How can the development sector be more innovative?
According to Professor Silvio Waisbord, an expert on global media, development, and social change, one of the critical roadblocks to overcome is the mismatch between "organizational demands" and "how change is possible."
I discussed our most recent Russia growth outlook at a roundtable at the Higher School of Economics Conference on Apr. 2 with a number of Russian and international experts. This conference is one of the most important and prestigious economic conferences in Russia, and traditionally, the World Bank co-sponsors it as part of its outreach to other stakeholders.
The room was packed...
The challenge of moving from conflict and fragility to resilience and growth is immense. More than half of the countries counted as low income have experienced conflict in the last decade. Twenty per cent of countries emerging from civil conflict return to violence in one year and 40% in five years.
While the use and production of reliable evidence has become more common in much of the international development debate and in many developing countries, these inroads are less prevalent in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS). Programming and policy making in countries affected by conflict and prone to conflict is often void of rigorous evidence or reliable data. It is easy to argue, and many do, that it is impossible to conduct rigorous evaluations of programs in conflict-affected states. However, in spite of the very real challenges in these environments, such evaluations have been conducted and have contributed valuable evidence for future programming, for example in Afghanistan, the DRC, Colombia, northern Nigeria and Liberia.
My unit Center for Conflict Security and Development, (CCSD) is teaming up with the Department of Impact Evaluation (DIME), as well as the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), in a series of activities to enhance the evidence base on development approaches to peace- and state-building challenges. A first goal is to scope out where our evidence base is thinnest: what are the programs and interventions that remain least tested, but have theories of change suggesting great potential? We are hoping to take stock of what we and other donor institutions have been doing in this area of development, and map this into what we have learnt and what we most need to learn more about. USIP, USAID, IRC as well as leading academics in this field and IEG, are kindly helping in this endeavor, and we hope to be able to share some initial findings at our fragility forum later this year.
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Noranna busy at work: A true-blooded Moro, she is among the many witnesses to the struggle around her. As a child, she saw how conflict affected the lives of the people in their community in Maguindanao – lack of social services, slow development progress and displaced families.
In Mindanao, southern Philippines, the decades-long search for long lasting peace has been hindered by many challenges and natural calamities. This has led to a situation where young professionals are learning a type of development work that deals with the effects of various conflicts.
The Bangsamoro Development Agency or BDA, provides more than work opportunities for residents of Mindanao. Bangsamoro basically means “Moro nation,” a term currently used to describe the Muslim-majority areas in Mindanao – its peoples, culture and ethnic groups.
Migration, security, and development are inextricably linked. Understanding these linkages is important to correct public misperceptions as well as promote more effective policies; but they have largely defied research and analysis to date. KNOMAD Thematic Working Group on Migration, Security, and Development seeks to articulate an analytical framework on the linkages, drawing on a range of existing empirical case studies.
It is clear that migration, security and development are linked. Policies in one arena can promote positive outcomes in another. For example secure borders are an integral component of well-managed migration, which in turn can help match migrants’ skills to labour market demands, while also empowering migrants to contribute to development in their countries of origin. Equally, and especially where policy is poorly coordinated, unintended consequences can ensue. While numerous factors contribute to the global growth of migrant smuggling, there is strong research evidence that smugglers may profit when border controls tighten, in turn exposing migrants to risk, exploitation and vulnerability.
“The most calamitous failures of prediction usually have a lot in common. We focus on those signals that tell a story about the world as we would like it to be, not how it really is. We ignore the risks that are hardest to measure, even when they pose the greatest threats...We abhor uncertainty even when it is an irreducible part of the problem we are trying to solve.” (Silver 2012)
Each year governments invest billions of dollars towards long-term development. Yet their investment decisions are engulfed in deep uncertainty – about long-term demography, economic growth, technological developments, cost of energy, the impact of climate change, and a host of other factors. Deep uncertainties are difficult to acknowledge, understand, and manage. We are more comfortable facing risks we can quantify and solving problems for which we have familiar, well-honed tools. Compounding the problem, analysts and decision makers routinely face pressure to demonstrate that a decision is risk-free. Political and cultural expediency presses them to ignore rather than acknowledge uncertainty and present their decision as advantageous and certain. Such thinking can keep us in the dark about the real threats to our decision, and may lead us to make brittle decisions that fail when the future surprises us.
Remittances have been the main source of foreign exchange supporting Somalia during the conflict for the last twenty years. A recent IMF fact-finding mission to Somalia found that about $2 billion in remittances are handled by money transfer companies. These companies are located throughout the country and they are providing shadow banking services since there are no licensed commercial banks. Somalis called this system “xawilaad” which is the Somali rendering of the Arabic word “hawala”.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, many countries have adopted stringent Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terror (AML-CFT) regulations for funds transfers. Several banks in the US (Wells Fargo, US Bank, the TCF bank, and Sunrise Community Bank) and in the UK closed the accounts of money services business to avoid incurring in penalties for not complying with the new regulations. (Note: HSBC was fined $1.9 billion for not complying with money laundering controls in 2012.)
The following post is the first in a series exploring 'mind and culture: pathways to economic development,' the theme of the World Bank's upcoming World Development Report 2015.
Try to guess the answer to the question:
How many seven -letter words of which the sixth letter is “N” (_ _ _ _ _ N _) would you expect to find in four pages of a novel in English (about 2,000 words)?
Now guess the answer to another question:
How many seven-letter words of which the last three letters are “ING” (_ _ _ _ ING) would you expect to find in the same four pages?
If you are responding as most people have, then your estimate is several times greater for ING words than for _N_ words. This violates logic. With some reflection, it’s easy to see that every ____ING word is also an _____N_ word. The mistake is famous and so is its explanation. _ING words are a standard category, _N_ words are not, and standard categories shape how we think. We confuse what it is easy to think of with what is frequent. This bias, called the availability bias, is just one of a multitude of biases that appear to be universal.1
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) put the fight against poverty at the center of the international development agenda. And progress has been noteworthy - so much so that it is now fueling more ambitious goals on poverty reduction. But this also brings new demands for better data to measure progress.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently called the MDGs “the most successful global anti-poverty push in history.” With their mutually reinforcing linkages, they committed the world to reducing extreme poverty to historically low levels, while also improving education, health, nutrition, and other development prospects for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people. There is no doubt that since their announcement in 2000, the MDGs have raised the profile of poverty reduction in national development strategies, aid discussions and allocation, and the international development discourse. Systematic cross-country monitoring of simple to understand targets proved to be an effective tool in raising this profile.