A few weeks ago, I felt a sense of déjà vu. I was at a roundtable on agriculture in Delhi, in the same conference hall where, ten years ago, I participated in the consultations on the Bank’s World Development Report 2008 on Agriculture for Development.
We focused on the ‘agriculture-water-energy’ nexus, achieving India’s second green revolution, making agriculture more climate resilient, as well as options to stop the burning of crop residue that is worsening air quality in much of northern India. It was heartening to see the torch bearers of India’s drive towards food security unhesitatingly debate a host of complex and sensitive issues.
The Lighthouse India is a platform to facilitate knowledge flows across states within India and to create strategic partnerships with other countries to share and transfer knowledge and experience, which would inform development policies, scale up good practices and innovations. We caught with our Country Director, Junaid Ahmad, for an in-depth understanding of this initiative of the World Bank.
What is Lighthouse India?
Development is best catalyzed when people learn by doing. The notion of lighthouse is that you are a beacon for someone. An Indian state innovating on how local government programs are run, say in West Bengal, can be a source of information for other states, say Madhya Pradesh or Karnataka, which are also trying to figure out how to strengthen local governments. In a federal system like India, the potential for learning from each other is vast especially where innovation is constantly happening. The problem is that the lessons from these innovations and the information about them is not moving smoothly across borders. Lighthouse India is based on the Bank's unique position to facilitate these exchanges and link them to actual implementation.
It is not only about exchanges between states in India. As India moves along the development trajectory towards high middle income, the nation itself is transforming. The lessons of this transformation are going to be critical for other countries. The Bank can also proactively broker these exchanges between India and other countries as India acts as a “lighthouse” for others.
It is important to stress that Lighthouse India is not just a passive exchange of best practices. It is an active exchange of practices and approaches where the expertise and experiences of India can be leveraged by another country. And as always, these exchanges are never one way: as India shares, it will gain from the development experiences of others.
Importantly, Lighthouse India will change the way we do analytical and advisory services. The latter will be built around operational issues and offer the analysis to understand better implementation challenges.
How is Lighthouse India important for Bank’s strategy in engaging with India?
First, Lighthouse India is essential in supporting the strategy of scaling up development impact. Let me take the example of livelihood programs. We’ve been working in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha supporting the creation of self-help groups of women and facilitating their access to micro credit and economic activities. We could respond to every state that requests our assistance for this kind of activity. On the other hand, if we have worked in three or four States, we can then leverage their expertise and experience to support others. In this context, the World Bank can act as a broker of exchanges where states learn from the experience of each other. And this could be in any area such as local government strengthening or in solar power generation.
Second, Lighthouse India will play an important role in the delivery of global goods. For example, in the case of climate change, if we support the collective efforts of nations to de-carbonize their growth path, we may be able to achieve the objectives set out in COP18 in Paris. India has set for itself the aspiration of delivering 175GW of renewable energy in the coming years. Not only will India’s energy strategy help in delivering the global goal of sustainable development, its experience with scaling up renewable energy and energy efficiency will support the collective efforts of other countries to achieve their own objectives in the energy sector. This is where Lighthouse India can play an important role of leveraging India in the achievement of global goods.
The country’s social indicators, a measure of the well-being of individuals and communities, rank among the highest in South Asia and compare favorably with those in middle-income countries. In the last half-century, better healthcare for mothers and their children has reduced maternal and infant mortality to very low levels.
Sri Lanka’s achievements in education have also been impressive. Close to 95 percent of children now complete primary school with an equal proportion of girls and boys enrolled in primary education and a slightly higher number of girls than boys in secondary education.
The World Bank has been supporting Sri Lanka’s development for more than six decades. In 1954, our first project, Aberdeen-Laxapana Power Project, which financed the construction of a dam, a power station, and transmissions lines, was instrumental in helping the young nation meet its growing energy demands, boost its trade and develop light industries in Colombo, and provide much-needed power to tea factories and rubber plantations. In post-colonial Sri Lanka, this extensive electrical transmission and distribution project aimed to serve new and existing markets and improve a still fragile national economy.
As outlined in its Vision 2025, the current government has kickstarted an ambitious reform agenda to help the country move from a public investment to a more private investment growth model to enhance competitiveness and lift all Sri Lankans’ standards of living.
This blog is certainly not about exploding mangoes but about the exploding Pakistani populace. The recent reactions of surprise on results of the census seems bewildering. Pakistan’s population is now over 207 million with a growth rate of 2.4 percent per year since the last census in 1998. The results were predictable and expected, as Pakistan has not implemented any large-scale population related interventions for over a decade. We should not be expecting results because inaction does not usually deliver them.
Pakistan’s efforts to reduce fertility and population growth were transformed during the 1990s. The period between 1990-2006 saw effective policy making under the Social Action Program with multiple interventions e.g. expansion of public sector provision, large scale private sector participation including social marketing innovations, improving access to women through community based providers. All the right things that delivered huge results. Fertility declined from around seven to four children per woman, and contraceptives use increased from 10% to over 30% - a 300% increase. Appropriate actions delivered results and some still can be photocopied and expanded on scale for making progress.
