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Poverty

A Pakistani daughter and her destiny

Sameera Al Tuwaijri's picture



Koshi is 4 days old. She was born in a small village near Hyderabad (Sindh, Pakistan) and is one of four siblings – all girls, all under the age of 10. Her parents were hoping that this time it would be a boy, but perhaps better luck next time? Her mother is worried that if she doesn’t give birth to a boy, she will be stigmatized. Family planning is out of the question – not that she and her husband have even discussed this. She worries about her girls’ well-being too. They are underweight and get sick a lot. She wants them to grow up healthy and get an education. Koshi’s father is worried about them too. He is a tenant farmer with a meager income. He already struggles to provide the basic necessities – food, clothing, shelter. Even if they marry young, how will he arrange their dowries? Of course this is only if Koshi and her sisters live long enough.

Koshi’s chances of survival are slim. In Pakistan, 1 in 20 newborns die within the first month of their birth.[i] By age 5, 79 of every 1000 children born die. There is an 11 percent chance that they will not survive beyond age 14 years.[ii] The situation in Sindh is worse than the national average, and the risk of deaths is higher in its rural areas where access to healthcare and other social services is more limited. Investing in the health and well-being of the population, especially the youth is pivotal for Sindh’s economic growth and development.

Having a primary health center near the village and local lady health workers for example will improve the girls’ chances of access to healthcare and childhood immunization – necessary for protection against diseases such as measles, polio, and diphtheria that still take a heavy toll on children’s lives. It also improves the mother’s access to skilled birth attendance. Skilled attendance at birth reduces newborn deaths by 43 percent[iii] and maternal deaths by 66.67 percent.[iv]

In South Asia, poor rural women have begun to set up lucrative new businesses

Adarsh Kumar's picture

Across South Asia, our agriculture and rural development projects are helping transform the lives of poor rural women. From daily wage laborers they are now becoming entrepreneurs who generate jobs for others. Over the last decade, these projects have supported an estimated 5 million micro and small entrepreneurs, most of whom are women.
 
Asha, from Udaipur District in Rajasthan, used to sell vegetables in a nearby town.   Over time, this traditional village woman observed that flowers were in demand near the town’s main temple for use as ritual offerings. With encouragement from Manjula, a micro enterprise consultant under the Bank’s Rajasthan Rural Livelihoods Project (RRLP), Asha began cultivating marigolds on part of her family farm where millets had always been grown.  Manjula helped Asha draw up a basic business plan for a floriculture enterprise, taught her how to estimate potential expenses and earnings, and the way to maintain accounts. Asha now sells flowers at more than three times the price of her traditional millet crop, and her annual income has increased by 35%. She has devoted a larger area of her farm to floriculture, and started a nursery to grow flower saplings to sell to other aspiring marigold farmers.  Asha is now looking to expand her sapling nursery by renting more land, for which she is seeking a bank loan.

Outside Kathmandu in Nepal, Ambika Ranamgar used to work for building contractors, cutting marble and laying tiles in houses under construction. Then she struck out on her own. With encouragement and support from a community mobilizer under the Nepal Poverty Alleviation Fund (NPAF), Ambika took a loan of Rs. 80,000 ($740) to buy her own equipment, including a marble-cutting machine and a generator to power the machines during the city’s frequent power cuts. She then scouted for work visiting local hardware stores, and gradually began to get more clients. Ambika’s income has now more than doubled from her daily wage of Rs. 600 to reach between Rs. 1,000 to 1,500 rupees per day. She is now focused on getting more business and managing her supplies and workers.  At the time we visited her, Ambika had employed five workers, including her husband, and was busy laying the flooring for two houses.

 nepal - Anamika Ramgar

Six ways Sri Lanka can attract more foreign investments

Tatiana Nenova's picture
In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion. But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI.
In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion. But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI. Credit: Shutterstock 


To facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Sri Lanka launched last week an innovative online one-stop shop to help investors obtain all official approvals. To mark the occasion, this blog series explores different aspects of FDI in Sri Lanka. Part 1 put forth 5 Reasons Why Sri Lanka Needs FDI. Part 3 will relate how the World Bank is helping to improve Sri Lanka’s enabling environment for FDI.

