Friday, 28 September 2012

Week in Review


Happy Friday all and welcome to a jam-packed Week in Review. This weeks highlights include: a powerful report from Save the Children, nothing ‘general’ at all about the General Debate at the General Assembly, Jeff Sachs on a model for well-being and a new interactive map of the Americas.

Untold Atrocities - The Story of Syria’s Children (Save the Children)
The violent conflict devastating Syria has had a catastrophic effect on the nation’s children. With news and information sources on the ground limited, this powerful report from Save the Children breaks away from the traditional human rights report format; it provides a collection of testimonies from children and parents about their experiences so far. Untold Atrocities’ paints a disturbing picture of the horrors Syrian children are facing.  

In the Spotlight: The General Debate at the General Assembly
The conflict in Syria and the inaction of the Security Council has been a hot topic at the 2012 General Debate. The annual debate at the UN General Assembly takes place amid a 'time of turmoil and transition’. Ban Ki-moon has called on World Leaders to overcome divisions, do more to address sobering challenges; he has stated that the UN can only be as strong as members choose to make it and urges delegations to find courage, tenacity of purposes.

Finding the Keys to National Prosperity (Project Syndicate 27.09.2012)
Jeffrey Sachs writes for Project Syndicate about how to go about creating the model economy and what lessons can be learnt from various global winners. He argues that the most successful economic reforms are made by adapting policy successes of other countries to local conditions.

Quote: ‘So here is one model economy: German labor-market policies, Swedish pensions, French low-carbon energy, Canadian health care, Swiss energy efficiency, American scientific curiosity, Brazilian anti-poverty programs, and Costa Rican tropical happiness.’ Jeff Sachs, Project Syndicate 2012

Mapping the Americas (IDB)
This interactive map of the Americas combines statistics, photos and maps to highlight key IDB financed projects that aim to create projects sustainable economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The map was a huge hit at the recent OECD Seminar on Innovative Approaches to Turn Statistics into Knowledge.

That’s all from me this week. Stay up to date with progress related news and events by following Wikiprogress on Twitter and ‘liking’ us on Facebook.

Yours in Progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A 50-State Tour of Child Well-Being: A race to the bottom?

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that ours is a big—and varied—country.  Our larger states have populations comparable in size to those of many nations.  Thus, national-level data can only ever tell part of the story of our well-being.  The child in Louisiana and the child in Minnesota may have some things in common, but their experiences surely diverge according to the unique cultural and policy environments in which they grow up.  

While children nationwide might watch the same TV shows, and visit the same chain stores, states or regions still retain traditions of values, customs, and practices that vary—for better, and for worse—when it comes to children.

One of the few organizations keeping regular tabs on how well children are thriving in the states is KIDS COUNT.  (Many of Child Trends’ DataBankindicators include links to KIDS COUNT state-level data.)  Our KIDS COUNT colleagues deserve congratulations on their 23rd annual Data Book released last week. This year it debuts a new Index incorporating four important child well-being topics.[1]  Sixteen indicators now represent the areas of health, education, family and community, and economic well-being.  All 50 states are now ranked on each of these separate domains, as well as on overall child well-being.

It is revealing to see the variability in how children are doing according to these separate domain scores, not only among states, but even within a state.   KIDS COUNT’s interactive “data wheel is a nifty way to quickly grasp some of this variability.

Or, imagine a 50-state tour, where you pull over to examine a few points of interest related to well-being in early childhood:
Among the notable “divides” by state is the percentage of three- and four-year-olds not attending preschool.  Research to date speaks clearly to the lasting value of good-quality early learning experiences—for all children, but especially for those with socio-economic disadvantages.[2] 

Yet, consider the difference between New Jersey, where a third (36 percent) of young children do not attend preschool, and Nevada, where more than seven in ten (71 percent) do not.

