March 15, 2017. She looked at me curiously, sipping on her juice box. Her pink sweater in contrast to her anemic pallor. If it had not been for the drip in her right arm, she could be any five year old child. Except she was not. She was a refugee, one of the more than 650,000 Syrians that Jordan has been hosting since the start of the war. Exactly six years ago, the civil war in Syria had started a couple of miles away. Six years later the war continued. It was all this girl had seen in her lifetime.
I am constantly startled by references to “population growth” as a cause of a number of development challenges. Whether it’s urbanization, food security, or water scarcity, all too often “population growth” is cited as a cause for pessimism or even a reason not to strive for progress. I can almost see Thomas Malthus grinning at me from the shadows.
It gets worse. I recently reviewed a paper where higher fertility among minorities was touted as an explanation for their poverty! A few months ago, a respected professional wrote asking why we weren’t doing more on family planning, since fertility in Africa would pretty much stymie any efforts to provide infrastructure-based services! I hear statements to this effect routinely from policy makers in charge of infrastructure ministries and projects (“how can we keep up with the population?” or “nothing we do will be enough unless we control the population”) but am always amazed when I hear them from scientists of different hues.
So I thought I’d try to set the record straight:
In Afghanistan violence is a daily fact of life. The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan released their 2016 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Afghanistan in February, which documented 11,418 casualties in 2016, a 3% increase since 2015, including 3,498 deaths. Child casualties rose by almost a quarter (24%)—to 923 killed and 2,589 wounded. As a result, there are always lots of questions about how you deliver services in parts of the world like Afghanistan that are affected by ongoing, day to day violence.
Increasingly we live in a world where poverty and violence are deeply interconnected, and if we are to affect the former we have to deal with the latter. But both services and violence come in so many different forms that disentangling the relationship is tough. What works in one context may not work in another. It is too easy to say that nongovernmental organizations are best at delivering services in situations where state authority is contested, just as it may be false to suggest that state delivery of services is always likely to build state legitimacy in the eyes of citizens. The relationships between service delivery and violent conflict are more nuanced than this on the ground and require context-specific analyses that try to understand the nature of the political settlements around conflict, what drives violence and what is the nature of the bargains being struck by local and national elites that either allow or block service delivery.
Well, we have recently tried to do this in a new publication which has just come out, called “Social Service Delivery in Violent Contexts: Achieving Results Against the Odds”. The report tries to disentangle what works and what doesn’t based on research in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal. It probes how social service delivery is affected by violent conflict and what the critical factors that make or break successful delivery are.
In the early morning at Dadar station in metropolitan Mumbai, a common sight is unloading of tons of jasmine and marigold flowers packed in jute sacks. Flowers come from Jawhar block located in the district of Palghar in Maharashtra. At the village the flowers are procured from each producer, weighed and packed in jute sacks. These are collected from the village bus stands and transported to Dadar in Mumbai by either bus or train. Floriculture has emerged as an alternative source of livelihood for small and marginal farmers in the region. Collective marketing has allowed small producers to aggregate and sell their flowers. Aggregation has enabled producers to realize better incomes through collective bargaining. About 3,500 women farmers have been mobilized as producer groups, and their annual turnover is expected to be around US $ 1 million in the next season.
Similarly, in four tribal districts (Koraput, Rayagada Gajapati and Mayurbhanj) of Orissa in the eastern part of India, 6,300 women mango producers have been organized to facilitate creation of a Producers’ Company with annual turnover of US $260,000. They planted high-quality mango trees in their land with the help of Government’s horticulture department. They were provided training on pre-harvest, post-harvest management & market information and price discovery. The producer company was able to do local value addition through grading, sorting, packaging and loading through trucks. The producer company has been able to sell products to wholesale and high value channels like retail outlets and have become aggregators for large food retailers and companies. The producer company has helped the members to realize additional income of US $800 for each household.
Sixty-five million people worldwide are displaced by conflict and war.
Developing countries host 95% of them.
Displaced people need help. But so do their host communities, which face enormous sudden pressures on their infrastructure, public services and markets. These pressures have the potential to undermine political stability.
This is why international development institutions are rethinking how to approach humanitarian crises, and no longer consider humanitarian assistance and development interventions as two separate, sequential responses. We, at the World Bank, have been ramping up our support to both people and communities affected by fragility, conflict and violence as well as disaster risk, which can exacerbate instability.
Being able to provide quality financial services before, during and after periods of humanitarian crises can improve people’s resilience and help sustain livelihoods.
Standing in line to sign up for the Digital Youth Summit in Peshawar this May, I struck up a conversation with a young woman from Peshawar. I was pleasantly surprised by her level of interest and eagerness in participating at the tech conference. She was keen to develop an app that would allow her to sell home-based food products at a national level. She had already gathered a group of friends who would work with her on different aspects of task planning and implementation. Her enthusiasm was palpable and infectious. Born and raised in South Asia, I understand the constraints local women face in largely male dominated societies. I was therefore heartened by the large turn-out of women queuing to enroll for the workshops.
I am still shaken and saddened by the many lives lost to the attacks in Kabul two weeks ago and since then there has been more violence. As we grieve these tragedies, now is the time to stand strong with the people of Afghanistan and renew our commitment to build a peaceful and prosperous country.
To that end, we announced this week a new financing package of more than half-a-billion dollars to help Afghanistan through its struggle to end poverty, increase opportunity to help stabilize the country, and ensure all its citizens can access basic services during a time of economic uncertainty.
Afghanistan has come a long way since 2001 and achieved much progress under extremely challenging circumstances. Life expectancy has increased from 44 to 60 years, maternal mortality has decreased by more than three quarters and the country now boasts 18 million mobile phone subscribers, up from almost none in 2001.
Yet, the development needs in Afghanistan remain massive. Nearly 40 percent of Afghans live in poverty and almost 70 percent of the population are illiterate. The country needs to create new jobs for about 400,000 people entering the labor market each year. The situation is made more challenging by the return of around 5.8 million refugees and 1.2 million internally displaced people.
Our new support is in line with our belief that Afghanistan’s economic and social progress can also help it address security challenges. Our financing package meets the pressing needs of returning refugees, expands private-sector opportunities for the poor, boosts the development of five cities, expands electrification, improves food security, and builds rural roads.
- Sustainable Communities
- fragile states
- fragile and conflict affected states
- Conflict and Fragility
- Urban Development
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Migration and Remittances
- Financial Sector
- South Asia
As the global development community marks World Day to Combat Desertification on June 17, large areas of Sub-Saharan Africa will be gripped by extreme drought, leaving millions of people in need of emergency assistance. This is lamentable, because interventions are available that could significantly increase long term resilience to drought. A recent report that we wrote estimates that a set of 5-6 interventions could help reduce the impact of drought by about half in Africa’s drylands, keeping on average 5 million people per year out of danger in some of Africa’s poorest zones.
The report Confronting Drought in Africa’s Drylands: Opportunities for Enhancing Resilience aims to advance measures to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of populations living in dryland areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Photo by Adam Gregor/ Shutterstock.com
The theme of this year’s Global Infrastructure Forum was delivering sustainable and inclusive infrastructure. As a woman who works in the world of infrastructure, I was invited to join a panel at the forum made up solely of women to address gender inclusivity and was asked to provide a specific example of a project beneficial to women. The first thing that came to mind was our solar project in Senegal, which has not only opened up the country to solar for the first time, but has also empowered local women through training in business skills through an organization called Empow’Her that was linked to the project.