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Social Development

Kenya taps innovative digital mapping to enhance public participation

Rose Wanjiru's picture
OpenStreetMap of Kenya

Kenya is well known for its innovation in technology, particularly mobile technology in cash transfers. These innovations have largely been championed by the private sector and young entrepreneurs.

In contrast, the public sector tends to play catch up adopting new technology, and that has remained true in implementing Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS, also referred to as digital maps, is utilized to capture, store, analyze, manage, and present geographic data.

Joining forces to revive Nepal’s heritage

Marisa Garcia Lozano's picture
View of Kathmandu Valley
Photo: The World Bank

Many people traveling to Nepal choose the Himalayas as their primary destination.

After landing in the capital city of Kathmandu, most adrenaline junkies and nature lovers quickly make their way to the mountains to spend days trekking along high peaks.

But just five kilometers away from the capital city, there is a special place in the Kathmandu Valley with a rich and diverse cultural heritage that’s well worth the trip.

This place is Lalitpur City, or locally known as Patan, “the city of fine arts.”

Located in the center of the city is Durbar Square, one of the seven monument zones in the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO World Heritage site known for its beautiful Newari architecture and home to the ancient royal palace and various Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments.

Cocoa Honey: A Sweet Good-bye

Martin Raiser's picture
Cocoa honey is probably the sweetest and most intensely flavored fruit juice I have ever tasted. It is extracted from the white flesh around the fresh cocoa beans, which are wrapped in a banana leaf until all of the juice has dripped out. This is only one of the tropical delicacies I had the privilege to try during a recent trip to the state of Bahia in Brazil’s Northeast.

Setting up early warning and response systems to prevent violent conflicts and save lives

Catherine Defontaine's picture
Daily life in Conakry, Guinea. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank


As highlighted in the UN-World Bank report Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict, the number of violent conflicts has increased since 2010, thus raising the question of how violence and its escalation can be prevented. Conflict prevention mechanisms exist. Let’s take a look at Early Warning and Response Systems (EWRS), but first, what is early warning and early response?

Protecting the interests of persons with disabilities

Zainab Mukhtar's picture
Disabled people are among the most vulnerable populations in developing countries such as Nigeria, as they lack equal access and opportunity. Photo: 2018 European Union (photo by Samuel Ochai)


The popular saying“do not judge a book by its cover” teaches a great lesson which can be summed up in one sentence: It is never what we think it is.

This leads me to why protecting the interests of persons with disabilities (PWDs) is important; many times, they are treated as if all they are is their physical or mental challenges. But they are more than just their disability. Every human being, rich or poor, small or big, non-disabled or disabled has a role to play in our lives, and our ability to treat everyone with dignity and respect cannot be overemphasized. Thus, as I explained in my recent proposal in the World Bank Group’s 2018 Law Student Contest for Development Solutions, lack of equal access and opportunity for PWDs will in the long-run impede the necessary development many of us desire in our world.

Five ways for Cameroon to align public spending with its 2035 vision

Rick Emery Tsouck Ibounde's picture



By 2035, Cameroon aspires to join the ranks of industrialized, upper-middle-income nations with low poverty rates, strong economic growth, and a functioning democracy. To realize that goal, the government’s strategy (Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi, DSCE) envisions annual GDP growth rates of 5.5 percent and the creation tens of thousands of formal jobs each year. With a relatively more diversified economy than its more oil-dependent peers in the CEMAC region, the country seemed well-poised to achieve its objectives until at least halfway through the decade. However, Cameroon has been facing a combination of external headwinds and internal constraints that present challenges to its development aspirations, poverty remains high at 37.5 percent (in 2014).

What’s keeping India in the dark?

Fan Zhang's picture
To boost and sustain its energy supply, India needs urgent investments and reforms to fix the inefficiencies that plague its entire electricity supply chain.
To boost and sustain its energy supply, India needs urgent investments and reforms to fix the inefficiencies that plague its entire electricity supply chain. Credit: World Bank

Statistics show that what is commonly perceived as an energy gap in India is actually an efficiency gap.

To boost and sustain its energy supply, India needs urgent investments and reforms to fix the inefficiencies that plague its entire electricity supply chain. 

But first, the good news. In 2018, every village in India got connected to the grid.  That same year, power shortages declined dramatically to 0.9 percent from 8.5 percent in 2012.  

As for clean power, India has become one of the world’s leading countries in renewable energy and aims to add 227 gigawatts of green electricity by 2022.

True, India today generates more power than ever. Yet, 178 million Indians still lived without access to grid-connected electricity in 2017.

On top of that, air pollution from coal-powered plants contributed to 82,900 deaths across India in 2015.

Given its rapidly growing economy, demand for power in India is expected to triple by 2040.

The country faces a monumental task to meet this demand while protecting its natural environment and the health of its people.

As I write in my new report, ‘In the Dark’, power distortions cost India much more than previously estimated: $86 billion in 2016—that is 4 percent of the country’s economy.

How to diversify Bhutan’s economy?

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Bhutan has made tremdendous progress in reducing poverty. But it needs to do a better job at diversifying its economy by improving its physical and human capital by using resource rents from hydropower.
Bhutan has made tremendous progress in reducing poverty. But it needs to do a better job at diversifying its economy by improving its physical and human capital by using resource rents from hydropower.

Will diversifying its economy help Bhutan address its youth unemployment, let alone its macroeconomic volatility and vulnerability?

With the right approach, yes.

And to that end, the latest World Bank Bhutan Development Report: A Path to Inclusive and Sustainable Development proposes solutions relevant to Bhutan’s context.

For more than ten years, developing the private sector through greater economic diversification has been Bhutan’s top policy as described in the 10th and 11th five-year plans.

Yet, youth unemployment, especially for educated Bhutanese, has remained high: 67 percent of bachelor’s degrees holders were jobless in 2016.

Diversifying the economy is touted as a standard prescription to cure such development ailments as joblessness, low productivity, and macroeconomic volatility.

However, international experience shows that this prescription does not always work.

Case in point: A World Bank’s analysis Diversified Development concludes that in resource-rich countries, investing in physical capital, human capital and economic institution are the best ways to sustain growth in the private sector.

Further to that, the development of specific sectors, which is often a common ingredient of diversification strategies in certain countries, is neither necessary nor sufficient for private-sector-led growth.

The main driver of Bhutan’s high growth and poverty reduction, hydropower has led the country’s development and will remain the backbone of its economy.

However, Bhutan needs to do a better job at diversifying its economy by improving its physical and human capital by using resource rents from hydropower.

Bhutan ranks 149 out of 160 countries on the 2018 Logistics Performance Index and 121 out of 176 countries on the 2017 ICT index.

Bhutan falls in the bottom half of the Human Capital Project rankings on critical indicators such as expected years of schooling.

India: Building trust in local governance institutions in Bihar’s villages

Farah Zahir's picture
Sushumlata, the head of the gram panchayat of Dawan village, Bhojpur District, Bihar, conducts a meeting at the newly furbished panchayat office.
Sushumlata, the head of the gram panchayat of Dawan village, Bhojpur District, Bihar, conducts a meeting at the newly furbished panchayat office.


In a remote village in Bihar’s Bhojpur district, Sushumlata sits behind a spanking new desk in a newly-refurbished government building.

From the time she came to the village as a new bride, this young woman has chosen to get involved in community affairs by joining the Self Help Group (SHG) movement.

Later, armed with a master’s degree in social work, she joined active politics and, in 2016, was elected the Mukhiya, or head of the Dawan village Gram Panchayat – the local governance institution – under the seat reserved for women.

Sushumlata is the face of the government in this remote corner of Bihar. When we visit her in the newly upgraded Gram Panchayat building – refurbished under the World Bank (IDA) funded Bihar Panchayat Strengthening Project – she tells us how the newly painted and equipped building has made a difference.

A young man is busy on a computer beside her, helping an elderly gentleman apply for a government pension.

Make it convenient, make it credible

Haishan Fu's picture

We’re living in a time of disruptive technologies evolving at an exponential pace. Today, you can enjoy an Impossible Burger (meat industry disrupted) delivered by Caviar (food delivery disrupted) to your AirBnB (hotel industry disrupted) while you’re on FaceTime (telecommunication industry disrupted) urging your teenager to get back to lessons on Khan Academy (education industry disrupted). And all the while, you’re leaving a trail of digital data points.

So rather than trying to predict what the future will bring, I want to focus on the principles we should use to shape it. What do we want the future to look like? In the World Bank’s lobby, there’s a giant inscription that reads “Our Dream is a World Free of Poverty”. I think the key to bringing about that world is getting quality data into the hands of people who can use it to make the world better. To me, this means two things: making data convenient and making data credible.


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