Many Sri Lankans understand the potential benefits of lowering trade costs and making their country more competitive in the global economy. The majority, however, fear increased competition, the unfair advantage of the private sector from abroad and limited skills and innovation to compete.
Yet, Sri Lanka’s aspirations cannot be realized in the current status quo.
While changes in trade policies and regulations will undeniably improve the lives of most citizens, I’m mindful that some are likely to lose. However, many potential gainers of the reforms who are currently opposed to them are unaware of their benefits.
Implementing smart reforms means that government funds will be used more effectively for the people, improve access to better healthcare, education, basic infrastructure and provide Sri Lankans with opportunities to get more and better jobs. Let me focus on a few reforms that I believe are critical for the country. First, Sri Lanka needs to seek growth opportunities and foreign investment beyond its borders.
First, Sri Lanka needs to seek growth opportunities and foreign investment beyond its borders.
Experience shows that no country in the world today has been able to create opportunities for its population entirely within its own geographic boundaries. To succeed in this open environment, Sri Lanka will need to improve its skills base, better understand supply and demand chains as well as produce higher quality goods and services
Experience shows that no country in the world today has been able to create opportunities for its population entirely within its own geographic boundaries. To succeed in this open environment, Sri Lanka will need to improve its skills base, better understand supply and demand chains as well as produce higher quality goods and services.
That regional cooperation in South Asia is lower than optimal levels is well accepted. It is usually ascribed to – the asymmetry in size between India and the rest, conflicts and historical political tensions, a trust deficit, limited transport connectivity, and onerous logistics, among many other factors.
Deepening regional integration requires sufficient policy-relevant analytical work on the costs and benefits of both intra-regional trade and investment. An effective cross-border network of young professionals can contribute to fresh thinking on emerging economic cooperation issues in South Asia.
Against this background, the World Bank Group sponsored a competitive request for proposals. Awardees from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, after being actively mentored by seasoned World Bank staff over a period of two years, convened in Washington DC to present their new and exciting research. Research areas included regional value chains, production sharing and the impact assessment of alternative preferential trade agreements in the region.
Young Economists offer fresh thoughts on economic cooperation in South Asia
Mahfuz Kabir, Acting Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and Surendar Singh, Policy Analyst, Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS International) presented their research: Of Streams and Tides, India-Bangladesh Value Chains in Textiles and Clothing (T&C). They focus on how to tackle three main trade barriers for T&C: a) high tariffs for selected, but important goods for the industries of both countries; b) inefficient customs procedures and c) divergent criteria for rules of origin classification.
Sreerupa Sengupta, Ph.D. Scholar at Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi discussed Trade Cooperation and Production Sharing in South Asia – An Indian Perspective. Reviewing the pattern of Indian exports and imports in the last twenty years, her research focuses on comparing the Global Value Chain (GVC) participation rate of India with East Asian and ASEAN economies. Barriers to higher participation include a) lack of openness in the FDI sector; b) lack of adequate port infrastructure, and long port dwell times; and c) lack of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs).
Aamir Khan, Assistant Professor, Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad presented his work on Economy Wide Impact of Regional Integration in South Asia - Options for Pakistan. His research analyzes the reasons for Pakistan not being able to take full advantage of its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, and finds that the granting of ASEAN-type concessions to Pakistan in its FTA with China would be more beneficial than the current FTA arrangement. The work also draws lessons for FTAs that are currently being negotiated by South Asian countries.
We are in the eye of the storm -- that misleading lull before mother nature unleashes her fury once again.
In Sri Lanka alone, costs from natural disasters, losses from damage to housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and from relief are estimated at LKR 50 billion (approx. USD 327 million). The highest annual expected losses are from floods (LKR 32 billion), cyclones or high winds (LKR 11 billion), droughts (LKR 5.2 billion) and landslides (LKR 1.8 billion). This is equivalent to 0.4 percent of GDP or 2.1 percent of government expenditure. (#SLDU2017). Floods and landslides in May 2016 caused damages amounting to US$572 million.
These numbers do not paint the full picture of impact for those most affected, who lost loved ones, irreplaceable belongings, or livestock and more so for those who are back to square one on the socio-economic ladder.
Even more alarming, these numbers are likely to rise as droughts and floods triggered by climate change will become more frequent and severe. And the brief respite in between will only get shorter, leaving less time to prepare for the hard days to come.
Therefore, better planning is even more necessary. Sri Lanka, like many other countries has started to invest in data that highlights areas at risk, and early warning systems to ensure that people move to safer locations with speed and effect.
Experience demonstrates that the eye of the storm is the time to look to the future, ready up citizens and institutions in case of extreme weather.
Now is the time to double down on preparing national plans to respond to disasters and build resilience.
It’s the time to test our systems and get all citizens familiar with emergency drills. But, more importantly, we need to build back better and stronger. In drought-affected areas, we can’t wait for the rains and revert to the same old farming practices. It’s time to innovate and stock up on critical supplies and be prepared when a disaster hits.
It’s the time to plan for better shelters that are safe and where people can store their hard-earned possessions.
