South Sudan became independent in 2011 after a prolonged conflict. Although the new country was blessed with international good will, considerable foreign aid, and vast oil wealth, it nevertheless faced formidable development challenges, with 51% of the population living poverty. Soon after independence, the country encountered successive crises, which resulted in a large-scale conflict combined with a severe macroeconomic crisis.
Six years after independence, South Sudan remains one of the world’s most fragile states, unable to emerge from cycles of violence. About half the population—that is, about 6 million of 12 million people—are food insecure. A famine was declared in February 2017. And though the famine was contained (thanks to massive humanitarian support), food insecurity remains at extremely high levels.
About 2 million South Sudanese have fled the country and another 1.9 million are internally displaced. The economy is estimated to have contracted by 11 percent in the past fiscal year, due to conflict, low oil production, and disruptions to agriculture. The fiscal deficit, inflation, and parallel market premium have all soared.
This macroeconomic collapse has crushed the livelihoods of many South Sudanese.
Over the past twenty years, Sub-Saharan Africa has grown at an impressive rate, roughly 4.3% per year. Growth may slow to 4% in 2015, but then moderately pick up in 2016. Poverty has been falling from 57% to 48% between 1990 and 2010, although there is still much room for improvement. Despite this, conflict and subsequent fragility have been an ongoing thorn in the side of African development. In 2014 alone there were more than 4,500 clashes between armed groups and more than 4,000 instances of armed violence against civilians. Even in the absence of active conflicts, many countries carry the scars of violent struggles from the past as they seek to grow.
What causes conflict? How can conflicts be effectively avoided and interrupted? How does conflict affect trade, education, health, and infrastructure? What is the role of the state and of international partners in all this?
Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.
For many Tanzanians the fear of crime is a daily reality, especially for those living in urban areas. It negatively affects their quality of life as it makes them feel insecure and vulnerable as they go about otherwise normal activities. A few facts:
- In 2010/11 about 390,000 households (four per cent) reported that they had been severely affected by hijacking, robbery, burglary or assault (over the previous year).
- Residents of urban areas are about three times more likely than those in rural areas to be victims of these crimes.
Every year, the World Bank’s country teams and sector experts assess the quality of IDA countries’ policy and institutional framework across 16 dimensions to measure their strenght and track progess.
The latest country policy and institutional assessment (CPIA) results show that despite difficult global economic conditions, the quality of policies and institutions in a majority of Sub-Saharan African countries remained stable or improved in 2011.
For several countries the policy environment is the best in recent years. Of the 38 African countries with CPIA scores, 13 saw an improvement in the 2011 overall score by at least 0.1. Twenty countries saw no change, and five witnessed a decline of 0.1 or more. The overall CPIA score for the region was unchanged at 3.2.
In short, despite a challenging global economic environment, African countries continued to pursue policies aligned with growth and poverty reduction.
Recently, a friend from Indonesia visited me in Nairobi. He is one of the world’s leading experts on social development and a long-term Jakarta resident. One of his observations stuck in my mind: “Kenya is just like Indonesia ten years ago”, he said.
Comparing Kenya with Indonesia is counterintuitive—except perhaps when it comes to traffic jams—because of the many differences between the two countries. Indonesia is the world largest island state with more than 17.000 islands and a demographic heavyweight with 240 million people (six times more than Kenya). It is also 85 percent Muslim, while Kenya is about 85 percent Christian. Indonesia has massive natural resources – coal and gas (and some oil) – that it exports to other Asian countries, especially China, while Kenya’s economy is fuelled by a strong service sector.
There are many more reasons to challenge a comparison between these two countries but when one digs below the surface, there are also some similarities. Economically my friend was spot on: in GDP per capita terms, Kenya is roughly at the level of Indonesia a decade ago (about US$800 per capita). Today Indonesia is far ahead, but I don’t see any reason why Kenya couldn’t follow suit. Indeed, Indonesia is a good benchmark case for Kenya because it was never a “star reformer”, but instead a consistently strong performer.
UPDATE (May 15th, 2012) Caroline Freund, World Bank Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa has joined the debate. See her remarks.
The Chief Economists of all the regions where the World Bank implements programs got together recently to exchange thoughts about the current state of development economics.
You can read a summary of our views related to Africa, South Asia, and Europe and Central Asia here.
And we hope you can participate in this debate by sharing your own views via the comments section below.
The gathering of world leaders in London last week to consider the fate of Somalia may be heralding a new development moment for the war-torn country. But we are in unchartered waters: we know very little about Somalia’s economy.
First, from a development viewpoint, there is no such thing as one Somalia. Ironically, the unrecognized Somaliland entity [see the Somaliland success story in “Yes Africa Can” ] has enjoyed stability and democratic governance, pursuing classic development interventions (service delivery through the state, infrastructure investment, capacity building …). [In addition, Somaliland appears to have very good statistics.]
By contrast, South Central Somalia, where the capital city and official -albeit transition- government of Somalia are located, is a quintessential failed state plagued by conflict and public mismanagement. Puntland lies somewhere in between, with some stability but an embryonic state under growing influence of piracy networks.
When you are overtaken by yet-another reckless Matatu driver you may have sympathy for Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s long-time autocrat, who is credited with Singapore’s transformation from third world to first world. He once famously claimed: “Developing countries need discipline more than democracy.”
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.