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March 2016

2015: The 25th year of Mongolia’s partnership with the World Bank

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
This is the final entry in our series on the 25 years since Mongolia joined the World Bank. (To read the series from the beginning, click here for the 1991 post.) Befitting the 25th year of the partnership, the year 2015 was a year focused on knowledge.

The latest estimates of poverty in Mongolia showed both progress and reason for concern. The National Statistical Office (NSO) and the World Bank have worked together on the methodology for estimating poverty since at least 2002. The estimates showed that the poverty rate declined from 27.4 percent in 2012 to 21.6 percent in 2014, continuing the trend of 2010-2012. The estimates also showed, however, that many people are near the poverty line and remain vulnerable as the economy softens. 

2014: Toward more efficient financing for healthcare, agriculture, and Ulaanbaatar city

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
Continuing our series on the 25 years since Mongolia joined the World Bank, today we look at 2014. Growth was 7.8 percent, but inflation was in double-digits and FDI continued to fall. The World Bank’s economic updates continued to warn of persistent macroeconomic imbalances, and sector studies focused on financing.

The rapid growth rates of the previous years, combined with the bent for decentralization, led to a natural desire to explore new possibilities for subnational finance. To this end, a pair of studies in 2014 aimed at preparing a debt management approach for Ulaanbaatar and a financial self-assessment for the city. The former stressed “the need to first build local institutional capacity for an effective and transparent debt management system before any borrowing is considered. … UB should use this time to put in place a debt management system so that it is prepared for borrowing once it is ready and the macroeconomic conditions improve.” The latter study examined what it would take for Ulaanbaatar to improve its credit quality and thereby prepare for an official rating from a credit rating agency. The recommendations centered on improving the city’s financial reporting system, strengthening its capital investment planning process, improving its capital asset registry, strengthening the oversight of municipal-owned enterprises and their debts, and identifying Ulaanbaatar’s contingent liabilities, both explicit and implicit.

2013: The challenge of public finance during a mining boom

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
Continuing our series celebrating the 25 years that Mongolia has been a member of the World Bank, today we look at 2013.  Foreign direct investment (FDI) fell below 20% of GDP, down from the heights around 50% of GDP a few years earlier. Growth, however, was still in double-digit territory and inflation was in single digits.

With the boom well underway, a report examined how to meet the challenge of scaling up infrastructure.  In a blog summarizing the study, one co-author was blunt:  “Financed by the mining boom, government spending on new infrastructure in Mongolia has increased 35-fold in the past 10 years. But you would not know this from driving the pot holed streets of Ulaanbaatar or inhaling the smog filled air of the city, particularly in the ger areas. … [The study] examines why this increased spending is not resulting in equivalent benefits for the citizens of Mongolia in terms of better roads, efficient and clean heating, and improved water and sanitation services.” The study pointed to poor project planning and implementation, and suggested ways to improve.

2012: Scaling up Mongolia

Coralie Gevers's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
In the 25 years since Mongolia joined the World Bank, 2012 stands out for several reasons.  Starting with politics: 2012 was an electoral year that produced its fair share of surprises. The main issue at stake was for Mongolians to decide if and how they wanted to use the country's mining wealth for its development. Politicians appealed to Mongolians' love for their country, its nature, its grand history, and its fighting spirit. While Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi monopolized the headlines, the issue was much deeper: what does it mean to be Mongolian in today's globalizing world?
For an outside observer like me—I was in my second year as the World Bank’s Country Manager for Mongolia at the time—it was fantastic to see democracy at work: the spirit of 1990 that I had read about and seen in pictures at the National Museum was still alive! The more experienced observers were puzzled: many Mongolians told me that for the first time since 1990, they were unable to forecast the outcome of those elections. A few did predict the outcome, of course: the Democratic Party won the largest share of seats and opted to form a coalition with the MPRP and the Civil Will-Green Party.
At the World Bank, we also had a leadership change: Mr. Jim Yong Kim, until then President of Dartmouth College and co-founder of Partners in Health, replaced Mr. Robert Zoellick at the helm of the World Bank Group in July 2012.

