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Rebuilding houses and livelihoods in post-earthquake Nepal

Mio Takada's picture
When the 2015 earthquake hit Nepal, Fulmati Mijar lost her home and livelihood. Now, she has turned her life around, learned carpentry and quake-resistant techniques, and started a business
When the 2015 earthquake hit Nepal, Fulmati Mijar lost her home and livelihood. Now, she has turned her life around, learned carpentry and quake-resistant techniques, and started a business. Credit: World Bank.

 
Fulmati Mijar, a mother of three living in Nuwakot district in Nepal, used to earn her living from daily wage labor along with her husband.
 
On April 25, 2015, their lives took a turn for the worse when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, killing 8,790 people and affecting 8 million more—or nearly a third of the country’s population.
 
The catastrophe destroyed Fulmati’s house and made her family more vulnerable.
 
Yet, it did not dent her resolve.
 
When housing reconstruction started through the Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Project (EHRP), Fulmari joined her village’s Community Organization (CO), supported by the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) and learned carpentry and earthquake-resistant techniques for housing reconstruction.
 
She initially received a NPR18,000 ($176) loan to invest in a small furniture enterprise. With the funds, her family started making windows, doors, and kitchen racks, which were in high demand. After repaying the loan, she received another loan to upgrade their furniture enterprise, where today she and her family make their living.
 
At the time of the 2015 earthquake, full recovery was estimated to cost $8.2 billion, with the housing recovery component amounting to $3.8 billion. The World Bank immediately pledged $500 million to support the emergency response. During the reconstruction phase, the most urgent—and largest—need was to rebuild nearly 750,000 houses.
 
More than two years since the earthquake, restoring lost or affected livelihoods has become more important.

Bangladesh is thinking big by thinking blue

Pawan Patil's picture


Maintaining and restoring ocean ecosystems – or ‘ocean health’ – is synonymous with growing ‘ocean wealth,’ according to a soon-to-be published report by the World Bank and European Union. With rapid population growth, limited land and fewer terrestrial resources to house, feed and provide citizens with their energy needs, coastal nations across South Asia are looking seaward. In doing so, countries are clueing in on the fact that sustainably managing and developing ocean spaces is critical to a nation’s economic advancement.

Thinking Blue - thinking how best to sustainably tap ocean spaces as new sources of sustainable growth and transition to a blue economy - is new, although South Asian nations have used the sea for food and trade for centuries. 

Five years ago, the term ‘blue economy’ had nothing to do with oceans; few had an inkling of its emerging importance.

In late 2017, at the Second International Blue Economy Dialogue hosted by the Government of Bangladesh in Dhaka, interest in what the blue economy is and why it matters is at an all-time high and rising. Perhaps this not surprising. 

Protecting forests in India from disastrous fires

Siddhanta Das's picture

India’s commitment to sustainable development is clearly demonstrated through its innovative and progressive forest policies. The Government’s policy of incentivising state governments to improve their forest cover is evident in the 14th Finance Commission’s allocation of 7.5% of total revenues on the basis of the state’s forest cover. This makes India the implementer of the world’s largest Payment for Environmental Services scheme.

Over the last few years, the forest and tree cover in the country has been steadily increasing, and at present, it stands at 24.16% of the total geographic area. This affirms that sustainable forest management and long-term thinking about natural assets are foundations for strong and sustained growth. This is not to say that there are no challenges. Forest fires are a leading cause of forest degradation in India, and the current pattern of widespread and frequent fires could make it more difficult for India to meet its long-term goal of bringing 33% of its geographical area under forest & tree cover and to achieve its international commitment to create additional carbon sinks of 2.5 billion to 3 billion tons worth of CO2 equivalent by 2030.

Recognizing the challenge of forest fires in India, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the World Bank co-organized an international workshop on Forest Fire Prevention and Management from November 1 to 3, 2017. The discussion benefitted from the perspectives of government officials from India, researchers, experts and representatives from Australia, Belarus, Canada, Mexico, Nepal, the United States of America, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This workshop served as an opportunity for knowledge exchange to help India devise a robust strategy to tackle the challenge of forest fires. It was also an opportunity for Indian states to share good practices with each other, and with countries from around the world, and to learn from other countries.

Forest fires: need for rethinking management strategies

Dr. H. S. Suresh's picture

Earth’s landscape has been subjected to both natural and anthropogenic fires for millions of years.

