Since the Unique Identification Authority of India embarked on its unique identification project (UIDAI) in 2010, an estimated 200 million people have voluntarily enrolled. As discussed in a previous blog, the UIDAI aims to administer some 1.2 billion unique identification numbers by the end of this decade. The 12-digit online number, also referred to as Aadhaar (“foundation” in Hindi), is issued upon completion of demographic and biometric information by the enrollees. The number will give millions of Indian residents, previously excluded from the formal economy, the opportunity to access a range of benefits and services, such as banking, mobile, education, and healthcare. The UIDAI specifically aims to extend social and financial services to the poor, remove corrupt practices plaguing existing welfare databases, eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and hold government officials accountable.
It is hard to talk about South Asia without invoking its demographics. The region will contribute nearly 40 percent of the growth in the world’s working age (15-64) population, and will need to add a staggering 1 to 1.2 million new entrants to the labor market every month for the next two decades. Absorbing the influx of youth into the labor force is one of South Asia’s core challenges. But while economists grapple with employment statistics and economic policy, jobs are created at the grassroots. Entrepreneurship is the spark that lights the fire, and the engine that generates opportunities in local communities.
Le 11 juillet, lors de la Journée mondiale de la population, des acteurs mondiaux de premier plan dans le domaine de la santé se réunissent à Londres pour tenter de mettre la priorité sur l’enjeu de la planification familiale. Cet enjeu est au cœur des travaux du personnel de la Banque mondiale chargé des questions de santé en Asie du Sud, qui s’emploie à trouver les moyens qui lui permettront d’aider plus efficacement les femmes et les familles à espacer les naissances et à éviter les grossesses non désirées.
Même si les pays d’Asie du Sud ont progressé dans l’élargissement de l’accès à la contraception moderne et dans le recul global de la natalité, la région accuse la deuxième plus forte mortalité maternelle du monde. Dans ces pays, les ménages pauvres, marginalisés et non instruits n’ont pas accès aux services de santé génésique dont ils ont besoin, et notamment à la planification familiale.
En Inde, au Népal et au Pakistan en particulier, les taux de fécondité et d’utilisation de contraceptifs diffèrent considérablement d’une catégorie socioéconomique à l’autre : en Inde, alors que le taux de fécondité n’est que de 1,8 chez les femmes les plus aisées, il se maintient à 3,9 parmi les plus démunies. Au Népal, les femmes instruites ont, en moyenne, 1,9 enfant, contre 3,7 pour les femmes non instruites. Au Pakistan, la prévalence de la contraception atteint aujourd’hui 32 % chez les couples riches et seulement 12 % chez les couples pauvres. En Inde, dans l’État du Meghalaya, 36 % des couples désireux de recourir à la planification familiale n’ont pas accès à une contraception efficace.
El 11 de julio, Día Mundial de la Población, mientras los líderes mundiales de la salud se reúnen en Londres para debatir sobre el otorgamiento de una mayor prioridad a la planificación familiar, el personal del Banco Mundial que trabaja en el sector de salud en Asia meridional estará pensando en cómo respaldar más eficazmente a las mujeres y las familias de esta región para espaciar los nacimientos y evitar los embarazos no deseados.
Aunque los países de Asia meridional lograron aumentar el acceso a la planificación familiar moderna y reducir los índices totales de fecundidad, la región sigue teniendo la segunda tasa más elevada de mortalidad materna. Los hogares pobres, marginados y sin educación no cuentan con los servicios de salud reproductiva que necesitan, incluida la planificación familiar.
En India, Nepal y Pakistán, en particular, las diferencias en la fertilidad y el uso de anticonceptivos entre los grupos socioeconómicos son sorprendentes: en India, la tasa de fecundidad en la parte más rica de la población es de 1,8, mientras que sigue siendo de 3,9 entre los más pobres; en Nepal, las mujeres con educación tienen en promedio 1,9 hijos, mientras que las menos educadas tienen un promedio de 3,7; en Pakistán, la prevalencia de anticonceptivos es del 32% en las parejas más ricas y de apenas el 12% entre las parejas pobres, y en el estado indio de Meghalaya, el 36% de las parejas que quiere practicar la planificación familiar carece de acceso a métodos anticonceptivos eficaces.
I recently returned from travel to India and East Africa where I attended a round table on social enterprise with the Government of India and met impact investors focused on Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. After listening carefully to entrepreneurs, investors, and government officials, I’m compelled to say something entirely inconsistent with conventional wisdom in the world of impact investing: there is not enough capital to support the pipeline of enterprises focused on solving our most vexing social problems. By social problems, I mean the provision of basic goods and services to the bottom of the economic pyramid where governments and markets often fail.
Take access to energy for example or access to sanitation in much of Africa and South Asia. More than 1.3 billion people on the globe still lack access to electricity and over 2.5 billion lack basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds a child dies because of poor sanitation.
These are public goods and unambiguously the responsibility of public actors. But in reality, governments often don’t have the resources, the will, or the capacity to provide these basic services to many of their citizens. And purely commercial enterprises lack incentives to provide services where financial upside is limited and the ability of poor people to pay is constrained. But this is precisely where inclusive (or socially driven) businesses and social entrepreneurs, for profit and not-for-profit, are innovating and developing new business models to solve our most pressing social challenges.
Adaptive capacity is “the ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.” (The definition comes from the Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.)
