|Accessing information is a right that comes associated with—at least—the homework of reading, studying and understanding such information. (February 2010, World Bank booth at Library Week in Vientiane, WB photo)|
|No mountains are visible beyond this pollution cloud. (Late November 2007)|
It certainly feels like the worst of winter is over for another year, well until December anyway. Daytime temperatures now reach above 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) regularly, the city’s ice sculptures have melted and the slippery footpaths have thawed, making walking in the city safer and easier. There’s also a visible improvement in Ulaanbaatar’s (UB) air quality.
On most days, from my office window, I can now see the beautiful snow-dappled mountains that surround UB; during the heavily polluted winter months the horizon is completely hidden behind a thick grey-brown smoky haze.
Big news: the World Bank has launched an open data site with more than 2,000 financial, business, health, economic and human development statistics. Until now, most of this had been available only to paying subscribers. Not only that, but the site and indicators are also available in French, Spanish, and Arabic --with 330 indicators initially, but set to grow.
Ivailo Izvorski, the Lead Economist for the East Asia & Pacific region of the World Bank (and our latest blogger, below this post), and Vikram Nehru, Chief Economist for the region, held a live online chat a couple of days ago where they answered a good number of questions about China's currency, GDP forecasts, free-trade agreements, and structural reforms, among others.
We have all probably heard the old adage “Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do”. Recent temblors in Haiti and earlier in China have tragically demonstrated the truth of this. Out-of-date building codes and regulations, poor enforcement and badly-planned urbanization have all greatly increased the risk of urban disasters all over the developing world.