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Poverty

Living with crime and violence in Papua New Guinea

Laura Keenan's picture
Crime constrains investment and growth, and the costs ripple throughout society.
Crime constrains investment and growth, and the costs ripple throughout society.


Last month I was interviewing participants in the World Bank’s Urban Youth Employment Project in Port Moresby, talking about the challenges that PNG’s young people face in finding work.

One issue that came up repeatedly was mobility – or the lack of it: the basic ability to travel to and from the workplace. It is no secret that parts of Port Moresby are dangerous and crime is high. There are regular stories of carjacking but public transport is also a huge risk – an issue which disproportionately affects workers coming from poorer parts of the city.

The HR Manager told me casually how she was stabbed at a bus-stop and her billum (bag) stolen; one of the reception staff was stabbed twice on a bus getting home from work. The young woman we were profiling was held up on a bus at gunpoint in the area of Two Mile.

Philippines: Why We Need to Invest in the Poor

Karl Kendrick Chua's picture
A fish vendor waits for customers in his stall in Cebu City. According to the latest Philippine Economic Update, pushing key reforms to secure access to land, promote competition and simplify business regulations will also help create more and better jobs and lift people out of poverty. ​(Photo by World Bank)



In my 10 years of working in the World Bank, I have seen remarkable changes around me. In 2004, Emerald Avenue in Ortigas Center, where the old World Bank office was located, started to wind down after 9 PM.  Finding a place to buy a midnight snack whenever I did overtime was hard. It was also hard to find a taxi after work.

Today, even at 3 AM, the street is bustling with 24-hour restaurants, coffee shops, and convenience stores, hundreds of BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) employees taking their break, and a line of taxis waiting to bring these new middle class earners home. Living in Ortigas Center today means that I also benefit from these changes.

East Asia and Pacific countries can do better in labor regulation and social protection

Truman Packard's picture

Those unfamiliar with the fast growing emerging economies of East Asia are likely to think that governments in these countries let market forces and capitalism roam free, red in tooth and claw. That was certainly my impression before coming to work in the region, and generally that held at the outset of our work by the group of us that wrote a new World Bank report “East Asia Pacific At Work: Employment, Enterprise and Wellbeing” .

The report shows just how wrong we were. We could be forgiven this impression—many of us had come from assignments in Latin America and the Caribbean or in Europe and Central Asia, where the distortions and rigidities from labor regulation and poorly designed social protection are rife, and where policy makers cast envious looks at the stellar and sustained employment outcomes in East Asia.

Well, it turns out that although they came relatively late to labor regulation and social protection, many governments in the region have entered this arena with gusto. We were surprised to find that, going just by what is written in their labor codes, the average level of employment protection in East Asia is actually higher than the OECD average.

Why is ethnic minority poverty persistent in Vietnam?

Gabriel Demombynes's picture
Also available in: Tiếng Việt
What will it take to end poverty in Vietnam?



A few months ago, I journeyed to Lao Cai, a predominantly ethnic minority area in Vietnam’s Northern Mountains, to supervise a pilot survey. One older man I encountered—typical of many we saw—was a subsistence farmer with minimal education who spoke only his native language and had barely ventured beyond his village.

Members of ethnic minority groups make up 15 percent of the country’s population but account for 70 percent of the extreme poor (measured using a national extreme poverty line). During Vietnam’s two decades of rapid growth, members of ethnic minority groups in the country have experienced overall improvements in their standards of living, but their gains have lagged behind those of the Kinh majority.

Why is ethnic minority poverty persistent? This has been the subject of numerous studies, including a 2009 study on ethnicity and development in Vietnam as well as a chapter in our more recent Vietnam Poverty Assessment. This is also one piece of the research my team is currently pursuing.

Tại sao nhóm dân tộc thiểu số ở Việt Nam nghèo dai dẳng?

Gabriel Demombynes's picture
Also available in: English
Làm gì để xóa nghèo ở Việt Nam?



Vài tháng trước, tôi có chuyến đi Lào Cai - một khu vực có nhiều dân tộc thiểu số sinh sống ở miền núi phía Bắc Việt Nam- để giám sát một cuộc khảo sát thí điểm. Tôi đã tình cờ gặp một người đàn ông lớn tuổi - một người điển hình trong số rất nhiều người mà chúng tôi đã gặp – đó là một người nông dân chỉ vừa đủ sống, có trình độ học vấn tối thiểu chỉ biết nói tiếng dân tộc và hiếm khi ra khỏi bản làng.

