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March 2018

Five lessons in infrastructure pricing from East Asia and Pacific

Melania Lotti's picture
Photo: © Dini Sari Djalal/World Bank

In the infrastructure domain, “price” is a prism with many façades.
 
An infrastructure economist sees price in graphic terms: the coordinates of a point where demand and supply curves intersect.
 
For governments, price relates to budget lines, as part of public spending to develop infrastructure networks.
 
Utility managers view price as a decision: the amount to charge for each unit of service in order to recover the costs of production and (possibly) earn a profit.
 
But for most people, price comes with simple question: how much is the tariff I have to pay for the service, and can I afford it?

The World Bank as hummingbird: Leveraging knowledge for development finance

Otaviano Canuto's picture



My admiration for hummingbirds began in my native Brazil.   The hummingbird’s flight patterns may seem a mystery as they shift from one flower to the next.  But hummingbirds are immensely purposeful, agile, and proficient pollinators – among the most hard-working members of many thriving ecosystems.  And they can be found from Alaska to the southernmost regions of South America.  
 
The Bank’s efforts to transfer knowledge, germinate ideas, and catalyze change sometimes put me in mind of the hard-working hummingbird.  My visit to the World Bank’s Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia last year is a case in point.  As I learned about the Bank’s partnership with Malaysia and the origins of the Hub, I was struck by the broader relevance for our work with upper middle-income countries, and our efforts to share global lessons and leverage knowledge to maximize financing for development.  The visit sparked three main observations.  

One small step for me, one giant leap for girls in Papua New Guinea

Ruth Moiam's picture



In most rural communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a daily routine for women and girls involves collecting clean drinking water for their families. Whether it means a strenuous walk down a steep hill in the highlands or walking for hours during the dry season to the nearest water source, this daily task is familiar to a lot of us.

A few months ago, I travelled to Bialla, a small district town in West New Britain Province, in the north-eastern end of PNG after the launch of the new Water & Sanitation Development Project.

Driving into the township, it’s obvious why access to clean tapped water is so important: the main road was filled with women, and children of school age, carrying huge water containers heading to the nearest river.
I met 13-year-old Rendela, who told me about Tiraua river that it was about an hour out of town. Like most young girls in Bialla, Rendela is responsible for collecting water for her family.

To unlock student potential in East Asia Pacific, be demanding and supportive of teachers

Michael Crawford's picture
Also available in: Bahasa Indonesia

Among the 29 countries and economies of the East Asia and Pacific region, one finds some of the world’s most successful education systems. Seven out of the top 10 highest average scorers on internationally comparable tests such as PISA and TIMSS are from the region, with Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong (China) consistently among the best. 

But, more significantly, one also finds that great performance is not limited to school systems in the region’s high-income countries. School systems in middle-income Vietnam and China (specifically the provinces of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong) score better than the average OECD country, despite having much lower GDP per capita. What is more, scores from both China and Vietnam show that poor students are not being left behind. Students from the second-lowest income quintile score better than the average OECD student, and even the very poorest test takers outscore students from some wealthy countries. As the graph below shows, however, other countries in the region have yet to achieve similar results.

It takes a village to tackle Indonesia’s early childhood development challenges

Thomas Brown's picture
Also available in: Bahasa Indonesia



“Indonesia’s future is at stake”, states Camilla Holmemo in her opening address at the Early Childhood Development Policy Conference, held in July 2017 in Jakarta. The program leader for human development, poverty and social development of the World Bank in Indonesia rallies the audience by highlighting the lack of access to early childhood education and development (ECED) services and the high incidence of child stunting in Indonesia.
 
Despite the country’s middle-income status, one in three children under five are stunted, the fifth highest rate in the world. For these children, the likelihood of becoming productive citizens is significantly hampered  – unless we do something about it now. 

Risk of sea-level rise: high stakes for East Asia & Pacific region countries

Susmita Dasgupta's picture
Home and boats on the water. Photo: ©Curt Carnemark/ World Bank

Sea level is rising, and the rise in sea level will continue beyond the year 2100, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stabilized today.  Expected to rise by at least one meter during this century according to the current scientific consensus, sea levels may even rise by three meters by 2100, in light of the new evidence on ice-cliff instability of the Antarctic.
 

For new evidence on ice-cliff instability of the Antarctic and its implications for the magnitude and time-phasing of global sea-level rise, see
https://www.nature.com/articles/nature17145
http://www.nature.com/news/antarctic-model-raises-prospect-of-unstoppable-ice-collapse-1.19638
https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/antarctica-doomsday-glaciers-could-flood-coastal-cities-grist-eric-holthaus/  
 

Dangers of sea-level rise include but are not limited to:

  • land loss from the permanent inundation of low-lying coastal areas;
  • intensification of inundation from cyclonic storm surges;
  • loss of critical coastal wetlands, for example mangroves; 
  • progressive salinization of soil and water.

Getting to equal in Mongolia’s labor market (and leadership market)

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
Photo: © World Bank

Yesterday morning I participated in the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” event at the opening of the Mongolian Stock Exchange. A global event sponsored by the IFC and other partners*, the event highlights how economies and individual companies benefit from efforts to close gender gaps in their operations and governing structures.

Earlier I had dug out my notes from a survey of listed companies conducted in 1996.  Only 25 of the 249 companies we surveyed counted women as general directors. Today, women lead around six percent of the top 100 listed firms – that is, fewer than 20 years ago.  This does not mean that there has not been progress. The last time the World Bank Group enterprises surveys were done, Mongolia had a similar or larger share of firms with women in top management. This number is higher than the region’s average, but such leadership roles were more heavily weighted to smaller firms.  Whereas 31 percent of medium-sized firms – that is, those with 20-99 employees – had female top managers, only 17 percent of firms with over 100 employees had women in senior management.

Getting to equal at the top requires more systematic scrutiny of the factors that support or hinder women’s economic empowerment throughout their lives. No one is born a CEO.

So, where are the gender gaps?