It is part of World Bank tradition that, just before retiring, a staff member sends a short email to his/her colleagues to express how much they have enjoyed the challenges of working here, the partnerships they have had in their focus countries, and - most of all - the camaraderie of their committed, dedicated, hard-working co-workers. All this could be perceived as trite, but the feelings are absolutely genuine – as I am now finding.
To a tourist visiting Cambodia, or to a French consumer living in Cambodia (whose food habits require a complement of pasta and potatoes), rice will mainly mean the stunning landscapes of rice fields, yellow at harvest time, bright and liquid during the rainy season, with shades of green meanwhile.
Development Marketplace 2008 winner International Development Enterprises Cambodia is the recipient of the first Nestlé “Creating Shared Value” prize worth $475,000. The award will support IDE Cambodia to scale its micro-franchise agricultural program that has substantially raised the income of participating Cambodian farmers (photo at left).
IDE Cambodia received the prize -- for which 549 applicants from 79 countries competed -- at a ceremony Friday, May 28, in London.
The award will permit IDE Cambodia to extend its Farm Business Advisors (FBA) program -- initially funded with a $200,000 grant from Development Marketplace -- by recruiting and training an additional 36 advisors, generating approximately US $1.9 million in new income to impact 20,000 people in over 4,000 rural households around Cambodia. This represents an increase in income by upwards of 27 percent.
Not even the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull could keep the Netherlands’ Prince of Orange, the chair of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and the World Bank’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from participating in a Davos-style panel discussion of solutions for the 2.6 billion people who still lack access to sanitation.
The BBC’s Katty Kay moderated today’s official Spring Meetings event, which also included South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Patience Sonjica; Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID’s Bureau for Global Health Gloria Steele; Ek Sonn Chan from Cambodia’s General Director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority; and IFC’s Executive VP Lars Thunell.
I haven’t seen the Bank’s J building mini-amphitheater filled with that much energy since, well, ever. The standing room-only event started with a delighted Ngozi acknowledging the crowd for bringing the issue of water and sanitation to such a high level on the occasion of the Spring Meetings.
The good news for DM2003 winner Digital Divide Data keeps on coming.
DDD, which trains the disabled, orphans, migrants, and vulnerable women in Cambodia and Laos to become digital operators for overseas clients, has received a US$50,000 grant from the Boeing Co. to advance its socially attuned IT job training and placement in Southeast Asia.
In its most recent quarterly statement, non-profit DDD, whose 650 employees and trainees make it the largest technology company in Cambodia and Laos, reported:
"...we increased earned revenues from clients to US$2.2 million for the year ending June 30, 2009. This was up 50% from the previous year of US$1.5 million.
"For the fourth straight year DDD covered its business costs through earned revenue. We then used generous support from our donors to support our social mission related expenses, particularly the recruiting and training of disadvantaged young people and educational benefits."
Digital Divide Data was founded in 2001 by Jeremy Hockenstein, then a management consultant for McKinsey & Co. Struck by the "mix of poverty and progress" in Cambodia on a trip to Angkor Wat, Hockenstein saw "the opportunity to make a difference." He put together a team of friends from his college days (he graduated from Harvard), and they started an IT training program -- modeled after outsourcing operations in India -- whos graduates would do digital work for foreign institutions and companies. Their first contract was digitizing the Harvard Crimson at Hockenstein's alma mater. The details of DDD's outsourcing work for academic institutions, libraries, and other clients are here.
When I was asked to look back at Cambodia's economy in 2009 and ahead to 2010, I began to wish I had some magic tools such as this ox (although in that case, the ox was not that magical, since the 2009 harvest turned out to be quite good).
|Some recipients of a scholarship given to young girls in Cambodia at the end of primary school. The program has had a significant effect on girls’ secondary enrollment. (photo by Deon Filmer)
Those of us who have had the pleasure of raising an adolescent girl – and survived the experience – might blanch at the thought of a program to stimulate education that gave her, rather than the doting parent, a grant equivalent to 3% of the family’s average per capita monthly consumption. And yet, that’s exactly what a policy experiment, conducted by my friend Berk Ozler and other researchers, did in Malawi. What’s more, they found that raising these girl-targeted cash transfers increased school attendance much more than raising those given to parents.
