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Poverty

Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people
Primary school students are attending their class in northern Balkh Province. Photo credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Today, the World Bank Group released the first Human Capital Index (HCI), a new global indicator to measure the extent to which human capital in each country measures up to its full potential.
 
The HCI is part of the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Project intended to raise awareness about the critical role human capital plays in a country’s long-term growth and to galvanize the country’s will and resources to accelerate investments in its people as its most important asset.
 
Afghanistan’s overall HCI indicates it fulfills only 39 percent of its full potential, conceptualized as 14 years of quality education and survival until age 60
 
As dire as this may sound, the overall HCI score places Afghanistan just around a place where it is expected given its income level—in fact, slightly higher than an average low-income country.

How are displaced Afghans faring?

Christina Wieser's picture
Afghans represent the world’s largest protracted refugee population
Afghan returnee families are arriving at a UNHCR registration office in Kabul. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Afghans represent the world’s largest protracted refugee population, and one of the largest to be repatriated to their country of origin in this century.

More than seven million refugees returned to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2017, mainly from Iran and Pakistan.
 
Afghan returnees now make up as much as one-fifth of the country’s estimated population.
 
At the same time, conflict-induced population displacement within Afghanistan has sharply increased due to the escalation of insecurity across the country. 
 
In an already difficult context, large-scale internal displacement and returnees from abroad have strained the delivery of public services and increased competition for scarce economic opportunities for both the displaced and the rest of the population.
 
Afghans are living under difficult economic conditions. More than half of all Afghans lived below the national poverty line in 2016-17, and many more are vulnerable to falling into poverty.

To support struggling communities through scarce humanitarian and development assistance is challenging but necessary.
 
But policymakers struggle with many questions.

Investing in people of South Asia for prosperity and quality of life

Hartwig Schafer's picture
A little girl in Balochistan, Pakistan, who now receives a quality education thanks to World Bank support. 
A little girl in Balochistan, Pakistan, who now receives a quality education thanks to World Bank support. Credit: World Bank 

Human capital – the potential of individuals – is going to be the most important long-term investment any country can make for its people’s future prosperity and quality of life.

Just look around the world: Technology is reshaping every industry and setting new demands for skills in every profession. The frontier for skills is moving faster than ever before.

To meet that challenge and be able to compete in the global economy, countries need to prepare their workforces now for the tremendous challenges and opportunities driven by technological change.  

To that end, the World Bank will launch next week its highly anticipated Human Capital Index to measure countries’ contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of their workers.

The Index will be released on October 11 at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Bali as part of the Human Capital Project, a global effort led by the Bank to accelerate investments in people for greater equity and economic growth.

No doubt, any country ranking gets high visibility and, sometimes, meets controversy. But I hope it triggers a dialogue about policies to promote investments in people.

To be clear, the important purpose of the Human Capital Index is to measure the distance of each country to the highest standard of complete education and full health—or the “frontier”.

The index, irrespective of whether it is high or low, is not an indication of a country’s current policies or initiatives, but rather reflects where it has emerged over years and decades.

Put simply, the index measures what the productivity of a generation is, compared to what it could be, if they had benefitted from complete education and good health.

The index ranges from 0 to 1 and takes the highest value of 1 only if a child born today can expect to achieve full health (defined as no stunting and survival up to at least age 60) and complete her education potential (defined as 14 years of high-quality school by age 18).

A BAD Conference

Varun Gauri's picture

Last week, I attended a conference at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. It was BAD, and it was primarily about gender. (By BAD, I of course mean it was about “Behavioral Approaches to Diversity”.) The topic is obviously relevant to World Bank goals, both internally and for our clients, and to the work of the Mind, Behavior, and Development Unit (eMBeD). Here are some selected highlights.  

Everything you need to know to follow the 2018 Annual Meetings

Bassam Sebti's picture


The IMF/World Bank Group Annual Meetings is an event you won't want to miss. Join us for a week of seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and many other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world's financial system. This year's events will take place in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 8-14, 2018.
 
Find out why the World Bank, countries, and partners are coming together to try to close the massive human capital gap in the world today. Catch the launch of the new Human Capital Index on October 11, 2018, and spread the message that it’s critical to #InvestinPeople.
 
The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, and the Government of Indonesia are also co-sponsoring a first-ever technology fair to bring innovation to the heart of the Annual Meetings.
 
This three-day “showcase” will feature 28+ innovators – companies from around the world – who will demonstrate the powerful role that technology can play in spurring development, strengthening financial development and inclusion, and improving health and education outcomes. The 2018 Innovation Showcase will run from October 11-13 in the Bali International Convention Center.
 
So, start planning your #WBGMeetings experience. Connect, engage and watch to take full advantage of everything the Meetings has to offer. We've got you covered on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

The UN and the World Bank working together in crisis-affected situations

Franck Bousquet's picture
Girls School in Sanaa. © UNICEF Yemen
Girls School in Sanaa. © UNICEF Yemen


Creating sustainable peace and development solutions for countries affected by conflict, crisis and violence is a global responsibility for the international community.
 
At the United Nations General Assembly this week, the UN and the World Bank, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM), the first global partnership dedicated to preventing famine. With support from the world’s leading tech companies, the FAM aims to use data and state-of-the-art technology to pair decision-makers with better, earlier famine warnings and pre-arranged financing. Our work on the FAM is the latest example of how our organizations are joining forces to reduce the risk of global crises.

