Erratic and sporadic water supply, clogged drains, sickened children and unhealthy lives – these are the everyday challenges Janet Adu faces, living in Turlako, a suburb of Accra. Her story is captured in this video and is a vivid reminder that poor sanitation in Ghana accounts for 70 percent of out-patient attendance and 25% of under-five mortality for children. With Ghana’s cities growing at an unprecedented 3.2 percent annually, living conditions for the urban poor like Janet Adu are deteriorating rapidly.
In preparation for the February 28 ICT Solutions Day, the World Bank ICT team is piloting a crowdsourcing initiative to develop innovative ICT-enabled solutions for client countries.
The Ouagadougou-Accra-Tema corridor, a road stretching from Ouagadougou in West Africa’s Burkina Faso through Ghana’s bustling capital city Accra and onto the country’s port city Tema, is one of Africa’s most well-known corridors. In October, we joined Albert, a 50-year-old driver from Burkina Faso, on a 750 kilometer journey to highlight the high economic costs faced by landlocked countries and the cumbersome border crossings that impede trade.
The journey, which should have taken seven hours by car, took us 17 hours, 1 border crossing and 20 checkpoints.
The World Bank has been tracking the world's progress against poverty since the late eighties, but the release of 2008 data was the first time in which all regions of the developing world showed a decline in the number of people living below poverty lines!
Financial Markets…Year-to-date global corporate bond sales rose to $3.43 trillion, already surpassing 2011’s full year total of $3.29 trillion, as further stimulus from global central banks pushed yields to record lows. Funding costs for the riskiest to the most creditworthy corporates are plunging as the persistent low-yield environment spurred unprecedented investor demand.
Perceived default risk of US corporate debt climbed for a third consecutive day, with the benchmark Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Index rising 3.6 basis points to 108 bps, amid growing concerns that the so-called US fiscal cliff could push the world largest economy into deep recession.
Ghana’s 3-month borrowing costs, which fell to a five month low last week, are gearing for further decline today after the central bank issued record volume of domestic bonds, lowering its financing needs in near-terms. The 3-month yield on Ghana’s Treasury bills dropped 69 bps to 22.33% last week, but they are still the highest among African countries.
In its November update released earlier today, the US Department of Agriculture reported marginal increases in global grain supplies (compared to the October update) for the 2012/13 crop year ending in May 2013. Yet, stock-to-use ratio for corn—and less so for wheat—remain at historical low levels. The rice market is well-supplied with trade expected to surpass 38 million tons in 2012—a record high.
High-income Economies…France's industrial production posted the biggest monthly drop since December 2009, falling 2.7% (m/m) in September (-2.1% y/y), with both manufacturing production and construction contracting. The Bank of France said the economy may shrink in the fourth quarter.
Italy’s industrial production fell by 1.5% (m/m) in September (-4.8% y/y), the most in five months, suggesting the country remained in recession in the third quarter.
Greece’s industrial production fell 7.3% (y/y) in September, resuming its downward trend after rising temporarily by 2.5% in August.
Sweden’s industrial production fell 5% (y/y) in September, following a 2.7% increase the previous month.
Germany’s annual consumer price inflation on a EU-harmonized basis remained at 2.1% (y/y) in October, the same rate as September (+0.1% m/m). A 5.5% (y/y) increase in domestic gas and diesel prices and increases in some food items prevented inflation from falling.
UK’s goods trade deficit fell to 8.4bn pounds in September from 10bn pounds in August, as exports rose 1.1% (m/m), while imports fell a larger 3.9% (m/m) because of lower imports of fuel and manufactured goods.
US consumer confidence continued to improve for the fourth month in November, with the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index climbing to 84.9 (a five-year high) from 82.6 in October as the labor market showed signs of improvement.
Hungary’s industrial output rose 0.6% (m/m) in September, following 1.8% increase in August. Despite the monthly increases, industrial output in September was 3.8% lower than the same month the previous year.
Developing Economies…China’s retail sales rose 14.5% (y/y) in October slightly faster than 14.2% in September, while consumer price inflation dropped to its weakest level in nearly three years to 1.7% (y/y) in October from 1.9% in September on declining food inflation.
Growth in China's industrial production accelerated to 9.6% (y/y) in October from 9.2% in September China’s producer prices fell at a slower pace of 2.8% (y/y) in October compared to a 3.6% fall in September. China's total fixed asset investments were 20.7% higher during the January-October period compared to the same period last year.
