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Towards a clean India

Guangzhe CHEN's picture

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014, it marked the beginning of the world’s largest ever sanitation drive. Now, a 2017 survey by the Quality Council of India finds that access to toilets by rural households has increased to 62.45 per cent, and that 91 per cent of those who have a toilet, use it. Given India’s size and diversity, it is no surprise that implementation varies widely across states. Even so, the fact that almost every Indian now has sanitation on the mind is a victory by itself.

 Guy Stubbs

Achieving a task of this magnitude will not be easy. Bangladesh took 15 years to become open defecation free (ODF), while Thailand took 40 years to do so. Meeting sanitation targets is not a one-off event. Changing centuries-old habits of open defecation is a complex and long-term undertaking.

Joining forces to maximize resources for Bhutan’s citizens

Savinay Grover's picture
Public financial management signing
The Multi-Donor fund for Bhutan's Public Financial Management was launched September 21st in Thimphu

Several years ago, a newspaper cartoon in a neighboring country caught everyone’s attention when it depicted the government machinery as a big pipe in which lots of water was being poured from one side as taxpayer’s money and only a drop reached the poor on the other end. The water, representing the funds were being lost due to holes in the pipe. The holes were depicted as inefficiency, wastage, corruption etc. Globally, governments lose trillions of dollars due to various inefficiencies, and lack of proper controls and oversight. Citizens suffer as they do not receive the services that they are promised.

Bhutan provides lots of attention to good governance, which is also one of the pillars of Gross National Happiness. Public Financial Management (PFM) is an important element of good governance and delivering high quality of services to citizens as it’s comprised of budgeting, revenue, procurement, accounting and reporting, internal controls and institutional oversight. Sound PFM systems play an important role in strengthening the efficiency, accountability and transparency of the Government systems. Every dollar, every Ngultrum saved through sound PFM systems mean that more resources are available for better schools, hospitals, roads, and other services.

Reforms Sri Lanka needs to boost its economy

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
 Joe Qian/World Bank
The Colombo Stock Exchange. Credit: Joe Qian/World Bank

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.

Fresh thinking on economic cooperation in South Asia

Nikita Singla's picture
 Aamir Khan/ Pakistan, Sreerupa Sengupta/ India, Sanjay Kathuria/ World Bank, Mahfuz Kabir & Surendar Singh/ Bangladesh) Photo By: Marcio De La Cruz/ World Bank
Young Economists sharing the stage with Sanjay Kathuria, Lead Economist and Coordinator, Regional Integration (Left to Right: Aamir Khan/ Pakistan, Sreerupa Sengupta/ India, Sanjay Kathuria/ World Bank, Mahfuz Kabir/Bangladesh & Surendar Singh/ India). Photo by: Marcio De La Cruz/ World Bank

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.

Twitter chat: Economic benefits of environment management in Sri Lanka

Ralph van Doorn's picture

Join us for #SLDU2017: Economic Benefits of Environment Management. This Twitter chat will be hosted by World Bank South Asia

What’s happening?

Join us for #SLDU2017: Economic Benefits of Environment Management. This Twitter chat will be hosted by World Bank South Asia (@WorldBankSAsia) in collaboration with the Institute for Policy Studies IPS (@TalkEconomicsSL).
When is it?
August 21, 2017 from 5.30 – 7.30 pm
Unpacking #SLDU2017
The chat will explore the findings of the Sri Lanka Development Update (SLDU), published this June.
I look forward to engaging with you together with a panel from different areas of expertise.
We’ll be discussing priority reforms with a focus on how Sri Lanka can better manage both its business and natural environment to bolster economic growth and sustain development.
In recent years, natural disasters have left parts of this island nation devastated, exacting a significant economic, fiscal and social toll. The SLDU identifies other challenges as well, pressing the case for fiscal consolidation, a new growth model, improved governance and programs to buffer against risk.
The latest update cautions against adopting piecemeal solutions, noting that the challenges facing the island nation are inter-linked and require a comprehensive and coordinated reform approach.
In the end, we also hope this Twitter chat will allow us to learn from you as we begin our preparations for the next SLDU.
How can you participate?
Never taken part in a Twitter chat before? It’s simple. Just think of this as an online Q&A. @WorldBankSAsia will moderate the discussion, posing questions to panellists. You are encouraged to join in too! Follow along, retweet and engage. If you have a question, simply tweet it out using the hashtag #SLDU2017. We’ll see it and try to get you some answers.

