Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are becoming a significant burden in sub-Saharan Africa, and road traffic injuries are rapidly emerging as a major cause of death and disability. By 2010, cerebrovascular diseases (stroke) and road injuries were already within the top 15 causes of years of life lost, joined by ischemic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and hypertensive heart disease in Southern sub-Saharan Africa. Road traffic injuries are expected to be the number one killer of children aged 5-15 in Africa by 2015 if current trends continue unabated. Yet, this burden remains largely hidden.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that 1.3 billion people, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and in developing Asia, are without access to electricity. According to the IEA, an estimated $48 billion per year is needed to finance the volume of investment required to provide universal access to electricity by the year 2030. And this is a huge challenge, especially for the world's poorest nations.
President Obama on his recent Africa trip has hence announced a 7-billion project to increase electrical infrastructure. This is a much needed move as ,with scarce public resources, little assistance from the private sector, and limited aid, most of the developing these countries attempt to address their investment needs by creating regional power markets. Integrated power pools allow for the better use of existing infrastructures and realization of projects that would otherwise be oversized for an isolated country. For instance, the hydro potential of the Democratic Republic of Congo alone is estimated to be sufficient to provide three times the much power currently consumed in Africa. Large hydroelectric projects, such as the Grand Inga in the region of the Congo River and the projects for the Senegal River basin, could benefit all countries in the region. The challenging question, however, is how to finance and manage these projects.
Developers, analysts and researchers often use our data through the APIs we provide. We’ve written about accessing World Bank data in Stata in the past, but I’m going to take a moment to survey the other language-specific libraries that I know of. From now on, unless I state otherwise, by “API”, I’m referring to our development indicators API.
I’ll list the libraries first, and then show some examples with a couple of them:
Python: The wbdata module by Oliver Sherouse offers easy access to all the data in our APIs. It also plays nicely with Wes McKinney’s superb ‘pandas’ analysis library. I’m less familiar with Matthew Duck’s wbpy module but it appears to offer similar functionality and also provides access to the Climate Data API.
R: The WDI module by Vincent Arel-Bundock offers convenient access to the data in our API and opens the door to using it with the awesome ggplot2 graphing library. You can also access the Climate Data API in R with rWBclimate.
Ruby: The world_bank_ruby gem by Justin Stoller has some nice features for bringing our data into Ruby.
The U.S. and Western Europe suffered their worst banking crisis since the 1930s with global wholesale liquidity evaporating and Western banks suffering important losses. The crisis followed a period in which the globalization of the financial system dramatically deepened. European banks, in particular, extended their operations in the international wholesale market and increased their presence in many countries through the establishment of a foreign branch or subsidiary. Did this increased dependency on international wholesale funding and the growth of foreign bank presence intensify the international transmission of financial shocks?
Governance issues are prominent on the development agenda - as exemplified by the recent G8 focus on transparency or in discussions of the post 2015 agenda. However, at least among most donors, the governance aspects are dealt with separately from discussions of social or environmental (or even economic) aspects. Is this a useful distinction? Or are we missing a trick from the financial and private sectors in not developing integrated environmental, social and governance (ESG) approaches?
The fallout from the April 24 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh has had severe domestic and international reactions. The international buyers and governments have responded vehemently to these events. Careful reappraisal of labor issues has been universally identified as a key area of reform. The objective is to ensure workers’ safety and workers’ rights. Poor labor standards can adversely affect Bangladesh’s overall reputation in the exporting sector. The government has been pressured to take a series of measures to improve workers’ safety. Representatives of the Bangladesh government, the European Union and the International Labor Organization met in Geneva on July 8, 2013 to promote improved labor standards and responsible business conduct in Bangladesh’s garment industry. Following up on the commitments made in Geneva, Bangladesh’s legislature recently amended the Bangladesh Labor Law to provide improved protection, in law and practice, for the fundamental rights to freedom of association and the rights to collective bargaining, among others.
Are these good economics and good politics now and in the future?
Timor-Leste is making great progress in education, which is considered an important
asset as the country looks to achieve sustainable, long-term development.
Eleven years since the restoration of Independence, Timor-Leste has now emerged from the ashes of destruction that devastated the country. During the conflict, most of the country’s infrastructure was demolished with over 95 percent of schools burnt to the ground.
Lack of infrastructure was only one of the many challenges facing Timor-Leste’s education. During the period of occupation most skilled teachers were not native Timorese and at the end of the conflict many evacuated, leaving very few trained teachers. Only a small number stayed on in the hope of driving education out of the darkness.
‘It’s raining, it’s pouring. The old man is snoring.’ Truth be told, I apparently snore, and I suppose I’m not that young anymore. But hard to believe, I’m sure this nursery rhyme is not about me. And despite the recent Noah-like floods in Europe, Bangkok, Calgary, Dhaka, Jakarta, New York and Toronto, it’s not really about any one city, or any one country, or even any one continent. But, ‘went to bed and bumped his head. And won’t get up in the morning,’ aptly describes our current political paralysis.
Many children know this song. Soon they will learn how their grandfathers and fathers slept through the rain.
Here in troubled Toronto and gritty Calgary, there was the inevitable debate on whether or not the recent floods could be attributed to climate change. ‘If it’s this bad now, what’s the future hold?’ people wondered. ‘Sleepwalking into trouble,’ came to mind for many.