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Europe and Central Asia

Creating and Sustaining an Essential Partnership for Food Safety

Juergen Voegele's picture
Photo by John Hogg / World BankThis week, the Global Food Safety Partnership will hold its third annual meeting in Cape Town, just ahead of the holiday season when food safety issues are not on everyone’s minds. They should be. Unsafe food exacts a heavy toll on people and whole economies, and is cited as a leading cause of more than 200 illnesses. However, safe food does not need to be a luxury—which is something that motivates and animates our work at the World Bank Group. Food availability alone does not guarantee food safety. Increasingly, we are learning how food safety affects people, and disproportionately impacts the lives and livelihoods of poor people.This growing awareness about food safety is partly because of the food scares that have shaken many countries in recent years. Food safety incidents occur anywhere in the world—both in industrialized and developing countries alike and in countries large and small...

The rise of Open Data in Kazakhstan

Alfiya Kaulanova's picture
Also available in: ру́сский язы́к
Homes near an urban center in Kazakhstan.
Photo: Shynar Jetpissova / World Bank
E-government and Open Data have already brought visible economic impact to countries around the world. The numbers vary per country and per sector, but they all point in the same way: opening up data creates economic and social value.

Seven years ago, Kazakhstan’s government set the development of e-government as a priority. As a result, today there are more than 2.6 million users registered on the country’s “electronic government” portal (www.e-gov.kz), accounting for almost 30 percent of Kazakhstan’s economically active population.

On average, Kazakhstani people receive about 40 million different services a year electronically. In the next three years, e-government can completely switch to the mobile format.

Budget Rules for Resource Booms - and Busts

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Oil pumps The recent, precipitous decline in oil prices (35 percent so far this year) has revived the question of how oil-exporting countries should manage their budgets.  These countries’ governments rely on oil revenues for 60-90 percent of their spending.  In light of the price drop, should governments cut expenditures, including growth-promoting investment expenditures?  Or should they dip into the money they saved when oil prices were high, and keep expenditures on an even keel? Since oil prices fluctuate up and down, governments are looking for rules that guide expenditure decisions, rather than leaving it to the politicians in power at the time to decide whenever there is a price shock.  The successful experience of Norway and Chile, which used strict fiscal rules to make sure that resource windfalls are saved and not subject to the irresistible temptation to spend, is often contrasted with countries such as Nigeria and Cameroon, which didn’t.

Six Charts on How Corruption Impacts Firms Worldwide

Ravi Kumar's picture

At times, I ask my friends in Nepal, why they would not launch a business, especially when they have funds. A common obstacle for everyone is that they say you have to bribe government officials to even open a business.
 
Turns out, this isn’t unique to Nepal. According to Drivers of Corruption, a report recently published by the World Bank, developing countries are generally more affected by corruption than other countries.

Here are six charts that show firms’ experiences with corruption around the world. These charts are based on surveys of more than 13,000 firms in 135 countries, by World Bank Enterprise Surveys.

Check out these charts and tell us if you are surprised. 

There is No Middle Income Trap

Ha Minh Nguyen's picture

Concerns about the so-called “middle-income trap” have recently emerged among many middle-income countries, particularly after the term was coined in 2007 by two World Bank economists.  Worried that they may become “trapped” at the middle-income level, these countries are seeking a set of policies that can help them achieve strong and sustained growth and eventually help them join the league of high-income countries.

 In our recent paper, we try to shed some light on both issues. First, we do not find that countries are trapped at middle income. “Escapees” – countries that escaped the middle-income trap and obtained a per capita income higher than 50% of the U.S. level – tend to grow fast and consistently to high income, and do not stagnate at any point as a middle-income trap theory would suggest. In contrast, “non-escapees” tend to have low growth at all levels of income. In other words, while the existence of a middle income trap implies that growth rates systematically slow down as countries reach middle-income status, no such systematic slowdown is apparent in the data. Second, we provide some descriptive and econometric evidence for a different set of “fundamentals” that enable middle-income countries to grow faster than their peers. We find that faster transformation to industry, low inflation, stronger exports, and reduced inequality are associated with stronger growth.

Open Contracting Data Standard: Better Data for Better Decisions

Marcela Rozo's picture
Future is Open


Informed decision-making is crucial to the success of policies and reforms that foster growth and prosperity. So, how can we help decision makers make better decisions?
 

Life in the Slow Lane - The Nairobi Grind

Apurva Sanghi's picture

I’ve lived in cities famed for their gridlock: 1990s Bangkok (gridlock was as bad as it could be); Los Angeles (gridlock + pollution); New Delhi (gridlock + pollution + honking galore); Nairobi’s gridlock is surely up there.

But is traffic “bad”? What sort of question is that you ask? Surely, the answer is 'yes', you say: time wasted stuck in traffic, the frustration, the needless idling of vehicles which creates both local (and global) pollution and so on. But let me suggest this: traffic congestion is also a sign of development. In fact, the more vibrant and dynamic the city as Nairobi surely is, the more traffic congestion you might expect...to paraphrase Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street, “Traffic is…good”!

Reflections on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture
international-day-persons-disabilities
"Disability is no barrier. Landmine victims play volleyball." Photo: AusAID

I am often asked how “we” – development professionals and practitioners at large - can make a difference to social exclusion. It is an opportune day to reflect on this by thinking about a diverse group of historically excluded people. The focus of today’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is appropriately on Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology.” Because the power of technology in rehabilitation and hence, for inclusion, is uncontested. Let me quickly add that technology is a necessary, but by no means a sufficient condition for enhancing the functional ability of persons with disabilities. 

Technology attenuates many barriers that disability raises. It has changed the way persons with disabilities live, work and study. The seminal World Report on Disability emphasizes the role of technology for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in markets, in services and in physical, political and social spaces. It points out for instance, that assistive devices can substitute or supple­ment support services, possibly even reduce care costs. The National Long-Term Care Survey in the United States found that higher use of technology was associated with lower reported disabil­ity among older people. The fascinating Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY) consortium of talking-book libraries aims to make all published information acces­sible to people with print-reading disabilities. And the examples could go on.

On the Road from Yerevan to Tbilisi

David M. Gould's picture
 
On the road from Yerevan to Tbilisi
On the road from Yerevan to Tbilisi
I recently spent three days in Yerevan on a mission to learn a bit more about Armenia’s overall development challenges for a World Bank study on “Connectivity”, before heading off to Tbilisi, Georgia and Baku, Azerbaijan to do the same.

It was my first time visiting Armenia, so it was a fascinating trip and I learned a tremendous amount about the country and its people.

Of course, in three days one can only get a small sample of the major issues that challenge development, rather than a rich flavor for the deep subtleties that represent the people or factors that drive the economy. But, given my basic knowledge of the country, the new information I gained was a tremendous leap forward.

On the Road from Yerevan to Tbilisi

David M. Gould's picture
 
On the road from Yerevan to Tbilisi
On the road from Yerevan to Tbilisi
I recently spent three days in Yerevan on a mission to learn a bit more about Armenia’s overall development challenges for a World Bank study on “Connectivity”, before heading off to Tbilisi, Georgia and Baku, Azerbaijan to do the same.

It was my first time visiting Armenia, so it was a fascinating trip and I learned a tremendous amount about the country and its people.

Of course, in three days one can only get a small sample of the major issues that challenge development, rather than a rich flavor for the deep subtleties that represent the people or factors that drive the economy. But, given my basic knowledge of the country, the new information I gained was a tremendous leap forward.

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