A path toward better health for India’s women

Parvati Singh's picture
 World Bank
In India, Members of a self-help group (SHG) like this one discuss women’s  health issues with female health workers. Credit: World Bank

A little over six years ago, Neelam Kushwaha’s first daughter was born weighing 900 gm at birth, severely underweight. Neelam went into labor while working at the local construction site in Jori village, Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, India. Many people work at such local construction sites in rural areas for daily wages ranging from INR 150-280 (about $2- 4$) per day. Her daughter Manvi, was preterm, and Neelam spent months recovering from child birth complications.

Three years later, when Neelam was pregnant with her younger daughter, Sakshi, she quit wage labor and sought employment at an incense manufacturing unit established by World Bank’s Madhya Pradesh District Poverty Intervention Project (MPDPIP) in 2011. At her new role, she earned more and did not engage in labor intensive work during the final months of her pregnancy. Sakshi was born a healthy 3 kilos.

In the course of my field work supported by South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI) in 2015, I came across several similar stories.

MPDPIP’s livelihood based approach offered several opportunities towards income supplementation for women self-help groups (SHGs) and rural households through agriculture, dairy/poultry farming and local enterprises, among others.

As evident by Neelam’s experience, MPDPIP’s benefits went beyond income and spilled over into health improvement as well.

I learnt that prior to MPDPIP, childbirth in hospitals was difficult due to prohibitively high costs of travel and hospital stay. Pre-existing government schemes such as the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) offer about INR 1,400 ($20) to rural women who opt for hospital deliveries. However, this payment occurs post-partum, and pre-delivery costs have to be borne upfront by pregnant women.

Post MPDPIP, women were able to opt for hospital deliveries with greater ease due to access to credit from their SHGs. This is particularly relevant for Madhya Pradesh as it has consistently fared poorly with respect to institutional deliveries.

سکتور انرژی افغانستان راه را برای تساوی جنسیتی در این سکتور هموار ساخته است

World Bank Afghanistan's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
د افغانستان برشنا شرکت اخیرا یک سلسله اقدامات قابل توجهی را به منظور مشارکت زنان در فعالیت های تجارتی این اداره روی دست گرفته است. عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/بانک جهانی

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.

د افغانستان د انرژۍ سکتور د جنسیتي تساوي د هڅونې په موخه د دغه سکتور د پرمختیا لاره هواره کړې ده

World Bank Afghanistan's picture
Also available in: English | دری
د افغانستان بریښنا شرکت په دې وروستیو کې د دغې ادارې په سوداګریزو فعالیتونو کې د ښځو د مشارکت لپاره یو شمېر د ستایلو وړ کړنې ترسره کړي دي. انځور: د رومي مشورتي شرکت/ نړیوال بانک

