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Agriculture and Rural Development

Afghanistan: Learning from a decade of progress and loss

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Afghanistan: Learning from a decade of progress and loss


In Afghanistan, the past decade saw remarkable progress, as well as reversals and lost opportunities.

The overall macroeconomic and security context in Afghanistan since 2007 can be broken into two distinct phases, pre- and post- the 2014 security transition, when international troops handed over security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
 
The pre-transition phase was marked by higher economic growth (GDP per capita grew 63 percent relative to its 2007 value) and a relatively stable security situation.

Since 2014, growth has stagnated, falling below rates of population growth, and the security situation continues to deteriorate. With the withdrawal of most international troops and the steady decline in aid (both security and civilian aid) since 2012, the economy witnessed an enormous shock to demand, from which it is still struggling to recover.

Similarly, welfare can be characterized into two distinct phases.

In Africa, technology and human capital go hand in hand

Sheila Jagannathan's picture
Photo: eLearning Africa
Rwanda’s progress from the devastating civil war two decades ago to one of the most rapidly developing African countries is a remarkable narrative on development.

Twenty-four years ago, the country was torn apart by civil war and one of the worst genocides human history has known; one in which more than a million people were killed in only three months.

Now, with years of sustained economic growth—predicted to be around 6.5% this year, the country is well on the way to achieving many of the ambitious development goals set out in the Rwandan Government’s ‘Vision 2020.’ This strategy seeks to move away from agriculture and rely instead on services and knowledge as the new engines of economic growth, with the objective of achieving middle-income status in the near term.

I had the privilege of getting a snapshot view of Rwanda’s success during the few days I spent in the country last month attending elearning Africa 2018, the continent’s largest conference on technology-assisted learning and training. The choice of Kigali as the location for this year’s conference is highly symbolic: Rwanda has put education and skills at the heart of its national strategy, and can send a powerful message to other African countries about the importance of investing in human capital to support overall development.

Three things to know about women’s land rights today

Anna Wellenstein's picture
 

Gender equality is central to ongoing global efforts to reduce extreme poverty and improve livelihoods for all. An important part of gender equality is ensuring women’s equal access to – and secure rights to – land and properties. 

Strengthening women’s land tenure security improves their rights and their dignity. Importantly, improving women’s access to and control over economic resources also has a positive effect on a range of development goals, including poverty reduction and economic growth.

What do we know about women’s land rights globally?  

Although gains have been made to increase legal protections for women to use, manage, own and inherit land, in practice, women often aren’t able to realize their rights to the land on which they live, work and depend for survival.

In a video blog marking the International Day of Rural Women, World Bank Director Anna Wellenstein and Senior Land Administration Specialist Victoria Stanley discuss three “headlines” one may encounter on women and land:
  1. Globally, there is an understanding that reducing poverty requires secure land tenure, and that women’s share in that is important.
  2. Researchers and policymakers don’t have enough gender-disaggregated data at the country level to understand the true scope of the challenge of women’s land rights, but efforts are underway to collect more data and gain a better understanding.
  3. There are strong pilots and initiatives of women themselves to gain equal access to land and improve tenure security, but now these efforts need to go to scale.

To drive broader development impact and affect lasting change, the World Bank joins global and regional partners – Landesa, Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), UN-Habitat, Habitat for Humanity, and the Huairou Commission – and local women and communities in preparing an advocacy campaign that aims to close the gap between law and practice on women’s land rights.

Watch the video and read our blog series to learn more about women and land.

Planet of the Apps: Making small farms competitive

Julian Lampietti's picture
 
Photo: Shutterstock

Apps have revolutionized everything from getting to work, keeping in touch with faraway friends, and dating (though the jury’s still out on this one). Can apps be the salvation of the world’s farms that are under two hectares in size – a group that most people think is going the same way as humans in Planet of the Apes?

Economies of scale in agriculture (or any other sector) occur when the average cost per unit of production decreases as farm size increases and conventional wisdom suggests that farms need to get bigger to be competitive. And this is exactly what is happening in richer countries, though the trend is less clear in poorer countries.

Glass Half Full: Improving water and sanitation services in Tajikistan

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Located on the western tip of the Himalayas, Tajikistan has abundant fresh water resources in its rivers, lakes, and glaciers. Yet, access to improved drinking water, and to sanitation connected to a functioning sewerage system, are among the most severe and unequally distributed services in the country.