Communication has a role in all levels of climate change adaptation efforts; from the dialogue that establishes multi-governmental agreements, the positive public opinion required to introduce national polices to implementing new practices at local levels. But building adaptive capacity at the local level seems the most complex and challenging. Whether at the community, household or individual levels, building local adaptive capacity requires shifting people away from the “old way” of doing things to introducing new processes. Adaptation efforts require communities to implement new practices and ideas, take risks, and experiment.
On July 11, World Population Day, while global health leaders meet in London to discuss giving greater priority to family planning, World Bank health staff in South Asia will be thinking about how to more effectively support women and families in this region to space births and avoid unwanted pregnancies.
While the countries of South Asia have made progress in increasing access to modern family planning, and reducing total fertility rates, the region still accounts for the second highest burden of maternal deaths. Poor, marginalized and uneducated households do not have access to the reproductive health services they need, including family planning.
In India, Nepal and Pakistan in particular, the differences in fertility and use of contraception across socioeconomic groups are striking: In India, the fertility rate among the wealthiest part of the population is only 1.8, while it remains 3.9 among the poorest. In Nepal, educated women have on average 1.9 children while the least educated have an average of 3.7.In Pakistan, contraceptive prevalence is 32% among wealthier couples and yet only 12% among poor couples. In the Indian state of Meghalaya, 36% of couples who want to practice family planning lack access to effective contraception.
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.
Yesterday, I discussed India’s incredible economic transformation over the last two decades and some of the challenges that the country is currently facing. So, what can India do to reduce the impact of global uncertainty and improve growth performance and boost investor confidence?
India’s firepower to respond to a crisis with traditional monetary and fiscal stimulus is much weaker now than prior to the 2008 crisis. Fiscal space for additional spending is severely constrained in light of continued high deficits. Room for monetary policy easing is modest in light of continued high inflation, and still low real interest rates. Moreover, when investor confidence is at a low ebb as it is in India, easing monetary policy would be tantamount to “pushing on a string.”
India has been a beacon to the world on how a thriving and vibrant democracy can transform itself into an economic powerhouse. The metamorphosis that took place in the Indian economy after the reforms of the early 1990s is nothing short of spectacular. The Indian economy was transformed into a dynamo of innovation and diversification. This fundamental transformation unlocked two decades of explosive growth in which poverty rates fell by nearly 20 percent, exports as a share of GDP increased nearly five-fold, and standards of living increased by a factor of almost four. This trajectory received but a glancing blow from the 2008 global financial crisis—this resilience was a testimonial to the benefits of the economic reforms of the previous 15 years.
Challenges to India’s Growth
But now, India’s economy once again faces formidable challenges and the fear is that it is considerably less well placed to deal with these challenges than at any time over the past two decades. The global economy is facing a new phase of the crisis characterized by an extreme bout of uncertainty, risk aversion and volatility, this time originating in the Euro Area. Some skeptics have recently questioned: Will India weather this storm as well as it did in 2008-09 and will the story of “Incredible India” remain credible?
Malnutrition in South Asia is the worst in the world (yes, worse than that of sub-Saharan Africa). It undermines the efforts of countries to reduce poverty, increase educational attainment and productivity, expand innovation and entrepreneurship, and reduce maternal and child mortality. It’s also why, for the past two years, 21 organizations from India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have implemented community-based innovations for improving infant and young child nutrition, financed by a unique World Bank small grants initiative known as the Development Marketplace.
Cities are often violent places – a social, ethnic and religious tinderbox of people piled up together with competing needs for space, housing or cash. Mostly the tension is contained, but not always - when and why does it spill over into bloody mayhem? That’s the question at the heart of a fascinating research project run by Caroline Moser, one of my development heroes, and Dennis Rodgers. The research team fed back on its findings in Geneva last week. They have a draft overview paper here and welcome any comments by the end of June (as comments on this post, or if you want to get really stuck in, emailed to urbantippingpoint@Manchester.ac.uk). Here’s a summary of the discussion in Geneva.
The Urban Tipping Point scanned the literature and identified four ‘conventional wisdoms’ on the causes, not always based on much evidence: they are poverty; ‘youth bulges’ (demographic, rather than waistlines); political exclusion and gender-based insecurity. It decided to test these with empirical research in four very dissimilar cities - Nairobi (Kenya), Dili (Timor-Leste), Santiago (Chile) and Patna (India).
The results are in! The selection committee has chosen 25 winners in the World Bank’s Imagining Our Future Together art contest for young artists.
"With sensitive brush strokes and unusual photo angles, the young artists of Imagining our Future Together offer jointly for the first time a harmonious and joyous regional song of beauty, poetry, irony, and talent," said Marina Galvani, art curator for the World Bank.
Back in the mid-1980s, India's then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi lamented that out of every rupee spent on welfare schemes, only 15 paise reached the poor. More than a quarter of a century later, the scale and ambition of India’s social sector programs have become far bigger than what even Rajiv’s 21st-century vision could have comprehended. But one thing has remained constant – the system still leaks.
That’s not to say the problem hasn’t received attention. There is increased awareness about pilferage and diversion of assets meant for a target population. Programs now are better designed to detect leakages, estimate what’s being delivered and allow monitoring at various stages.
But these measures have met with varying degrees of success. Clearly some states – and indeed some projects – have been better at drawing benefits and utilizing funds than others.
So how do you get more bang for your buck when it comes to development projects? When the World Bank invited me to visit some of its assisted projects in Tamil Nadu in early May this year, I got a firsthand opportunity to mull this issue.