Empowering women with resources has long been recognized as a powerful weapon to safeguard investments in human capital. Research has shown that transfers to women have a more powerful effect than to men in raising school attendance and ensuring that kids are immunized. But more recent research, like Berk et al.’s, is showing that policies aimed directly at adolescent girls and young women may have an even greater effect, not only in encouraging schooling but in ensuring reproductive health. Pascaline Dupas’ policy experiment in Kenya showed that simply giving young women information showing that older men were more likely to be HIV-positive led them to eschew partnering with ‘sugar daddies’.
The theme of DM2009 -- "Climate Adaptation" -- is looking very timely. Today in the Washington Post there's a revealing Page One feature on how adaptation is catching on in countries around the world, with a special focus on what the Dutch, who have had centuries of experience coping with flooding, are doing to manage perhaps worse threats coming from climate change.
Most adaptation strategies assume the Earth will get hotter -- by at least 2 degrees C. no matter what countries do to mitigate the buildup of greenhouse gases. Adaptation doesn't try to control climate, but to adjust to its destructive impacts, like flooding and drought. The goals are to protect people and their community, including natural resources.
The frustration with DM2009 wasn't its mission, but that there wasn't enough money to fund all the worthwhile adaptation projects that made it to the finals. The nearly US$5 million pool funded 26 projects. But at least some jurors thought there were many more worthy projects. After all, the 100 finalists had survived a screeening that eliminated 94 percent of applicant projects.
The post-competition challenge is how non-winners can stay alive. Twenty-two of the projects aim to bring help to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), those which stand to be the biggest losers from climate change, like Bangladesh in South Asia, Nepal (photo of Nepalese villager by Simone D. McCourtie, World Bank) in East Asia and the Pacific, and Mozambique and many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To improve their chances, LDC project sponsors should make an all-out effort to be included in their countries' National Adaptation Programs of Action. Most of the world's 49 LDCs have produced NAPAs as a key step toward getting funding for their adaptation efforts from developed countries. While the LDC Fund contains only US$172 million -- hardly enough for adaptation projects in 49 countries -- the amount is likely to be increased as a result the U.N.-sponsored climate change negotiations that begin in Copenhagen on Monday. Furthermore, the World Bank's Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) has US$546 million to help finance NAPA adaptation projects of LDCs that are in the pilot. So far, PPCR includes six LDCs. Thirteen of the non-winning DM2009 finalists come from four of those six pilot countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Nepal).
The 22 non-winning DM2009 finalists from LDC countries can make strong cases for inclusion in NAPAs. First, they have already been closely scrutinized by evaluators. Second, these early-stage projects are minimally expensive -- none would cost more than US$200,000. Third, they meet the top NAPA "guiding element" of local focus because they're strongly community-based. Fourth, they were designed to be replicated. And fifth, their specific objectives dovetail with the more general ones of their countries' NAPAs.
There's a common message for all those finalists: Go for it.
- South Asia
- Middle East and North Africa
- East Asia and Pacific
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Financial Sector
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Climate Change
Regionally speaking, developing countries in East Asia and Pacific have rebounded surprisingly quickly from the financial crisis and global recession. But according to a report just released by the World Bank, the regional economic picture isn’t as rosy when China is taken out of the equation. The latest East Asia and Pacific Update report, an assessment of the economic health of the region released every six months, is titled “Transforming the Rebound into Recovery.” The rebound, the report says, was driven in part by large and timely fiscal stimulus spending led by China and Korea. Still, despite the well-performing economies of Indonesia and Vietnam, developing East Asia excluding China is projected to grow at just around 1 percent in 2009. And for Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand, GDP is contracting.
The China Quarterly Update – a separate report released at the same time as the latest regional assessment and focusing specifically on the Chinese economy – gives a more complete picture of why the country has seen such robust economic growth and what the future may hold. The Bank now projects China to see GDP growth of 8.4 percent for 2009, says the report. The report’s lead author (and blogger) Louis Kuijs wrote an accompanying blog post, which can be read here.
I really recommend taking some time to explore the findings of both reports by visiting the East Asia Update and China Quarterly pages, where you can also download high resolution graphs and watch video interviews with the economists. Also, you'll be able to ask two World Bank economists questions about the regional report in an online chat taking place Thursday, November 12, at 10 a.m. DC time (15:00 GMT or 11:00 p.m. in Beijing). Send your questions now for a better chance of getting them answered.