Natural, lightning-caused fires are known to have occurred in geological time continuously at least since the late Silurian epoch, 400 million years ago, and have shaped the evolution of plant communities.

Hominids have used controlled fire as a tool to transform the landscape since about 700,000 years ago. These hominids were Homo erectus, ancestors of modern humans. Paleofire scientists, biogeographers and anthropologists all agree that hominid use of fire for various purposes has extensively transformed the vegetation of Earth over this period.
 

Dry season ground fire in Mudumalai.  Photo Credit: Dr. H. S. Suresh

The nature of Earth’s modern-day biomes would be substantially different if there had been no fires at all. William Bond and colleagues (2005) used a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model to simulate the area under closed forest with and without fire. They estimated that in the absence of fire, the area of closed forest would double from the present 27% to 56% of present vegetated area, with corresponding increase in biomass and carbon stocks. This would be at the expense of C4 grasslands and certain types of shrub-land in cooler climates.

Mexico’s National Forest Fire Management Program

Alfredo Nolasco Morales's picture

On November 1-3, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the World Bank organized a workshop in Delhi to discuss forest fire prevention and management.  The workshop brought together fire experts and practitioners from eight countries along with Indian government officials from the ministry and the state forest departments, as well as representatives from academia and civil society.  One of the participating countries, Mexico, has recently transformed its national policy on forest fires. Alfredo Nolasco Morales, Wildland Fire Protection Manager at Mexico’s National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) shared his insights on what this transformation has meant for Mexico, how it was achieved, and how it may serve as an inspiration for India as the Indian government prepares a new national action plan for forest fires.
 
Mexico’s forest fire program has operated for more than 70 years. On average, 7,500 fires occur each year, affecting 300,000 hectares of pasture, scrubland, forest, and regrowth. Recently, however, the country has experienced some especially bad years, including in 2017, when fires burned 715,714 hectares and killed 12 people. Extreme climatic conditions and the accumulation of fuels such as dry leaves, twigs, grasses, dead trees, and fallen timber have contributed to especially severe fire seasons.



Until 2012, Mexico’s national forest fire program focused on the complete suppression of fires by contracting helicopters to douse the flames. State forest fire programs were weak and there was little institutional coordination.

The Canadian forest fire danger rating system

Brian Simpson's picture
On November 1-3, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the World Bank organized a workshop in Delhi to discuss forest fire prevention and management.  The workshop brought together fire experts and practitioners from eight countries along with Indian government officials from the ministry and the state forest departments, as well as representatives from academia and civil society. Brian Simpson, an analyst with the Canadian Forest Service, shares his perspective on how Canada developed its national fire danger rating system and how this system has helped in preventing, detecting and suppressing forest fires in that country. Canada's experience may serve as an inspiration as India continues to develop its own fire danger rating system, adapting it to local conditions and management needs.
 
Canada is a big country, with a lot of forest and a lot of water. Fires are common, and are concentrated in the boreal forest region, a band of forest that stretches around the whole northern hemisphere. On average, out of around 400 million ha of forest, about 8,000 fires and 2.5 million ha burn per year. And dozens of communities and tens of thousands of people need to be evacuated each year.
 
People are mostly concentrated along the southern border with the United States, where it’s warmer. A lot of the northern communities are actually indigenous, and many of them are only accessible by air or water. If there is a road, it’s the only road. These communities are often threatened by wildfires, and are frequently evacuated due to this threat.
 
Ultimately, Canada has three main problems with respect to wildland fire - prevention, detection, and suppression.  The Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS) helps with each, though it’s only part of the solution. It helps with prevention by allowing fire managers to know where the risk of fires is higher. It helps with detection by giving fire managers a place and time to look for new fires. And it helps with suppression by providing some guidance about how the fire will behave. Beyond fire prevention, detection and suppression, CFFDRS helps with planning, response, risk assessment, smoke modelling, and even carbon emissions from these fires.
 Gts/Shutterstock.com
Photo Credit: Gts/Shutterstock.com

With respect to wildland fire, the Government of Canada has a mandate to provide for the safety and security of Canadians, to protect critical infrastructure, to mitigate the effects of climate change, and to aid the implementation of other Sustainable Development Goals like reducing poverty and improving health. All are aided by the CFFDRS.

