Back into Poverty

Increase in food prices has pushed back into poverty at least 100 million people in 2008 and, according to the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (here, p. 60),

erase at least four years of progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 target for the reduction of poverty. The household level consequences of this crisis are most acutely felt in LIFDCs [Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries] where a 50% rise in staple food prices causes a 21% increase in total food expenditure, increasing these from 50 to 60% of income. In a high income country this rise in prices causes a 6% rise in retail food expenditure with income expenditure on food rising from 10 to 11%. FAO estimates that food price rises have resulted in at least 50 million more people becoming hungry in 2008, going back to the 1970 figures.

According to the World Bank (here) this means that between 200,000 and 400,000 more children will died every year for malnutrition until 2015.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

WikiPrices

Erik Hersman, has recently created a site called Africa Signals. And it is not just a site: it is a wiki site. The site aims to collect and share mobile phone and Internet rates across Africa. (I have found about this site here)

Now. In my experience, one of the many reasons that makes poor a poor farmer is coping with a non-functioning market (I said it two posts ago). So I can just imagine how helpful would be to have a tool to make market work better.

Creating a wiki page to collect and share the price of one particular agricultural product in one particular time in one particular place would be great. But succeeding in integrating such a site with the mobile phone network would be even better.  How to do this? The government of Rwanda is moving in the very same direction without creating a wiki site. (It is difficult to imagine a government managing wikis). But bureaucracy is not something we usually associate with the words efficiency and effectiveness, especially in poor countries. And in any case we do not really need a government to make a site like this work.

Just think about a wiki site collecting and sharing data through sms. Actually Twitter, without the wiki interface, is doing it right now. So, think about a farmer receiving a message with updated price information the night before market day and, on this information, taking his/her decisions. And think about a farmer sending via sms the price information to the wiki site after leaving the market.

We can imagine the farmer to pay for the sms he or she receives and, on the contrary, we can imagine sending sms back to the site to be completely free.  And we can imagine some volunteers to be the administrators of the site (just like Wikipedia).

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Information Flows on Mobiles

The idea to use mobile phones (here and here) to help economic development in the most remote corners of the world is fascinating and definitely smart. For one thing, mobile phones have already reached the Bottom Billion. In 2007 there were 45 subscribers per 100 inhabitants in the developing countries. That means that we can now expect to have one mobile in every family. Everywhere. As well in communities where services like water, electricity, hospitals, schools or transportation are still far away.

What poor people mostly need are functioning institutions. And market is one of these. If market is not working, farmers will pay higher prices for what they buy and got less money for what they sell.  Moreover they could buy or sell at the wrong time and possibly in the wrong place. In the words of the government of Rwanda,

the success of these farmers has been greatly affected by lack of access to pricing information. Many times, farmers speculate what crops to grow and what prices to charge at harvest. Some farmers depend on middlemen to dictate the prices and in most cases the latter exploit the former. For any farmer to earn a decent living from agriculture, easy access to information on market prices is of paramount importance.

Making information flows on mobile phones could

empower farmers to enable them make more informed market pricing decisions and ultimately more successful farming.

The idea of mobile banking goes in the same direction: making a  service so critical for development accessible to almost everyone. That will not end poverty, but  will probably make the task easier.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

tweets


Twitter: frbailo

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RSS r-bloggers.com

  • simmer 4.0.0
    The 4.0.0 release of simmer, the Discrete-Event Simulator for R, is on CRAN under a new license: we decided to switch to GPL __= 2. Most notably in this major release, the C++ core has been refactorised and exposed under inst/include. This is not a big deal for most users, but it enables extensions. As an example… […]
  • RStudio:addins part 4 – Unit testing coverage investigation and improvement, made easy
    Introduction A developer always pays his technical debts! And we have a debt to pay to the gods of coding best practices, as we did not present many unit tests for our functions yet. Today we will show how to efficiently investigate and improve unit test coverage for our R code, with focus on functions […]
  • MiKTeX Behind a Windows Firewall
    I’ve always had problems with MiKTeX on my work computer. I can install it just fine, or get IT to install it, but then the package manager doesn’t work because of our firewall. You can set up a local repository to get around this problem, and I will show you how. I’m just doing a […]
  • Regional population structures at a glance
    I am happy to announce that our paper is published today in The Lancet. Kashnitsky, I., & Schöley, J. (2018). Regional population structures at a glance. The Lancet, 392(10143), 209–210. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31194-2 At a...
  • R.devices – Into the Void
    R.devices 2.16.0 - Unified Handling of Graphics Devices - is on CRAN. With this release, you can now easily suppress unwanted graphics, e.g. graphics produced by one of those do-everything-in-one-call functions that we all bump into once in a while. To suppress graphics, the R.devices package provides graphics device nulldev(), and function suppressGraphics(), which both […]

RSS Simply Statistics

  • Teaching R to New Users - From tapply to the Tidyverse
    Abstract The intentional ambiguity of the R language, inherited from the S language, is one of its defining features. Is it an interactive system for data analysis or is it a sophisticated programming language for software developers? The ability of R to cater to users who do not see themselves as programmers, but then allow […]
  • What Should be Done When Data Have Creators?
    I was listening to the podcast The West Wing Weekly recently and Episode 4.17 (“Red Haven’s on Fire”) featured former staff writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. In introducing her, the podcast co-hosts mentioned that Hissrich was a writer for the Netflix series Daredevil, based on the Marvel Comics character. She is also the showrunner for a […]
  • Cultural Differences in Map Data Visualization
    Matthew Panzarino had an interesting article in TechCrunch on Apple’s process for rebuilding their Maps app. While most of the article describes the laborious process of data collection, one part jumped out at me, which was the team that Panzarino describes as the “Department of Details.” They are responsible for a number of odds and […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • “A Headline That Will Make Global-Warming Activists Apoplectic”
    I saw this article in the newspaper today, “2017 Was One of the Hottest Years on Record. And That Was Without El Niño,” subtitled, “The world in 2017 saw some of the highest average surface temperatures ever recorded, surprising scientists who had expected sharper retreat from recent record years,” and accompanied by the above graph, […]
  • Where that title came from
    I could not think of a good title for this post. My first try was “An institutional model for the persistence of false belief, but I don’t think it’s helpful to describe scientific paradigms as ‘true’ or ‘false.’ Also, boo on cheap laughs at the expense of academia,” and later attempts were even worse. At […]
  • Stan short course in NYC in 2.5 weeks
    To all who may be interested: Jonah Gabry, Stan developer and creator of ShinyStan, will be giving a short course downtown, from 6-8 Aug. Details here. Jonah has taught Stan courses before, and he knows what he’s doing. The post Stan short course in NYC in 2.5 weeks appeared first on Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, […]