In October, hundreds of representatives of civil society organizations, public and private sector representatives, journalists and international organizations gathered in Copenhagen for the 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference. This annual conference is viewed by many as a leading forum in the field of anti-corruption.
When people think of Afghanistan, what comes to their minds are images of decades of war and insecurity.
True, Afghanistan has suffered a long history of upheaval
But there has been significant progress in rebuilding a strong, independent, and modern nation since 2001.
And in light of our nation’s turbulent history, it is sometimes easy to forget how far Afghanistan has come.
—with millions more looking forward to voting in the upcoming presidential election in 2019.
Unforgettably, 2018 also brought the unprecedented three-day ceasefire during Eid, a rare glimpse of complete peace that continues to give hope to many of us.
—one of progress and possibility in the face of adversity.
. Neither do they know its longstanding and well-deserved reputation as one of Afghanistan’ safest provinces.
Our residents take pride in the fact that we haven’t experienced chaos, war, or insurgency against the government in 17 years.
And as Governor, in the province.
The irony was hard to miss.
Last month, leaders from the public and private sectors, civil society, international organizations, academia, and the media met at the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Copenhagen.
About 15 minutes after we turn off the highway at Fatehpur, a roadside trading center located 120 km from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, a mild haze blankets the sky.
As we drive deeper into the increasingly bare and desolate landscape, the wind blows stronger, and the haze thickens into dust plumes.
I lower the car window and find the source of the dust: patches of abandoned land, coated with very fine powder in various shades of white and grey.
We are in a village with salt-affected soils, part of the millions of hectares of India’s wastelands.
Characterized by dense, impermeable surface crusts and accumulation of certain elements at levels that are toxic to plants, these sodic wastelands no longer support crop growth – they have been abandoned by farmers.
Our journey continues for another 30 minutes, the wind still blows strong, but dust plumes have given way to clearer skies.
We have reached Mainpuri, where, with World Bank support, sodic wastelands have been reclaimed and brought back to life, rolling back the unsavory spectacle of ecological destruction that once was the hallmark of the village.
Now in its third phase, .
"It was the first time we talked while the officials listened. Not as in the past, when they used to talk and we just listened."
With this simple statement, Taha Al-Leithi, a young Egyptian man from the village of Rawafei al-Qusayr in Sohag in Upper Egypt, described the fundamental change introduced by the local development forums to citizens’ participation in the development process in Sohag, and the relationship between government officials and citizens.
Al-Leithi and his peers have never participated in any development decision concerning their village or its markaz (center). They had never been invited to develop or even discuss the annual investment plan for the markaz or governorate. Taha says he, like other young people in the village, had believed that planning and selecting projects were tasks done in closed rooms, and that the central government in Cairo alone decided the needs of villages and towns in Sohag governorate, 500 kilometers south of the capital.
In 2001, only one million Afghan children attended school–none of them girls.
Amina, a 9th grade student, is one of over 3 million girls that now attend school through the contributions of the Afghan people and support from the international community.
"I have seen many improvements at my school. We are learning more now through better teaching methods and materials,” she said. Amina is one of the millions of Afghans whose lives have improved and has great hopes for the future.
As the first country that I visited after becoming the World Bank’s Vice President for the South Asia Region in July 2018, .
The country has immense potential. Located in the center of a fast-growing region blessed with a young population and abundant natural resources, .
Editor's note: This blog post is part of a series for the 'Bureaucracy Lab', a World Bank initiative to better understand the world's public officials.
The World Bank's Bureaucracy Lab has been inspired by the folks at the Development Impact blog to highlight some of the best PhD work on the various academic job markets.
A few weeks ago, The Economist published an article on economic governance that discussed the importance of public sector accounting. It recognized the importance of maintaining existing public-sector assets and investment in new ones. These assets, according to an IMF study, account for a significant portion of GDP. But, the article asserts, filling potholes and repairing bridges are not as politically appealing as flashy new infrastructure, and few economies engage in robust public-sector accounting that demonstrates the net worth of these assets.
Maybe if governments and citizens understood the value of their public assets, they’d be inclined to invest in their maintenance – avoiding waste and even catastrophic accidents when poor infrastructure fails?
What exactly is procurement, you may ask? If you google the word, you’ll likely find several different definitions.
Essentially, procurement is about buying things. That sounds quite simple, of course, but it becomes much more complicated at the level of government buying, especially when complex risks and variables must also be considered. So, is there a way to simplify government procurement?
This is the fifth in this year's series of posts by PhD students on the job market.
How should democratic governments interact with their authoritarian counterparts? The options include initiating a trade war or facilitating access to foreign media. Throughout history, a number of democratic governments have focused on engagement policies, specifically on promoting more interactions between citizens that live in democratic and authoritarian societies. However, the effects of such policies are largely unexplored: It is unclear whether attitudes of individuals living in non-democratic societies change when they meet with individuals that are socialized in democratic societies. Moreover, it is unclear whether these engagement policies strengthen the support for democracy during democratic transitions. These questions are important: a recent theoretical literature in political economy suggests that the degree of support for democracy within a society is critical in determining whether countries transition to democracy or experience autocratic reversals (Besley and Persson, 2018).
Natural Experiment & Empirical Strategy
In my job market paper, I study a policy that was implemented during the Communist dictatorship in East Germany to address these questions. In 1972, the East German regime agreed to reduce restrictions for private visits, specifically for West Germans travelling to East Germany to visit family and friends.