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South Asia

How can Sri Lanka better protect its people against disasters?

Thomas Walker's picture
A recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050
A recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050

Sri Lanka has a long history of coping with weather impacts.  

About two thousand years ago, the country built one of the world’s first irrigation system to control its water supply.

This feat of engineering, which boasted hundreds of kilometers of channels, tanks, and innovative valve pits, helped the great kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa flourish into sophisticated societies and protect their people against hunger.

Not unlike these early civilizations, modern social protection programs have sheltered those affected by disaster through financial assistance and other forms of support.

Today, building resilience to natural disasters and other shocks is more critical than ever.

Since 1980, the frequency of natural disasters worldwide has increased by 250 percent, and the number of affected people has more than doubled.

Sri Lanka is no exception. The country ranked fourth most vulnerable to climate change in 2016.

Further to that, a recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050.

The losses caused by significant shocks like natural disasters have long-lasting consequences.

Children, especially, can suffer permanent damages if they are not educated or fed correctly in their critical early years.  

And the loss of assets, livestock, and crops can severely hurt small business owners and farmers and further discourage them from investing.

Sadly, natural disasters hit the poor the hardest as they tend to live in disaster-prone areas, work in agriculture, and usually don’t have savings or access to credit.

When a shock hits, wellbeing declines as people cut back on food and other essentials due to their loss of income or the high cost of rebuilding their homes.

And while some people gradually restore their standards of living, some never fully recover and get stuck in poverty.

But the poor aren’t the only ones who need to worry about shocks.

Today, a third of Sri Lankans are just a shock away from falling into poverty.

Our analysis of the 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey reveals that a 20 percent sudden decrease in household welfare—or consumption shock—would more than double the poverty rate: almost 1 in 10 Sri Lankans would be poor.

If the shock triggered a 50 percent decrease in consumption, one in three Sri Lankan families would fall into poverty.

What it’s like being a female student in Afghanistan today

Nathalie Lahire's picture
Nathalie Lahire attends a class along with students in Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Girls High School in Kabul
Nathalie Lahire attends a class along with students in Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Girls High School in Kabul. Photo Credit: World Bank

Afghanistan offers diverse opportunities and challenges for girls depending on where they live and the attitudes toward girls’ education in their community.
 
Further to that, rural or urban infrastructure, the commitment levels of teachers, and the nature or extent of corruption in the community can affect how a female student will perform in school.
 
In general, the past many years of conflict and political unrest in Afghanistan have damaged the country’s education system; eroding the quality of staffing and curriculum.
 
The education sector has been at the forefront of political conflicts and caught in between competing interest groups.
 
As a result, the unfavorable political economy has blocked policy reforms and their implementation, taking a toll on the quality of education services.
 
This has led to weakened governance.
 
Still, enrollment in school districts in Afghanistan is at surprising levels.

Connecting communities through India and Bangladesh's cross-border markets

Nikita Singla's picture


In remote border regions in Bangladesh and India, a government-to-government initiative is changing cross border relations, shifting the focus from smuggling and skirmishes to mutual economic gains and building a coalition for peace and cooperation.

In 2011, Bangladesh and India flagged off the first of their border haats, representing an attempt to recapture once thriving economic and cultural relationships that had been truncated by the creation of national borders.
Border Haats are local markets along the Indo-Bangladesh border that stretches 4100 Kms and runs through densely populated regions.

Conceived as Confidence Building Measures between India and Bangladesh, 4 Border Haats were set up between 2011 and 2015.
  • Balat (Meghalaya) – Sunamgunj (Sylhet)
  • Kalaichar (Meghalaya) – Kurigram (Rangpur)
  • Srinagar (Tripura) – Chagalnaiya (Chittagong)
  • Kamalasagar (Tripura) – Kasba (Chittagong)

Initially only local produce was permitted for trade. But subsequently, the range of items has been broadened to include goods of household consumption.
 

Bringing the People of Bangladesh and India Together Through Border Markets
Overall, border Haats have been strongly welcomed by participants. The positive experience of border haats has prompted both the governments to flag-off six more Border Haats: two in Tripura and four in Meghalaya. More Haats mean more trade, more people to people connect and more trust, one leading to another. This will go a long way in linking marginalized border communities to more mainstreamed trade and development.  


But border haats are not only about trade.

Refugee crisis: What the private sector can do

Jim Yong Kim's picture
© World Bank Group
© World Bank Group

There are about 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world today, of which more than 25 million are considered refugees. Almost 85 percent of them are hosted by low or middle countries with limited resources such as Jordan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Turkey, and Bangladesh. These countries face enormous challenges in meeting the needs of refugees while continuing to grow and develop themselves. 

I visited Jordan in 2014 and 2016 and was struck by the generosity and hospitality of this small, middle-income country, which accepted the influx of more than 740,000 refugees of the Syrian war and other conflicts (and that only counts the number officially registered by the UN Refugee Agency!) In 2017, Jordan had 89 refugees per 1,000 people –the second-highest concentration in the world. Its services and economy were under tremendous strain. The refugees themselves were frustrated by lack of opportunity to support themselves.  

