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Urban Development

Need better maps? Take it to the crowd!

Charles Fox's picture
A detailed map of the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Open Street Map
Amateur mappers the world over have long known that they can support global development, from the comfort of their homes, through one simple tool: OpenStreetMap (OSM). What has been less clear is how we can build this effort into the fabric of World Bank operations.

OSM has revolutionized geography. It is the ‘Wikipedia’ of mapping: anyone can edit the map by tracing features such as roads and buildings against free, high-quality satellite imagery. In contrast to other map services, the platform is entirely open:  anyone can download a layer of the roads and buildings that make up the map. It is built for the people, by the people, in all regions of the world. It epitomizes the best features of open digital collaboration: leading-edge technology made freely available to all, regardless of location. Because everyone can contribute, OSM maps are often much more complete than commercial alternatives—especially in areas that are hard to survey, such as informal settlements].

The World Bank makes frequent use of OSM for research purposes, and occasionally supports one-off initiatives to complete OSM maps in specific areas, e.g. after natural disasters (Nepal and Haiti are recent examples). But we have put less effort into nurturing the community of altruistic mapping volunteers who make OSM so special, and play a critical role in keeping the map updated over time.

A recent series of initiatives, however, is bucking that trend.
 

Urban expansion and resettlement can be a win-win for cities and communities: Case studies from five countries

Maninder Gill's picture
World Bank interview on urban expansion and resettlement

Our planet is undergoing a process of rapid urbanization, and the next few decades will see unprecedented growth in urban areas, including in urban infrastructure. Most of the growth will take place in low-and middle-income countries. The expansion and development of urban areas require the acquisition of land, which often requires physical relocation of people who own or occupy that land.

How can urban resettlement become a development opportunity for those affected by the process of urban development?

A World Bank report titled Urban Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement: Linking Innovation and Local Benefits offers useful examples:

How stories can help communicate volcanic risk to communities

Alanna Simpson's picture
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Violent volcanic eruptions in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Guatemala have made the world’s headlines in the past few weeks. The eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano has claimed the lives of 110 people and triggered the evacuations of thousands from their homes.

Despite popular belief and public expectation, volcanic eruptions are extraordinarily difficult to predict. Oftentimes, they happen with limited warning, which leaves little if any time for authorities to react, much less communicate the risk to those affected. At other times, a volcano may seem to show all the signs of an imminent eruption, but it doesn’t happen.

When communicating disaster risk and coordinating a response, there’s also more to it than merely predicting whether an eruption will occur. Scientists need to use data and information to determine the potential size, duration and characteristics of the eruption. Will it be explosive, triggering deadly pyroclastic flows and widespread ash, or something else?


The scientific uncertainties surrounding volcanic eruption forecasting are among the many challenges associated with communicating the potential for volcanic eruption to surrounding populations. This is especially true for communities living near volcanoes that have not erupted in recent memory. Science can help, but far too often, it’s not enough to get people and communities to take action.

Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth, makes the case that risk communicators also need to leverage the power of stories and narratives to help communities understand the situation. “When you go look at examples where disaster preparedness has failed, it’s because there’s been no enduring, compelling narrative beneath it,” Stewart pointed out.

In this video interview from the 2018 Understanding Risk Forum, hosted by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the World Bank, Stewart discusses the role of stories and narratives in volcanic risk communication with Alanna Simpson, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist at the World Bank. 

What it takes to help internally displaced persons

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
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A total of 40 million people are estimated to be displaced within their countries as a result of conflict and violence.
 
Of the world’s conflict-induced internally displaced persons (IDPs), 76% are concentrated in just ten countries. Many of the countries have struggled with high levels of displacement for decades.
 
On World Refugee Day, following the recent release of the annual Global Report on Internal Displacement 2018 by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), IDMC Director Alexandra Bilak speaks with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), the World Bank’s Senior Director of the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, about the report and key areas of engagement on the issue of IDPs.

A key message of the report is that failure to address long-term displacement has the potential to undermine the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and progress on other international agreements. To make genuine progress at the national, regional and international levels, there needs to be constructive and open dialogue on internal displacement. This must be led by countries impacted by the issue, with the support of international partners, and in line with their national priorities and realities, according to the report.  
 
While continuing to monitor and assess internal displacement and sudden-onset disasters, IDMC will also focus in the coming years on building a more comprehensive understanding of drought-related displacement and internal displacement in cities, as well as expanding research into the economic costs of internal displacement. Watch the video to learn more.
 

The harsh realities – and hopeful solutions – of internal displacement

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
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Among the 68.5 million displaced people around the world, almost two-thirds of them – about 40 million people – are internally displaced persons (IDPs) within their own countries, according to the United Nations.

While 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the ​Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, it is not a moment to celebrate since we are facing enormous challenges to address internal displacement. However, it is an important opportunity to galvanize international communities for strategic action aimed at protecting IDPs and addressing the development challenges.
 
On World Refugee Day, Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, speaks with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, on internal displacement.
 
In the interview, Ms. Jimenez-Damary outlines the important actions necessary for progress on the issue, including:
  • ensuring coherence between diplomatic, humanitarian, protection, and development actions, and
  • building capacity and awareness within governments so that they can better manage the challenges of internal displacement.

