Geographically, the capital of Solomon Islands, Honiara, is a hilly city, a maze of ridges and valleys.
In front of me, concrete steps descend 30 meters down the face of a ridge, winding their way down in a gravity-defying manner; nothing else stands on the slope, it’s simply too steep.
The steps are part of a system of footpaths that link communities of thousands of people below to the main public road above.
Over the past 60 years as Honiara has developed, so too have informal settlements. These are often located at the bottom of steep valleys without basic services such as roads, water and electricity.
Myanmar is undergoing a historic transition. After decades of armed conflict and economic stagnation, the country is beginning to make important strides toward realizing its potential and the aspirations of its people.
Our engagement in Myanmar started more than 60 years ago when it became a member of the World Bank, soon after gaining independence from British rule.
Back in 1955, the Bank’s first economic report stated: “the lack of security remains a disrupting influence on the economic life of the country” while “the long term economic potentials are bright” on account of its moderate population growth and abundant natural resources. It also noted the importance of “encouraging private sector enterprise to improve the standard of living of the people”— these are topics that continue to resonate in today’s development discourse.
In the early 1950s, Myanmar’s GDP per-capita was comparable to that of Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia. Like others in the region, Myanmar was coming out from colonial rule and a period of struggle. Sixty years on, Myanmar has a per capita GDP just above $1,100, less than one third the average for ASEAN countries and one of the lowest in East Asia.
The good news is that Myanmar has begun the catch up process. Major political and economic reforms since 2011 have increased civil liberties, reduced armed conflict, and removed constraints to trade and private enterprise that long held back the economy.
I met Gilford Jirigani at a workshop in Port Moresby a few months ago. What struck me about him was his natural confidence and poise as he captured the audience’s attention - including mine-as he told us how one project changed his life. He went from being an unemployed kid, down and out and unclear about his life in the city, to eventually becoming one of the pioneers of a youth program aimed at increasing the employability of unemployed youth in Port Moresby in 2012.
|By 2016, around 12.4 million Filipinos would be unemployed, underemployed, or would have to work or create work for themselves in the low pay informal sector by selling goods like many seen here in Quiapo, Manila.|
The Philippines faces an enormous jobs challenge. Good jobs—meaning jobs that raise real wages or bring people out of poverty—needed to be provided to 3 million unemployed and 7 million underemployed Filipinos—that is those who do not get enough pay and are looking for more work—as of 2012.
In addition, good jobs need to be provided to around 1.15 million Filipinos who will enter the labor force every year from 2013 to 2016. That is a total of 14.6 million jobs that need to be created through 2016.
Did you know that every year in the last decade, only 1 out of every 4 new jobseeker gets a good job? Of the 500,000 college graduates every year, roughly half or only 240,000 are absorbed in the formal sector such as business process outsourcing (BPO) industry (52,000), manufacturing (20,000), and other industries such as finance and real estate.