Người dân tộc thiểu số chiếm 15% dân số của Việt Nam nhưng chiếm tới 70% nhóm đối tượng cực nghèo (được đo lường theo chuẩn cực nghèo quốc gia). Trong suốt hai thập kỷ tăng trưởng nhanh của Việt Nam, người dân tộc thiểu số ở quốc gia này đã có mức sống được cải thiện lên một cách toàn diện, song thành quả được hưởng của nhóm đối tượng này còn kém xa so với dân tộc chiếm đa số là người Kinh.

กรุงเทพฯ หลังน้ำท่วม 2554: คนยากจนเป็นอย่างไรบ้าง?

Zuzana Stanton-Geddes's picture

Also available in English

หน้าฝนมาเยือนเมืองไทยอีกแล้ว มาพร้อมกับความทรงจำถึงน้ำท่วมครั้งใหญ่ในปี 2554 ที่ส่งผลกระทบต่อผู้คนกว่า 13 ล้านคน มีผู้เสียชีวิต 680 ราย และสร้างความเสียหาย 46.5 พันล้านเหรียญสหรัฐฯ  ผลกระทบของน้ำท่วมที่มีต่อธุรกิจและห่วงโซ่อุปทานของโลกที่มีการบันทึกไว้เป็นอย่างละเอียด และเป็นข่าวพาดหัวตลอดทั้งปี 2555  แต่ว่าคนยากคนจนล่ะเป็นอย่างไรบ้าง?

น้ำท่วมคราวนั้นเปลี่ยนแปลงชีวิตชายและหญิงหลายแสนคน โดยเฉพาะผู้ที่อยู่ในสภาพง่อนแง่นไม่มั่นคงอยู่แล้ว  สองปีผ่านไปเกิดความเปลี่ยนแปลงอะไรขึ้นบ้าง?

จากการที่ได้ไปเยือนโครงการพัฒนายกระดับชุมชนแออัดสองแห่งในกรุงเทพฯ ตอนเหนือเมื่อเดือนก่อน ก็ได้พบเห็นเรื่องราวที่เป็นประเด็นสำหรับเมืองอื่นๆ ในเอเชียที่กำลังเผชิญกับการเพิ่มขึ้นของจำนวนประชากรอย่างรวดเร็ว พลังอำนาจของภัยธรรมชาติ และความแปรปรวนของสภาพภูมิอากาศ

Transforming villages with electricity in Laos

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Villagers at Ban Nongbuakham, Thakek District, Khammouane Province, Lao PDR. Check out more photos here  

​You can see it in the smiles on the faces of villagers in Ban Nam Jing, two hours outside of Vientiane the capital of Lao PDR. People's lives are improving. In this village of 158 households incomes have increased thanks in part to the 'Power to the People' (P2P) project supported by the World Bank. The program targets the poor, especially female heads of household, with subsidies to pay for electrical connections.

The villagers I met say initially only wealthier families could pay to be connected. Poorer families were left behind unable to afford the cost with their incomes from producing rice, cassava and rubber. Now with lights at night they are also producing handicrafts and textiles to boost their incomes. There are other benefits, with refrigeration people say they can keep food longer, before it used to rot and they would have to eat it quickly. In addition, their children can now study at night and they have TV for entertainment and to learn more about the rest of the world.

Gender equality in Laos: first impressions can be deceptive

Helene Carlsson Rex's picture
Watch the video highlighting the report's findings.

My mother always told me that first impressions are deceptive. Turns out, this is true also when it comes to gender equality.

I lived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, for six years, working in the World Bank’s country office on social development and gender issues. I still recall arriving in Vientiane, the sleepy city by the mighty Mekong river, and being taken by surprise of how empowered women seemed to be. I noticed women driving their motorbikes in the city, female shop owners serving delicious mango and papaya, and women in the latest business suits hurrying back to the office.

In a country where poverty has decreased by 25% since the 1990s, it was easy to get the impression that women are truly enjoying the benefits of development on equal terms with men. The laws are supportive of women as well. These have clear targets in place that promote women’s human development, economic opportunity, and participation.

Keeping the hope alive in Myanmar

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Axel talks about his trip to Myanmar in a video below.

You can feel the energy in Myanmar today—from the streets of Yangon, in the offices of government ministries and in rural villages. Dramatic political and economic changes are sweeping the country.

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