This blog is part of a series highlighting the work of the Afghanistan Disaster Risk Management and Resilience Program
During the almost 4 years I spent in the World Bank office in Kabul, I experienced frequent earthquake tremors and saw the results of the significant reduction in winter snow, which severely impacts the water available for agriculture during spring and summer.
While limited in scope, my first-hand experience with natural disasters adds to the long list of recurring hazards afflicting Afghanistan. This list is unfortunately long and its impact destructive.
Flooding, historically the most frequent natural hazard, has caused an average $54 million in annual damages. Earthquakes have produced the most fatalities with 12,000 people killed since 1980, and droughts have affected at least 6.5 million people since 2000.
Climate change will only increase these risks and hazards may become more frequent and natural resources more scarce. Compounded with high levels of poverty and inadequate infrastructure, the Afghan population will likely become more vulnerable to disasters.
Risk information is critical to inform development planning, public policy and investments and over time strengthen the resilience of new and existing infrastructure to help save lives and livelihoods in Afghanistan.
Why am I excited? Because it’s simply awesome! And it is a crucial get together for all those interested in tech, freelancing and entrepreneurship, featuring national and international experts (you read more about the speakers here).
Let me explain. This is the 3nd time that I am writing a blog post about the Digital Youth Summit (taking place this year on May 5-7, 2017 in Peshawar, Pakistan) and, once again, I face the big challenge of trying to make the reader feel at least some of the energy and incredible vibe that characterize this amazing event (you can find my 1st and 2nd posts here and here).
The Digital Youth Summit is a very unique get together. Over its two previous editions, it brought together national, international experts and hundreds of the most passionate and creative youth that Pakistan has to offer, demonstrating to the world that the city of Peshawar has now become the go-to spot for tech experts, freelancers and entrepreneurs from all over the country. The city’s tech ecosystem, once very limited, is now characterized by multiple initiatives and gathering spots for youth, including, for instance, The Nerd Camp, Peshawar 2.0 and Cluster, adding to the projects of Code for Pakistan and Empower Pakistan, both supported by the World Bank.
The 2017 edition, that will take place from May 5-7, is about to break new records.
Why is the Digital Youth Summit so important for Pakistan? Because Pakistan has almost 200 million people (the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone, whose capital is Peshawar, has 30 million- equivalent to the size of Greece, Belgium and Sweden, combined) and according to the Pakistani Bureau of Statistics (2013 data), almost 75% of the Pakistani population is below age 35; reaching 76.5% in the case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Many countries, developed and developing, that want to become more competitive in global markets tend to jump to a quick conclusion that they need to invest more in infrastructure, particularly in transport sectors like ports. But while many regions, including South Asia, do face important infrastructure gaps, massive new investment is not the only way to improve regional competitiveness. Countries should realize that they also have significant potential to make more efficient use of the infrastructure they already have.
Building megaports all along the coast might reduce a country’s trade costs, but it also requires hundreds of millions of dollars in investment. Improving the performance of existing ports, enabling them to handle higher levels of cargo with the same facilities and in a shorter time, can be a far more cost-effective approach to reducing transport and trade costs. Closing the infrastructure gap does not just require more infrastructure, but also better infrastructure, and better use of existing infrastructure.
The report Competitiveness of South Asia’s Container Ports, which we launched today, provides the first comprehensive look at the 14 largest container ports in South Asia, which handle 98 percent of the region’s container traffic. It focuses on port performance, drivers, and costs.
Contrary to what many of my social media friends seem to think, I am a pretty private guy who rarely goes to attend events, and despite being pretty fine with speaking my heart out on the stage, I am a kind of a weird shy person otherwise.
While I enjoy getting connected with talented and interesting people from all around the world via email and social media, it takes a lot for me to consider attending a real-life event.
This is for several reasons but here are the biggest ones:
1. In the case of online interactions, I can choose to respond to a message or a query when I want, and the other person can respond to it when it fits their schedule. In real-life one has to proactively make time for whatever event or social gathering one has to attend.
