Development that Works
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    This blog highlights effective ideas in the fight against poverty and exclusion, and analyzes the impact of development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • WhatsApp: A tool for development work in Bolivia



    By Gastón Gertner


    A program coordinator using Whatsapp in one of IDB’s water and sanitation projects. Photo: Gastón Gertner.

    Back in 2010, as an Argentine attending grad school in the United States, a close friend of mine introduced me to the free text-messaging service called WhatsApp. There was only a handful of us who used it on campus. Most of my American fellow students just used regular text messages, but for me, WhatsApp offered a free way of staying in touch with my friends and family back in Buenos Aires.

    Almost six years later, WhatsApp has vastly expanded its reach, making it easier than ever to connect with people, especially in the developing world. It has been joined by other platforms such as Viber, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger.

    According to the global web index, 86% of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean’s have mobile phones. And the use of WhatsApp is the highest in the region with a user penetration of 66%. Read more…

    Opinion Surveys, Text Mining, and Social Media Monitoring for Better Gender Mainstreaming 



    By Tracy Betts

    Photo: Getty images.

    Photo: Getty images.

    Since my early days working in evaluation at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) I was convinced of the value of good data for the formulation of effective development policies and programs. Yet how to use data to ensure the Bank is reaching its overall strategic goals came a bit later.

    The year was 1997. I was team leader for a Bank project aimed at reducing crime and preventing violence in Uruguay. It was the first time a request for such a project was made to the IDB and the topic of “women in development” was already an institutional priority. So as part of preparing this project, we explored the topic of women and violence. To do so, we carried out face-to-face interviews with 545 women to understand the nature and incidence of domestic violence. Read more…

    To Guide or not to Guide? Using Technology to Improve Learning



    By Elena Arias and Julián Cristia

    Considering everything that technology has made possible, from instant global communication to space travel, harnessing it to improve learning and revolutionize education would seem well within our reach.

    Using Technology to Improve Learning

    Image: IDB.

    Indeed, the IDB is looking at how technology can improve learning across Latin America and the Caribbean, where there is an urgent need to improve student performance in such a critical field as mathematics.

    In 2012, schoolchildren from eight countries of the Region participated in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test administered every three years to a half-million 15-year-old in 65 countries worldwide by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

    The Latin American and Caribbean countries were among the 14 lowest-ranked countries tested.

    This poses problems for a region that is seeking to raise productivity and reduce poverty and inequality, so the IDB has been trying to determine how technology can best be used to improve teaching and learning.

    To that end, the IDB undertook a meta-analysis: comprehensive and systematic review of 15 impact evaluations from around the world that focused on both guided and non-guided use of technology in the classroom.

    What can we learn from these experiences around the world? Read more…

    The 123 Mujer Hotline: Reducing Domestic Violence in Colombia 



    By Adria Natalia Armbrister

    Can an emergency hotline service reduce violence against women? Colombia finds that it does: women who use the service are 37 percent less likely to report having suffered physical domestic violence and are 16 percent less likely to report having suffered psychological domestic violence.

    123 mujer hotline

    Image: Gobierno de Medellín

    “On May 21, 2014 at around noon, I called the police because I was being abused by my husband. I had called the police before and they came and calmed down the situation, but things stayed the same after they left.

    The next time it happened, I called 123 Mujer and I finally felt that the situation would be resolved. The police detained my husband and I got psychological counseling by phone.

    They told me that I should press charges and I did. 123 Mujer also provided me transportation to the police station, then picked me up afterward and brought me home.”  Read more…

    Dignified dwellings for Suriname’s Amerindian and Maroon communities



    By Carolina Piedrafita and Carol Nijbroek

    Beneficiaries in their new home. Image: IDB

    Beneficiaries in their new home. Image: IDB

    Maseja Amoloe is a single mother in Pikin Pada, a small Maroon village in Suriname’s hinterland. These villages have their own form of government rooted in Amerindian traditions such as birth rights, and are fully recognized by Suriname’s government. The villages are run by a kapiten, who functions as the highest local authority.

    Like others in her village, Amoloe cultivates yucca, bakes bread, and sews for a living. She lived in a hut with her five children until November 2015, when a government housing program targeting rural villages reached Pikin Pada.

    Amoloe was selected by the village chief as one of 20 beneficiaries to receive a $8,000 subsidy to build a better home. She now has plenty of space, sanitary facilities, and a good quality roof and walls. Read more…

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