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How to Make a Billion Dollars Work

Parmesh Shah's picture

Large-scale public services and expenditure, especially those specifically designed for the poor, are vulnerable to leakages. Whether it is access to quality health care or education, clean water or entitlements under a development scheme; the poor face many barriers in accessing the public services and programs that are intended for them.

Social accountability interventions aggregate citizen voice and strengthen their capacity to directly demand greater accountability and responsiveness from public officials and service providers. Such interventions include the use of tools such as community scorecards, citizen report cards and social audits.

In 2007, three social accountability interventions were introduced in India in public programs on a pilot basis, representing budgets that run into the billions of dollars. With social accountability as the common denominator, three different states with three different service delivery contexts have been able to precipitate a series of impacts in just one year.

The Poor and the Middle Class

Eliana Cardoso's picture

Start counting the poor in India and you are bound to get into controversy. In “A Comparative Perspective on Poverty Reduction in Brazil, China and India,” Martin Ravallion (October 2009) calculates that 42% of the population in India in 2005 lived in households with income per person below US$1.25 a day (converted using purchasing power parity exchange rates for consumption in 2005). But he finds only 20% of the population under the US$1.25 poverty line when using a different method as a sensitivity test. The difference is huge. One number is twice the other and corresponds to two hundred million people (more than the whole population of Brazil!).

Ravallion repeats the exercise and finds that in Brazil, in 2005, the population who lived in households with income per person below US$1.25 a day (converted using purchasing power parity exchange rates for consumption in 2005) is 8%. When using the alternative sensitivity test method, it is 10%. Compared to India, the difference is small (2% of the population) between the two measures.

I suspect that instead of trying to calculate the number of people with less than US$ 1.25 a day, policies for poverty reduction should focus on the bottom quintile of the population: the 20% poorest group in the country.

One of my reasons is that inequality matters. Think of poverty as a relationship.

DM2009 Adaptation Theme Catches On Worldwide

Tom Grubisich's picture

The theme of DM2009 -- "Climate Adaptation" -- is looking very timely.  Today in the Washington Post there's a revealing Page One feature on how adaptation is catching on in countries around the world, with a special focus on what the Dutch, who have had centuries of experience coping with flooding, are doing to manage perhaps worse threats coming from climate change.

Most adaptation strategies assume the Earth will get hotter -- by at least 2 degrees C. no matter what countries do to mitigate the buildup of greenhouse gases.  Adaptation doesn't try to control climate, but to adjust to its destructive impacts, like flooding and drought.  The goals are to protect people and their community, including natural resources.

The frustration with DM2009 wasn't its mission, but that there wasn't enough money to fund all the worthwhile adaptation projects that made it to the finals.  The nearly US$5 million pool funded 26 projects.  But at least some jurors thought there were many more worthy projects.  After all, the 100 finalists had survived a screeening that eliminated 94 percent of applicant projects.

The post-competition challenge is how non-winners can stay alive.  Twenty-two of the projects aim to bring help to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), those which stand to be the biggest losers from climate change, like Bangladesh in South Asia, Nepal (photo of Nepalese villager by Simone D. McCourtie, World Bank) in East Asia and the Pacific, and Mozambique and many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.  To improve their chances, LDC project sponsors should make an all-out effort to be included in their countries' National Adaptation Programs of Action.  Most of the world's 49 LDCs have produced NAPAs as a key step toward getting funding for their adaptation efforts from developed countries.  While the LDC Fund contains only US$172 million -- hardly enough for adaptation projects in 49 countries -- the amount is likely to be increased as a result the U.N.-sponsored climate change negotiations that begin in Copenhagen on Monday.  Furthermore, the World Bank's Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) has US$546 million to help finance NAPA adaptation projects of LDCs that are in the pilot.  So far, PPCR includes six LDCs.  Thirteen of the non-winning DM2009 finalists come from four of those six pilot countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Nepal). 