2. Secondly, since I am an introvert, I need a massive downtime after I get back from an event.
3. Many events taking place around me often aren't able to get me interested enough.
However, I am anxiously looking forward to DYS 2017, and I can't wait to attend this event. Here are a few reasons why I am excited to come to DYS 2017:
1. This event is probably the best and most well-known event that has been happening in my city - Peshawar for a good few years. By attending DYS2017, I want to be there to be part of the effort to change the narrative from security barriers to finding solutions through innovation, knowledge-seeking, and technology adoption.
2. No matter how much I love to interact online, face-to-face meetings are fun and useful in several ways. As mentioned in a recent HBR article, face-to-face requests are 34 times more successful than an email, and so I look forward to building stronger relations.
3 As Jim Rohn once famously said, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, and the management of DYS has spent a lot of time in creating it as a brand which attracts good, talented, ambitious people who have some interest and/or experience in all things digital.
The World Bank is releasing its first-ever comprehensive study of container ports in South Asia, examining the competitiveness of major ports across the region and suggesting ways they can work more efficiently to boost trade.
The report, to be formally launched on April 27, examines the performance of the ports, which handle about 75 percent of the region’s trade by value, and assesses the role that the private sector, governance, and competition have played in their development.
Trade has been key to South Asia’s remarkable economic average annual growth rate of about 6.7 percent since the beginning of the century, the second-highest in the world after East Asia.
By improving the transport infrastructure, including ports, and easing bottlenecks that hinder the flow of goods, the World Bank is helping South Asia lower its high logistics costs, capture a bigger share of the global market and create more jobs, supporting its progress toward becoming a middle-income region.
Much more than just funding by the World Bank under its Technical Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP) has clearly helped COEP not just arrest the slide in academic standards but also reemerge among the top ranking engineering colleges in the country where both the faculty and the students take pride in being meritorious.
Trophies and certificates of merit can be seen displayed not just in COEP director Prof Bharatkumar B. Ahuja’s airy room in the restored heritage building, which houses the administrative office, but in many other workshops and main halls of the college. Prof Ahuja states with pride that after IITs, it is the first choice of students from the state.
In an environment where industry is known to be critical of most engineering colleges, COEP has received Rs. 1 crore worth scholarships for students this year. Many of the industries are coming forward to help the college set up labs for promoting innovation. Having got autonomy, a precondition under the World Bank project, COEP is striving to achieve university status to push ahead with its programme to introduce more specializations and research. It boasts of 118 PhDs among its 217 faculty members.
During a recent visit, unmindful of the high temperature in the tin roofed workshop of the yore, enthusiastic students could be seen engaged in club activities like robotics, racing car, 3D printing, etc. The college has over 30 clubs including a satellite club, where like in a relay race projects are started and taken forward by next batch of students. On the fourth floor of one of the buildings, in a makeshift station the satellite club members monitor and communicate daily with the communication polar satellite Swayam ( the fourth student satellite from India) when it passes over Pune. The club is now working on a new satellite - Solar Sail - with research funding from ISRO.
This year, perhaps even more than in previous years, I am very excited to come to DYS for two main reasons.
First, since its inception in 2014, the Digital Youth Summit has become one of the premier technology conferences in Pakistan. Back in 2014, we got some skeptical responses to the idea of holding a tech conference in Peshawar. National speakers were hesitant to make the trip to Peshawar. Security restriction on international travel were in place for KP up to a week before the event. Several international speakers dropped out because of difficulties getting visas.
But in 2014, the first Digital Youth Summit came on the tech scene, redefining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as an emerging digital economy. The event brought together local and international participants (some attending their sessions by videoconference) to deliberate on supporting the growth of nascent ecosystems. Local youth showed up, curious about how the internet is shaping jobs of the future. I met one young woman who had traveled on an overnight bus with her child and sister just to learn more about what it means to work online. She told me excitedly that she could not wait to begin her new internet based career. And for the international speakers who made it, the hospitality and warmth of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reshaped their views of Pakistan.
