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Sustainable Communities

Investing in prevention: A new World Bank Group approach to crisis

Kristalina Georgieva's picture
© Riyaad Minty/Creative Commons
© Riyaad Minty/Creative Commons

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  This was his message to Philadelphians on how to avoid house fires, at a time when they were causing widespread damage to the city and its people.

His words ring true today, as we face global crises – natural disasters, pandemics, violent conflicts, financial crises, and more – that hit rich and poor countries alike, and have lasting consequences especially for the world’s most vulnerable people. They can take the lives of millions of people and cost the world trillions of dollars in damages and lost potential.

Engaging citizens in local development: The story of the Tocantins Road Project in Brazil

Satoshi Ogita's picture
Also available in: Português
 

Miranorte is a small town in the State of Tocantins, northern Brazil, well-known for its pineapple production. During the rainy season, the production cannot reach the markets due to the obstruction of the roads with the water flow. In many places, the roads lack bridges and culverts, jeopardizing both safety and accessibility.

In order to address these challenges, the World Bank’s Multisector Project in Tocantins (2012-2019), which  includes a rural road component, decided to hear firsthand from the community about their priorities for development and inputs in the selection of roads that needed improvement. Aside from a practical and transparent approach, the consultations compensated for the lack of information required for conventional planning.

Tocantins, as many places in the world, doesn’t have any traffic data, information on road conditions, or even maps of the rural road network available. Although IT technologies are emerging and the importance of these data for management of road assets is evident, it is often time-consuming and costly to survey all the rural road network, especially in a state like Tocantins, which is larger than the United Kingdom.

Five actions for disability-inclusive disaster risk management

Margaret Arnold's picture
Photo Credit: Guilhem Alandry doculab Malteser International / Flickr CC

While disasters threaten the well-being of people from all walks of life, few are as disproportionately affected as the over one billion people around the world who live with disabilities. Following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, for example, the fatality rate for persons with disabilities was up to four times higher than that of the general population.
 
Persons with disabilities are especially vulnerable when disaster strikes not only due to aspects of their disabilities, but also because they are more likely, on average, to experience adverse socioeconomic outcomes than persons without disabilities, including higher poverty rates. Disasters and poorly planned disaster response and recovery efforts can exacerbate these disparities, leaving persons with disabilities struggling to cope even more both during and after the emergency.
 
In advance of the Global Disability Summit, and drawing on a recent report titled “Disability Inclusion in Disaster Risk Management” from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and the Recovery (GFDRR) and the World Bank, here are five actions that development institutions, governments, and other key stakeholders can take to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the aftermath of a disaster. 

Romanian migrants can make a difference back home

Donato De Rosa's picture


Beautiful, newly-erected houses in an otherwise deserted place. There couldn’t be a better image for the effects of Romanian emigration, which the World Bank has analyzed in a recently published report.

If you are wondering who owns the ghost houses, you only have to look at the sheer number of Romanians living and working abroad - between 3 and 5 million according to some estimates or 3.6 million, according to the UN (2017). Of these, 2.7 million are of working age, equivalent to a staggering 20.6 percent of Romania’s working age population!

Disability inclusion? Or disability as a market in aging cities?

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture
 

This last May in Tokyo, we talked about demographic transitions and aging cities, in a week-long discussion with city leaders from around the world.  Although we saw the opportunities that arise from having large numbers of elderly persons in cities, we also focused on the numerous challenges, many of which are grounded in age-related disability – both physical and cognitive.  We had expected that the conversation would be as our flagship report on social inclusion, Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity, puts it – about “including” the elderly into markets, services, and spaces following our framework.

Enter Rich Donovan, with a riveting talk that stood our assumptions on their heads.  Rich argued that persons with disability are a market.  They are an opportunity. And that there is an economic “return on disability.”  If we build and design having persons with disabilities in mind, we are in fact creating public goods.  In short, and as Rich has said elsewhere - this new vision of disability “transforms efforts of charity into the world’s largest emerging market”.

I got a chance to talk to Rich in Tokyo. Among other things, I asked him whether “social inclusion” is too arcane, or even too limiting an idea for the revolutionary take that he has on disability.

Rich’s book “Unleash Different” will be out in September 2018. We look forward to continuing the conversation with Rich about the return on disability. Meanwhile, watch this video in full, and leave a comment to share your thoughts, as world leaders gather in London for the Global Disability Summit.

Unveiling new paths to create more Jobs for the Poor

Maria Laura Sanchez Puerta's picture
Also available in: Français
Onion field in Northern Côte d’Ivoire - Photo by Raphaela Karlen / World Bank

One out of ten people in the world —around 766 million people— still lived below the extreme poverty line in 2013. Most of them, 80 percent, live in rural areas and have very low productivity jobs. Improving jobs and earnings opportunities for these poor and vulnerable workers is at the core of the World Bank Group agenda and it requires holistic economic inclusion initiatives to move them into sustainable livelihoods.

Deploying disruptive technologies to reshape the future of cities

Wanli Fang's picture


As an urban dweller in Beijing, a rapidly modernizing city, my daily life would look like a science-fiction movie for people from just a few decades ago. I use my mobile phone to buy groceries, pay for meals, take photos, access the subway, and find my way to unknown places.

How can Indonesia achieve a more sustainable transport system?

Tomás Herrero Diez's picture
Photo: UN Women/Flickr
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,500 islands, is the fourth most populous country in the world, with 261 million inhabitants, and the largest economy in Southeast Asia, with a nominal Gross Domestic Product of $933 billion.

Central government spending on transport increased by threefold between 2010-2016. This has enabled the country to extend its transport network capacity and improve access to some of the most remote areas across the archipelago.

The country has a road network of about 538,000 km, of which about 47,000 km are national roads, and 1,000 km are expressways. Heavy congestion and low traffic speeds translate into excessively long journey times. In fact, traveling a mere 100 km can take 2.5 to 4 hours. The country relies heavily on waterborne transport and has about 1,500 ports, with most facilities approaching their capacity limits, especially in Eastern Indonesia. Connectivity between ports and land infrastructure is limited or non-existent. The rail network is limited (6,500 km across the islands of Java and Sumatra) and poorly maintained. The country’s 39 international and 191 domestic airports mainly provide passenger services, and many are also reaching their capacity limits.

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