The 22 non-winning DM2009 finalists from LDC countries can make strong cases for inclusion in NAPAs.  First, they have already been closely scrutinized by evaluators.  Second, these early-stage projects are minimally expensive -- none would cost more than US$200,000.  Third, they meet the top NAPA "guiding element" of local focus because they're strongly community-based.  Fourth, they were designed to be replicated.  And fifth, their specific objectives dovetail with the more general ones of their countries' NAPAs.

There's a common message for all those finalists: Go for it.

DM2009 Finalist and Government: A Disconnect?

Tom Grubisich's picture

In the quickly evolving world of adaptation to climate change in developing countries, staying connected is critically important to the DM2009 finalists, both winners and non-winners.  As Aleem Walji, the new Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute, said in a recent mini-interview on this blog: "What can we do to connect these hundred finalists to everyone who we know who can help them go forward -- funders, capacitybuilders, past DM winners, each other. The real power is in networks and linking communities of practice. Our comparative advantage at the Bank is our ability to convene people and create connections between the DM community, other parts of the Bank (lending operations, for example), jurors, winners, and finalists, past and present. The power of that community could be muchgreater than any prize we can award."

It is very likely that funding for climate adaptation funding in developing countries -- particularly the 49 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) -- will increase significantly in the wake of the U.N.-sponsored international climate change negotiations that begin next week in Copenhagen.  One impetus will be new documentation of the need in coming decades -- US$100 billion annually, according to a new World Bank analysis.  Another is that the National Adaptation Programs of Action that have been produced by most of the LDCs are moving to the implementation stage. 

Can the DM2009 finalists who didn't win connect with their countries' NAPAs?  In many cases, the fit would seem to be perfect -- the big picture provided by the national government and all-important community focus by (mostly) community-based NGOs and entrepreneurs.   But government bureaucracies can put up walls that prevent that from happening.  The predicament was detailed in a 2008 World Bank report, which looked at the situation in rural communities, where most adaptation in developing communities has to take place, almost everyone agrees: "Despite the critical role of local informal institutions in rural communities' adaptation, they are rarely supported by government and external intervention."

I received this email today from Nazrul Islam (photo at left), Country Director in Bangladesh for RELIEF International, who was one of the five finalists -- all non-winners -- from Bangladesh:

"Since I came back to Bangladesh from the DM, I have been finding ways to locate resources and partners to continue this project. I am also trying to get in touch with the relevant agencies with the govt of Bangladesh dealing with the NAPA. Certainly we would love to be part of the NAPA since my project perfectly fits into the government's current agenda to educate people about the climate change. Since the government agencies themselves will implement most of the projects, I am afraid it would be little challenging for civil society organizations to join directly in this NAPA . Nonetheless, we can continue to interact with the government agencies and encourage them to take benefits of the expertise many CSOs have developed over the years to tackle the climate change. I also thought the World Bank's country office in Bangladesh could possibly join us in advocating for these five finalist projects and help us motivate the government to integrate these projects into the NAPA."

The RELIEF International project would help local media publish news that educates millions of their readers, listeners, and viewers in low-lying areas about flooding and other risks that climate change brings and how they can better protect themselves when disaster strikes.  Project details are specific in contrast to the more general language of the US$7,050,000 education project that Bangladesh has included in its NAPA.

Let's see what the World Bank can do about creating productive connections between RELIEF Interntional and the Bangladesh government, and, maybe other finalists and governments.

Second Chance for Bangladesh DM2009 Finalists?

Tom Grubisich's picture

Bangladesh, the most populous Least Developed Country (160 million people), was represented by five finalists at DM2009.  That's not surprising, because Bangladesh, with its heavily populated and low-lying coastal region, is especially vulnerable to climate change in the form of more frequent and intense cyclones that cause widespread flooding (photo).  However, none of the five Bangladesh adaptation projects won. But there may yet be some hope for them.  The objectives of all five appear to dovetail with much bigger adaptation projects that the Bangladesh government has identified as high priority and is seeking to fund through its National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA).  Perhaps more significant, the DM2009 finalist projects provide specific details that aren't in the general projects of the Bangladesh NAPA.

