Syndicate content

Poverty

'Facebook for farmers' brings microloans to people in rural China

James I Davison's picture

The founders of a microfinance website I came across a few months ago are giving an interesting, benevolent twist to social networking. At least, that’s one way of looking at Wokai.org, a non-profit organization benefiting entrepreneurs in rural China.

Wokai has been dubbed by some as a “Facebook for farmers,” yet it may be more comparable to well-known microfinance sites like Kiva, which allow people with an Internet connection to give loans directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Wokai, however, focuses solely on impoverished people living in rural China.

Useful Reading on Africa: Links of the week for Sept. 4, 2009

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Here is some good reading on Africa:

- As Africa grows richer, there are reasons to be pessimistic about its ability to capitalize on the benefits of a reduction in population growth, says The Economist. One reason is that one in two Africans is a child, which means that traditional ways of caring for children in extended families are breaking down.

Crime and Punishment in Abidjan

Shanta Devarajan's picture

The first-prize winner of the African Public Policy Awards was a paper by Jose Carlos Assi Kimou on the determinants of crime in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 

Using rigorous statistical methods, the paper shows that crime in Abidjan (i) goes down as enforcement (measured by the number of policemen) goes up; (ii) goes up with negative external shocks, such as the 1994 devaluation of the CFA Franc and the 1999 coup d’état,

Decoupling, Reverse Coupling and All That Jazz

Otaviano Canuto's picture

(By Otaviano Canuto)

In PREM Note 141 released last week, Milan Brahmbhatt and Luiz Pereira da Silva point to several structural differences between the global economy today and in the 1930s that tend to differentiate the current crisis from the Great Depression. The larger weight of faster-growing developing countries in the current world economy is among those differences, one that bodes well for recovery prospects.[1]

Can Zimbabwe Turn the Corner?

Praveen Kumar's picture

Much has changed in Zimbabwe since last November. There are signs of recovery following the return of price stability after full dollarization in January. However doubts about the political situation continue to obstruct further recovery.

The most visible sign of improvement is the demise of surreal hyperinflation which according to one estimate peaked at about 80 billion percent. Interestingly, full dollarization initially occurred not because the government chose it as a deliberate stabilization measure.  Exasperated residents simply abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar and moved on to using multiple hard currencies.  In January, the Government too abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar and started using the US Dollar and the South African Rand for both collecting taxes and spending.  Hyperinflation died a natural death in Zimbabwe, it was not tamed.

How Web design can show the forward march of gender in project design

Molly Norris's picture

Fighting poverty means helping women not as an afterthought, but as forethought. Women’s disproportionate share of the poor makes them a special demographic. And we’re targeting them more and more.

Last year, 45 percent of lending operations looked through a gender lens when planning their projects -- up 10 percent from the year before. Project planners ran gender assessments, set aside resources for gender initiatives and broadly incorporated gender into project components.

Enter the Web. Mouse over the infographic below to take a look region-by-region.

Are Fragile States "Too Poor to Grow?"

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Boy plays with tireA recent paper by my colleagues Humberto Lopez and Luis Serven entitled “Too Poor to Grow” asks whether, controlling for other factors, countries with higher poverty rates grow more slowly.  Their answer is “yes”.  The implication is that countries with high poverty may be caught in a poverty trap—they grow more slowly, so poverty rates stay high or even increase, which means they grow even more slowly, and so on. 

The idea echoes the one in Martin Ravallion’s post on this blog about why poverty rates are not converging. 

The two papers got me thinking about the large number (20) of fragile states in Africa.   These states have lower per-capita incomes and growth rates than non-fragile states.  More importantly, many of them have remained fragile states for a long time. 

Could it be that these countries are caught in a low-level equilibrium trap?  And if so, should aid policy—which treats them as worse-performing versions of non-fragile states—be adjusted to take into account the possibility that these countries are “stuck” in low growth, high poverty and poor governance?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE: August 27, 2009:

Thanks to all who are taking the time to share their views on this post. Many of you seem to think that education can offer a way out of this vicious cycle. Some don't see hope for Africa until corruption can be successfully tackled. A few others advocate for more individual responsibility.  I was particularly impressed by the story David Kamulegeya shared with us (see the comment titled "it is about the attitude that people have about themselves") in which he describes his own experience navigating out of poverty.

Indonesia's 'big bang' decentralization experiment: Helping poor regions spend resources well

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

After five years in Indonesia, my family and I have left this wonderful country and moved to Kenya. The last five years have been excellent years for Indonesia. The economy stabilized, growth resumed and services started to improve, although modestly and not in all areas. Indonesia still remains an underrated country, but this may change. Indonesia has only mildly been affected by the global crisis.

National Solidarity Program (NSP), a community-led reconstruction and rural infrastructure initiative.

Karina Manasseh's picture

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.

Infant mortality rates in Africa will increase by 30,000-50,000 - Girls will fare worse

Norbert Schady's picture

The impact of the global financial crisis on infant mortality is a topic of great policy importance. However, estimates of the likely impacts of the crisis, cited by international institutions and in the popular press, differ wildly.

This blogpost summarizes the main conclusions from some of my own recent research on this topic, jointly with various colleagues.

These conclusions include:


Pages