Fast forward three years to DYS 2017. DYS has become an established event in Pakistan’s tech community. It has provided an international platform to showcase the vibrancy and enthusiasm of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as it embraces the digital economy. And while it continues to identify with its core objective—to raise awareness among youth—it has also become a platform for Pakistan’s tech community to deliberate the growth of tech entrepreneurship, the future of digital payments, and how to promote Pakistan’s digital transformation. The commitment and presence of the Government, as well as participation of a wide range of international experts, complements each panel discussion. But it is the enthusiasm and excitement of the youth that gives the event its signature energy and vibrancy.
Happy New Year to all our Sri Lankan friends and colleagues celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil New Year this month; and Happy Easter to those celebrating it.
This is my first opportunity to celebrate these various holidays in my adopted country. I love the energy, the buzz of excitement everywhere and the decorations coming up in many of the commercial districts. I have been asking so many questions about the importance of the New Year holiday; and at the same time enjoying the preparations for the festivities, the anticipation of the big day as well as the serious messages.
I have learnt that the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, also known as 'Aluth Avurudda' (in Sinhala) and 'Puthandu' (in Tamil) is very important to all Sri Lankans and it celebrates the traditional Lunar New Year. It is celebrated by most Sri Lankans – a point of Unity and a Joyful occasion.
Even more importantly the holiday coincides with the New Year celebrations of many traditional calendars of South and South East Asia – a regional point of unity! Above all, this is also known as the month of prosperity.
So what does the holiday mean to you as a Sri Lankan, or maybe you are someone like me who may not be Sri Lankan but loves the country and its people?
At the World Bank Group, promoting shared prosperity and increasing the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of people in every country we work in is part of our mission. The first goal is to end extreme poverty or reduce the share of the global population that lives in extreme poverty to 3 percent by 2030.
افغانستان له یو لړ ننګونو لکه بېوزلۍ، نه پرمختګ او نا امنۍ سره لاس او ګرېوان دی. دا د حیرانتیا خبره نه ده، چې تاوتریخوالي او جګړې د هېواد پر اقتصاد او د خلکو پر سوکالۍ ژوره اغېزه کړې ده خو افغانستان د پرمختيا هيله لري لکه تر ۲۰۳۰ پورې په لومړنيو ښوونځيو کې د جنسیت برابري.
د دې لپاره چې ډاډه شو افغانستان خپلو موخو ته رسېږي، مهمه دا ده د هېواد پر ټولنيز او اقتصادي پرمختګ پوه شو.
د افغانستان د اسلامي جمهوریت د اقتصاد وزارت په همکارۍ او د مرکزي احصايې ادارې د اطلاعاتو پر اساس، نړیوال بانک په دې وروستيو کې د ولايتي لنډیزونو درېیمه ګڼه په پښتو او دري دواړو ژبو خپره کړې، چې په ټولنیزو او اقتصادي شاخصونو کې هر اړخیز پرمختګ (د زده کړو په ګډون هم په ملي او هم د ولايتونو په کچه) څرګندوي.
دا څه په ډاګه کوي؟ موږ وینو چې افغانستان د بشري انکشاف په برخه کې په زړه پورې پایلې لري؛ لکه ښوونه او روزنه، روغتيا، او اساسي خدمتونو ته لاسرسی، خو افغانان په ټولیزه توګه دغو پرمختګونو ته، چې په بېلابېلو ولايتونو کې ژوند کوي، مساوي لاسرسی نه لري. په حقیقت کې ټولنيزې او اقتصادي پایلې د افغاني کورنیو پر ژوند ژور اغېز لري.