The projects that made it to the DM2009 finals would:

 

The total cost of these early-stage projects is under US$940,000 -- a fraction of the nearly US$20 million estimated cost of five similar high-priority adaptation projects identified by the Bangladesh government in its National Adaptation Program of Action. Those more general projects would provide for:

  •  Purification of contaminated drinking water.
  •  Emergency shelter, information, and assistance, mainstreaming adaptation in agriculture, and
  •  Development of eco-specific adaptive knowledge.

 

Bangladesh is seeking at least partial funding of those projects through the Least Developed Countries Fund administered by the Global Environment Facility.  But another Bangladesh adaptation project -- coastal afforestation -- has completed almost all steps for approval.  That US$23 million project would get LDCF funding of US$3.72 million -- about as much as Bangladesh could expect to receive in toto, considering the Fund's present limited resources of US$150 million which have to be spread among 48 other LDCs. But LDCs will be lobbying for the developed countries to contribute more to the Fund at the U.N.-sponsored climate change negotiations that begin next week in Copenhagen.  A recently published World Bank analysis says all developing nations, including LDCs, would have to spend US$100 billion annually on climate change adaptation for decades to come to avoid falling behind in their economic growth.

The Bangladesh finalists were not the only ones who didn't win at DM2009.  But Bangladesh is, by far, the biggest member of the LDCs.  Furthermore, Bangladesh is one of the six countries that are being studied for funding under the World Bank's Pilot Program for Climate Resilience.  Funding, which includes pledges from developed nations totaling US$546 million, is earmarked for projects that are part of each recipient country's NAPA.   Those five DM2009 finalists should go all out to get themselves included in Bangladesh's NAPA.  They would fit perfectly.

Bang for the Buck, Changing Attitudes Toward People with Disabilities

Susan Hirshberg's picture

"Just like the Other Kids" could reach 300,000 first and second graders this year.

We like to think that our value added is our strong intellect and analytical skills combined with the ability to provide additional resources to tackle development issues. But for South Asia’s efforts in disability, it has sometimes been the smallest amounts of money and the least ‘Bank-like’ activities that have been creating the greatest awareness on the subject. I wanted to highlight some of the very exciting initiatives that we have been working on marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities today. Three such activities have been the development of a children’s book on inclusion in Pakistan, coverage by an Indian newspaper of a one-page analysis of Bollywood’s depiction of disability in films in the report Disability in India: from Commitment to Actions, and a Small Grants Award Ceremony in Sri Lanka.

“Just like the Other Kids” is a book by young people between the ages of 12 to 18 with and without disabilities financed for $22,000 by the South Asia Youth Innovation Fund and the Pakistan Small Grants Program. Its intent is to introduce first and second graders to characters with disabilities in a friendly, inclusive way. Three out of five of the characters have a disability, but all the characters have strong abilities (and some weaknesses).

Mister 100%

Mark Ellery's picture

As a policy target, there is little doubt that it is desirable that government should ensure services for all. Breaking this down to a simple target of 100% access to a service, some local governments are showing that ensuring services for all is achievable, when they deploy their social and legal authority to leverage existing service providers to ensure a basic service for all and then increase the quality of the service (i.e. 100% by 100%).

In the remote North West Corner of Bangladesh in the poor and monga (hunger) prone District of Kurrigram there is a remote yet remarkable upazila called Rajarhat. Rajarhat was the first upazila (subdistrict) in the country to be declared Open Defecation Free (i.e. 100% sanitation) in 2004. In the light of the Government’s target of education for all, the Rajarhat upazila (subdistrict) is now seeking to be the first upazila in the country to achieve universal enrollment (i.e. 100% of children turning 6 are enrolled in school).