One in four households in Tajikistan does not have access to sufficient quantities of water when needed. Service is interrupted for long periods because of breakdowns in water supply infrastructure. Even when households have access to water, there are significant challenges with regard to the availability and continuity of water supplies.
 

Unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) conditions have significant adverse effects on well-being, particularly for rural residents, the poor, and children. In this video, Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice and Emcet Oktay Tas (@emcettas), Social Development Specialist, discuss the report Glass Half Full: Poverty Diagnostic of Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Conditions in Tajikistan.



Launched in 2017, the report presents comprehensive evidence on the coverage and quality of WASH service conditions, along with their diverse well-being impacts. It also identifies institutional gaps and service delivery models that can inform future policies and investments in the WASH sector.

Since its inception, the evidence presented in the report has generated a sense of urgency that inspired the government, civil society, and the international community to accelerate their actions toward addressing WASH deprivation in Tajikistan.

As highlighted in the video, the report was prepared in collaboration with multiple development partners, including government agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the Tajikistan Water and Sanitation Forum (TajWSS), which includes over 50+ local stakeholders working in the sector.

How are displaced Afghans faring?

Christina Wieser's picture
Afghans represent the world’s largest protracted refugee population
Afghan returnee families are arriving at a UNHCR registration office in Kabul. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Afghans represent the world’s largest protracted refugee population, and one of the largest to be repatriated to their country of origin in this century.

More than seven million refugees returned to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2017, mainly from Iran and Pakistan.
 
Afghan returnees now make up as much as one-fifth of the country’s estimated population.
 
At the same time, conflict-induced population displacement within Afghanistan has sharply increased due to the escalation of insecurity across the country. 
 
In an already difficult context, large-scale internal displacement and returnees from abroad have strained the delivery of public services and increased competition for scarce economic opportunities for both the displaced and the rest of the population.
 
Afghans are living under difficult economic conditions. More than half of all Afghans lived below the national poverty line in 2016-17, and many more are vulnerable to falling into poverty.

To support struggling communities through scarce humanitarian and development assistance is challenging but necessary.
 
But policymakers struggle with many questions.

From drought to resilience: Africa’s livelihoods in transition

Raúl Alfaro-Pelico's picture



When it does not rain, people starve.

This is the reality for many farmers in the Sahel—and across the globe—and the situation is only becoming more dire due to climate change. Yet, during a recent visit to Garin Madougou, a village in Dokoro, a district in Niger, we saw that lack of rainfall does not have to lead to food insecurity.

High-level officials urge rapid scale-up of farmer-led irrigation at Africa Green Revolution Forum

Regassa Ensermu Namara's picture

Millions of small-scale farmers face significant challenges, including food and water insecurity, dependence on unpredictable rain, and increasing frequency of natural disasters. While a lot of progress has been made on sustainable agriculture, there is much work yet to be done to meet rising food and water demands in a resource finite world – in addition to improving the lives of small-scale farmers. Farmer-led irrigation offers opportunities for inclusive, sustainable, and positive change. However, urgent international commitment to and investments in farmer-led irrigation are required to tackle the water and food challenges of our time.

A new chapter for Sub-Saharan Africa’s mini grids industry

Sunita Chikkatur Dubey's picture
A new solar hybrid  mini grid, built by ACOB Lighting in Nigeria’s Bayan Fada community, will generate power for about 1,350 people. Photo: Alexander Obiechina, CEO of ACOB Lighting Technology Limited, Nigeria



Alexander Obiechina, CEO of ACOB Lighting Technology Limited in Nigeria is excited to be part of the Africa Mini-grid Developer Association (AMDA) – the first ever association in Africa to bring together stakeholders from the mini grid industry.

ACOB Lighting Technology has been operating in Nigeria since 2016 and with AMDA’s launch in April, Obiechina believes that his company will benefit from this collective platform by increasing access to finance, gaining investors’ confidence and learning from each other’s experiences. This opportunity for him and many other local mini-grid developers couldn’t have come at a better time, as Nigeria is planning to implement 10,000 mini grids to achieve its goal of achieving universal access to energy by 2040.

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.


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