Creating a Market for Safe, Secure, and Convenient Moto Taxis in Uganda: A Q&A with Dalberg Alumnus Alastair Sussock

DSC_0210“Boda bodas,” or motorcycle taxis, are the main form of transit in Kampala, Uganda. There are five times more boda bodas driving around Kampala – 80,000 in total – than yellow taxis in New York City. While boda bodas are popular, they are not uniformly safe. Less than 1% of boda boda passengers wear helmets, and as a result, roughly 40% of trauma cases in Kampala hospitals are attributable to boda boda accidents.

SafeBoda, a company started by Dalberg San Francisco alumnus Alastair Sussock and three co-founders in November 2014, aims to provide Kampala residents with safe, convenient boda rides. SafeBoda drivers have two helmets – one for the driver and one for the passenger – and an easily identifiable reflective jacket with that driver’s name embossed on the back. In addition, they are trained in road safety, motorcycle maintenance, first aid, and customer service. Customers of SafeBoda can call for drivers using the SafeBoda smartphone app, similar in its functionality to the Uber and Lyft platforms. SafeBoda’s revenue currently comes from SafeBoda drivers paying a weekly fee for a package of trainings, equipment, and technology, but over time the company will look to use mobile payment technology to more efficiently capture revenue. Continue reading

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Smart Cities Don’t Work If They Don’t Work For Everyone

By Kira Intrator and Sanchali Pal

A city never sleeps. It continually works, grows, expands and evolves. As magnets for people, resources and ideas, cities drive the development of nations.

Photo by Akshay Mahaja via Flickr.

Vendors at Dadar’s Phulgalli in Mumbai. Photo by Akshay Mahaja via Flickr.

By 2030, 70% of the GDP and 70% of new jobs in India will come from cities. The Modi government’s ambitious “100 Smart Cities” plan is making urban planning sexy in a country challenged by rapid and chaotic urbanisation. Yet there is no single, universally accepted definition of a “smart city”. With massive investment expected to pour in, it is time to understand what will make India’s urban centres truly smart. With one in six city dwellers living in a slum, inclusive growth is a critical principle that India cannot ignore. Whether you argue for a liveable city or a smart city, at the core a city does not work if it does not work for everyone.

India will add over 400 million urban inhabitants by 2050, more than any other country. Managing such growth will require unprecedented levels of planning and investment in housing, infrastructure and public services. This is where “smart” can be a game-changer. Continue reading

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Great Barrier Reef Under Threat from Planned Port Expansions to Export Fossil Fuels

By Simon Allan

GBRUnderThreatThe Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and the only living structure that can be seen from space with the naked eye. Located on the eastern coast of Australia, the Reef is home to thousands of species of plants and animals including turtles, rays, crustaceans and corals, and is one of the world’s most diverse habitats.

The Reef also plays a critical role in the Australian economy; it supports almost 69,000 jobs and contributes nearly US$5.8 billion to the country each year through tourism, marine research, and commercial fishing.

But the Great Barrier Reef is disappearing at an alarming rate. Over the past 30 years, more than half of the Reef’s coral cover has been lost as a result of both natural and human factors such as tropical cyclones, water pollution, and climate change.

The Reef is facing a more immediate threat from extensive industrialization. The Australian government recently approved plans to expand several ports along the coast adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, in order to boost their coal and natural gas exports. To build these ports, huge amounts of material will need to be removed, or dredged, from the ocean floor to make room for new harbors and incoming cargo ships. Continue reading

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10 Problems That Should Be On the Global Agenda For 2015

By Thabo Matse, Julia Rohrer, Mariola Panzuela, Sonila Cook, and Oren Ahoobim  

There are so many big, urgent, important problems worth solving in the world—how do you decide what to take on? We surveyed the development landscape and found 10 emerging and persisting development challenges whose time has come.

The 10 problems we present below have significant scale, affecting the lives of millions if not billions of people. They have disproportionate effects on poor and vulnerable populations. Furthermore, momentum is building in these spaces—international attention has increased and innovative solutions and approaches have emerged. But despite this growing activity, there are critical gaps in addressing these problems: nascent solutions haven’t been scaled, the initiatives of diverse stakeholders haven’t been sufficiently coordinated, and the momentum hasn’t been leveraged to catalyze widespread action.

