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Poverty

Neglected and poor widows in Mali

Dominique Van De Walle's picture

In common with many readers, I was aware of the discrimination and severe disadvantage faced by widows in many countries. 

Nonetheless, I was completely unprepared for what I found when I looked closely at the data for Mali.  As documented in my recent paper (Lasting Welfare Effects of Widowhood in a Poor Country, 5734), Malian women who have experienced the shock of widowhood, sometimes very young, have lower living standards than other women of the same age.  These detrimental effects persist through remarriage and are passed on to their children ─ possibly more so to daughters ─ suggesting an intergenerational transmission of poverty stemming from widowhood.

Veuves pauvres et négligées au Mali

Dominique Van De Walle's picture

Comme beaucoup de lecteurs, j’étais consciente de la discrimination et du sévère désavantage auxquels les veuves font face dans de nombreux pays. 

Néanmoins, ce que j’ai trouvé en examinant des données maliennes était bien pire encore que ce que j’imaginais.  Comme je le documente dans un récent article (Effets persistants du veuvage sur le bien-être dans un pays pauvre, 5734), les femmes maliennes qui ont connu le choc d’un veuvage ont un bien-être moins élevé que d’autres femmes du même âge.  Par ailleurs, les effets négatifs du veuvage persistent après un remariage et sont transmis aux enfants – probablement plus à leurs filles – ce qui suggère une transmission intergénérationnelle de la pauvreté engendrée par le veuvage.

Tertiary Education: Blind Spot or System Failure?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

A comment I posted on Chris Blattman’s blog on the problems with Africa’s higher education was picked up in a lively discussion on the Roving Bandit blog (“Probably the best economics blog [previously] in Southern Sudan”). 

First, for those who are interested in my paper with Celestin Monga and Tertius Zongo on “Making Higher Education Finance Work for Africa,” here it is

Second, I would like to hear people’s views on the issue raised:  Is the poor state of African higher education the result of neglect (“blind spot”) by donors, who emphasized primary education, or is it because the presumption that higher education should be financed and provided (largely free of charge) by the government led to “government failures”—where only the elite got access to the free university education, and the universities themselves became politicized?

Irrigation and climate change

Shanta Devarajan's picture

While attention has, appropriately, been focused on getting food and medicines to the victims of the famine in the Horn of Africa, many observers are asking about longer-term solutions, especially if droughts such as the current one become more frequent with climate change. One possibility is to expand irrigation. 

Currently, only about 4 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s arable land is irrigated; the rest is rain-fed, meaning it is susceptible to droughts and floods.  Yet, irrigated land can have yields that are up to five times those of rain-fed areas.  It must be the case that the costs of irrigation—capital, recurrent, administrative, political—are sufficiently high to outweigh these benefits.  But if you take into account the possibility of more frequent floods and droughts, which would make irrigated land relatively more attractive, does the benefit-cost calculation change?

South Sudan launches its first GDP estimate

Thomas Danielewitz's picture

The dust had hardly settled from South Sudan’s Independence Day celebrations before the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of South Sudan formerly known as the Southern Sudan Center for Census, Statistics and Evaluation, released the new country’s first estimate of GDP. The long-awaited figures were revealed at a well-attended press conference at the NBS on 16 August 2011.

Protecting the Minnow - Lesotho Economic Update

As uncertainty increases about where the global economy is headed and whispers grow about a “double-dip,” spare a thought for Lesotho.

A small developing country (population less than 2 million), Lesotho is located in one of the most resource-poor parts of Southern Africa.  Around 37% of households live on less than $1/day and about half are below the national poverty line. As a small and relatively undiversified economy, heavily dependent on foreign markets, Lesotho is very vulnerable to shocks. It is also ill-equipped to deal with them.

Yes, South Sudan Can

Shanta Devarajan's picture

At the recent launch of the book, Yes Africa Can: Success Stories from a Dynamic Continent, someone asked whether there are any lessons for Africa’s newest country, South Sudan.  I can think of at least three.

1.It can be done.  Yes Africa Can documents a number of countries, such as Mozambique and Uganda, which emerged from civil conflict and sustained above-7-percent GDP growth for over a decade.  It also describes the well-known case of a mineral exporter, Botswana, that had the world’s fastest per-capita growth rate (7 percent) from 1966-99.   These case studies show that South Sudan, which is both a post-conflict country and an oil exporter, can also succeed.

Cameroon: Towards better service delivery

Raju Jan Singh's picture

The quality of service delivery is fundamental for people's wellbeing, especially for the poor. This is why the situation in Cameroon is worrisome.

Indicators for service delivery in Cameroon tend to trail behind those observed in countries at similar income levels; and for indicators such as primary school completion or child mortality, the country does even worse than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa.

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