Another example: Low birth weight—a major contributor to infant mortality and to a number of developmental deficits—is unacceptably high in the U.S.[3]  We—not Sweden and Korea—should be the world leader in preventing low birth weight.[4]  And why is Maine’s rate 6 percent, while Louisiana’s is nearly double that?
There will be numerous “takeaways” from this latest collection of information, many depending on the state where you live.  But one sobering fact is that eight of the ten states that are home to the greatest number of children are in the bottom half of the overall ranking.  This is part of a disturbing trend: the states that have, and/or are gaining the most children, are those where well-being is worst;[5] that is a sorry “race to the bottom.”  I don’t think we want the success of our children to depend on the state they happen to grow up in.  If KIDS COUNT can shine a light on these inequities, this tour will have been well worth the effort.

David Murphey
Senior Research Scientist
Child Trends

This blog first appeared -  

For more on children's well being go Wikichild 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Wellbeing Wales: Bridgend Community Weight Management Programme.

Weight loss can be difficult at the best of times. Temptation and easy options lurk round every corner and keeping up an active lifestyle can be difficult when attempting to juggle the many demands of day-to-day life.

In the battle against obesity, Over half of Welsh adults are currently ranked as overweight or obese

Gastric bands, pills and restricted diets may provide a solution to the weight issue but the causes of over eating are often rooted in more than just diet. Many factors contribute to people’s behavioral patterns and eating habits are no different. Social, material, economic and environmental  factors all have a bearing on people’s ability to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

The Garw valley in Bridgend, Wales is one area where service providers have really adopted the whole person approach to weight management. Their Weight Management Programme arose from one local GP’s frustration at the lack of local options to support obese patients and their desire to offer patients access to the established ‘slimming on referral’ schemes offered by the commercial weight management organisations.

From this the Weight Management Programme was born. The programme aimed to work to integrate health and leisure services as a non-clinical intervention for weight management. The programme involved shaping behaviour through group activities that maintained peer support, motivation and other social aspects.  The programme involved referral and support from primary care, the Weight Watchers scheme, the exercise referral scheme and signposting to community activities to aid sustainable health promoting behavior change.

Dafydd Thomas, Executive Director at Lles Cymru Wellbeing Wales was commissioned to pilot a wellbeing assessment process to explore the range of factors affecting the participants, their wellbeing and in turn their ability or motivation to manage their weight. 

The assessment explored the Weight Management Programme participant’s own subjective assessments of their wellbeing, grounded in the specific context of their community and experience using indicators that they themselves developed.

To read the report summery then please click here. We'd love to hear your thoughts on it so why not drop us an e-mail at 

Wellbeing Wales

Friday, 21 September 2012

Week in Review

Hello all,
Happy International Day of peace to all of you. Highlights from this week include a new report on violence containment, an article on measuring child well-being, a note on Big Data and some stats on HIV.

Children succeed (NPR 19.09.2012)
In a new book launched this week, Paul Tough argues that a child’s success can not be measured by IQ scores, tests or quizzes, rather it should be measured by how children grow their character.
See more on child well-being on the Wikichild portal

Violence Containment Spending in the U.S. (Institute for Economics and Peace)
A new report from the Institute for Economics and Peace provides a new methodology for categorising and accounting for economic activity related to violence. The research shows that the U.S. spend $2.16 trillion each year on violence containment - the same size as the entire UK economy.

Enhancing public policy decision making using large scale cell phone data (UN Global Pulse)
This blog post by guest blogger Vanessa Frias-Martinez, shows how the analysis of behavioral patterns gathered from big data can help provide an understanding of how civil society interacts with their environments. This is critical information for urban planning, crisis management and global health.

Number Crunch
At the end of 2011, an estimated 8 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV or AIDS in low- and middle-income countries, up from 6.6 million people in 2010 and up from just 400 000 in 2003. Source: UNDP

That’s all from me this week. I wish you all a wonderful weekend and hope you can tune in again the same time next week.

Yours in Progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Top Olympics winners: how do they fare in well-being?

