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Design-thinking our way out of terror

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Design thinking” is the latest white-hot management fad. Arguably at the root of some of the most valuable companies in the world, such as Apple, it is increasingly used for the most intractable problems. Can it crack this one? The world's response to terrorism is left-brained, rational but also lopsided. It is bent to defeat terror mostly through increased security and an attack to its manifestation. Is that all that's needed?  Designing thinking inspires solutions that are deeply emotionally engaging, not just rationally viable. It puts people, not processes and machines, at the center - and digs, often uncomfortably, into how they feel.  So - how do terrorists, and those who may become so, feel? Now, that's deeply uncomfortable. Yet, it is worthwhile - we must not overlook the power of an emotionally engaging answer for potential terrorists and not just for the electorate of populist politicians (everywhere).  Let's explore the steps that design thinkers would tak…

The Face of Afghanistan (12) - Crippled by Disease

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Disease in Afghanistan is rife and destroys lives and livelihoods. It strikes down more than just individual lives. Chronic diseases are widely recognized as a substantial hindrance to economic growth.
Afghanistan has the highest rates of tuberculosis in the region and is one of the most highly tuberculosis-burdened countries in the world with over 2% of the population being infected or risking infection every year. Malaria is another prevalent public health threat, on the rise in more than 60 percent of the country, with over 13 million people at risk. The annual incidence is estimated to be two to three million cases.
A large number of other health insecurities are related to water, stemming from poor hygiene and inadequate access to safe supply. Over 60 per cent of Afghans use unsafe drinking water.

Disease impacts disproportionately weaker individuals like children. Medical supplies and facilities are scarce in major centers and almost non-existent in rural areas and smaller v…

The Face of Afghanistan (11) - The Land of Mines

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For ten Afghans, of which many are children, tomorrow will be the last day they can walk on their legs. It will happen with no warning sign, while they are walking in the fields, perhaps on their way to work or to school. One third of them will die in those circum-stances.
Over seven thousand Afghans were killed or wounded by landmines between 1998 and 2003. Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. About 10 million landmines were still in place as of the be-ginning of 2005. In addition, millions of other explosive devices, such as rockets and grenades, litter the country. In 2003 about 60% of the rural population around Kabul lived in proximity of unexploded bombs.

Estimates put the number of disabled people at around 4% of the population – approximately 1 million people. No wonder that Kabul is full of legless beggars dragging their stumps on the dusty pavements.

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The Face of Afghanistan (10) - Fleeing Home

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Millions of Afghans had to flee from their home and leave behind their possessions, their families, and their friends. Today, Afghans are the second largest group of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world - after Palestinians. Over a quarter of the country’s population has sought refuge outside of the country prompting the United Nations to declare Afghanistan the major site of human displacement in the world.

During the war with the URSS the number of Afghan refugees abroad escalated dramatically with as many as 2.5 to 3 million in Pakistan and another 1.5 million in Iran alone. About 150,000 were able to migrate permanently to other places including the United States, Australia, and various European countries.

In addition, there were over one million internally displaced persons in Afghanistan in the same period. The majority have now returned to their place of origin, but the southern and western parts of the country still hosted in 2005 approximately 200,000 of …