আমার সন্তান যেন থাকে মাছে-ভাতে

Susmita Dasgupta's picture
 
A mother feeds her daughter in Bangladesh. Image courtesy: The World Bank


বাঙালির  চিরন্তন প্রার্থনা তার সন্তানের মুখে একটু মাছ তুলে দেয়া।  প্রকৃতির দাক্ষিণ্যে বাংলাদেশে ধান, ফল, আর মাছের অভাব ছিল না।  তাই বাঙালির  সহজাত জ্ঞান ছিল যে মাছ সুপ্রাপ্য, মাছ সুস্বাধু , মাছ পুষ্টি দায়ক আর শিশুর জন্য মাছ পরিপূর্ণ খাবার। মাছ বাংলাদেশের সর্বত্র ছিল সহজলভ্য। নানা ধরণের মাছ, ছোট মাছ  অনেকটা যেন নিজে ধরা দিতো, মাছ আর কেবল শুধুমাত্র ভালো আর পুষ্টিকর খাবার থাকেনি, বাঙালীর ভালোবাসা আর গর্বের বিষয় হয়েছে। বাংলাদেশের সর্বত্র, অধিকাংশ পরিবারে মাছ সামাজিকতার অঙ্গ হয়েছে, আত্মীয়জন মাছ পরিবেশন না করলে মনক্ষুন্ন হয়েছে।  সব বাঙালিই ছোট বয়সে উপদেশ শুনেছে “মাছ খাও না হলে বড় হবে না” “মাছ খাও, মাথায় বুদ্ধি হবে” বা “এই মাছ খাও, পরীক্ষার ফল ভালো হবে” ।

আজকাল কিন্তু আর মাছ নিয়ে অত কথা শুনতে পাওয়া যায় না।  অবশ্যই এ বছর ইলিশ বেশি না কম হলো, এবার রপ্তানি হবে না আমদানি হবে; এরকম খবর দুচারটি খবরের কাগজে ছাপে।  কারণ এগুলো সব দামি মাছ। খবর গুলো হয়তো মাছ নিয়ে নয়, মাছের দাম নিয়ে। ঢাকা অথবা অন্যান্য শহরাঞ্চলে নতুন দারুণ খাবারের দোকান হয়েছে; দেশিবিদেশী নানাবিধ আয়োজনের খাবার পাওয়া যায়।  কিন্তু একটু ভালো মাছ-ভাত কোথায় পাওয়া যাবে, খুঁজতে হলে অনেকদিন অনেক পথে হাটঁতে হবে। যারা শহুরে  মধ্যবিত্ত, অথবা গ্রামাঞ্চলে উচ্চবিত্ত, তাদের অনেকের বাড়িতে বাচ্চারা দামি খাবার খায়, কিন্তু মাছ খাবে না।

অথচ বাংলাদেশের অসংখ্য শিশু অপুষ্টির শিকার। সরকার আর ইউনিসেফের নতুন রিপোর্ট " প্রগতির পথে বিবরণী " জানিয়েছে যে, পরিসংখ্যান মতে ৩০-৪০ শতাংশ শিশু এদেশে অপুষ্টিতে ভুগছে। কেবল গরিবের সন্তান নয়, মধ্যবিত্ত পরিবারের ছেলে মেয়েরাও প্রয়োজনীয় পুষ্টিকর খাবার আর পরিপালনের বাইরে। প্রশ্ন জাগে, চিরন্তন বিশ্বাস যে মাছ শিশুদের পুষ্টি যোগায়, তার থেকে আমরা দূরে সরে যাচ্ছি না তো? শিশু স্বাস্থ্যের সাথে জড়িত মায়েদের স্বাস্থ্য। মায়েরা মাছ খাচ্ছেন তো? এই সব ভাবনা চিন্তা নিয়ে বিশ্বব্যাংকের নতুন একটা গবেষণা প্রকাশিত হলো সম্প্রতি। বাংলাদেশে সামাজিক অর্থনৈতিক প্রসঙ্গে মাছ খাওয়া ও শিশু স্বাস্থ্য (The Socioeconomics of Fish Consumption and Child Health in Bangladesh)।