Top Olympics winners: how do they fare in well-being?
Hello progress world,

We have created an infographic for you guys to check out, please let us know what you think. It shows how the five most successful countries at this years London Olympics fare when it comes to measuring well-being and progress. Key points to note are:

  • The UK is the highest ranked in three of the indexes, making it the consistently top scorer in the group. It is the most peaceful, ecologically friendly and has the highest level of sustainability among the five countries. 
  • The USA tops the Human Development Index (HDI) which comprises of a range economic and social conditions; these include life expectancy, average years of schooling among the adult population, and expected years of schooling for children at entry level age.
  • The five countries occupy a noticeably wide range of rankings within each category barring the Sustainable Society Index. All rank relatively low on the Happy Planet Index (HPI) with the top seeded UK only taking the 41st spot – these poor scores are mainly due to the large ecological footprints left by each country.
  • Similarly, only the UK and Korea are in the top 50 for the Global Peace Index (GPI), which measures military spending, and the potential for internal and external conflicts.
  • Russia and China consistently rank among the lowest five (apart from Russia in its HDI and China on the HPI scale). Russia would score higher on the HDI, if its weak health measurement had not been taken into account, where it ranks at 125th. China ranks 2nd (among the five countries) on the HPI, this is due to its population's average life expectancy and ecological footprint, both of which feature towards the middle of the rankings, at 70 and 73 respectively.

Any comments would be appreciated.

A plus,
Gueorguie Vassilev
Wikiprogress Team

Friday, 14 September 2012

Week in Review

Happy Friday all!

I have put together an interesting and ‘stats-packed’ Week in Review for you this week, with highlights including: a new report on youth development in the U.S., progress on child mortality rates, an interesting take on the MDGs and a fond farewell to a Wiki team member.

New Report
One in Seven (Measure of America 14.09.2012)
A new report released by Measure of America this week has found that one in seven Americans are disconnected, (not in school and not working), thats 5.8 million young people in all.

On Progress
Dramatic reduction in global child mortality rate (UNICEF 13.09.2012)
Significant progress has been made on child mortality rates which have decreased by 41% since 1990. However 18,900 children under the age of 5 still die each day from preventable causes.
Read more and download the report: 2012 Child Mortality Estimates Report

On the MDGs
After the Millennium Development Goals (Project Syndicate)
Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard, has comments on what he calls the MDG paradox; he contends that the MDGs were meant to be ‘a compact between the world’s rich and poor countries’, but of the eight goals, only the last one deals with global partnerships or what ‘rich countries can and should do.’

Number Crunch
Over the last 2 decades the number of deaths below the age of 5 have dropped from 12 million a year to 7 million. Source: UNICEF

And finally, we would like to say a fond farewell to our Wikichild consultant Hannah Chadwick. Hannah produced a series of thought-provoking blogs on child well-being and managed the child well-being portal on Wikiprogress. From all of us at the Wiki team, we wish you all the best!

Hope to see you all again next week.

Yours in Progress,

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Wikiprogress platform technological updates

Hello all,

In the past few weeks there have been several technical improvements in, which are focused on the User Experience.

  • Help page namespace: in order to improve the user experience and give a better understanding on how Wikiprogress works, its objectives and how to contribute, the Help namespace was updated. The majority of the Help articles were modified and a new banner was added to easily identify a Help topic (What is Wikiprogress?, Getting started, Navigation and Contributing). This way, the Help section is now more user-friendly, and each Help article focus on one subject, avoiding confusing and redundant terms.

  • Social Media icons and strategy: new Facebook and Twitter buttons are placed now at the top left corner of each article in Wikiprogress. Those buttons show how many times a page has been “Liked” and “Tweeted”, providing  more statistics and social presence for each wiki article. 
    A new Wikiprogress group (WikiProgress Community) has been created on Facebook and a discussion on education has started. Please join us and collaborate with the Wikiprogress community!

  • Wikichild/Wikiprogress calendar integration: the Wikichild community has increased its presence on the Wikiprogress since November 2011. It was thus decided that the Wikichild community should have the option of adding a child event directly onto the Wikiprogress calendar. And on the 6th of September this idea came alive on the Wikiprogress platform, so now all Child Events are fully integrated with Wikiprogress, giving them a broader audience and a wider presence on the progress community.

  • Add Initiative form: one of the Wikiprogress main objectives is to give information on initiatives around the world on measures of progress (including sustainability, wellbeing and quality of life). Today, over 80 articles on Progress Initiatives are present on Wikiprogress, and in order to make it easier for users to add one, a new rapid-filling template was created. This template lets the user add the location, topic, homepage and Twitter account of the Initiative, as well as an overview, its background and main projects. If you know of a Progress Initiative, please contribute by adding it to Wikiprogress!

