The global economic crisis has reversed the impressive economic growth of recent years in emerging Europe and Central Asia, hitting families hard with higher unemployment and lost wages.
Growth has plummeted from a fast clip of 7.6 percent in 2007 to 4.7 percent in 2008, and is projected at negative 5.6 percent in 2009, the World Bank said at an Annual Meetings press briefing yesterday.
“What started as a financial crisis has become a social and human crisis. Just as banks were under stress, families are now the ones under severe stress as they see breadwinners lose their jobs and have trouble paying their bills.”
Bank President Robert Zoellick told an overflowing room of journalists this morning that these annual meetings come at an important time for the work of the Bank Group and its members.
“The G-20 summit last week provided clear markers for the work of the World Bank. But more than 160 countries were not at the G-20 table,” he said. “These meetings can therefore ensure that the voices of the poorest are heard and recognized. This is the G-186.”
The Bank’s President told reporters that developing countries are still suffering from the global economic crisis, and it is important for the G20 to scale up support. He said the meetings offer a platform to follow up on the proposal for a crisis facility for low-income countries—critical to ensuring that protection for the most vulnerable becomes a permanent part of the world’s financial architecture.
Over the next five days, the Bank will be featuring a series of video stories, documenting the challenges and results of projects aimed at addressing Turkey’s vulnerabilities to earthquakes, as well as issues related to health care, landfill environmental protection, small business growth, and women’s development.
Today’s feature showcases work being done by the Turkish government, with help from the World Bank, to protect the beautiful, ancient city of Istanbul and its inhabitants against the threat of earthquakes. See the video.
Speaking earlier today with Turkish NTV, Marwan Muasher, World Bank Senior Vice President for External Affairs, emphasized the Bank’s commitment to helping all countries work through the economic crisis. He added: “For Turkey in particular, we are focused on helping spur a recovery in domestic consumer demand, as well as job creation. Social protection is very important, to help safeguard those groups most vulnerable to the impact of the slowdown, particularly children and young workers.”
Unlike other diseases in Africa (malaria, tuberculosis, intestinal worms, etc.), which mainly affect the young and the old, HIV/AIDS takes its toll on prime-age adults during the most productive years of their lives. The death of an adult family member can have large consequences for the surviving family. Given prevailing social norms in many African societies, the burden may likely be heaviest for women.
Most studies focus on the consequences for orphaned children – their schooling and health. We know less about how older adults are impacted. In our study, we track individuals and their households in northwest Tanzania, an area of high HIV prevalence in the 1990s, over a 13-year period.
We find that, when a family member dies, women (even old women) end up working more on the farm; men do too, but not as much. Having an asset such as goats enables them to work less.
Coming together is a process
Keeping together is progress
Working together is success
This message, written on the wall of a public building in Gureghar village in Maharashtra, India, implies the significant changes that have recently taken place. Since 2007, 178 villages including Gureghar have been part of an innovative social accountability process that has redefined relationships between citizens, service providers and local government. Building upon two decades of experience with micro-planning, the innovation in this pilot project is that micro-planning has been combined with a community scorecard process to strengthen accountability.
(The primary role of a District CEO is to administer all development project and services, such as health and education services, for the District.) The project team and the CEO invested a lot of effort to build the political will of other decision-makers and service providers. In fact, many of these functionaries were then organized into Task Forces to actually implement the process while a cadre of facilitators underwent intensive 20-day training.
The National Solidarity Program (NSP) is a community-led reconstruction and rural infrastructure initiative. The program has made significant achievements in empowering communities, improving community relations, and increasing public faith in the system of government.
The Nutrition Development Marketplace was held in Dhaka on Wednesday August 5th. Twenty-one civil society organizations from across South Asia won grants from an $840,000 award pool funded by the South Asia Region Development Marketplace (DM). The winners received up to $40,000 each to implement innovative ideas on how to improve nutrition in their respective countries.
Titled “Family and Community Approaches to Improve Infant and Young Child Nutrition,” the competition was designed to identify some of the most innovative ideas to improve nutrition, focusing especially on children under two years of age and pregnant women.
South Asia has experienced high economic growth during the last decade. The region, however, still has both the highest rates and the largest numbers of undernourished children in the world. While poverty is often the underlying cause of child undernutrition, the high economic growth experienced by South Asian countries has not made an impact on the nutritional status of South Asian children.
Why South Asia has the largest numbers of undernourished and micronourished children in the world?
South Asia’s undernourishment problem has many numbers of factors, including the following: Low birth weight, infant and young child feeding practices, poor household hygiene, and status of women in society.
This video, A Call for Action, highlights some of the challenges and opportunities of undernutrition in the South Asia region with a focus on India.
The year was 1975. I was a final year medical student in Pondicherry, South India. I was going for my practical test on Preventive and Social Medicine (PSM). PSM was (and probably still is) one of the least favorite subjects in the medical curriculum for most students. “Why should we prevent diseases? If we prevent all diseases what will we all do with our medical degrees? Isn’t that professional suicide?” asked one of my class-mates! But I digress. Coming back to the test, I was unusually nervous because I had not studied everything well. For some reason, one chapter that I did study the night before was nutrition. I had also volunteered for two months in a Nutrition Rehabilitation Center (NRC) which meant that it was one chapter that I was more confident about. As my luck would have it, every single question that the examiner asked me that day was on nutrition! I blasted my way through the test, and thanked my stars for that exceptional bit of good fortune. From that day, nutrition has always been close to my heart.
The NRC is a somewhat outdated concept nowadays. The idea was to have a malnourished child and mother live for a month in the NRC and learn good household behaviors that could result in better nutritional outcomes.
Reflections from the Padma. (c) Maitreyi Bordia Das
The widespread perception of Bangladesh as a mis-governed poor cousin continues and thrives in India. Stories in the media focus on fallen trade deals, undocumented migration and security hazards to India. Yet, not-so-recent articles by economist Jean Dreze and Minister of State Jairam Ramesh have pointed out that Bangladesh fares much better than India on a range of social outcomes. But these are few and far between and don’t get the attention they deserve.
During my first visit to Bangladesh I remember being blown away by the villages. Toilets are common and in use, schools actually function and pools of dirty water don’t clog village paths. Take also the case of health. Although India spends twice as much per capita as Bangladesh on health care, it has worse outcomes in every health indicator except maternal mortality.
The cows were judging me. The unforgiving Indian summer sun was beating down on the crop field where I stood, and though I desperately wanted to listen the soft-spoken villager who was explaining the trials and accomplishments of his agriculturally centered village, my attention was pulled to the cattle several meters away. Perhaps I was dehydrated, perhaps a little woozy, but I am not proud to say that I could have sworn those grazing beasts were eyeing me, watching me wither under the intense gaze of the mid-afternoon sun. “Weakling,” They seemed to say.
And perhaps I was.
From my brief time spent in this rural, South Indian village, I had seen people deal with far more than the uncomfortable heat. These villagers like many throughout the rural areas of South Asia, worked long and tedious hours in their fields. Heat was not simply a discomfort, but could mean less water, less grass to feed the cattle, fewer crops, and, as a result, the inability to sustain spending on education, healthcare, and sanitation.