Malaysia's exports grew 2.6% (y/y) in September, recovering from a 4.5% contraction in August on strong demand from ASEAN, the US, India and Taiwan, while exports to the European Union decreased 12.5%. Import growth accelerated to 9.6% (y/y) in September from 2.8% in August.
The central bank of Peru held its benchmark interest steady at 4.25%. Peru's inflation rate fell to 3.25% (y/y) in October from 3.74% in September, but remains above the central bank's targets inflation of 2.0% (+/- 1). An acceleration of inflation in September was related to a weather conditions-related temporary supply side factor.
Russia's central bank held its benchmark refinancing rate steady in October. Inflation declined in October slightly to 6.5% (y/y) from 6.6% in September, but remains above the Bank of Russia's target of 5-6 percent inflation range. The bank noted that inflation is stabilizing due to a moderation in food prices which had experienced a temporary upswing related to a supply shock associated with a bad harvest.
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Index-based rainfall insurance offers the potential to allow farmers to protect themselves against one of the most important risks they face – the risk of drought (or conversely too much rain).
As a boy growing up in Africa, I always assumed that every country had its own airline. To me, a national airline was just another way a country defined itself, along with its flag, national anthem, and currency. Ghana Airways, which my family often flew (we lived in Kumasi), was a perfect example, with the red, gold and green colors of its national flag painted on every plane. They looked proud and elegant, a perfect symbol of statehood.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates are some of the most heavily requested and used data published on data.worldbank.org. And as many users notice, the estimates are sometimes revised, occasionally resulting in large changes from previously published values. Why do revisions happen, what information do we publish about those revisions, and where do you find it?
I’m amazed at what Africa is doing to address climate change, a crisis in the making that could have devastating consequences on the continent, its agriculture, and millions of people who had little role in creating it.
The latest updates came during the 4th Africa Carbon Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. What I heard there was quite a change from the Forum four years earlier and not what I had expected.
Working in transport for development, our focus is often on the physical infrastructure that is needed to improve mobility and provide access to services and markets. Road safety is an issue that obliges us to focus on our clients: the young and vulnerable users of road networks around the world.
We know that water and sanitation services do not always recover their costs from tariffs. So, if communities or governments are to maintain the infrastructure properly, they depend on the public budget. And those expenditures must be predictable and transparent.To take a closer look at this issue, the World Bank analyzed public expenditure on water supply and sanitation from fifteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, assessing how much public money was budgeted for the sector and on what it was spent.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“Behavior change campaigning is inherently interactive. In order to encourage positive behavior change it is important to not only push campaign messages out to people, but to listen to the responses. To run a campaign which has a real impact, you need to listen to ensure you’re being heard. This is one of the main reasons why SMS – as a widely accessible and inherently interactive communications channel – is an ideal tool for campaigning.
This is the topic explored in a new resource which FrontlineSMS is releasing with Text to Change today; best practices when using SMS as a behavior change campaigning tool. This resource has been put together collaboratively to provide an introductory guide, suggesting some key points which can usefully be considered if you are planning to use SMS as a campaign tool. The resource is by no means exhaustive, but it outlines some key considerations which can hopefully serve to help guide discussions around best practices in SMS campaigning.” READ MORE
What does it take to introduce e-books and e-readers into communities in low income countries -- and is this a good idea?
Judging by the increasing number of inquiries we receive here at the World Bank on this topic, we are not alone in asking such questions. If you want help in trying to answer these and related queries based on evidence from pioneers in this area, you will most likely find yourself at some point in contact with the folks at the Worldreader NGO. Co-founded by one of the former senior executives at Amazon, Worldreader is working with its partners to "bring millions of books to underserved children and families in the developing world". Jonathan Wareham, a professor at ESADE in Barcelona who serves on the Worldreader - Spanish Foundation Board and collaborates with the organization on various research activities into the use of e-readers and e-books, recently stopped by the World Bank to talk about what Worldreader is learning from its work in Africa.
One of my favorite papers to present is my paper on improving management in India, in part because we have wonderful photos to illustrate what bad management looks like and what improved practices look like (see the appendix to the paper for some of these). Photographing impact isn’t only useful for presentations and glossy summaries, but may potentially offer a new form of data. However, this is easier said than done, and today I thought I’d share some misadventures in trying to photograph impacts on small firms.
So this past week I was in Ghana following up on some of the projects I am working on there with one of my colleagues. We were designing an agricultural impact evaluation with some of our counterparts, following up on the analysis of the second round of a land tenure impact evaluation and a financial literacy intervention, and exploring the possibility of some work in the rural financial sector. In no particular order, here are some of the things I learned and some things I am still wondering about: