One of the more common requests I receive from colleagues in the World Bank’s operational units is support on evaluating the impact of a large cash transfer program, usually carried out by the national government. Despite the fact that our government counterparts are much more willing to consider a randomized promotion impact evaluation (IE) design these days, still this is often not possible. This could be, for example, because it has already been announced that the program is going to be implemented in certain areas starting on a certain date.
Labor and Social Protection
“My brother and I quarrel sometimes. One time, he wanted to listen to Telugu songs and I wanted to listen to Hindi songs on our new FM radio. We both grabbed and pulled the radio and it broke. We ran to the terrace to hide. We were frightened that our father would scold us so we went to sleep without eating. My brother left early morning. I heard my mother telling father what had happened. His only response was, ‘It’s OK. We can buy a new one.’ I jumped out of bed happy.”
Saroja told me this story about when describing her life in English. She is an 11th grade student in an Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Educational Residential Institutions Society (APSWREIS) School which serves talented and meritorious poor children belonging to scheduled castes, so they can benefit from quality education. The program, APSWREIS which has many dalit children, was established by the Social Welfare Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh is supported by the World Bank for infrastructure improvement through the Andhra Pradesh District Poverty Initiatives Project and Rural Poverty Reduction Project.
I recently visited Dadaab, Kenya’s third-largest and fastest-growing city, having grown from 250,000 residents a few years ago to more than 400,000 today.
Dadaab is not an ordinary Kenyan city. Most of its residents are not Kenyans, but Somalis, living in a collection of refugee camps crowding the small Kenyan town that existed 20 years ago.
The camps’ earliest residents sought refuge from the fighting that has made Somalia a failed state. The 1,000+ refugees that are now arriving every day are seeking refuge from climate change, the region’s worst drought in 60 years, and the famine that it brings.
I met a group of refugees at a reception center at Dagahaley camp. They had left everything in Somalia and walked hundreds of kilometers across a dry and unforgiving landscape in a desperate gamble to find food, water and refuge in Kenya. The very young and the very old were in terrible condition. Some had already been in Dadaab for a week, living off the kindness of others, too tired to sort out their status. Now they waited patiently to be registered and to receive their initial food ration.
Looking around the camp, I could see their likely future. Refugees who had arrived earlier were cooking, sitting, or talking around water points, or in the low white UNHCR tents that were now “home”. Still earlier arrivals, also squatting outside the formal camps, were building makeshift shelters, digging pit latrines, collecting firewood, or planting dry branches to fence their meager possessions. The earliest arrivals were the most settled—living in tin-roofed houses and fenced compounds that were formally allotted, not far from the main street of kiosks, shops, and community and administration buildings that gave each camp the look of a small town.
In 2010, under the nationwide Elementary Education Program called Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), an education committee in Bhagwan Garhi in the Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh, India completed the construction of an eight classroom school for the cost of $80 per square meter, whereas the cost incurred for a contractor lead construction of a comparable school structure in the nearby district of Lucknow was $124 per square meter.
According to review reports, the Community Beneficiary Committee in Bhagwan Garhi had completed the work drawing labor from the community and buying the required amount of materials at a lower rate with technical guidance from the district level engineer.
How does this happen?
The best part about working in a country office is the wide array of stakeholders one gets to work with. Development is never a solitary, insular process; indeed, it combines the expertise and inputs of a variety of people from diverse backgrounds: the government, civil society, the private sector, multilateral and bilateral financing institutions – the list is long! So you can imagine my excitement when my colleague, Tahira Syed, called me a few days ago to ask me to participate in a series of consultations with government and civil society representatives from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Tahira is the TTL for a Multi-Donor Trust Fund-financed project which will focus on providing sustainable livelihood opportunities and improvement in local-level infrastructure for FATA residents.
As the project is moving forward in the design and preparation phase, it was an opportune time to hold consultations with the two most important stakeholders of the project: local government and community organizations and representatives. Both groups have very different mandates and roles to play in the development of their areas, but hearing their perspective is crucial and informs the overall outcome of the project.
As much advantage as there is to the world of the internet, there are disadvantages too, the main inconvenience being securing privacy. This has become a particular issue of concern when visual images against political reprisal are exposed. Granted, this very exposure can draw world-wide attention and support for a cause or struggle, but often it leaves advocates involved in demonstrations vulnerable to political targeting and exploitation.
- Labor and Social Protection
- Social Development
- Science and Technology Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- political uprising and privacy online
- online video privacy and human rights
- Citizen uploaded online video-sharing
Social protection programs have proven critical to stop the most vulnerable Latin Americans from falling into extreme poverty during the recent economic crisis, argues an Independent Evaluation Group Report. World Bank expert Rafael Rofman explains in this video blog how these programs have benefitted the poor in Argentina.
“My country finally owns me!" was the delighted reaction from a high level private sector official to the possibility of a national identity system in Bangladesh. A lot of brain-wracking thought went into the possible economic benefits of such a project.
The sleepless nights of complicated financial analyses and exasperatingly fruitless brainstorming sessions that reach a point when you are not willing to say anything until you find something that will make the rest of them jump on their chairs, make things very difficult sometimes! But, the answer was there, short and simple. Such a refreshing start to an interview for the purpose of identifying the probable benefits to service delivery agencies of having access to a near-immaculate database of citizens, was hardly anticipated.
