Today is International Migrants Day. Standing in the middle of a global crisis, worried that many countries facing harsh economic realities might make matters harsher for migrants, let me reiterate a few points that I have made before:
|Photo © William Lane/World Bank|
Sea-level rise is not a phenomenon of increasing frequency, but rather increasing magnitude in a persistent and continuous way. The effect of climate change is most palpably felt in small, low-lying island states such as Panza Island, the southernmost island off Pemba in Tanzania. Farming and fishing are the main means of livelihood. Significant parts of the island, especially the lower elevation southeastern side, are inundated by seawater bimonthly, during the spring cycles and most prominently during the diurnal flood tides. The local residents report up to four feet of water in some areas, which have only become vulnerable in the past year. Previously agricultural land can no longer be farmed. The area near the local school has been flooding for the past 15 years. Salt water has intruded into all the wells on the island, so drinking water has to now be piped in from a neighboring island.
One is used to seeing leaders of developing nations asking rich countries for aid and debt relief, requesting preferential trading arrangements, and courting western foreign investors. Making a case to a firmly middle-income country to take in their workers is perhaps something new!
You can only see Ismail’s profile in the BMW he is driving on a desert highway stretching from Doha to Dukhan. He speaks French. I don't. So he says, in English, pointing to the beautiful homes along the way, "those are the new houses of the big people from Doha."
What a moment in history! As soon as Obama was projected to be the next president of the United States of America, countless migrant mothers (I know one!) patted their children and said, with tears in the eyes, "You too have a chance to be the president of this great country!" Seems to me that overnight America has become more inviting to the immigrants. Has it? Will Obama follow through with his campaign promise, or will he change his stance? Should he? What would that mean from a development point of view?
Last week, we released a new brief, "Protecting Temporary Workers: Migrant Welfare Funds from Developing Countries." This note describes how countries of origin governments can play a major role in protecting their migrants abroad through migrant welfare funds. It shows that a welfare fund operated from the origin country and financed by migrants or their employers can offer a potential efficient solution to protecting migrants from vulnerable situations abroad.&n
In collaboration with the African Development Bank, the World Bank is undertaking a comprehensive study of migration and remittances in Sub-Saharan Africa and destination countries outside Africa. The World Bank Household Survey of Migrants is part of this effort, and will be conducted in 10 countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Ivory Coast, and Uganda).
Perhaps one of the earliest utilitarians was Charvak (his name literally means "sweet talker" in Sanskrit) who a few centuries ago said, "live happily as long as you live/drink a lot of ghee, and borrow if need be!" Now in the thick of a financial crisis marked by excessive borrowing and lending, one might argue against the Charvak Doctrine. It's true that debt, like fire, can be dangerous ("Don't borrow, because you will get into debt"), but if managed prudently, it can also fuel new projects, new products, and growth and employment in many poor countries.
|"The glacier at Karo-la pass covered the whole rock face when our Tibetan guide began leading tours in 1996."|
The melting of the glaciers has accelerated dramatically in recent years. This is one of the most profound effects of global warming. The glaciers have shrunk 20% over the past 50 years, with much of that in the past decade. Our Tibetan guide took us to a number of different glaciers and showed us how they had receded since he starting taking tours around in 1996. At Karo-la pass we stood on hard, dry ground that had been covered by the glacier just 12 years ago. Climate scientists project that the glaciers will be 80% gone by 2035.
Western Union and the Economist Intelligence Unit recently released a new Global Migration Barometer. I was a member of the panel of peer reviewers as well as a panelist at the launch event held in Washington with my good friends Don Terry, Demetri Papademetriu, and Thomas Debass.