Sri Lanka and foreign investments read a bit like a hit and miss story.

But it was not always the case.

Before 1983, companies like Motorola and Harris Corporation had plans to establish plants in Sri Lanka’s export processing zones. Others including Marubeni, Sony, Sanyo, Bank of Tokyo and Chase Manhattan Bank, had investments in Sri Lanka in the pipeline in the early 1980s.

All this changed when the war convulsed the country and derailed its growth. Companies left and took their foreign direct investments (FDI) with them.

Nearly a decade after the civil conflict ended in 2009, Sri Lanka is now in a very different place.

In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Sri Lanka grew to over $1,710 billion including foreign loans received by companies registered with the BOI, more than doubling from the $801 million achieved the previous year.

But Sri Lanka still has ways to go to attract more FDI.
 
As a percentage of GDP, FDI currently stands at a mere 2 percent and lags behind Malaysia at 3 – 4 percent and Vietnam at 5 – 6 percent.

In Bangladesh, building the skills for the 4th Industrial Revolution

Mustahsin-ul-Aziz's picture
With the onset of the fourth industrial revolution, the landscape of jobs, and the skills required for jobs, are quickly changing around the world. Bangladesh is no exception. Already the Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector—the leading export sector employing a significant portion of the workforce— is undergoing major automation, which threatens the loss of jobs by the thousands.

This places significant importance on continuous skills training to prepare the workforce ready for future jobs. For this, what are the policy options for Bangladesh? How can the country move forward to ride the wave of the changing tide while leveraging the burgeoning youth population?

To answer these questions, and contribute towards the skills dialogue, an International Skills Conference was organized recently in Dhaka under the theme “Building Brands for Skills of Bangladesh”. The conference brought together national and international policymakers, skills development practitioners, academics, and researchers, from China, Singapore and India for two days of knowledge sharing and networking.
 
A memo agreement between Bangladesh and China

Organized by the Technical and Madrasah Education Division of the Ministry of Education of Bangladesh and supported by the Directorate of Technical Education and the Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP), the conference covered topics ranging from connecting skills and jobs to future proofing technical education institutions to raising the brand of skills of Bangladesh. After two days of knowledge sharing, two important themes emerged:

Five reasons why Sri Lanka needs to attract foreign direct investments

Tatiana Nenova's picture
Sri Lanka’s government has recognized the need to foster private-sector and beef up exports to attain the overarching objective of becoming an upper-middle-income economy.
Sri Lanka’s government has recognized the need to foster private-sector and beef up exports to attain the overarching objective of becoming an upper-middle-income economy.

To facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Sri Lanka is launching this week an innovative online one-stop shop to help investors obtain all official approvals. To mark the occasion, this blog series explores different aspects of FDI in Sri Lanka. Part 2 will explore how the country can attract more FDI. Part 3 will relate how the World Bank is helping to create an enabling environment for FDI in Sri Lanka.

You may have heard that Sri Lanka is intent on drumming up more foreign direct investments up to $5 billion by 2020. At the same time, the government aims to improve the lives of Sri Lanka’s citizens by generating one million new and better jobs.
 
This isn’t a pipe dream. Thanks to its many advantages like a rich natural resource base, its strategic geographic position, highly literate workforce and fascinating culture, the island nation is ripe for investment in sectors such as tourism, logistics, information technology-enabled services, and high-value-added food processing and apparel.
 
What is foreign direct investment and why does Sri Lanka need it?
 
Very simply, foreign direct investment (or FDI) is an investment made by a company or an individual in a foreign country. Such investments can take the form of establishing a business in Sri Lanka, building a new facility, reinvesting profits earned from Sri Lanka operations or intra-company loans to subsidiaries in Sri Lanka.
 
The hope is that these investment inflows will bring good jobs and higher wages for Sri Lankan workers, increase productivity, and make the economy more competitive.  
 
Sri Lanka’s government has recognized the need to foster private-sector and beef up exports to attain the overarching objective of becoming an upper-middle-income economy.
 
Attracting more FDI can help achieve that goal and fulfill the promise of better jobs.
 
