MDG Presentation (Response 8 & 9)
I was extremely impressed by the presentation done by Kelly Berry and Broc Blegen. The report was on the MDG 8, and it focused specifically on the access to information and communication through the private sector in Somalia. The group did a very good job explaining why the access to information is so important to a developing country, such as Somalia. One good point was because of the political instability, the government couldn't be relied on to provide these services, so it has to be up to companies in the private sector. Three points they covered were mobile phone service, wireless internet, and the fuel to power these things. Since the country is so far behind in information technology, the group decided that it would be best to skip previous technologies, i.e. hard lines, to instead establish wireless technology. According to the group, this wireless technology would actually be more beneficial, less costly, and more environmentally friendly than the alternative. A couple of interesting points that were made was the availability of wireless technology in Kenya has allowed for a better political system, as there was higher voter turnout and less corruption. Also, since there are less restrictions, the country is open to large scale development. The group also showed an example of wireless internet and the $100 laptop to be provided to children, which has shown to be greatly beneficial to the education of the country. Overall, the group's presentation was extremely well thought out and professionally presented. The other group that I would like to talk about was presenting Goal 7, with the focus on improving Minneapolis slums through sustainability. The chief concern put forth in the groups argument was the trend of low income housing being turned into higher priced condos. As a result, the low income residents in the apartments are essentially being kicked out, because they can't afford the new high priced condos. I would agree that there is a lack of enough low income housing in the country, especially quality low income housing. The group then showed how costly the building industry is to the environment and the world's natural resources. I thought that this was a little off topic, since the focus was improving minneapolis slums thought environmental design. It was good though, that they showed some examples of green design applied to housing and how these small changes, such as grey water systems
and insulated windows saved a lot of money. However, it appeared as if most of these examples were high priced, trendy-type apartments. There is no way someone living in a slum could afford to live in an apartment in those Near North Chicago apartments. The group also studied the Cedar-Riverside apartment complex, and provided some design features that could be applied in order to save residents money. There is no doubt that these features would save significant amounts of money, but I wondered how it could be certain that the low income residents would benefit from these savings. Also, it seemed to me that retrofitting a large building such as Cedar Riverside with a grey water system would be extremely costly endeavor. So, I think the group did a really good job finding ways that environmental design could save money in low income housing, but it was still kind of unclear to me how this could/would be done in an economically positive way. Owners of the buildings are not going to spend a large amount of money to save their residents a few bucks. I think there would have to be some kind of policy revision done as well.