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East Asia and Pacific

2001: Participatory learning about poverty

Jim Anderson's picture
Continuing with our series looking at each of the 25 years since Mongolia joined the World Bank, today we look at 2001.  Following a devastating winter the year before, Mongolia would experience another dzud in the winter of 2001-2002, with further loss of animals and livelihoods for many.  It was increasingly clear that restocking after the disasters, while needed, was not sufficient.  The World Bank began preparation of a project focusing squarely on sustainable livelihoods for those in rural areas.  The Sustainable Livelihoods Project would be approved the next year and remain a core part of the World Bank’s partnership with Mongolia to the present

In June of 2001, the Government of Mongolia produced its Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP), outlining the challenges faced by the dzud, by the fall in commodity prices and trade as a result of the Asian financial crisis, and by the transition from socialism. The I-PRSP outlined the “main priority policy issues of the government: reduction of unemployment, public sector management, improvement of access and delivery of basic services, and increase of living standards of the population.”  An assessment by the staff of IDA and the IMF lauded the I-PRSP’s strong analysis of government policies, designed to ensure macroeconomic stability; solid assessment of poverty; early involvement of civil society and other major stakeholders in the preparation process; and a satisfactory agenda for stakeholder analysis. 

‘I matter’: giving unemployed young Papua New Guineans a second chance

Tom Perry's picture

Young people account for almost half of Papua New Guinea’s population and comprise a large part of the urban poor. In the capital, Port Moresby, an increasing number of young people are leaving school without the necessary skills for entry-level jobs.

The Urban Youth Employment Project (UYEP) provides disadvantaged young people (aged between 16 and 35) in Port Moresby with life skills and employment training to increase their chances of finding long-term employment, also the motivation to make a fresh start in life. To help meet immediate economic needs, the project is also providing temporary employment opportunities.

2000: Restocking after the Dzud

Jim Anderson's picture
The winter of 1999-2000 brought a terrible dzud—a Mongolian term for a particularly harsh winter causing major losses of livestock.  According to a UNDP-GOM report, it was the worst dzud in 50 years for five of Mongolia’s aimags.  The late snowfall affected over 70 percent of the total territory of Mongolia and when fully counted by June 1, 2000, nearly 2.4 million heads of livestock were lost.  Partially as a result of this calamity, GDP growth fell to just 1.1% and agriculture’s share of GDP fell by 4 percentage points.

The suffering in rural areas was clear, and the loss of animals meant a loss of future livelihoods, as well.  As part of its relief plan, the Mongolian Government requested to reallocate the remaining proceeds of the World Bank’s Poverty Alleviation for Vulnerable Groups Project for dzud disaster relief. Over $1.3 million went to assist poor herders affected by the dzud to help them restock and maintain their livelihoods. About a third of all eligible herder households received support from the restocking project.  In subsequent years, the World Bank program in Mongolia would shift to address squarely the challenges facing herders.

On International Women’s Day, 5 facts about gender and the law in the Pacific Islands

Katrin Schulz.'s picture

There is a lot that development practitioners don’t know about the Pacific Islands. When it comes to the laws of these small island nations scattered throughout the ocean separating Asia and the Americas, most people outside the region know even less. Add the dimension of gender to the mix and you might be met with blank stares.

1999: Financing and investing in the world’s most sparsely populated country

Jim Anderson's picture
Continuing with our series of 25 years in 25 days, today we look at 1999. Mongolia’s economy grew by just over 3%, and inflation checked in at the relatively modest rate of 7.6%.  In 1991, under the old regime, the official exchange rate was 7 togrogs per US$.  As the end of the decade approached, the exchange rate on the Mongolian togrog passed 1,000 per US$.  Protests against globalization erupted in Seattle, while firms in Mongolia were looking for ways to enter the global markets.

A new transport strategy focused squarely on Mongolia’s oft-cited geographical disadvantages.  Taming the tyrannies of distance and isolation looked at international trade routes, internal integration, railroads, airways, and policy, regulation, and competition in all of them.  The report, which led to a project a couple years later, also highlighted the impact of neglect in the decade since Mongolia’s transition began.  “With historically scarce financial resources, infrastructure maintenance has received a very low priority. This is now resulting in high infrastructure reconstruction costs that could have been avoided, since with just 1% of GDP allocated to its maintenance, the economic and technical life of most transport infrastructure can be greatly extended. To avoid further costly reconstruction, at least this amount should be allocated to infrastructure maintenance.”

