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June 2018

The challenges of macroeconomic stabilization in the Southern African Customs Union

Sébastien Dessus's picture



The good governance of public financial resources is often more challenging during good times than during bad times. In the event of an unexpected negative shock – say a drought or a sudden decline in demand for the commodities produced in the country – it is generally rewarding, from a political perspective, for the government to launch ‘stimulus packages’ to keep the economic engine running.

Weekly links June 22: which countries are overrepresented in IEs? How many IEs have data available to replicate them? Mobile savings, and more...

David McKenzie's picture
  • In the Harvard Business Review, Blumenstock, Callen and Ghani summarize their work on using nudges to get government employees to save using mobile money in Afghanistan – “Over six months, the average employee who was enrolled to save by default accumulated an extra half-month’s salary in his or her savings account, relative to employees who had to opt in”
  • An intro to R for Stata users
  • The promise and perils of listening to parents – Sharon Wolf on ongoing efforts in Ghana to improve pre-school quality, and how trying to bring parents onboard backfired.
  • In the Journal of Development Effectiveness, Sabet and Brown track the continued growth of development impact evaluations: “Though we find early evidence of a plateau in the growth rate of development impact evaluations, the number of studies published between January 2010 and September 2015 account for almost two thirds of the total evidence base”. Lots of other interesting facts, including 45% of all impact evaluations occurred in just 10 countries, with Kenya and Uganda having the most impact evaluations per million population, and Sub-Saharan Africa the most commonly represented region – perhaps something for donors to think about...

Youth as partners in the prevention of violent conflict

Catalina Crespo-Sancho's picture
Students at the Methodist Secondary School in Kailahun. Photo: George Lewis/The World Bank.


There are about 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and it is estimated that by 2030 the numbers will increase by 7 percent. Youth groups between the ages of 14 and 24 are an important focus in the work on the prevention of violent conflict. The UN resolution on Youth, Peace and Security (SCR 2250) recognizes the role of youth in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and urges to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels. In addition, the recently published World Bank/UN flagship study: Pathways for  Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict also recognizes the importance of youth in the prevention of violent conflict.

How stories can help communicate volcanic risk to communities

Alanna Simpson's picture
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Violent volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Guatemala have made the world’s headlines in the past few weeks. The eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano has claimed the lives of 110 people and triggered the evacuations of thousands from their homes.

Despite popular belief and public expectation, volcanic eruptions are extraordinarily difficult to predict. Oftentimes, they happen with limited warning, which leaves little if any time for authorities to react, much less communicate the risk to those affected. At other times, a volcano may seem to show all the signs of an imminent eruption, but it doesn’t happen.

When communicating disaster risk and coordinating a response, there’s also more to it than merely predicting whether an eruption will occur. Scientists need to use data and information to determine the potential size, duration and characteristics of the eruption. Will it be explosive, triggering deadly pyroclastic flows and widespread ash, or something else?


The scientific uncertainties surrounding volcanic eruption forecasting are among the many challenges associated with communicating the potential for volcanic eruption to surrounding populations. This is especially true for communities living near volcanoes that have not erupted in recent memory. Science can help, but far too often, it’s not enough to get people and communities to take action.

Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth, makes the case that risk communicators also need to leverage the power of stories and narratives to help communities understand the situation. “When you go look at examples where disaster preparedness has failed, it’s because there’s been no enduring, compelling narrative beneath it,” Stewart pointed out.

In this video interview from the 2018 Understanding Risk Forum, hosted by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the World Bank, Stewart discusses the role of stories and narratives in volcanic risk communication with Alanna Simpson, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist at the World Bank. 

Regenerative PPPs (R+PPP): Designing PPPs that keep delivering

David Baxter's picture


Photo: Misako Kuniya | Flickr Creative Commons

The time is ripe to explore innovative ways to implement PPPs through a synthesis of sustainable and resilient best practices that progressively improve delivery and outperform original expectations.
 