Mobilizing and empowering communities is essential. But to do this, we must know who is vulnerable – and whether they should stay or move. Saving lives is first priority, no doubt. Second, we should also have the necessary systems and equipment to respond with speed and effect in times of disasters. Third, a plan must be in place to help affected families without much delay.
Fortunately, many ongoing initiatives aim to do just that.
World Bank Sri Lanka launched an online campaign titled #StoriesfromLKA during the month of June celebrating World Environment day “Connecting People to Nature”. The campaign included online interactions to learn about World Bank operations related to the environment and a photo competition to appreciate the natural beauty of Sri Lanka that needs to be preserved while Sri Lanka pursues a development drive.
This competition began on the 21st of June and aimed at showcasing the many talented photographers from Sri Lanka as well as celebrating the rich flora and fauna of the country. After the contest ended on June 30th, 167 entries were shortlisted. We asked you which photos were your favorites and you voted on your selections through social media. Your votes helped us narrow down the top three winners, here they are:
In many respects, Bhutan has been a development success story. Its people have benefitted from decades of sharp reductions in poverty combined with impressive improvements in health and education. The country is a global model in environmental conservation. It is the first carbon negative country; Bhutan’s forests, which cover over 70% of the country, absorb more carbon dioxide than is produced by its emissions.
The Kingdom of Happiness also must grapple with the reality of managing budgets, creating infrastructure, and preparing its citizens to be able to create and take advantage of jobs of the future. To do that, we are working with closely with Bhutan to build the foundations for a more prosperous future through the cultivation of a vibrant private sector economy and supporting green development.
At the same time, Bhutan has invested generously in hydropower energy production to create a reliable and lasting source of green energy for its people. It also benefits from exporting excess electricity to neighboring India, whose energy needs continue to increase at a rapid pace with their growing economy.
In large part due to the hydropower investments, Bhutan’s public debt was 107 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of March 2017. Hydropower external debt was at 77 percent of GDP with non-hydropower external debt accounting for 22 percent of GDP. Questions have arisen on whether this level of debt is sustainable and what should be done to address it.
تداوم چندین دهه خشونت، تبعیض آشکار و موانع فرهنگی بشمول محدودیت بر سهم گیری زنان در فعالیت های اجتماعی، فرهنگی، سیاسی و اقتصادی در افغانستان، باعث گردیده، تا فرصت های کاری برای زنان در این کشور اندک ومحدود شود و نقش آفرینی آنان در تمامی ساختار های سیاسی، اقتصادی، فرهنگی و اجتماعی به شدت تحت تاثیر قرار گیرد.
با وجود آنکه افغانستان در بیشتر از یک دهه گذشته به یک سلسله دست آورد های چشمگیری در ابعاد تسجیل تساوی حقوق شهروندی در قانون اساسی و همچنین حمایت و پشتیبانی از شمولیت زنان در مکاتب و پوهنتون ها دستیاب گردید، اما هنوز هم دسترسی فراگیر به تساوی جنسیتی در این کشور مستلزم تغییرات بنیادی اجتماعی می باشد.
حالا زمان تغییراست و د افغانستان برشنا شرکت، که یگانه شرکت ملی در عرصه فراهم سازی و توزیع انرژی برق در کشور می باشد، زمینه تطبیق این امر را مهیا می سازد.
از جمله ۷۰۰۰ کارمند فعال در این شرکت، حدود ۲۱۸ تن آنان را زنان تشکیل می دهد، که بسیاری از آنها در سطوح پائینی بخصوص دربخش های حمایتی مصروف اجرای مسولیت ها و وظایف خویش هستند. با اینحال، متعاقب تعیین رییس اجراییوی جدید، هیأت رهبری شرکت برشنا متعهد به تشویق تساوی جنسیتی در این اداره می باشد.
پروژۀ پلان گذاری و حمایت از ظرفیت سازی که از طریق صندوق بازسازی افغانستان تمویل میشود، شرکت برشنا را در راستای عملی شدن این تعهد همکاری مینماید. شایان ذکر است که این صندوق توسط بانک جهانی مدیریت میشود. پروژه پلان گذاری و حمایت از ظرفیت سازی در کنار راه اندازی جلسات متعدد آگاهی دهی برای کارکنان شرکت متذکره پیرامون مسایل جنسیتی؛ برای کارکنان اناث این شرکت زمینه آموزش های تخصصی را نیز فراهم نموده است. د افغانستان برشنا شرکت متعهد به ارایۀ فرصت های کارآموزی برای فارغان طبقه اناث پوهنتون ها می باشد، تا به این ترتیب برای آنان فرصت های متوازن شغلی فراهم شود و میزان مشارکت زنان در سکتور انرژی افزایش کسب نماید.
با درک این موضوع که در جامعه کنونی افغانستان اکثریت کارکنان زن از اعتماد به نفس کمتری برای رقابت با مردان برخوردار می باشند، اما د افغانستان برشنا شرکت برای کارکنان زن در این اداره زمینه دسترسی به فرصت های کاری جدید را آسانتر ساخته و یک سلسله اقدامات لازم و درخور توجه به منظورمشارکت بیشتر زنان در فعالیت های تجارتی این شرکت را نیز به منصهء اجرا قرار داده است.