In short, the problem spaces below represent unrealized opportunities to achieve transformative impact and should therefore be focal points of the global agenda in 2015. Continue reading

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Using Human-Centered Design to Build Financial Products Tailored for Underbanked Customers

Globally, demand for smallholder finance is estimated at $450 billion. To meet this demand, it will be critical for financial services and providers to truly understand their smallholder customers, and design financial products to suit their specific needs.

Mobile solutions can help smallholders access finance.

Mobile solutions can help smallholders access finance.

An integrated team from Dalberg Global Development Advisors and Dalberg’s Design Impact Group (DIG) recently kicked off a project with CGAP and Rwanda’s Urwego Opportunity Bank to help develop innovative digital products tailored for smallholder farming households. These households are challenged by seasonal income flows, unpredictable agricultural shocks, and a remote rural presence far from traditional financial service providers’ infrastructure, so the hope is that mobile approaches can be a core component of the solution. The project is part of a larger CGAP initiative seeking to improve digital financial services for smallholder households through human-centered design, and UOB was selected as one of four financial service providers that will participate in the program.

The team will help UOB complement its existing agricultural finance and mobile offerings with new solutions that meet the specific needs of smallholder farmers. These solutions may incorporate new products, services, experiences, training approaches, marketing campaigns, or distribution models.

This latest project builds upon Dalberg’s past work on design for financial inclusion, including a 2014 collaboration with CGAP and frog Design to help BTPN Bank in Indonesia improve its mobile wallet product for the unbanked poor.

Dalberg's past work with CGAP involved gathering perspectives from unbanked customers in Indonesia to better understand how a mobile wallet could suit their needs.

Dalberg’s past work with CGAP involved gathering perspectives from unbanked customers in Indonesia to understand how a mobile wallet could suit their needs.

Through that engagement, known as the Bertumbuh Project, the team looked at behaviors, needs, and motivations of unbanked and underbanked customers in Indonesia by conducting field research around the mobile user experience at every step along the customer journey. The team observed:

[C]onstrained means in Indonesia result in limited dreams. Canned dreams, unspecific goals, and lack of planning for the future are endemic. People dream within what they feel is possible; but also only make possible what they dream, making it difficult to create much positive change.

People who are unbanked also have mental blocks against being banked. Past experience with banks – hidden fees, losing access, accounts being closed due to low balance – discourage people from trying again. In addition, individuals with no money to save don’t think banks are for them.

By the end of the four-month project, the team had developed five concepts and prototypes, including a service to help customers define a dream and a product to help achieve it. These prototypes are now being market tested and implemented. To read more about each step of the project and similar projects around the world, check out the new interactive publication from CGAP, titled, Insights into Action: What Human-Centered Design Means for Financial Inclusion (see pages 98-107).

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Two Months Later, the $320 Million Ebola Giving Gap Remains

By Sylvia Warren

While private and corporate giving toward the Ebola crisis was very slow to get started, by the end of 2014, many creative fundraising initiatives had emerged to unlock private giving to the Ebola response. In November, for example, Facebook added a prominent donation link to profiles of its 1.2 billion users. Google quickly followed suit, matching every dollar contributed by $2.

The Facebook donation link displayed at the top of every user homepage in November.

The Facebook donation link displayed at the top of every user homepage in November.

Beyond the Internet, a group of international soccer stars made a TV commercial to ask for donations to UNICEF. The commercial aired during the England vs. Scotland match, and the British government matched all contributions up to five million pounds. Doctors of the World, a smaller NGO, asked people to purchase health worker protection gear through the Halloweeen-themed “More than a costume” campaign. The ONE Campaign released a celebrity-studded #endEbola video.

In addition to high-profile asks and catchy hashtags, actors have used nontraditional financial instruments to increase funding. For example, The International Finance Facility for Immunisation issued a $500 million Sukuk, or issuance of Islamic bonds, to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. This is the largest debt issue to date from a global non-profit organization. Meanwhile, Hollard Insurance and Dalberg Global Development Advisors are working to expedite fund dispersion through HUGInsure, a social impact insurance entity.

The creativity in lending support to fight Ebola extends far beyond financial contributions. Through the World Community Grid, IBM is helping people donate computing power from idle devices to the Ebola response. Bitcoin, the electronic currency provider, is helping compile relevant scientific papers for researchers.