Global poverty in 2015: PovcalNet’s new estimates and improved documentation

Christoph Lakner's picture

PovcalNet released new poverty estimates last week, indicating that in 2015, 10 percent of the global population were living on less than the international poverty line (IPL), currently set at US$1.90 per person per day in 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP). This estimate is based on a series of new data and revisions, including more than 1,600 household surveys from 164 countries, national accounts, population estimates, inflation data, and purchasing power parity data. The new poverty numbers were released on September 19 and will be part of “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle,” a report to be published on October 17, End Poverty Day.

We’re also launching a Global Poverty Monitoring Technical Note Series which describes the data, methods and assumptions underpinning the World Bank’s global poverty estimates published in PovcalNet. With this update, we’re releasing four new notes in this series, including the “What’s New” note that will accompany each of the semi-annual updates to PovcalNet. The other notes cover different aspects of the price adjustments embedded in the global poverty estimates, such as adjustments for inflation and price differences across countries

Begun as a research project by Martin Ravallion, Shaohua Chen and others, PovcalNet has become the official source for monitoring the World Bank’s Twin Goals, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), and now Sustainable Development Goal 1.1. PovcalNet is managed jointly by the Data and Research Groups within the World Bank’s Development Economics Division. It draws heavily upon a strong collaboration with the Poverty and Equity Global Practice, which is responsible for gathering and harmonizing the underlying survey data.

PovcalNet does much more than simply providing the most recent global poverty estimates. It’s a computational tool that allows users to estimate poverty rates for regions, sets of countries or individual countries, over time and at any poverty line. It also provides several distributional measures, such as the Gini index and income shares for the various decile groups.

The most recent PovcalNet data show us that over the last few decades, remarkable progress has been made in reducing extreme poverty. The world attained the first MDG target—cutting the 1990 poverty rate in half by 2015—six years ahead of schedule. With continued reductions, the global poverty rate, defined as the share of world’s population living below the IPL, has dropped from 35.9 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015 – more than a 70 percent reduction.

In the last quarter century, global poverty dropped by more than 70 percent

 

Clean and Green Bangladesh: A goal that can be achieved

Karin Erika Kemper's picture
 

"Think before you do, not after you're done,” says a Bengali proverb that applies to an urgent threat today for Bangladesh—major environmental problems spawned by rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. A decade of strong economic growth helped Bangladesh reach lower middle-income status while sharply decreasing its poverty rate, a remarkable achievement. But like many countries in the world, such progress has come at considerable environmental cost.

According to our just released report, "Country Environmental Analysis", Bangladesh is among the countries most affected by pollution and other environmental health risks. The monetary cost to the Bangladeshi society of environmental degradation in urban areas, measured in terms of foregone labour output was equivalent to about one percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually.  If one takes into account the broader welfare impacts of mortality attributed to environmental risks, the economic cost is equivalent to 3.4 percent of the national GDP. Noncompliant industries and inadequate waste management of hazardous and nonhazardous materials are polluting the cities' air as well as surface and ground water. The study also indicated that many rivers around Dhaka are polluted.

Here’s what everyone should know about waste

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture



Solid waste management is a universal issue that affects every single person in the world.

As you can see in our new report, What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050, if we don’t manage waste properly, it can harm our health, our environment, and even our prosperity.

Poorly managed waste is contaminating the world’s oceans, clogging drains and causing flooding, transmitting diseases, increasing respiratory problems from burning, harming animals that consume waste unknowingly, and affecting economic development such as through tourism.

Without urgent action, these issues will only get worse. Here’s what everyone should know.

 

Creating markets in Timor-Leste through a landmark port PPP

Christopher Bleakley's picture



As recently as 2006, Timor-Leste was in crisis. Only a few years into independence, the country was torn by riots and political turmoil. Not surprisingly, its business climate was one of the region’s worst.

But Timor-Leste’s fortunes have changed dramatically. Income from oil, coupled with greater stability and a long-term economic plan, led the World Bank to describe the country’s social and economic development as remarkable. Nonetheless, Timor-Leste remains a fragile state, and with oil accounting for 80 percent of GDP, it is the world’s second most oil-dependent nation.

New child and adolescent mortality estimates show remarkable progress, but 17,000 children under 15 still died every day in 2017

Emi Suzuki's picture

This blog is based on new mortality estimates released today by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME)

There has been remarkable progress in reducing mortality among children and young adolescents in the past several decades. Between 1990 and 2017, the global under-five mortality rate dropped by 58 percent from 93 deaths per 1,000 live births to 39 deaths per 1,000 live births. During the last 17 years, the reduction in under-five mortality rates accelerated to an average 4% annual reduction, compared to an average 1.9% annual reduction between 1990 and 2000. For children aged 5-14, mortality dropped by 53 percent, from 15 deaths to 7 deaths per 1,000 children.

Beyond Infrastructure: Trade Facilitation Priorities for the Belt and Road Initiative

Marcus Bartley Johns's picture
Countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative face a major challenge in facilitating trade. While large investments in trade-related infrastructure capture global headlines, transaction costs generated by inefficient border clearance and trade-related regulatory requirements are one of the major policy risks facing the BRI.
 

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