 বাংলাদেশের নিজস্ব জনসংখ্যাতাত্ত্বিক ও স্বাস্থ্য জরিপ (Demographic Health Survey) প্রায় প্রতি চার বছর পর হয়। এরকম ৫ টি জরিপের ( ২০০০, ২০০৪, ২০০৭, ২০১১ এবং ২০১৪ সাল) মোট ৩৬৪৯১ টি বর্ণনার সংখ্যাতাত্ত্বিক প্রতিলিপি (statistical regression) বিশ্লেষণ করা হয়েছে বিশ্বব্যাংকের এই গবেষণায়।  জানা যাচ্ছে যে, দেশের উন্নতির সাথে শিশু মৃত্যুর সংখ্যা কমেছে। পরিবারের আর্থিক উন্নতির সাথে শিশুর খাদ্য তালিকায় সর্ব মোট মাছ , মাংস আর  ডিমের অনুপাত বেড়েছে নজর কাড়ার মতো। কিন্তু আর্থিক উন্নতির সাথে মাছের  অনুপাত শিশুর খাদ্যে প্রত্যাশিত সমানুপাতে বাড়েনি।

গবেষণায় একটি অপ্রত্যাশিত ফল হলো যে পরিবারের প্রধানত: মায়েদের উচ্চশিক্ষার সাথে মাছ খাওয়ানোর প্রবণতা কমেছে। সব মিলিয়ে ডিম ও মাংসের তুলনায় বেশি পুষ্টিকর, উপকারী ও সস্তা হওয়া সত্ত্বেও, পারিবারিক ও আর্থিক সাচ্ছল্যের সাথে শিশুর খাবারে মাছের অনুপাত কমেছে। 

গবেষণাটি দেখিয়েছে যে, শিশু জন্মের আগে ও পরে মায়েরা একটু বেশি মাছ খেলে জন্মের প্রথম বছরে শিশুর মৃত্যুর আশংকা কমে যায়, আর জ্বর, কাশি, পেটের অসুখেও অপেক্ষেকৃত কম ভোগে শিশুরা।  বর্ষাকালে ও বর্ষার ঠিক পরে মাছ যখন সুলভ আর সহজপ্রাপ্য, তখন নিতান্ত নিম্নবিত্ত পরিবারের খাবারের তালিকায় অনুপাতে একটু বেশি হলেও স্থান পায় মাছ। ধারণা করা হচ্ছে এই সময়ে মায়েরাও মাছ খান। ফলত : বর্ষা অথবা তার একটু পরে সদ্যজাত বাচ্চাদের রোগ প্রতিরোধ ক্ষমতা বাড়ে এবং মৃত্যুহার কমে।  আর এর  উল্টো ঘটনা  ঘটে শুকনা মৌসুমে, যখন মাছ অতটা সহজ প্রাপ্য ও সুলভ হয় না। এবং মাছ খাওয়া কমে যায়।  সদ্যজাত শিশুদের রোগ বাড়ে, মৃত্যু হার বাড়ে।

বিশ্বব্যাংকের এই গবেষণার ফলাফল যেন কিছুটা ভুলে যাওয়া ঐতিহ্য মনে করিয়ে দেবার প্রচেষ্টা। শিশু স্বাস্থ্যের খাতিরে মাছের যোগান বাড়াতে হবে। বিশেষত: শিক্ষিত মায়েদের মাতৃ মঙ্গল শিক্ষায় জানাতে হবে মাছ খাওয়া কত প্রয়োজন। কেবল শিশুর খাবার নয়, অন্তঃসত্ত্বা মায়েদের বছর ধরে খেতে হবে আরো একটু বেশী মাছ। গবেষণাটি আশা করে যে শিশুর অপুষ্টির অন্যতম সমাধান হবে বাঙ্গালীর চির পরিচিত মাছে ভাতে। আর ভাবতে ভালো লাগে যে সবার প্রার্থনা যেন হয়, কেবল সন্তান নয়, জননীরাও যেন সবাই থাকেন মাছে - ভাতে। 

 
ডেভিড হুইলার , সুস্মিতা দাশগুপ্ত, তাপস পাল , গোলাম মোস্তফা      

From potato eaters to world leaders in agriculture

Priti Kumar's picture
 Raj Ganguly
Matching sheer ingenuity with technological prowess, the Netherlands (pop: 17 millions; about the size of Haryana state in India) today is one of the world’s most agriculturally productive countries, feeding people across the globe from its meager land area. Photo credit: Raj Ganguly

Van Gogh’s famous painting of Potato Eaters depicts a family of poor peasants seated around a dinner table eating their staple fare. The artist confessed that this work is deeply reflective of the hard work that Dutch peasants have to do to earn a bare meal. Van Gogh frequently painted the harvest and often compared the season to his own art, and how he would someday reap all that he had put into it. 