To understand this phenomena we visited one of the Union Parishads (UP) (Council) called Omar Majid and spent some time with the UP Chairman Khanbaker Abdul Hakim. This Union Parishad claims to have achieved:

100% sanitation (achieved in 2004) sustained through ward task forces, hygiene education and public latrines with MGSK and WaterAid.
100% registration at birth (achieved in 2007) and subsequently introduced as a pre-requisite for the enrollment of children in school.

Indigenous Knowledge +Science and Technology = DM2009 Winners

Tom Grubisich's picture

Nine DM2009 winners will use the centuries-old knowledge of Indigenous Peoples to adapt to destructive climate change -- but often leveraged with modern science and technology.

Here's how old and new will be joined in several winning projects in Latin America:

  • Peru -- Agricultural production in four communities in the Amazonian Basin (total population: 1,500) will be better managed through a combination of ancestral knowledge of the Basin and biomathematical computer simulation model and geographic information system (GIS)-based "micro-zoning" of the communities' ecology and economics. 
  • Colombia -- Traditional knowledge, aided by GIS and the sciences of ecology and biology, will be used to protect 207,000 hectares of native forest for a combination of conservation, housing, hunting, fishing, and gathering, traditional farming, and preservation of sacred places for community rituals. 
  • Costa Rica -- Ancient knowledge of adjacent valley and mountain ecosystems will be rescued and melded with mapping and other technology to help valley inhabitants of Bajo Chirripo to better cope with flooding caused by storms whose frequency and intensity are expected to increase with climate change, and to improve their present subsistence income. 
  • Peru -- Indigenous knowledge systems on how to adapt the native potato to changing climate will be combined with modern plant breeding to help communities in Potato Park in the High Andes to adapt to rapid climate change with weather-resilient plantings. 

 

Most of the finalist and winning projects that would help Indigenous Peoples were based in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the intellectual property rights of indigenous communities against "biopiracy" and related theft have won more legal protection -- a clear signal for what needs to be done in other regions to protect indigenous rights.

Poor People's Knowledge: Promoting Intellectual Property in Developing Countries
, edited by J. Michael Finger and Philip Schuler (2004, World Bank and Oxford University Press), is a detailed primer on the issue, including an examination of the controversial World Trade Organization (WTO)-administered Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), which indigenous communities say is unfair to them.

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"... intentions are our best single predictors of whether one will or will not perform a given behavior... according to a reasoned action approach, there are three primary determinants of intention: the attitude toward performing the behavior in question, normative influence or the amount of social pressure one feels vis-a-vis performing the behavior, and one's self-efficacy with respect to performing the behavior.  The relative importance of these three psychological variables as determinants of intention will vary as a function of both the behavior and the population being considered.  Thus, before developing interventions to change intentions, it is important to first determine the degree to which that intention is under attitudinal, normative, or self-efficacy control in the population in question.  It should be clear that very different interventions are needed for attitudinally controlled behaviors than for behaviors that are under normative influence or are strongly related to feelings of self-efficacy.  Clearly, one size does not fit all, and interventions that are successful in one culture or population may be a complete failure in another."*

                                                               -- In Memoriam: Martin Fishbein, 1936-2009

Life and Death in South Asia

Eliana Cardoso's picture

In the film, Venus, an old and frail Peter O’Toole discovers the Greek goddess in the guise of his best friend’s niece. The ironic and good humored story explores the theme of the games played in a mutual seduction between the older man with experience, money and a nostalgic yearning for carnal desire and the young woman who soon finds out the power she wields and negotiates three kisses in return for a pair of earrings. In the final scene, wearing only one of his boots on a cold beach, O’Toole feels the caress of the sea’s salty foam with the sole of his foot and smiles. His face expresses the happiness of someone who knows the joys of being alive.

It is impossible to weigh up Peter O’Toole’s smile, measuring the degree of his happiness or comparing it to what you would feel if walking barefoot in the sand. But, the idea that his feelings can be measured as a metric has become fashionable, ever since the King of Bhutan decided that GDP fails to portray the well-being of his subjects and summoned a team to create the Gross National Happiness index.


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