2011: Galloping

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
In our review of the 25 years since Mongolia joined the World Bank, 2011 stands out as a year of recovery, and that is an understatement.  By the beginning of 2011 the economy had stabilized and our economists returned to a quarterly format for publication of the economic updates.  The January Economic Update noted the strengthening of the economy:  For the year as a whole, real GDP grew 17.5 percent, the fastest rate for any country in the world. And while many mineral exporters were riding the wave of high commodity prices, few matched Mongolia’s investment boom, with FDI more than quadrupling in only a few years.  A 45 second animation showing FDI and GDP for extractives exporting countries makes clear how remarkable Mongolia’s second, synchronous, wave of FDI really was.
FDI and GDP growth over time
FDI and GDP growth for six extractives exporting countries from 1990 to 2013 as animated by the World Bank’s Macrostats app.

2010: Continued support in the midst of snow and smoke

Badamchimeg Dondog's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
As we continue with our stories of 25 years in 25 days, today we bring 2010 under the spotlight. My very first thought of 2010 brings me back to sunny and hot Brisbane, Australia where I studied at the time for a graduate degree. In early January that year, after completing my first year of studies, I decided to come home for a quick visit just in time for the Lunar New Year celebrations. As I stood at the Brisbane International Airport, still in a light T-shirt, I did not realize how much I was underestimating the warnings my parents had given me, repeatedly, regarding the snow and smoke situation back home. Coming from the heat and humidity down under, when I landed in UB I experienced a 60 degree Celsius temperature difference as that winter was exceptionally cold with heavy snow and sharp temperature drops (below minus 40 degrees Celsius) in most parts of the country. And the smoke made me continuously wonder if I had forgotten so quickly how bad it was though I had left for Australia only a year earlier. Many others had similar reflections, including Mr. Arshad Sayed, the World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia at the time, who blogged about the terrible dzud we experienced that winter in rural parts of the country and the air pollution situation in the nation’s capital.

2009: Responding to the global financial crisis; estimating the costs of air pollution

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian

Continuing our series celebrating the 25 years since Mongolia became a member of the World Bank, today we look at 2009.  The global financial crisis that began in the US the previous year hit Mongolia hard in late 2008 and through 2009, as commodity prices collapsed and economic growth turned negative for the first time since 1993.  The World Bank switched from a quarterly to a monthly format for its economic updates to stay abreast of the rapidly deteriorating situation—the April 2009 edition illustrated how sharply the commodities markets had reversed in only one year.

2008: Defining common goals through deliberation

Erdene-Ochir Badarch's picture
Also available in: Mongolian

Continuing with our series looking at the 25 year partnership between Mongolia and the World Bank, today we look at 2008, a year that will be remembered by many Mongolians for events both high and low. The low point was the riot that followed parliamentary elections on 1st July, 2008. Five innocent lives were lost and Ulaanbaatar city was under a state emergency for two days and three nights. While Mongolia is rightfully praised for its peaceful transition from one regime to another in 1990, this incident of 2008 will be remembered as the darkest time in the 25 years of democracy.

The high of 2008 occurred after this riot when Mr. Tuvshinbayr Naidan brought home Mongolia’s 1st ever gold medal from the Beijing summer Olympics. I will never forget the sight of people waving our national flag, gathering in the Central Square and cheering with exhilaration.   The World Bank’s Country Director, David Dollar, also celebrated this historic occasion, noting that “The event was important enough to get rival political parties to shake hands and share the pride.”

What can Chinese cities learn from Singapore?

Wanli Fang's picture
Also available in: 中文
One of Singapore’s latest redevelopment projects included the construction of a freshwater reservoir. Photo: 10 FACE/Shutterstock

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Singapore Urban Week along with other colleagues from the World Bank Beijing office, as well as delegates from China’s national government and participating cities. For all of us, this trip to Singapore was an eye-opening experience that highlighted the essential role of integrated urban planning in building sustainable cities, and provided practical solutions that can be readily adapted to help achieve each city’s own development vision. A couple of key lessons learned:

Putting people at the center of development strategies

This is only possible when planners always keep in mind people’s daily experience of urban space and invite them as part of decision-making process through citizen engagement.

For instance, in many cities, public transit has been perceived as a low-end, unattractive option of travel, causing ridership to stagnate despite severe traffic congestion. But in Singapore, public transit accounts for 2/3 of the total travel modal share in 2014. Moving around the city by metro is comfortable and efficient because transfers between different modes and lines are easy, with clear signage of directions, air-conditioned connecting corridors, and considerate spatial designs and facilities for the elderly and physically-challenged users. In addition, metro stations are co-located with major retail and commercial activities and other urban amenities, significantly reducing last-mile connectivity issues.

2007: Sunshine works: Solar gers and transparency

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian

In 2007, Mongolia’s economy grew at a double digit pace with modest inflation. The slump of the 1990s must have seemed a distant memory in the last full year before the elections in 2008.

The previous year saw several iconic projects approved, and 2007, the next year in our 25 years in 25 days reflection, did likewise.  The Renewable Energy for Rural Access Project (REAP) became effective in 2007 and was ultimately expanded.  The project brought a modern solution to a century old problem:  how can the benefits of electricity be harnessed to benefit the quarter of Mongolia’s people who are nomadic herders living in gers?  Connecting them to the grid was not a solution both because distances are vast and because nomadic people move around.  The modern solution was to give the herders access to solar power through a program launched by the Mongolian Government supported by the World Bank and the Government of the Netherlands. “Thanks to the National 100,000 Solar Ger Electrification Program, over half a million men, women and children, covering half the rural population of Mongolia and 70 percent of herders, now have access to modern electricity.” For these 100,000 herder families, the off-grid solar home systems generate enough power for lights, televisions, radios, mobile phone charging and small appliances. (Video here.) 

Indonesia: Testing a new approach to improve public management for better service delivery

Zaki Fahmi's picture
Also available in: Bahasa Indonesia
The district of Bojonegoro in East Java is planning to improve public management for better services, such as maternal health care.

In post decentralization Indonesia, the responsibility to deliver services falls largely at the hands of the local government. So, too, does the management of public money. Local governments currently manage about half of Indonesia’s public finances. Transfers to the regions increased by more than threefold in real terms since the onset of decentralization.
However, with few improvements in health and education indicators, the results of these increased transfers are not encouraging.

2006: Bringing libraries to every classroom, and mobile telephones and internet to every town, in rural Mongolia

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian

Today we look at 2006, the 16th year of the 25 year partnership between Mongolia and the World Bank. The economy continued to grow, checking in at 8.6% for the year, as did industry’s share of GDP which peaked that year at 43%. 

The year 2006 was a banner year for the World Bank’s program in Mongolia, with several iconic projects approved that year, starting with one in rural education. 

An institutional and governance review of budget expenditure for education found that the pupil-per-teacher ratio is higher in urban schools. Among other findings, the Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS), on which the report was based, illustrated that students in rural schools obtained significantly lower test scores than those from urban schools, consistent with “a pattern where the more disadvantaged — and therefore lower-performing students — systematically fail to advance their schooling and drop out at a younger age in the rural areas.”  The need to provide rural children better education opportunities, which had been a theme for years, had further evidence.

2005: Broadening support for the environment (and dinosaurs)

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian

In our one-year-at-a-time celebration of the 25 year partnership between Mongolia and the World Bank, today we look at 2005.  Growth remained a robust 7.3% and industry, which includes mining, continued to produce a larger proportion of Mongolia’s GDP.

2004: Digging deep on mining

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian

Continuing our series of blogs looking at the 25 year partnership between Mongolia and the World Bank, today we examine 2004, the year Mongolia’s growth rate accelerated to 10.4%.  After 15 years, real GDP per capita had finally passed the level of 1989. The country was in the midst of a mining boom, and that sector took center stage in 2004. 

Mongolia Mining Sector: Managing the Future assessed the “medium-term growth potential of Mongolia's non-fuel minerals industry, and its potential contribution to economic growth, poverty reduction, and regional development.”  The study, based on field work undertaken in 2003, took a broad approach, examining potential constraints and investor perceptions, and then recommended options to improve industry management and the investment climate. Recommendations urged mining companies to support social programs that benefit the surrounding communities, and the government to establish and maintain adequate infrastructure to meet the mining sector’s growth. “The government should address the challenges associated with mining for growth, namely, preventing the development of unsustainable fiscal policy and mounting debt; avoiding rent-seeking behavior, and, overcoming absorptive capacity constraints and adverse impacts on non-mineral exports.”

Ideas for Thailand’s digital transformation

Ulrich Zachau's picture
Also available in: ภาษาไทย

The world is witnessing the greatest information and communications revolution in human history. Digital technologies provide access to huge amounts of information at all times, allow us to stay in touch with friends and relatives much more easily, and offer new opportunities for business and leisure. The sky is the limit!

The information revolution has reached billions of people around the world, and more people get connected every day.  However, many others are not yet sharing in the benefits of modern digital technologies.  There are the digital “haves” and digital “have nots”.   

Today, 95% of the global population have access to a digital signal, but 5% do not; 73% have mobile phones, but 27% do not; slightly less than half of all people (46%) have internet, but the majority do not; and only 19% of the world’s population has broadband. There also are persistent digital divides across gender, geography, age, and income dimensions within each country.

Why should we care about overcoming this digital divide, and what can we do?

Closing the gap in Myanmar: Expanding access to social services

Hnin Hnin Pyne's picture

Myanmar’s people are its greatest resource. Its current young population and growing number of productive workers hold the promise of a demographic dividend and inclusive growth. With a steady pace of economic growth, Myanmar has the potential to get rich before it gets old.
For Myanmar to deliver on this potential it can prioritize investing in its people, by strengthening the country's health, education, and social protection systems. Education and health directly improve chances of employment. Individuals who complete more years of schooling earn a higher income.  Improving health, education and social protections – closing the gap – is not a mere by-product of economic development, but is essential to shared prosperity.
Myanmar in the early 1960s, poised to be the economic engine of the region, prided itself for having the highest literacy rate in Asia. After decades of underspending and neglect of social services and programs, human development outcomes deteriorated, ranking among the lowest in the region.  Rural and poorer households bore a greater burden of ill health, low educational attainment and vulnerability. 
In 2009, a major share of the total education and health spending came from households, 63% and 82% respectively.  This direct out-of-pocket spending, which was one of the highest in the world, prevented people from seeking care and attending school, because they could not afford it. In the case of health, families were made even poorer, as they had to sell their belongings to pay for the care they needed.  And there was no system to protect them. 
Even today, social assistance programs only reach 0.1% of the population, compared to 39% among East Asian and the Pacific countries.  This is in part due to extremely low level of social assistance spending, which is only 0.02% of GDP, compared to an average of 1.1% of GDP among low-income countries.

Transforming state-owned enterprises: What other countries can learn from Malaysia

José de Luna-Martínez's picture

As Tunisia embarks on an ambitious reform agenda to strengthen corporate governance and modernize its state-owned enterprises, senior representatives from the Ministry of Finance visited Malaysia in December last year to learn about the country’s best practices on restructuring and managing government-linked companies (GLCs).
These companies, where the Malaysian government has a controlling stake, underwent major transformations since 2004 to turn weak operational and financial performances into high performing entities critical for the country’s future prosperity. The program was successfully executed and has enabled these companies to become profitable, dynamic, performance-oriented, and well-governed institutions.
This visit is one of the first activities of the new World Bank Group Research and Knowledge Hub in Kuala Lumpur, which is helping Malaysia share its successful development experience globally. Here are a few lessons that Tunisia, and other countries, can learn from Malaysia’s experience on reforming government-linked companies.

2003: Understanding the environment, and strengthening public financial management

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian

We are reviewing the 25 year partnership between Mongolia and the World Bank, one year at a time, and today we examine 2003.  GDP grew 7.0% that year, the highest growth rate since the transition began. Nevertheless, agricultural production was still well below its historical levels:  agriculture’s share of GDP had fallen from 35% in 1998-1999, prior to the dzud, to only 21% in 2003. 

After several years of difficult winters, the World Bank program had begun to focus more on rural livelihoods. This shift found further support in the Government of Mongolia’s first full poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) which drew on a broad range of quantitative and qualitative data sources to understand the nature of poverty in Mongolia.  And that nature was one of vulnerability.  The difficult winters, and the migration to the cities they sparked, had heightened attention to environmental problems—the ongoing rewriting of land management institutions raised even more concern.  Programs aiming to make livelihoods sustainable needed to be matched with programs to make land use sustainable.

2002: Toward sustainable livelihoods

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
Mongolia became a member of the World Bank in 1991 and we are blogging about the 25 year partnership on the path toward prosperity , one year at a time….

After back-to-back dzud’s (winter disasters), and to address the increasingly visible problem of rural poverty, the Sustainable Livelihoods Project (SLP) was approved in 2002.  The rationale drew on a joint Government-donor evaluation of National Poverty Alleviation Program (NPAP) which concluded that “NPAP had provided valuable support to local governments for the rehabilitation of social and economic infrastructure, but the direct income-generation support to poor households was much smaller than ought to have been realized, and benefited perhaps not more than 20% of poor households. Achievements in reducing rural poverty were particularly limited.”  With livelihoods on the steppe so fragile, what could be done?

2001: Participatory learning about poverty

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
Continuing with our series looking at each of the 25 years since Mongolia joined the World Bank, today we look at 2001.  Following a devastating winter the year before, Mongolia would experience another dzud in the winter of 2001-2002, with further loss of animals and livelihoods for many.  It was increasingly clear that restocking after the disasters, while needed, was not sufficient.  The World Bank began preparation of a project focusing squarely on sustainable livelihoods for those in rural areas.  The Sustainable Livelihoods Project would be approved the next year and remain a core part of the World Bank’s partnership with Mongolia to the present

In June of 2001, the Government of Mongolia produced its Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP), outlining the challenges faced by the dzud, by the fall in commodity prices and trade as a result of the Asian financial crisis, and by the transition from socialism. The I-PRSP outlined the “main priority policy issues of the government: reduction of unemployment, public sector management, improvement of access and delivery of basic services, and increase of living standards of the population.”  An assessment by the staff of IDA and the IMF lauded the I-PRSP’s strong analysis of government policies, designed to ensure macroeconomic stability; solid assessment of poverty; early involvement of civil society and other major stakeholders in the preparation process; and a satisfactory agenda for stakeholder analysis. 

‘I matter’: giving unemployed young Papua New Guineans a second chance

Tom Perry's picture

Young people account for almost half of Papua New Guinea’s population and comprise a large part of the urban poor. In the capital, Port Moresby, an increasing number of young people are leaving school without the necessary skills for entry-level jobs.

The Urban Youth Employment Project (UYEP) provides disadvantaged young people (aged between 16 and 35) in Port Moresby with life skills and employment training to increase their chances of finding long-term employment, also the motivation to make a fresh start in life. To help meet immediate economic needs, the project is also providing temporary employment opportunities.

2000: Restocking after the Dzud

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
The winter of 1999-2000 brought a terrible dzud—a Mongolian term for a particularly harsh winter causing major losses of livestock.  According to a UNDP-GOM report, it was the worst dzud in 50 years for five of Mongolia’s aimags.  The late snowfall affected over 70 percent of the total territory of Mongolia and when fully counted by June 1, 2000, nearly 2.4 million heads of livestock were lost.  Partially as a result of this calamity, GDP growth fell to just 1.1% and agriculture’s share of GDP fell by 4 percentage points.

The suffering in rural areas was clear, and the loss of animals meant a loss of future livelihoods, as well.  As part of its relief plan, the Mongolian Government requested to reallocate the remaining proceeds of the World Bank’s Poverty Alleviation for Vulnerable Groups Project for dzud disaster relief. Over $1.3 million went to assist poor herders affected by the dzud to help them restock and maintain their livelihoods. About a third of all eligible herder households received support from the restocking project.  In subsequent years, the World Bank program in Mongolia would shift to address squarely the challenges facing herders.

On International Women’s Day, 5 facts about gender and the law in the Pacific Islands

Katrin Schulz's picture

There is a lot that development practitioners don’t know about the Pacific Islands. When it comes to the laws of these small island nations scattered throughout the ocean separating Asia and the Americas, most people outside the region know even less. Add the dimension of gender to the mix and you might be met with blank stares.

1999: Financing and investing in the world’s most sparsely populated country

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
Continuing with our series of 25 years in 25 days, today we look at 1999. Mongolia’s economy grew by just over 3%, and inflation checked in at the relatively modest rate of 7.6%.  In 1991, under the old regime, the official exchange rate was 7 togrogs per US$.  As the end of the decade approached, the exchange rate on the Mongolian togrog passed 1,000 per US$.  Protests against globalization erupted in Seattle, while firms in Mongolia were looking for ways to enter the global markets.

A new transport strategy focused squarely on Mongolia’s oft-cited geographical disadvantages.  Taming the tyrannies of distance and isolation looked at international trade routes, internal integration, railroads, airways, and policy, regulation, and competition in all of them.  The report, which led to a project a couple years later, also highlighted the impact of neglect in the decade since Mongolia’s transition began.  “With historically scarce financial resources, infrastructure maintenance has received a very low priority. This is now resulting in high infrastructure reconstruction costs that could have been avoided, since with just 1% of GDP allocated to its maintenance, the economic and technical life of most transport infrastructure can be greatly extended. To avoid further costly reconstruction, at least this amount should be allocated to infrastructure maintenance.”

1998: Mongolia’s financial, formal, and informal sectors

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
Continuing with our series of 25 years in 25 days, today we look at 1998.  It was another year of modest growth, with agriculture and services making up for the continued decline of the industrial sector which had fallen from 43% of GDP in 1990 to only 25% by 1998.  The financial sector was recovering from a crisis the previous year—with support from an IMF program, international reserves grew by 40 percent in 1997, and inflation had decelerated from 50% in mid-1997 to 17.5% (annualized) by the end of that year.  For the year 1998, consumer price inflation stood at 9.4%.

1997: Stabilization at the heart of policy choices

Badamchimeg Dondog's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
As we continue traveling on our 25-day journey through our 25 years’ history, today we look back at the year 1997. Before digging into what the economic and social situation of the country looked like back then and what our Bank colleagues accomplished in Mongolia during the year, I want to quickly reflect on my own life back in the year.

The year of 1997 happened to be a turning point in my life as it was the year when my family moved from the far western aimag of Khovd to the capital city Ulaanbaatar after having lived in the aimag center for well over a decade. The things I remember truly well from the time are, firstly, we did not have power in Khovd, so we had to study in candlelight and cook on gas stoves imported from China or using firewood inside our apartment. Another major thing I had much excitement about at the time was that we were able to get our modest one-bedroom apartment in Khovd privatized, sell it to a local to finally move back to the big city to get closer to our relatives in the south of the country. All in all, in my thirteen year old mind back in 1997, life was somewhat tough with basic living conditions in remote areas still rather poor yet things were changing as I know it, perhaps for the good. Years later now, when I look back into 1997, in my thirty something mind, surprisingly, I get a similar picture. The social and economic situation in the country was still challenging in many ways but the country continued to transition and change, perhaps towards more good.

Malnutrition denies children opportunity and stunts economic development

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture

Nearly 50 years ago, books such as Asian Drama: An Inquiry Into The Poverty Of Nations, by the Swedish economist and Nobel laureate Gunnar Myrdal, offered a dire prediction of famine and poverty for the region in coming decades.

1996: Taking stock of the profile of the poor, and the state of state enterprises

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
Photo courtesy of The World Bank Group Archives

In 1996, Mongolia’s GDP growth declined to 2.2% in real terms and consumer price inflation jumped back up to nearly 47%.  The previous year had seen the launch of a project on Poverty Alleviation for Vulnerable Groups, a project which called for a deeper understanding of poverty in Mongolia.  In 1996, Mongolia - Poverty Assessment in a Transition Economy was released.  This was the first poverty assessment for Mongolia to be based primarily on the Living Standard Measurement Survey (LSMS).  The poverty assessment sought to provide an in-depth understanding of the economic, demographic, regional and social characteristics of the poor, and to promote poverty reduction as an explicit objective in the formulation of public policy and resource allocation.