Ms. Jimenez-Damary emphasizes the need to allow the participation of IDPs “in order to make any solutions effective and sustainable.” Watch the video to learn more.
 
In April 2018, the Special Rapporteur, together with governments and humanitarian and development partners, including the World Bank, launched the GP20 Plan of Action for Advancing Prevention, Protection and Solutions for IDPs (2018-2020). For more information, click here.

Global migration and urban expansion: an interview with Ambassador William L. Swing

Kristyn Schrader-King's picture


Migration is one of the major defining factors of our time.

Today, one billion people – one out of seven people in the world – are migrants, including over 250 million people living outside their home country and an estimated 750 million domestic migrants.


According to a new World Bank report, “Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labor Markets,” some of the biggest gains in global welfare and economic development come from the movement of people between countries.

However, migration is often an overlooked piece of the globalization mosaic. Rapid urbanization adds to the complex picture of migration – and poses a challenge to the host communities and migrants alike.

What can be done to improve governance of global migration and encourage actions on urban expansion?

As part of our Spring Meetings 2018 Interview Series, we spoke with Ambassador William L. Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Watch the interview to learn more.

From Japan to Bhutan: Improving the resilience of cultural heritage sites

Barbara Minguez Garcia's picture
This page in: 日本語
 Barbara Minguez Garcia 2018
When it comes to their heritage buildings, both Bhutan and Japan have one common enemy: Fire. A view of Wangduephodrang Dzong in Bhutan which was destroyed by fire in 2012. Credit: Barbara Minguez Garcia 2018

About 2,749 miles, three countries, and a sea separate Kyoto, Japan, and Thimphu, Bhutan. The countries’ languages are different, and so are their histories.

But when it comes to their heritage buildings, both nations have one common enemy: Fire.

And to help prevent fire hazards, there’s a lot Bhutan can learn from Japan’s experience.

To that end, a Bhutanese delegation visited Tokyo and Kyoto last year to attend the Resilient Cultural Heritage and Tourism Technical Deep Dive to learn best practices on risk preparedness and mitigation, and apply them to Bhutan’s context.

Such knowledge is critical as Bhutan’s communities live in and around great heritage sites.

Mobility constraints undermine the potential of Haitian cities

Roger Gorham's picture
Photo: UNDP/Flickr
At about 3:30am most weekday mornings, Lovelie is by the roadside near her home in Kenscoff, Haiti, waiting for a vehicle with her produce of carrots and broccoli. With luck, a ‘camion’ with sufficient room for her and her bundles will come by soon, to take her for the 22-kilometer trip to the Croix-de-Bossales market in the center of Port-au-Prince, where she has a stall. If not, she will have to take a ‘tap-tap’, informal urban public transport similar to that found in many cities of the developing world, operated by small-scale entrepreneurs using second-hand vehicles – in Haiti’s case, imported pick-up trucks from the United States, modified to seat 14 on the flat bed, with standing room for a few more.

Lovelie prefers to pay more for a camion than take a tap-tap, because the former will take her directly to the market in 55 minutes. Tap-tap operators, to maximize revenues, limit the distance they operate to no more than 5 kilometers, so she would have to change three or four times, which is not easy with her bundles of goods. But she may not have a choice, if the camions are full by the time they get to her, as they often are.

Understanding the realities of urban transport as experienced by people like Lovelie was key for the forthcoming Haitian Urban Mobility Study and the Haiti Urbanization Review, two distinct but interdependent studies developed by the World Bank’s transport and urban development teams.

Applications open for third round of funding for collaborative data innovation projects

World Bank Data Team's picture
Photo Credit: The Crowd and The Cloud


The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and the World Bank Development Data Group are pleased to announce that applications are now open for a third round of support for innovative collaborations for data production, dissemination, and use. This follows two previous rounds of funding awarded in 2017 and earlier in 2018.

This initiative is supported by the World Bank’s Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) with financing from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Korea and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland.

Scaling local data and synergies with official statistics

The themes for this year’s call for proposals are scaling local data for impact, which aims to target innovations that have an established proof of concept which benefits local decision-making, and fostering synergies between the communities of non-official data and official statistics, which looks for collaborations that take advantage of the relative strengths and responsibilities of official (i.e. governmental) and non-official (e.g.,private sector, civil society, social enterprises and academia) actors in the data ecosystem.

After disasters hit, how countries and communities can build back better

Sameh Wahba's picture
This page in: Français
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Disaster losses disproportionately affect poor people, according to the 2017 “Unbreakable” report. The Caribbean Hurricane season of 2017 was a tragic illustration of this.

Not one, but two Category 5 hurricanes wreaked destruction on numerous small islands, causing severe damages on islands like Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Martin. The human cost of these disasters was immense, and the impact of this devastation was felt most strongly by poorer communities in the path of the storms.
 
And yet, amidst the destruction, it is essential to look forward and to build back better.
 
A new report, “Building Back Better: Achieving Resilience through Strong, Faster, and More Inclusive Post-Disaster Reconstruction,” explores how countries can strengthen their resilience to natural shocks through a better reconstruction process. It shows that reconstruction needs to be: 

 


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