Yet a key question remains: how effectively have these initiatives mobilized private giving?

Continue reading

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Infographic: How Much is Being Done for the World’s 450 Million Smallholder Farmers?

Technical assistance programs can help smallholder farmers improve their agronomic skills, business and financial skills, and access to markets. Currently, $8 billion is spent on such programs each year, which may sound like a lot, but equates to an average of only $18.66 per farmer.

Learn more about technical assistance for smallholder farmers — and what can be done to make it more effective — in the infographic below from Dalberg and the Initiative for Smallholder Finance (click for full resolution).

For more detail, see Technical Assistance for Smallholder Farmers: An Anatomy of the Market.

Technical Assistance Infographic ISF

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Champions of the Toilet: The best way to solve open defecation is to focus on demand, not construction

By Adrien Couton, Romit Mehta, and Ahmed Nadeem Khan

A sign at a ward in Tiruchirappalli, India stating that it is free from open defecation. Photo by India Water Portal via Flickr.

A sign at a ward in Tiruchirappalli, India stating that the ward is free from open defecation. Photo by India Water Portal via Flickr.

One out of every two people practicing open defecation globally lives in India. In fact, India has more than double the number of people practicing open defecation (OD) than the next 18 countries combined. The practice negatively affects health and is a leading cause of diarrhea, which kills 300,000 children each year in India, according to WHO. Moreover, lack of access to sanitation facilities can cause malnutrition even among those who are food secure.

Complicating the situation, access to toilets doesn’t always fix the problem – health benefits from toilet use come only when communities as a whole use toilets. Partial coverage generates insignificant health benefits. Therefore, to address India’s malnutrition and health crisis, it is imperative to aggressively promote widespread adoption of toilet use and eradicate open defecation

The newly elected government in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi recognizes the severity of this problem and has placed access to toilets at the forefront of the national agenda. To stress its urgency, Modi used the politically important Independence Day address to focus on the issue, and promised a toilet for every house by 2019.

Generating Demand for Toilets

Free toilets in Tiruvannamalai, India. Photo by Babak Fakhamzadeh via Flickr.

Free toilets in Tiruvannamalai, India. Photo by Babak Fakhamzadeh via Flickr.

This will not be the India’s first sanitation program focusing on toilet use. The government of India launched a Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) in 1999 that was meant to be a community-led, demand-based program to increase rural access to toilets. TSC provided subsidies for household toilet construction and the campaign appointed district-level sanitation coordinators (Swachhata Prerak) to build awareness for toilets and monitor and implement the program in their districts.

However, the policy’s execution departed greatly from its design. On the ground, TSC was supply-led and infrastructure-focused. Information, education and communication (IEC) was considered secondary and budget for IEC activities was capped at 15 percent of the program’s total budget. Spending by the district coordinators was further mired in bureaucratic red tape. In the end, only 6 percent of the program budget was spent on programs sparking demand for toilets and educating about the health effects of OD.

The TSC program failed to meet its objectives – only 47 million toilets were constructed by the end of 2012, against a target of 120 million. Real coverage, as per census data, was 31 percent at the end of 2012 as opposed to government’s claims of 68 percent. These statistics indicate that a large majority of toilets were either missing, had become unusable or were simply not built.

Furthermore, a survey conducted in five states by the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics found that 40 percent of households in the sample that had a toilet had at least one person who was still defecating in the open. Further inquiries revealed that people believed it much healthier to defecate in the open with 74 percent citing “pleasure, comfort and convenience” as the key reason for OD. The failure of household adoption of toilets showed a stark disconnect between sanitation infrastructure and toilet use.

Ideally, further programs will use a holistic approach combining hardware subsidies with awareness generation. This is not necessarily a simple solution – current projects show that community-wide information, education and communication efforts take anywhere between three to eight months along with considerable financial resources to successfully demonstrate the need for toilet adoption. They require a dedicated and trained staff working in local communities.

Emphasizing Behavior Change Over Hardware

Countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh have reduced OD by focusing exclusively on behavior change, without providing any subsidies for toilet construction. In India, community-wide behavior change efforts have also yielded positive results and provide a framework to increase toilet adoption.

