Kenya has been covered widely in economic news over the last decade, from the first large-scale application of mobile money to a vibrant technology hub in Africa. Indeed, Kenya experienced robust economic growth from 2005-06 to 2015-16, growing at an average annual rate of 5.3%, higher than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa. This growth translated into gains in the fight to reduce poverty, with about 4.5 million Kenyans escaping poverty. Poverty measured under the national poverty line declined from 46.8% to 36.1% of the population. However, a closer look shows that not every segment of the population benefited from this impressive growth.
When I tell people that I am a forest specialist, they sometimes assume my work is forest first, people second. But the really exciting part of my job is that better forests make better communities.
There is mounting evidence that forest management improves people’s livelihoods all over the world. Standing forests are worth much more than cut ones and we are setting out to prove this in Mozambique, where protecting forests is among the fastest and most affordable ways to cut emissions and promote sustainable development.
The popular saying“do not judge a book by its cover” teaches a great lesson which can be summed up in one sentence: It is never what we think it is.
This leads me to why protecting the interests of persons with disabilities (PWDs) is important; many times, they are treated as if all they are is their physical or mental challenges. But they are more than just their disability. Every human being, rich or poor, small or big, non-disabled or disabled has a role to play in our lives, and our ability to treat everyone with dignity and respect cannot be overemphasized. Thus, as I explained in my recent proposal in the World Bank Group’s 2018 Law Student Contest for Development Solutions, lack of equal access and opportunity for PWDs will in the long-run impede the necessary development many of us desire in our world.
The launch of the Human Capital Project has galvanized global action to close human capital gaps, and has highlighted the importance of investments in the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, to realize their potential as productive members of society.
Improving both the quantity and quality of education is pivotal to empowering young people to fulfill their potential. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is critical not only for fulfilling the needs of the future workforce, but also for producing researchers and innovators who can help to solve intractable challenges.
The underrepresentation of women and girls in STEM gets a lot of attention, but the data on access to, and quality of, education shows that the story is more nuanced.
At primary school level globally, there is gender parity in both enrollment and completion–a remarkable achievement of recent times. Gender gaps emerge in a number of low-income countries, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in some Latin American countries there are ‘reverse’ gender gaps (with boys less likely to attend or complete primary school). Overall, gender gaps (where they exist) are modest in comparison to the gaps between rich and low-income countries.
When it comes to academic performance, girls often do as well as, or better than, boys in science and mathematics.
In primary schools, there are no gender differences in science achievement in more than half of the 47 countries where performance is measured (Figure 1). Girls score higher than boys in 26 percent of the countries. The difference in achievement is almost three-times higher when girls score more than boys compared to when boys score more than girls. Results for mathematics achievement are similar. There are no gender differences in about half of the countries with data, but boys score better than girls in 37 percent of the countries.
Figure 1: Primary-school girls perform as well as boys in science and mathematics
Laws that protect and defend the rights of poor people are usually too ambiguous, cumbersome and expensive for them to access justice. In many developing countries, particularly in my home country of Nigeria, informal norms, practices and society govern the everyday life of poor citizens.
As the Nigeria government successfully rolled out its vaccination plan in 2018, some parents living in rural areas encountered challenges finding out where, when, or how often their children were meant to receive vaccinations. This confusion caused delayed and repeated immunizations, increasing the risk of infant and child mortality from preventable diseases.
Few countries can match Cabo Verde’s development progress over the past quarter of a century. Its Gross National Income per capita (GNI) grew six-fold. Extreme poverty fell by two-thirds from 30% in 2001 (when poverty measurement began) to 10% in 2015 (see first chart) which translates into an annual poverty reduction rate of 3.6%, outperforming any other African country during this period. Non-monetary poverty also dropped fast (see second chart). In many ways, Cabo Verde is a development star, and these achievements were made despite the disadvantage it faces as a small island economy in the middle of the Atlantic.
As of the end of 2016, thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers were registered in my home country of Ghana, with more than half of them girls, women and persons with disabilities.
The inaugural World Bank Group Law, Justice and Development Week 2018 Law Student Contest for Development Solutions, was a great opportunity to contribute to the timely discussion on rights, protection and development of vulnerable groups, particularly refugees.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the refugee population in Uganda is estimated at 1.15 million people. This makes Uganda one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in the world. South Sudan alone is the source of more than one million refugees, with 86% of these comprised of women and children. They occupy settlements in rural districts in Northern Uganda such as Adjumani, Moyo and Arua. It is also the home to one of the world’s biggest refugee camp, Bidi Bidi, which hosts a quarter of a million refugees.
By 2035, Cameroon aspires to join the ranks of industrialized, upper-middle-income nations with low poverty rates, strong economic growth, and a functioning democracy. To realize that goal, the government’s strategy (Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi, DSCE) envisions annual GDP growth rates of 5.5 percent and the creation tens of thousands of formal jobs each year. With a relatively more diversified economy than its more oil-dependent peers in the CEMAC region, the country seemed well-poised to achieve its objectives until at least halfway through the decade. However, Cameroon has been facing a combination of external headwinds and internal constraints that present challenges to its development aspirations, poverty remains high at 37.5 percent (in 2014).