During my recent travels as a PPP advisor to Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, I worked closely with public sector leaders who are increasingly focused on procuring a new generation of PPPs that are meaningful, sustainable, resilient, people-focused, and will support their governments’ goals of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
 
A government official from the Balkans had a concern about maturing PPPs in his country. Projects that had been launched at the end of communism were reaching the end of their lifetime and would be in a poor state when returned to the government by under-performing private sector partners who had not met their obligations to ensure the operations and maintenance would guarantee the government received back projects in good working order. Additionally, there was concern that if the perception arose that PPPs had resulted in “privatization of profits and nationalization of debts” that the potential for future PPP projects would be jeopardized.
 
These projects that could stop delivering once handed back to the public sector because of a lack of financial and human capital resources would set the country’s development agenda back—as it could not afford to build new projects and refurbish old ones at the same time.

What was needed were projects that continued delivering.

Join Us for “States of Disruption” to Explore the Role of Governance in a Fast-Changing World!

Nicholas Nam's picture



There is no denying that governments across the world today are facing increasingly complex pressures that are altering the world in which we live – fragility, conflict and violence; large migration flows; the amplifying impact of technology; tensions in managing scarce resources; and more complicated service provision needs. These pressures are re-defining the relationship between citizens and the state and leaving many asking what the role of government in the 21st century should be.

Macroeconomic policy in conflict-affected contexts

Carl Black's picture
Ferroviario a suburb in Maputo. Water is collected from various sources, mostly a network of water storage tanks. There are some underground pipes with water pumps as well as a few windmills from Portuguese Colonial times. As in most of the country water is collected in 25 litre containers. A nominal fee is also paid per container. Mozambique. 2009. Photo: John Hogg / World Bank


Conflict-affected situations are often characterized by challenging security, political and economic environments. Capital flight and inflation can emaciate financial markets, while volatile financial flows and diminishing money demand can put pressure on exchange rates. Supply-side shocks in economies dominated by agriculture or natural resource exports present policymakers with trade-offs between inflation and output objectives. Large informal sectors can weaken monetary policy transmission mechanisms and provide for a limited tax base. Also, because infrastructure and public services may be limited, institutional, administrative, technological and statistical capacities can be weak. 

Why Do Foreign Investors’ Attitudes toward Women Matter?

Heba Shams's picture
Gender equality is one of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that calls for ensuring women’s full participation in political, economic and public life as a target. Gender inequality is still a key development issue. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2017 found a gender gap of 42% when it came to labor force participation and earned income. Unrealized Potential, a May 2018 publication of the World Bank Group, puts a staggering figure to the cost of this inequality in earnings - $160.2 trillion globally, or $23,620 per capita.
Kuralay Aitzhanova, Dispatcher Manager at the Energy Transmission Control Center of KEGOK. Kazakhstan. Photo: Shynar Jetpissova / World Bank

Happy Father’s Day: Fathers and children’s self-esteem

Joachim De Weerdt's picture
The results of a longitudinal study show the impact of paternal death on children’s self-esteem. Photo: World Bank



On Sunday, many fathers around the world received cards and gifts from their children in celebration of Father’s Day. But fathers who have been following the academic and policy debates in the development community may feel somewhat exasperated that the role of men in the household and of fathers in raising children gets so little mention. It is the role of mothers that generally takes the spotlight; but what about fathers?

Why should we care about changing attitudes on gender roles in Pakistan?

Saman Amir's picture



Our recent research suggests that attitudes related to women’s roles at home and in the public space are in flux and moving towards greater gender equality, at least in aspirations.

In recent focus group discussions with women conducted by the Pakistan Gender Platform in Pakistan’s four provincial capitals, most women voiced a preference to work outside the home in mixed gender settings, regardless of age, occupation or income levels, and despite the many barriers involved: from lack of safe public transport to sexual harassment at work. Yet, their choices are still limited by patriarchal norms: as one young FGD participant who expressed her desire to work noted, “We may become economically independent but will always be socially dependent.”

This tension between the changing aspirations of young Pakistanis and the barriers they face in realizing them came alive in a recent online poll that we launched as part of the Country Office’s flagship [email protected] initiative. Despite some limitations stemming from its sample and mode of delivery, the poll provides an eye-opening glimpse into the urban youth’s shifting aspirations and attitudes on gender norms.


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