Further technological changes will be coming in the next months and we'll be happy to hear your needs and feedback. Please let us know your thoughts by sending them to

Isaac Contreras Sandoval
Wikiprogress Technological Consultant

Monday, 10 September 2012

Week in Review

Another busy week has allowed us to produce another very exciting week in review. This week highlights include the release of a new index, women and water, Nowcasting (economic term for ‘now’ and ‘forecasting’) and education in Latin America.

Measuring the Web’s Global Impact
On Wednesday, the World Wide Web Foundation launched the inaugural Web Index, a composite index designed to measure the social, economic and political impact of the Internet. The index combines over 80 indicators that measure access, affordability, institutional and policy environment and social and economic utility. And the top 5 ranks are:
1. Sweden
2. U.S.
3. UK
4. Canada
5. Finland

Women spend 40 billion hours collecting water (IPS 01.09.2012)
The 2012 report on the Millennium Development Goals found that 71 percent of the burden of collecting water for households falls on women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, women in sub-Saharan Africa spend an average of about 200 million hours per day collecting water.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on Women and Water Resource Management in Africa

“The hope is that as you take the economic pulse in real time, you will be able to respond to anomalies more quickly.” - Hal Varian, Google Chief Economist

This quote comes from Hal Varian, speaking about the search data and the potential of Nowcasting at The Economist's Ideas Economy: Information 2012 event in San Francisco, California.

Number Crunch:
There are 117 million boys, girls and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean, 6.5 million of whom do not attend school.
Source: UNICEF/UNESCO 2012

That’s all from me this week, hope you can tune in again same time next week for another edition of the Week in Review.

Yours in Progress,
Philippa Lysaght

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Running away from disability…?

Globally an estimated 95 million children aged 0-14 years have a disability - 0.7%,  13 million of whom have a severe disability, according to the World Report on Disabilities 2011.

The athletes at the London, 2012 Paralympics provide positive examples for children living with a disability which is defined as ‘an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions’ in the report. These athletes also remind us of what can be achieved when the right support is given to those who need it.

Disability is something that almost everyone will experience at some point in their life, either temporarily or permanently. It is complex and refers to not only the impairment experienced by the individual but the negative aspects of interaction between individuals with health conditions, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, depression, and personal and environmental factors such as negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social supports.

These negative aspects affect children in different ways, most commonly in their access to education. Data shows that education gaps exist in both low and high income countries between disabled and non disabled children. These gaps range from 10% in India to 60% in Indonesia in terms of the difference between the percentage of disabled children and the percentage of non-disabled children attending primary school.

Additionally children with intellectual or sensory impairments commonly fare worse than those with physical impairments, despite the knowledge that the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream schools not only promotes universal primary completion but it is cost-effective and helps to reduce discrimination.

They are invisible
The World Report on Disability states that after reviewing 28 countries participating in the Education for All Fast Track Initiative Partnership, 18 countries either omitted any reference to disability or inclusion or, put forward minimal detail regarding strategies for the education of disabled children.

This invisibility in addition to a lack of finance, social protection and support services for children and their families are common throughout the world and have resulted in children with disabilities being less likely to start school than those without disabilities, and having lower rates of retention and advancement in schools.

They are invincible!
Paralympic athletes such as the Australian swimmer Ahmed Kelly who is currently competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games, in fact provide good examples for children and adults worldwide – both disabled or not – of what the words courage, determination and skill really mean. Born in Iraq with double arm and leg deficiencies, Ahmed was adopted by an Australian woman and after playing Australian Rules Football for a number of years (without prosthetic arms) he decided to devote himself to swimming which has now taken him to the highest possible level of competition.
Individuals like Ahmed do appear to be invincible and their achievements should be made increasingly visible to further help address discrimination and common misconceptions about people living with disability.

Hannah Chadwick
Wikichild Coordinator

Further reading:
See also and contribute to the Wikigender article on “Women and Disability”.