Here are five reasons why:

More women need to shape Pakistan’s digital future

Uzma Quresh's picture
Annie Gul from Codematics tells the audience of what is required to have more women digital entrepreneurs in KP
Annie Gul from Codematics tells the audience of what is required to have more women digital entrepreneurs in KP

“I have always enjoyed studying computer and human physiology since childhood, that’s why I jumped at the opportunity of developing a scientific application with KPITB’s support. This app has even helped my younger brother understand different body organs and their functions in a fun way. The KPITB’s ‘early age programming’ program has supported many girls from public schools, who would otherwise have never received this chance of realizing their dream of developing apps.”

Such compelling words came from Hafsa, a 13-year-old female student of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) public school as she addressed about one thousand young men and women at this year’s Digital Youth Summit (DYS) in Peshawar.

Girls like Hafsa are becoming the face of DYS, an annual event that brings the spotlight on young talent and their digital innovations.

I heard similar passionate accounts during my two-day interaction with KP youth as they shared candidly how they had transformed challenges into opportunities through hard work and perseverance.

DYS has brought together the next generation of digital entrepreneurs since 2014 to educate and inspire youth in a conflict-affected region where 50 percent of people are age 30 or under.

Such forums also provide a space for youth to voice their aspirations and claim for greater and more meaningful socio-economic inclusion.   

And while Hafsa’s impassionate story of progress resonated with everyone in the room, it stood as a stark reminder that Pakistan still has a long way to go to achieve an equal digital future for both men and women.

Indeed, statistics about women’s employment in KP and FATA are alarming as only 14% of women in KP and 8.6% of women in FATA work for pay.

Fittingly, DYS discussed different gender issues and offered solutions to boost female digital entrepreneurship.

Promoting better nutrition in Bhutan

Izabela Leao's picture
 Izabela Leao / World Bank
School children singing and dancing in Samtse Dzongkhag. Photo Credit: Izabela Leao / World Bank

Bhutan is no ordinary place.

A landlocked Himalayan kingdom tucked in a mostly rugged mountainous terrain between India and China, it measures prosperity by assessing its citizens’ level of happiness by way of a Gross National Happiness index.

Equally striking, Bhutan’s constitution mandates that 60 percent of its national land be preserved under forest cover, making Bhutan the world’s only carbon-negative country.

Bhutan’s geography – with land rises ranging from 200 meters in the southern foothills to 7,000 meters in the high northern mountains – consists of three major agro-ecological zones that allow for a rich biodiversity and seasonal foods.

This natural wealth, however, comes with its caveats as Bhutanese living in isolated rural areas can’t access a reliable diverse diet throughout the year.

"Many families in rural Bhutan practice two meals rather than three meals a day," reports Ms. Kinley Bidha, Tarayana Foundation Field Officer in Samtse Dzongkhag. "Some for cultural reasons, others due to a shortage of food, others due to a shortage of land too farm," she adds.

Overall socio-economic development in the last three decades has led to a rapid improvement in health and nutrition outcomes in Bhutan – the country’s infant mortality rate declined to 30 per 1,000 live births in 2012 down from 90 per 1,000 in 1990; while the rate of stunting in children under 5 years declined 24 percent from 1986 levels.

Nonetheless, the lack of variety of foods in diet remains a key concern, especially for pregnant and nursing women as well as young children. And while most families feed their children complementary food, fewer than a quarter of parents provide them nutritious meals essential to their health.

In addition, 67 percent of Bhutanese adults consume less than the recommended five servings (or 400 grams) of fruits and/or vegetables per person a day [National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2015].

When consumed, vegetables consist for the most part of two national staples, potatoes and chilies, which hardly provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Keeping regional variations in mind, between 16 and 34 percent of children under 5 are stunted—or too short for their age—seven percent of children are underweight, 35 percent of children of age 6-59 months and 44 percent of women of reproductive age are either anemic or iron deficient. Exclusive breastfeeding rates for six-month-old children remain at a low 50 percent (NNS, 2015).  