One survey at a time: Building the evidence base to inform public policy dialogue in Djibouti

Gabriel Lara Ibarra's picture
Street in the center of Djibouti - Shutterstock l  Truba7113

In 2015, Djibouti was considered one of the five data deprived countries in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region. The last household expenditure survey had been done in 2013, and no concrete plans were on the table to conduct a new one. Moreover, Djibouti’s statistical capacity to conduct surveys and censuses was at the bottom of the region and its statistical capacity score (46.7) lagged the MENA region (64.4) and other low income countries (63.4). Thus, the statistical system in Djibouti ran the risk of not being able to provide timely information and help inform the public policy dialogue.

How can Sri Lanka better protect its people against disasters?

Thomas Walker's picture
A recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050
A recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050

Sri Lanka has a long history of coping with weather impacts.  

About two thousand years ago, the country built one of the world’s first irrigation system to control its water supply.

This feat of engineering, which boasted hundreds of kilometers of channels, tanks, and innovative valve pits, helped the great kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa flourish into sophisticated societies and protect their people against hunger.

Not unlike these early civilizations, modern social protection programs have sheltered those affected by disaster through financial assistance and other forms of support.

Today, building resilience to natural disasters and other shocks is more critical than ever.

Since 1980, the frequency of natural disasters worldwide has increased by 250 percent, and the number of affected people has more than doubled.

Sri Lanka is no exception. The country ranked fourth most vulnerable to climate change in 2016.

Further to that, a recent World Bank report indicates that nine out of 10 of Sri Lankans may live in climate hotspots—or areas highly prone to floods or droughts—by 2050.

The losses caused by significant shocks like natural disasters have long-lasting consequences.

Children, especially, can suffer permanent damages if they are not educated or fed correctly in their critical early years.  

And the loss of assets, livestock, and crops can severely hurt small business owners and farmers and further discourage them from investing.

Sadly, natural disasters hit the poor the hardest as they tend to live in disaster-prone areas, work in agriculture, and usually don’t have savings or access to credit.

When a shock hits, wellbeing declines as people cut back on food and other essentials due to their loss of income or the high cost of rebuilding their homes.

And while some people gradually restore their standards of living, some never fully recover and get stuck in poverty.

But the poor aren’t the only ones who need to worry about shocks.

Today, a third of Sri Lankans are just a shock away from falling into poverty.

Our analysis of the 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey reveals that a 20 percent sudden decrease in household welfare—or consumption shock—would more than double the poverty rate: almost 1 in 10 Sri Lankans would be poor.

If the shock triggered a 50 percent decrease in consumption, one in three Sri Lankan families would fall into poverty.

What it’s like being a female student in Afghanistan today

Nathalie Lahire's picture
Nathalie Lahire attends a class along with students in Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Girls High School in Kabul
Nathalie Lahire attends a class along with students in Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Girls High School in Kabul. Photo Credit: World Bank

Afghanistan offers diverse opportunities and challenges for girls depending on where they live and the attitudes toward girls’ education in their community.
 
Further to that, rural or urban infrastructure, the commitment levels of teachers, and the nature or extent of corruption in the community can affect how a female student will perform in school.
 
In general, the past many years of conflict and political unrest in Afghanistan have damaged the country’s education system; eroding the quality of staffing and curriculum.
 
The education sector has been at the forefront of political conflicts and caught in between competing interest groups.
 
As a result, the unfavorable political economy has blocked policy reforms and their implementation, taking a toll on the quality of education services.
 
This has led to weakened governance.
 
Still, enrollment in school districts in Afghanistan is at surprising levels.

Global poverty in 2015: PovcalNet’s new estimates and improved documentation

Christoph Lakner's picture

PovcalNet released new poverty estimates last week, indicating that in 2015, 10 percent of the global population were living on less than the international poverty line (IPL), currently set at US$1.90 per person per day in 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP). This estimate is based on a series of new data and revisions, including more than 1,600 household surveys from 164 countries, national accounts, population estimates, inflation data, and purchasing power parity data. The new poverty numbers were released on September 19 and will be part of “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle,” a report to be published on October 17, End Poverty Day.

We’re also launching a Global Poverty Monitoring Technical Note Series which describes the data, methods and assumptions underpinning the World Bank’s global poverty estimates published in PovcalNet. With this update, we’re releasing four new notes in this series, including the “What’s New” note that will accompany each of the semi-annual updates to PovcalNet. The other notes cover different aspects of the price adjustments embedded in the global poverty estimates, such as adjustments for inflation and price differences across countries

Begun as a research project by Martin Ravallion, Shaohua Chen and others, PovcalNet has become the official source for monitoring the World Bank’s Twin Goals, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), and now Sustainable Development Goal 1.1. PovcalNet is managed jointly by the Data and Research Groups within the World Bank’s Development Economics Division. It draws heavily upon a strong collaboration with the Poverty and Equity Global Practice, which is responsible for gathering and harmonizing the underlying survey data.

PovcalNet does much more than simply providing the most recent global poverty estimates. It’s a computational tool that allows users to estimate poverty rates for regions, sets of countries or individual countries, over time and at any poverty line. It also provides several distributional measures, such as the Gini index and income shares for the various decile groups.

The most recent PovcalNet data show us that over the last few decades, remarkable progress has been made in reducing extreme poverty. The world attained the first MDG target—cutting the 1990 poverty rate in half by 2015—six years ahead of schedule. With continued reductions, the global poverty rate, defined as the share of world’s population living below the IPL, has dropped from 35.9 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2015 – more than a 70 percent reduction.

In the last quarter century, global poverty dropped by more than 70 percent

 


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