Gramalaya, an NGO, runs a successful toilet adoption program in partnership with the local government in Tiruchirappalli through community management of sanitation facilities. Gramalaya establishes multiple Self Help Groups (SHGs) in a community who are encouraged to construct and maintain pay-per-use community toilets. Each SHG member is caretaker of the community toilet for a day and collects user fees and maintains the accounting. The mix of community participation with a focus on encouraging use of toilets has met with success – several communities have been declared open defecation-free.

Cambodia provides another model of success in sanitation marketing. The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP)-supported Sanitation Marketing Pilot Project produced an affordable pour flush latrine (Easy Latrine) and trained local enterprises to produce and sell it at profit. Toilets were promoted as aspirational products to prioritize in household spending. The project’s promotion strategy included advertising messages such as “Have a latrine – have a good life.” The campaign was successful – about 10,600 latrines were purchased during the pilot. In 601 monitored villages, there was an approximate 7.5 percentage point increase in improved sanitation coverage from the baseline – six times higher than the background rate of increase. The toilets went on to be widely adopted. More than 100,000 units have sold in two years.

sanitation II

What Works in Demand-Driven Sanitation Programs

Dalberg’s research in Cambodia found appointing sanitation champions as decentralized sales agents for latrines had a significant impact on selling latrines. Being close to potential customers, the sanitation champions undertook a range of awareness-building activities and focused on generating demand for toilets. The efforts were successful and the commune Trapeang Sala Khang Lech became open defecation-free.

Success in curbing open defecation can only be achieved by generating demand for toilets through a consistent focus on behavior change. Infrastructure-focused programs are by themselves inadequate in solving the problem of open defecation. The Indian government needs to remember this lesson as it embarks on an ambitious path to provide a toilet to every household.

This article originally appeared in NextBillion.

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ODA is Not Dead: Why Public Aid Flows Are Still Relevant


People outside remittance centers in Malaysia. Photo by: baklavabaklava / CC BY-NC via Devex.

Last week, congressional leaders in the United States passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill for the coming year that includes an overall foreign aid budget 5.6% lower than current levels and 16% lower than it was in 2010.

Some global development thinkers would argue that this drop in funding from the world’s top foreign aid donor is no cause for concern, as private flows – not aid – are the most critical drivers of economic development.

But while private flows such as foreign direct investment (FDI) and remittances dwarf official development assistance (ODA) in total dollar amounts, those numbers don’t show the full picture. Paul Callan, Jasmin Cooke, and Andria Thomas argue in Devex that ODA is still very relevant as it is critical for improving public services and meeting basic human development needs.

They write:

One impact of financial flows into a country is to generate economic demand and growth. The flows act as an “economic stimulus package”: People receiving the money have more to spend, which increases the income for other people and hence their spending, and so on. For this impact, it doesn’t matter much where the money comes from, at least in the short term. Hence, private flows are indeed becoming more important than aid, even in least-developed countries, as a stimulus for increasing economic activity.

A second impact, however, is to provide people with services, such as health, education, housing and sanitation. Remittances enable recipients to purchase these services themselves. Foreign private investments will typically result in some local employment and consequently enable employees to acquire these services as well. But only aid directly finances improvements in access to and quality of such public services.

Read the full piece on Devex >>

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Mobilizing Post-2015 Action: Are the SDGs too complicated to be effective?

un flagsEarlier this month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a “synthesis” report to guide the final draft of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015. Ban’s current draft of the SDGs includes about twice as many goals and eight times as many targets as the MDGs.

UN member states still have time to adjust the next development agenda and it is important that they do, says Dalberg Global Operating Partner Paul Callan in a recent Devex op-ed. ”The MDGs spoke to political leaders and to people around the world; the draft SDGs will speak only to experts and activists,” the op-ed states. He argues that with so many complex parts, the draft SDGs lack the simplicity that enabled the MDGs to create impact.

He writes:

Without denying the achievement of the work to date, it is hard to conclude that the current draft goals comply with the collective declaration of all countries at the Rio+20 Summit.  The Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want, which launched the Open Working Group, “underscore[d] that sustainable development goals should be action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, [and] limited in number.”

Leaders will adopt the final set of SDGs at next year’s UNGA. Before then, they need to refocus the goals and reduce dramatically the number of targets. Ideally, the committees drafting the SDGs will concentrate on the most vital issues — poverty, growth, education, health, environmental sustainability — and on the targets that will generate the most impact from investments made.

Read the full piece on Devex >>

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