Damages caused by malnutrition during pregnancy and the first years of a child’s life are irreversible and contribute to stunting and lower immunological and cognitive development, and predispose to adult-onset diseases (including metabolic syndrome).

Thankfully, the negative impact of malnutrition on Bhutan’s economy is now better understood and has become a priority to promote its national development.

Empowering Indian women after a natural disaster hits

Hyunjee Oh's picture
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills. Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills. Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.


This blog is part of a series exploring housing reconstruction progress in Uttarakhand, India.
  
In June 2013, a heavy deluge caused devastating floods and landslides in the state of Uttarakhand in India’s Himalayan foothills.
 
The disaster – the worst in the country since the 2003 tsunami—hit more than 4,200 villages, damaged 2,500 houses, and killed 4,000 people.
 
Damyanti Devi, the mother of a young daughter, lost her home and livelihood. Her old house in Rudraprayag was completely washed away by the landslide.
 
“The river was fast swelling up,” she said. “It had crossed the danger mark and reached close to our house. We just took our daughter and left with an umbrella and a lantern.”
 
She now owns a new house abuzz with music and her daughter’s laughs.
 
Like thousands of other people in Uttarakhand, Damyanti received support through the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) to rebuild her home.
 
This support channeled through the Uttarakhand Disaster Recovery Project (UDRP) also helped build better roads and mitigate future disaster risks in local communities.
 
A key component of the project was to rebuild 2,382 more resilient houses based on the owner-driven housing reconstruction model,  which allows families to rebuild according to their specific needs.
 
This community-driven approach is important as women are typically at greater risk from natural hazards than men, particularly those who are poor and live in low-income countries.
 
There is indeed strong evidence that disasters impact women differently and amplify gender inequalities.
 
Women and men have different perceptions of their surroundings and coping abilities, roles, responsibilities, and resources before or in the aftermath of a disaster.
 
Gender-sensitive approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, adaptation, relief, recovery, and reconstruction can save more lives and promote more gender-inclusive development.  

With that in mind, the  housing reconstruction component of UDRP helped empower women like Damyanti in the aftermath of a disaster in 4 different ways:

The latest poverty numbers for Afghanistan: a call to action, not a reason for despair

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو

The just-released Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS) paints a stark picture of the reality facing Afghanistan today. More than half the Afghan population lives below the national poverty line, indicating a sharp deterioration in welfare since 2011-12.[1]  The release of these new ALCS figures is timely and important. These figures are the first estimates of the welfare of the Afghan people since the transition of security responsibilities from international troops to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in 2014.

While stark, the findings are not a surprise

Given what Afghanistan has gone through in the last five years, the significant increase in poverty over this period is not unexpected. The high poverty rates represent the combined effect of stagnating economic growth, increasing demographic pressures, and a deteriorating security situation in the context of an already impoverished economy and society where human capital and livelihoods have been eroded by decades of conflict and instability.

The withdrawal of international troops starting in 2012, and the associated decline in aid, both security and civilian, led to a sharp decline in domestic demand and much lower levels of economic activity. The deterioration in security since 2012, which drove down consumer and investor confidence, magnified this economic shock. Not surprisingly, Afghanistan’s average annual rate of economic growth fell from 9.4 percent in the period 2003-2012 to only 2.1 percent between 2013 and 2016. With the population continuing to grow more than 3 percent a year, per capita GDP has steadily declined since 2012, and in 2016 stood $100 below its 2012 level. Even during Afghanistan’s years of high economic growth, poverty rates failed to drop, as growth was not pro-poor. In recent years, as population growth outstripped economic growth, an increase in poverty was inevitable.