د زور زیاتي د څو لسیزو دوام، ښکاره تبعیض او د افغانستان په ټولنیزو، کلتوري، سیاسي او اقتصادي فعالیتونوکې د ښځو پر ښکېلتیا د محدودیتونو په ګډون کلتوريز خنډونه د دې لامل ګرځیدلی، تر څو په دې هېواد کې د ښځو لپاره کاري فرصتونه کم او محدود کړل شي او په ټولو سیاسي، اقتصادي، کلتوري او ټولنیزو جوړښتونو کې د هغوی رول تر اغیز لاندې راوستل شي.
سره له دې چې افغانستان، په تیره څه باندې یوه لسیزه کې په خپل اساسي قانون کې د اتباعو د حقونو د تساوي د تسجیل په اړه یو لړ د پام وړ لاسته راوړنې لرلي دي او همداشان په ښوونځیو او پوهنتونونو کې د ښځو او نجونو له ګډون څخه ملاتړ او مرسته تر لاسه شوې ده، خو بیا هم په دې هېواد کې جنسیتي تساوي ته پراخ لاسرسی، بنستیزو ټولنیزو بدلونونو ته اړتیا لري.
اوس د بدلون وخت دی او د افغانستان برېښنا شرکت، چې په هېواد کې د برېښنا د وړاندې کولو او وېشلو یوازینی ملي شرکت دی، د همدې امر د پلي کولو زمینه یې برابره کړې ده.
په دې شرکت کې له ټولټال ۷۰۰۰ فعال کارکوونکو څخه، نږدې ۲۱۸ یې ښځې دي، چې د هغوی هم زیاتره شمېر یې په ټيټو کچو کې په تیره بیا په ملاتړیزو برخو کې خپلې دندې پر مخ وړي. له نیکه مرغه، د نوي اجرائیوي مشر په ټاکل کېدو سره، د برېښنا د شرکت د رهبري هیأت په دغه اداره کې د جنسیتي تساوي هڅولو ته ژمن ده.
د پلان جوړونې او ظرفیت جوړونې د ملاتړ پروژه چې د افغانستان د بیارغونې د صندوق له خوا تمویلیږي، د برېښنا له شرکت سره د همدې ژمنې په پلي کولو کې مرسته کوي. د یادونې وړ ده، چې دغه صندوق د نړیوال بانک له خوا مدیریت کېږي. د پلان جوړونې او ظرفیت جوړونې د ملاتړ پروژه د همدې شرکت د کارکوونکو لپاره د جنسیتي مسایلو په اړه د خبراوي د بېلابېلو ناستو د جوړولو تر څنګ؛ د همدې شرکت د ښځینه کارکوونکو لپاره یې د تخصصي زده کړو زمینه هم برابره کړې ده. د افغانستان برېښنا شرکت له پوهنتونونو څخه د ښځینه فارغانو لپاره د کار د زده کړې د فرصتونو وړاندې کولو ته هم ژمن دی، تر څو په همدې ترتیب سره د هغوی لپاره متوازن شغلي فرصتونه برابر او د انرژی په سکټور کې د ښځو د ګډون کچه زیاتوالی ومومي.

Afghanistan’s energy sector leads the way for gender equality

World Bank Afghanistan's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
 Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
Afghanistan's power utility (DABS) has recently taken steps necessary to ensure that women are involved in all business operations within the organization. Photo: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

In Afghanistan, decades of violence, common discriminatory practices, and cultural barriers, including restrictions on mobility, have denied women job opportunities and left them severely underrepresented in all sectors of society.
Despite considerable achievements in the last decade, such as the national Constitution guaranteeing equal rights as well as increased enrollment in public schools and universities, achieving gender equality will require widespread social changes.
Yet, change is happening and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), Afghanistan’s national power utility, is showing the way.
With a workforce of about 7,000, the company employs only 218 women, most of whom at a junior support level. However, under the leadership of its new CEO, DABS management has committed to promoting gender equality.
The Planning and Capacity Support Project of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank, is helping DABS deliver on that commitment. The project organized awareness sessions for DABS staff on gender-related issues and provided specialized training to female employees. DABS has committed to providing internships to female university graduates to ensure women can find job opportunities and fully participate in the energy sector.
Realizing that the majority of its female staff lacked the confidence to compete with men, DABS is facilitating access to new job opportunities for women employees and has taken steps to ensure that women are involved in all business operations within the organization.

Achieving results against the odds in violent contexts

Richard Hogg's picture
Afghan children walk pass a bombed bus in 2016, Mohammad Ismael/ REUTERS

In Afghanistan violence is a daily fact of life. The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan released their 2016 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Afghanistan in February, which documented 11,418 casualties in 2016, a 3% increase since 2015, including 3,498 deaths. Child casualties rose by almost a quarter (24%)—to 923 killed and 2,589 wounded. As a result, there are always lots of questions about how you deliver services in parts of the world like Afghanistan that are affected by ongoing, day to day violence.

Increasingly we live in a world where poverty and violence are deeply interconnected, and if we are to affect the former we have to deal with the latter. But both services and violence come in so many different forms that disentangling the relationship is tough. What works in one context may not work in another. It is too easy to say that nongovernmental organizations are best at delivering services in situations where state authority is contested, just as it may be false to suggest that state delivery of services is always likely to build state legitimacy in the eyes of citizens. The relationships between service delivery and violent conflict are more nuanced than this on the ground and require context-specific analyses that try to understand the nature of the political settlements around conflict, what drives violence and what is the nature of the bargains being struck by local and national elites that either allow or block service delivery.

Well, we have recently tried to do this in a new publication which has just come out, called “Social Service Delivery in Violent Contexts: Achieving Results Against the Odds”.  The report tries to disentangle what works and what doesn’t based on research in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal. It probes how social service delivery is affected by violent conflict and what the critical factors that make or break successful delivery are.