1998: Mongolia’s financial, formal, and informal sectors

Jim Anderson's picture
Continuing with our series of 25 years in 25 days, today we look at 1998.  It was another year of modest growth, with agriculture and services making up for the continued decline of the industrial sector which had fallen from 43% of GDP in 1990 to only 25% by 1998.  The financial sector was recovering from a crisis the previous year—with support from an IMF program, international reserves grew by 40 percent in 1997, and inflation had decelerated from 50% in mid-1997 to 17.5% (annualized) by the end of that year.  For the year 1998, consumer price inflation stood at 9.4%.

The future of wildlife is in our hands

Claudia Sobrevila's picture
Botswana. The Global Wildlife Program

On March 3rd we will celebrate World Wildlife Day. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013, this day raises awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. This year’s theme, "The future of wildlife is in our hands" resonates with those who understand the impact of species loss on the health of ecosystems and human survival.

We are currently in the midst of the sixth, man-made mass extinction of plants and animals. Experts estimate the current loss of species to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. The global Living Planet Index (LPI) shows an overall species decline of 52% between 1970 and 2010. Our increasing demands on nature are driving the two biggest catastrophic threats to species decline- habitat loss and wildlife trade. Habitat loss is a threat to 85% of all species.  Exploitation (including poaching and wildlife trade) is the most immediate threat to wildlife populations worldwide.

Illicit trafficking in wildlife is a multifaceted global threat. The problem is particularly acute in Africa, where poaching is leading some charismatic species to the brink of extinction. For example, in 2011 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the Western black rhino extinct, largely due to poaching. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) program estimated that in the last 5 years, between 22,000 to 25,000 elephants were poached per year across Africa.

1997: Stabilization at the heart of policy choices

Badamchimeg Dondog's picture
As we continue traveling on our 25-day journey through our 25 years’ history, today we look back at the year 1997. Before digging into what the economic and social situation of the country looked like back then and what our Bank colleagues accomplished in Mongolia during the year, I want to quickly reflect on my own life back in the year.

The year of 1997 happened to be a turning point in my life as it was the year when my family moved from the far western aimag of Khovd to the capital city Ulaanbaatar after having lived in the aimag center for well over a decade. The things I remember truly well from the time are, firstly, we did not have power in Khovd, so we had to study in candlelight and cook on gas stoves imported from China or using firewood inside our apartment. Another major thing I had much excitement about at the time was that we were able to get our modest one-bedroom apartment in Khovd privatized, sell it to a local to finally move back to the big city to get closer to our relatives in the south of the country. All in all, in my thirteen year old mind back in 1997, life was somewhat tough with basic living conditions in remote areas still rather poor yet things were changing as I know it, perhaps for the good. Years later now, when I look back into 1997, in my thirty something mind, surprisingly, I get a similar picture. The social and economic situation in the country was still challenging in many ways but the country continued to transition and change, perhaps towards more good.

Singapore: The Pelé of urban design

Abhas Jha's picture

Photo: Nicolas Lannuzel/Flickr
Who is the best soccer player of all time? A Google search will offer this name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pelé. Kicking off in 1958 as a 17 year old World Cup winner, Pele bookmarked his brilliant career a dozen years later with another World Cup triumph for Brazil. 
I like to think of Singapore as the Pelé of urban design. The city regularly appears in the top ranks of globally livableconnected and competitive cities. Pelé once famously said, "Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and, most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”. There is no doubt that Singapore’s accomplishments have been made possible by the hard work, perseverance and far-sightedness of its policy makers.
2013 speech by Peter Ho, Chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, outlines the careful thought, planning and attention to detail behind Singapore’s urban policy, particularly the decisions, influence and foresight of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew over the decades of development. One astonishing success has been the provision of affordable housing and the care with which each neighborhood has been designed, taking care of the smallest details, in order to ensure social cohesion and a sense of community. These details include provisions for hawker centers and high quality public green spaces.

Malnutrition denies children opportunity and stunts economic development

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture

Nearly 50 years ago, books such as Asian Drama: An Inquiry Into The Poverty Of Nations, by the Swedish economist and Nobel laureate Gunnar Myrdal, offered a dire prediction of famine and poverty for the region in coming decades.