Since those difficult times in the late 1800s, the tiny country of the Netherlands (pop: 17 mill; about the size of Haryana state in India) has come a long way. Matching sheer ingenuity with technological prowess, the Netherlands today is one of the world’s most agriculturally productive countries, feeding people across the globe from its meager land area. Indeed, this small nation is now the world’s second-largest exporter of agri-food products including vegetables, fruits, potatoes, meat, milk and eggs; some 6% of world trade in fruits and 16% in vegetables comes from the Netherlands.

But how exactly did they do this? In October 2017, we went to find out. Our team - of World Bank and Indian government officials working on agribusiness, rural transformation and watershed development projects – sought to learn from Dutch experience and identify opportunities for future collaboration. We met farmer cooperatives, private companies, growers’ associations, academia, social enterprises, and government agencies, and gained fascinating insights.

Primarily, we found that a convenient location, a conducive climate, investments in high-quality infrastructure, high-caliber human capital, an enabling business environment and professionally-run private companies have provided the Netherlands with that unmistakable competitive edge:

Maximizing agricultural output with minimum land and labor

Located conveniently as a gateway to Europe, the Netherlands acts as a transit hub for agricultural produce, importing Euro 4.6 billion worth of produce from 107 countries, adding value to these products through collection, re(packaging) and processing, and exporting almost double that value - Euro 7.9 billion - to more than 150 nations. In 2014, Dutch growers had a turn-over of euro 2.9 billion in fruit and vegetables, produced with a minimum of land and labor - only 55,000 hectares and just 40,000 people - indicating a heavy reliance on automation.

India joins other countries in tackling forest fires

Christopher Sall's picture

Fire has been a part of India’s landscape since time immemorial. Every year, forest fires rage through nearly every state, ravaging more than half of India’s districts. Today, with growing populations in and around the forests, these fires are putting more lives and property at risk.  Indian Space Research Organization estimates that in 2014 alone, nearly 49,000 sq.km of forests - larger than the size of Haryana – were burned during the peak fire months of February to May. And, this was a mild year compared to the recent past! 



But, forest fires can also be beneficial. They play a vital role in maintaining healthy forests, recycling nutrients, helping trees to regenerate, removing invasive weeds and lantana, and maintaining habitat for some wildlife.  Occasional fires can also keep down fuel loads that feed larger, more destructive conflagrations.  However, as populations and demands on forest resources grow, the cycle of fires has spun out of balance, and the fires no longer sustain forest health.  In fact, in many countries, wildfires are burning larger areas, and fire seasons are growing longer due to a warming climate. 

Share your views on Sri Lanka’s Vision to End Poverty: The Road to 2025

Mariam Yousef's picture


October 17, 2017
– Today marks the 25th anniversary of the United National declaration of the International Day to End Extreme Poverty. Compared to many other countries in the world, Sri Lanka has done well in ending extreme poverty. Between 2002 and 2012, extreme poverty in Sri Lanka decreased from 8.3% to 1.9% while the national poverty level fell from 22% to 6.7% during the same period. Read the latest poverty brief and the two-part series on understanding poverty in Sri Lanka to learn more.

The big picture of poverty in Sri Lanka may be different when we zoom in on individuals and communities. In order to understand individual perspectives and opinions, this year we have opened up an opportunity for Sri Lankans to share their views on Sri Lanka’s Vision to End Poverty. We welcome your views in the form of a short blog post on why you believe #itspossible to end poverty in Sri Lanka. Below are some questions to get you thinking. You need not capture all of them, or be restricted to answering just these questions, but we are interested in hearing from you on these themes. 
  • Do you feel that you have more opportunities than your parents did at your age? Why or why not?
  • How could more openings be created for you and your peers?
  • Do you believe that the future will provide more prospects than the present?
  • What are you most excited about and most discouraged by in terms of available opportunities in Sri Lanka?
  • Do you think it is possible to end poverty in Sri Lanka? As individuals, can we contribute to making this goal a reality?
  • How do you think the reforms listed in Vision 2025 can contribute to ending poverty in Sri Lanka?
How it works:
  • All participants must be registered with us through the online form available here. Follow the submission instructions detailed there.
  • You will be requested to provide a short biography and profile picture which will become your profile, and accessible from the article(s) you write if selected by the panel of editors.

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