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March 2016

Internationally comparable learning tests pave the way for education reform in Africa

Makhtar Diop's picture



Most parents in Africa will tell you that their children’s education is the most important investment they can make. Over the past decade, great progress has been made in terms of getting children into school, with countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Rwanda and Zambia recording primary net enrollment of over 90 percent. But across the continent, primary school completion and youth literacy rates remain unacceptably low.

How can we help countries share their own development knowledge? Insights from Japan

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
To help clients achieve their development objectives, the World Bank has established knowledge-sharing "hubs" in countries that have gained valuable experience from dealing with their own challenges. That is the rationale behind the creation of a Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Hub and Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) in Japan, a country that has developed unparalleled expertise in disaster resilience, quality infrastructure, and sustainable urban development. In this video, Keiko Sakoda Kaneda (DRM Hub) and Daniel Levine (TDLC) elaborate on some of the key elements of their work program, and explain how they collaborate with development partners from around the world.

Using green infrastructure to control urban floods: a win-win for cities

Zuzana Stanton-Geddes's picture
Photo: Eugene Phoen/Flickr
Photo: Eugene Phoen/Flickr

We have all come across people whose homes have beautiful and always blooming plants and flowers – people with a so-called “green thumb”.

But did you know that cities too can have a “green thumb”? Singapore is certainly one of those cities. 

Also known as the "garden city”, Singapore is set to become a "city in a garden”. The abundance of greenery is a striking feature, with parks, green roofs, street side plants, and trees on every corner.

But greenery is not there just to please the eye and create livable public areas — it also helps mitigate the risk of flooding.


Singapore, like many other densely-populated cities, is at risk of flooding. One way to tackle this is by greening public spaces and encouraging private development to follow the principles of the government’s flagship “ABC” program, which looks to make water “Active, Beautiful and Clean”. Carefully planned and implemented, investments in so-called “green infrastructure” are paying off: they make the city more resilient and more sustainable in the long-term, and also create more spaces for people to meet and interact.

Although Singapore’s dedication to greening public spaces is remarkable, it is not the only city that is getting its hands “dirty” to promote natural ecosystems. The Netherlands has been promoting green approaches in urban planning for many years now, with the innovative redesign of sewer systems, or the creation of multi-functional “water squares” which can hold storm water when rain is heavy while otherwise serving as a social space.

Campaign Art: Raising the Volume to Fight Tuberculosis

Davinia Levy's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

Tuberculosis is the #1 infectious disease killer in the world.  It kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS. Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria that most often affect the lungs. TB is spread from person to person through the air (coughing, sneezing, etc). Each year, almost 10 million people develop TB, at least 1 million of which are children.

Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. However, since it’s most affected areas are in developing countries, international assistance and action is critical to help control, contain and eliminate this disease.  To raise awareness about TB, especially its effect on children, the campaign “Louder than TB” produced this short - yet hard to watch - video:
 
Louder than TB

Source: TB Alliance
 

New approaches in water resource economics

Susanne M. Scheierling's picture
In many parts of the world, changing demand and supply patterns are contributing to an increasing physical scarcity and competition for water resources. Historically, new demands have been met by developing additional supplies—with the incremental cost of water remaining relatively constant over time due to the ready availability of water development project sites to meet growing demands. As the water economy moves from an expansionary to a mature phase, incremental costs are sharply rising, and interdependencies among users and uses are greatly increasing. With this move, the issues to be addressed by water economists tend to become more pressing, broader and more complex. While in the expansionary phase structural or engineering approaches to water management tend to be the main focus, in a maturing water economy nonstructural or institutional options for solving water problems receive increasing attention. In particular, resource allocation and valuation issues move to the forefront of economic inquiry.

European countries making clear progress with Open Data

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Editor’s note: This is a guest blog from Margriet Nieuwenhuis, Eva van Steenbergen and Wendy Carrara on behalf of the European Data Portal. The indicator “Open Data readiness” mentioned in the analysis below is unrelated to the Open Data Readiness Assessment tool developed by the World Bank.
 
The public sector is providing increasing amounts of Open (Government) Data free of charge. Open Data refers to the information collected, produced or paid for by public bodies and can be freely used, modified and shared by anyone for any purpose. In Europe, the maturity of Open Data varies between the countries, as recent research shows. In 2015, the European Data Portal team conducted an assessment of where European countries stood with regard to Open Data. The countries included are the EU Member States (28 countries in total) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – further on referred to as the EU28+ countries.
 
Two key indicators have been selected to measure Open Data maturity; Open Data readiness and the maturity of the national Open Data portal. Open Data Readiness looks at the presence of Open Data policies, at the use made of the available Open Data, and at the political, social and economic impact of Open Data. Portal Maturity measures the usability of a web-based Open Data portal with regard to the availability of functionalities, the overall re-usability of data, as well as the spread of data. The two key indicators as well as the sub indicators are depicted in the table below.
Open Data Maturity indicators.

Are billionaires good for growth?

Donna Barne's picture
Rich People, Poor Countries

We are living in a world where the largest corporations are larger and the richest entrepreneurs are richer than ever before – and an increasing number of billionaires are based in emerging countries. Who are these tycoons and how important are they to their economies?

A new book by Caroline Freund aims to answer these questions by examining the characteristics and impact of 700 emerging-market billionaires whose net worth adds up to more than $2 trillion.

Rich People, Poor Countries: The Rise of Emerging-Market Tycoons and Their Mega Firms finds that very large firms are export superstars in their home countries.

In the United States the top 1% of firms account for 80% of exports. In emerging countries, the top 1% account for 50% of exports but that figure is rising rapidly, Freund said at a book launch at the World Bank’s Infoshop on March 23.

Solar Irrigation Pumps: A New Way of Agriculture in Bangladesh

Mehrin Ahmed Mahbub's picture
Solar Irrigation Pumps in Bangladesh
Habibur shares a content smile as he tends to his rice field. Photo Credit: World Bank


On a recent field trip to northern Bangladesh, the smiles of Habibur, a young man working in a rice field under the scotching sun caught my attention. Habibur, 28, looked content amidst the wide green vista of fields.  
I learned that his life had not been easy. His father died when Habibur was around four years old, and the family had no land. His young widowed mother started working as a day laborer to raise her only child. Habibur began working too in his mid-teens. Mother and son struggled, but they managed to save some money.  They first bought a cow, and later Habibur leased land for rice cultivation. This is a common practice in rural Bangladesh, where the yield is divided between the farmer and the owner of the land.

Sue Unsworth’s ‘upside down’ view

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture

Sue UnsworthSue Unsworth’s work provides us a wealth of knowledge on governance and institutional change, stemming largely from her ‘upside down’ view of the conventional reality of the aid world. Here is a quick peek into some of her work – particularly, insights into how donor-approaches should evolve to engage successfully with politics.

Sue’s work with David Booth – captured in this paper, Politically smart, locally led development – presents seven case studies of problem-driven approaches that provide important lessons to donors, as well as a clear message that merely using new terminology without actually changing the ‘ways of working will not yield results. The authors suggest that chasing ‘international best practices’ often lead to imagined solutions that do not address the problem at hand.

"…for politically smart, locally led approaches to become the norm, a more radical shift is needed in the way donors conceive development challenges and their role in addressing them. They need to abandon oversimplified concepts of ‘ownership’ and ‘partnership’, and unrealistic assumptions about the scope for outsiders to lead transformational change"


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