Lebanon is a country of expatriates. Nine million of its 11 million inhabitants live abroad, in places as diverse as Terra del Fuego, Côte d’Ivoire, and Columbus, Ohio. The Lebanese Diaspora remains profoundly committed to its mother country, remitting money to family back home, investing, and visiting as tourists.
MIGA recently launched its new World Investment and Political Risk report in London to a gathering of investment and political risk experts. Based on a joint MIGA – EIU Political Risk Survey conducted last year, the report underscores that political risk remains one of the main obstacles to FDI in emerging markets.
(Thanks and credits for sharing this information go to the Brazilian Secretariat of Social Communication - SECOM)
Brazil Positioned to Defeat Extreme Poverty by 2016
In the book, The Idea of Justice, Amartya Sen motivates the discussion on the importance of processes and responsibilities by relying on an example. In the Gita (part of the Mahabharata), on the eve of the crucial battle episode in the epic, Arjuna expresses his doubts about leading the fight which will result in so much killing. Lord Krishna, tells him that he, Arjuna, must perform his duty, that is, to fight. And to fight, irrespective of the consequences.
Krishna’s blessing of the demands of duty is meant to win the argument from a religious perspective. But most of us would share Arjuna’s concerns about the fact that, if the war were to occur, with him leading the charge on the side of justice and propriety, many people would get killed. He himself would be doing a lot of the killing, often of people for whom he had affection.
The proportion of people living below the poverty line in Bangladesh has fallen sharply from close to 60% in 1990 to 40% in 2005. Using the Household Income and Expenditure Survey conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics; economists Aphichoke Kotikula, Ambar Narayan and Hassan Zaman find that the number of poor people in Bangladesh fell by nearly 6 million between 1990 and 2005. The study, “To what Extent are Bangladesh’s Recent Gains in Poverty Reduction Different from the Past?” also shows substantial improvements in living conditions. For instance, the percentage of households with connections to electricity increased from 31% to 44% between 2000 and 2005.
Key factors contributing to poverty reduction include changes in certain household characteristics – most prominently, a smaller number of dependents and improvements in their education.
During my recent seminar in Geneva, where I was also meeting with the Africa Progress Panel, a couple of members of the audience (which consisted of ambassadors, U.N. staff, civil society and academics) said, “I liked your analysis, but not your conclusions.”
The seminar summarized many of the points I have been making on this blog:
- For the decade before 2008, Africa was experiencing sustained and widespread economic growth, thanks to aid, debt relief, private capital flows, high primary commodity prices, and improved macroeconomic policies
- Despite being the least integrated region, Africa was perhaps the worst hit by the global crisis
- Contrary to some people’s fears, African governments continued to pursue prudent economic policies during the crisis—even though the visible payoffs to these policies (growth and poverty reduction) had suddenly diminished
- Conclusion: Economic policy in Africa, which had been improving before the crisis, and either stayed on course or improved during the crisis, has never been better.
Since my conclusion followed directly from the analysis, I had three possible explanations for the reaction mentioned above:
To follow up on my last entry, I'd like to highlight a few more lessions I've learned in my five years at the Bank and share some aspects of the "inner workings" of my job in development. Click here to read the introduction and the first three lessons.
Let me spell out a few more of these lessons that I've learnt as a Health Economist.
4. Don’t be “means” wise and “ends” foolish
No matter where you are along the results chain at any given time, it’s important to keep an overall perspective and stay focused to reap the payoffs at the end. This is necessary so that no input, activity or process blocks or slows down your movement along the chain. The further you go along the chain, the more compelling it becomes to cover the remaining distance. For example, having achieved a policy change for introducing new technology, hired the personnel, provided them training, straightened out logistics and supply issues, it becomes all the more necessary not to hold up supplies for some silly procurement procedure.
In my five years at the Bank, I have learnt a number of lessons. One of the most important is that even though each practitioner brings specialist knowledge, that knowledge must be applied from an overall development perspective, for we’re trying to achieve development in imperfect settings where the gap between the ideal and the reality, between principles and practice, is often wide.
Let me spell out some of these lessons:
1. Anticipate issues but be ready for surprises
Development doesn’t take place by complete fluke nor is it a sure-shot thing that the efforts will succeed. While it is important to plan and plan well, things seldom happen as planned. It is seldom a smooth affair. While an intervention may have been designed keeping the context in mind, the context itself keeps evolving continually. So, it’s best to anticipate how things may evolve and prepare for it, but be ready for surprises as well.
Countries are rated how effective they are in human development, governance, and doing business. What if they were rated by their capacity to achieve success in all key areas of their national mission?
Ratings would measure progress in such mission "how-to's" as knowledge sharing, stakeholder participation (especially at the local level), and program results vs. objectives.
The U.N. Development Programme has singled out what it calls major successes in capacity development in 19 nations that included the Least Developed Countries of Laos, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, Bhutan, Nepal, Mozambique, and Afghanistan. But there's no comprehensive capacity rating of all 49 LDCs, much less all 145 countries classified as developing. Even the UNDP ratings of 19 countries are based only on selected initiatives in those countries.
Mapping capacity -- horizontally across countries all the way from the national to local levels -- would, no question, be a major undertaking. But if public, private, and nonprofit development actors collaborated, especially by mobilizing advances in networking technology, the job would not seem to be insurmountable. Perhaps it could begin with the LDCs and go forward from there.
Multi-layered, continually updated capacity maps could be an important new tool especially for the poorest countries and their development donors in closing stubborn gaps toward achievement of 2015 Millennium Development Goals. The maps could also be a big help to all developing countries and donors in responding to locally diverse impacts of climate change. And that's just for starters.
- The World Region
- Urban Development
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Financial Sector
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Climate Change
- Capacity Development
Even in normal economic times, the poor as a group do not affect public policy. Why then would it be different during a financial crisis, when saving the elites and saving the ‘financial world’ is of paramount importance?