Rolling out robust, digitized national ID (NID) cards to 100 million citizens over a period of five years is the daunting task ahead for Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) Project. One may argue about the novelty offered by this initiative when Bangladeshi citizens with voting eligibility actually have NIDs since late 2008. A solid counter argument would be the “digitized nature” of the sophisticated NIDs of ‘digital Bangladesh’, enabling machine readability of biometric citizen information embedded in the card, as a replacement of the paper based, easily faked cards with little printed information and near-alien photos that gave rise to popular groups like “I hate my NID photo” on Facebook!
Brain drain—the migration of talent across borders—has an impact on Malaysia’s aspiration to become a high-income nation. Human capital is the bedrock of the high-income economy. Sustained and skill-intensive growth will require talent going forward. For Malaysia to be successful in its journey to high income, it will need to develop, attract and retain talent. Brain drain does not appear to square with this objective: Malaysia needs talent, but talent seems to be leaving.
The World Bank has just published its annual World Development Report, something it has been doing for more than three decades. [Disclosure: this economist has been contributing comments to early drafts of the WDR for the past 20 years.] The new volume is about security and development. It says that societies are constantly under internal and external “stresses”—think corruption, youth unemployment, racial discrimination, religious competition, foreign invasion, and international terrorism.
My entry last week gave a quick profile of the South Asian overseas workers and discussed the crucial role of remittances received from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman) for South Asian economies. Today I’d like to discuss whether changes in the labor market policies of the GCC countries could jeopardize job prospects for South Asian migrant workers.
Creating jobs for GCC citizens is already on the top of the agenda in some of these countries and is bound to gain more momentum with the youth bulge. Efforts to create jobs for nationals through the “nationalization of the labor market” have been further intensified as a response to the recent events in the Middle East. Across the GCC, additional policy measures are being announced highlighting the need to replace expats with nationals in private and public sector. These messages have been the strongest in Saudi Arabia, but also in the U.A.E. and Kuwait.
What strikes me most as we engage further in citizen security issues in Latin America and the Caribbean is the level of interconnectivity that can be found at every possible level.
To begin with, of course, are the criminals themselves. Crucial to the success of organized criminal organizations is their ability to transcend borders and effectively integrate the very diverse and harmful facets of their enterprise. We also know how much the different forms of crime – drug traffickers, gun traffickers, youth gangs -- feed off one another. This is especially salient in Central America and Mexico, two of our team's priorities.
The latest figures from the Quarterly Labor Force Survey (QLFS) indicate that the unemployment rate has fallen from 25.3% in 2010Q3 to 24% in 2010Q4.
After shedding 86,000 jobs between 2010Q2 and 2010Q3, employment increased by 1.2% q/q, adding 157,000 jobs between 2010Q3 and 2010Q4. Although these figures are encouraging, unemployment has been persistently high over the past decade. Unemployment has not fallen below 21% since 2001. Moreover, as a result of the global financial crisis, over 1,000,000 jobs were lost.
In an economic crisis, whose job do employers put on the chopping block first? Many gender equality advocates and policymakers are concerned that “women are at risk of being hired last and dismissed first” during crises. This concern is fuelled by evidence showing that employers often discriminate against women even during less volatile times, that women often bear the brunt of coping with economic shocks, and that, in many countries, gender norms prioritize men’s employment over women’s. Despite a lot of rhetoric, existing studies of the labor market consequences of macroeconomic crises have yielded ambiguous conclusions about the differential impact across genders. Might claims about women’s vulnerability be exaggerated?
Most studies that look at the distributional impact of crises rely on household and labor force data. However, these data cannot distinguish between two mechanisms that could account for gender differences in employment adjustment. First, differences in vulnerability could be the result of sorting by gender into firms and occupations that differ in their vulnerability to crises. In this case, the effect of gender is indirect; women may take jobs that are relatively more or less vulnerable. Second, there could be differential treatment of men and women workers within the same firm. Faced with the need to adjust, do employers treat women differently, either by firing them first or cutting their wages more? It is this second mechanism that underpins concerns about discrimination. To distinguish between these mechanisms, we need to compare the employment prospects and wage trajectories of men and women both across and within firms—which means we need firm-level data.
The last 20 years have seen a growing engagement between development and human rights practitioners. But are we still mainly talking past each other? Or has there been valuable mutual learning with development results on the ground?
Let’s start by clarifying what I mean when I refer here to human rights. Adapted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, human rights are international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, economic and social abuses, or, alternatively, which serve to secure and preserve extremely important goods, protections and freedoms in these various areas, for all people everywhere. These rights are now embodied in the 1947 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and nine core international covenants and treaties.
Since 1947 much has happened. And in the last two decades, there has been a growing convergence between human rights and development. Paralleling the broad reach of human rights concerns, the scope of development has also extended enormously. From mainly being concerned with economic growth, the term has broadened to include poverty reduction, inequality, human and social development, the environment, governance and institutions, just to name some. From GDP figures, we now also think about households and the specific needs of specific groups.