په افغانستان کې د فقر په هکله د وروستیو ارقامو او شمېرو خپراوی: د عملي او مخنیوونکو اقدامونو لپاره خبرتیا، نه د ناهیلۍ رامنځته کول

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: English | دری

د افغانستان د احصائيي مرکزي ادارې لخوا په افغانستان کې د ژوند د وضعیت د څېړنې سروې موندنې په دغه هېواد کې د شته واقعیتونو به هکله یو مشرح انځور څرګند کړی. ترلاسه شوي معلومات دا څرګندوي، چې د افغانانو له نیمایي څخه زیات نفوس د فقر د کرښې لاندې ژوند کوي، چې دا حالت د ۲۰۱۱ – ۲۰۱۲ زېږدیز کلونو[i] په پرتله د ټولنیزې- اقتصادي اوضاع په لا خرابېدلو دلالت کوي. د دغې سروې د تازه ارقامو او معلوماتو خپراوی په ډېر مناسب وخت کې ترسره کېږي، ځکه چې دا ارقام او اړونده تحلیلي ټولګه ېې د افغانستان د خلکو د هوساینې وضعیت وروسته له هغه چې په ۲۰۱۴ کال کې له نړیوالو ځواکونو څخه د افغانستان امنیتي ځواکونو ته امنیتي مسوولیتونو لېږد ترسره شو، په تفصیل سره څېړلۍ ده.
که څه هم د دغې سروې موندنې ناهیلۍ کوونکې دي، خو د حقیقت پربنسټ دي

دې حقیقت ته په پام سره، چې افغانستان په تېرو پنځو کلونو کې له زیاتو پېښو سره مخامخ شو او ډېرې لوړې او ژورې ېې تجربه کړې، نو ځکه په اوس وخت کې د فقر او بیوزلۍ د بې ساري زیاتوالي تمه هم کېدله. د فقر لوړه کچه د اقتصادي فعالیتونوله کمښت، د نفوس د زیاتوالي او د امنیتي وضعیت له خرابېدلو سره مستقیمه اړیکه لري. له بلې خوا د داسې یوې ټولنې جورښټ، چې اقتصادي بنسټونه ېې د اوږد مهاله جګړې او بحران له امله ویجاړې شوې وي او بشري ځواک او معیشتي برخې ېې د ټیکاو او امنیت د نه شتون له امله خورا زیانمنې شوي وي، پرته له کوم شک څخه، چې د فقر ټغر هم پکښې ډیر پراخ پاتې کېږي.

د ۲۰۱۲ زېږدیز کال په لومړیو کې د نړیوال ایتلاف د ځواکونو په تدریجي وتلو سره، او په ورته مهال د افغانستان د ملکي او پوځي څانګو د مالي مرستو کمېدل، د اقتصادي فعالیتونو او د خصوصي سکټور خدماتو لپاره د تقاضا کچه ېې په شدت سره زیانمنه کړې  ده. له ۲۰۱۴ کال وروسته د امنیتي وضعیت خورا خرابوالۍ د دې لامل شو، څو د پانګوالو او مستهلکینو باور په سیاسي اوضاع باندې را کم شي، او له دې امله یو ستر اقتصادي ټکان رامنځته شو. پرته له کوم شک څخه د افغانستان اقتصادي وده، چې له ۲۰۰۳ څخه تر ۲۰۱۲ کلونو پورې شاوخوا ۹،۴ سلنه وه، وروسته له هغه چېد ۲۰۱۳ تر ۲۰۱۶ کلونو په ترڅ کې امنیتي وضعیتخورا خراب شو، نو له امله ېې اقتصادي وده هم ۲،۱ سلنې ته را ټیته شوه. د نفوس د کچې د ۳سلنې، کلنۍ وده سره جوخت، د ناخالص کورني تولید په حساب د سرانه عاید کچه له ۲۰۱۲ کال راپدېخوا په دوام داره بڼه را ټيته شوې ده، څرنګه چې د ۲۰۱۲ کال په پرتله په ۲۰۱۶ کال کې د ۱۰۰ امریکايي دالرو په اندازه را ټیټه شوې ده. د یادونې وړ ده، چې حتي په هغو کلونو کې چې افغانستان یوه ښه اقتصادي وده لرله، د فقر او بېوزلۍ په کچه کې هراړخیز لږوالی رامنځته نه شو، ځکه، چې د اقتصادي ودې محور د هېواد په بېوزلو سیمو کې د فقر په کموالي تمرکز نه درلود. پر دې سربېره، په وروستیو کلونو کې له اقتصادي ودې څخه د نفوس د کچې د ودې چټکوالی، د دې لامل شوی، څو د فقر لمن نوره هم پراخه شي.

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