “When Corporations Fail at Doing Good” and “Is Responsible Capitalism a Farce?”, one insight has become abundantly clear: CSR initiatives are often a necessary part of business, but those with the potential to make a difference are easier discussed than delivered.
This is especially true for companies supporting social services in complex environments that are new to them. On the one hand, companies have a great deal to offer the social sector: financial resources, human resources, managerial experience, technical expertise. And, for most companies, there is little choice—consumers, employees, investors, and even governments are all demanding CSR initiatives.
But when companies enter the social sector, there are many challenges to overcome. Many companies are most interested in numbers and marketing, showing little effort … Read More »
This is the sixth and final installment of an Aspen Institute Communications and Society program series on equitable and accountable governance shared over a six-week period. The series draws on conversations from the 2013 Forum on Communications and Society to encourage constructive dialogue around open government.
Despite the great many initiatives taking root worldwide, the open government movement has yet to achieve its potential. Open data has been used toward civic ends for nearly a decade, yet its current focus appears disproportionately targeted towards improving the quotidian details of our lived experience. I’ll be the first to applaud the streamlining of public services, but a more efficient e-government is not the same as a more accountable open government.
In other words, enough with the gateway drugs. Let’s get to the hard stuff.
Let’s employ open government initiatives in service of scrutinizing special interests that undermine democracy. Let’s … Read More »
This is the fifth installment of an Aspen Institute Communications and Society program series on equitable and accountable governance to be shared over a six-week period. The series draws on conversations from the 2013 Forum on Communications and Society to encourage constructive dialogue around open government.
Bemoaning government ineptitude is a popular pastime. There are times when it feels justified, but usually it just reveals our lack of understanding on how government works.
“Where are the public sector Foursquares and Twitters?” we ask. “Why hasn’t anyone developed a Kickstarter for government?”
The way the public sector is structured hugely constrains government’s ability to do so.
Rather than assuming what government officials are like and pontificating about why they are resistant to change, FOCAS 2013 participants—which included US and former UK government officials at the national, state, and local level—sought to understand their unique … Read More »
Recently I’ve fielded questions from several actors across the international development sector who are wondering what this whole “design” thing is about. The frameworks and concepts of human-centered design are increasingly finding a toehold. They haven’t been fully embraced yet, but there’s a lot of interest in how they might be utilized.
Of course, design thinking is still met with skepticism in parts of the development sector—and for good reason. High-profile examples of flashy gadgets like PlayPumps, SOCCKET and OLPC (especially in its early versions) rankle professionals in the development sector. Indeed, there’s much to scoff at when design is done poorly: by designers far removed from the end-users and their context, but nonetheless filled with assumptions about local needs, and funded by other outsiders who are more enamored with flashy technology than practical solutions. That’s a recipe for … Read More »