لنډیزونه ښيي چې نجونې په ځانګړې توګه په لومړني ښوونځي کې د شاملېدو په وخت له ننګونو سره مخ کېږي خو په هغو ځایونو کې، چې هغوی ښوونځي ته ځي، زده کوونکي خوښ وي چې خپلو اهدافو ته رسېږي. د دریچه نور ښوونځي زده کوونکې مسعودې نبي وویل: ((د نجونو او هلکانو تر منځ توپير باید نه وي، زه نه ډارېږم، زه خوشحاله یم، چې ښوونځي ته راغلې يم، زه غواړم، چې یوه انجینره شم.))
له بده مرغه ټولې نجونې د مسعودې په شان ښوونځي ته د تګ فرصت نه لري، موږ په ښوونځي کې د هلکانو او نجونو تر منځ په حاضرۍ کې د لوی توپیر شاهد یو. په افغانستان کې د نجونو او هلکانو د حاضرۍ کچه، د لومړني ښوونځي د ۲۰۰۷ او ۲۰۰۸ په پرتله په ۲۰۱۱ او ۲۰۱۲ کې لوړه شوه خو د ۲۰۱۱ او ۲۰۱۲ په پرتله په ۲۰۱۳ او ۲۰۱۴ کې ټیټه شوه. په منځني ډول په ۲۰۱۳ او ۲۰۱۴ کې د هرو درېیو هلکانو په مقابل کې یوازې دوه افغان نجونې لومړني ښوونځي کې شاملې شوې. لا تر اوسه په لومړنيو ښوونځيو د جندر برابري نه ده رامنځته شوې، په داسې حال کې، چې ډېری نجونې له زده کړو بې برخې دي.
نو پوښتنه دا ده، چې موږ باید د نجونو د زده کړو په برخه کې په کومو ځایونو کې پانګونه وکړو، تر څو د جندر برابرۍ ته ورسېږو؟ د دې ځواب به يوازې په ملي کچه د اطلاعاتو په ورکولو سره کافي نه وي، موږ باید د افغانستان له ولايتونو څخه اطلاعات ولرو، څو وشو کولی په دې برخه کې پرمختګ اندازه کړو.
لنډیز، له ۲۰۰۷ کال راهیسې په هر ولايت کې پرمختګ ښيي، موږ ته اجازه راکوي، چې په لومړني ښوونځي کې د حاضرۍ توپیر له احتماله ارزونه وکړو.
په ډېری ولایتونو کې (۱۸ د ۳۴ څخه) کوم پرمختګ چې موږ له ۲۰۰۷ - ۲۰۰۸ څخه تر ۲۰۱۳ - ۲۰۱۴ کلونو پورې وليد، بسنه نه کوي، څو تر ۲۰۳۰ پورې په لومړنيو ښوونځيو د جنسیت توپیر له منځه یوسو.
که څه هم ځيني ولايتونو شته، چې موږ ته هيله راکوي؛ په دایکنډي او هرات ولایتونو کې د هلکانو په پرتله ډېرې نجونې په ۲۰۱۳- ۲۰۱۴ کلونو کې لومړني ښوونځيو کې شاملې شوې. سربېره پر دې اووه ولايتونه به په راتلونکو پنځو کلونو کې د هغو د پرمختګ په اوسنۍ کچه به په لومړنیو ښوونځیو کې د جندر برابري ترلاسه کړي.
سرپل کې د ۲۰۰۷- ۲۰۰۸ په پرتله په ۲۰۱۳- ۲۰۱۴ کلونو کې په لومړني ښوونځيو کې د هلکانو د حاضرۍ په نسبت د نجونو په حاضرۍ کې فوق العاده پرمختګ راغی. سرپل کې به په دې کچه پرمختګ وکولی شي د یو کال په موده کې په لومړنیو ښوونځيو کې د جنسیت توپیر له منځه يوسي.
Afghanistan grapples with a range of challenges from growing insecurity to stagnating growth and rising levels of poverty. It is no surprise that the impact of the violent conflict on the country’s economic prospects and the welfare of its people is profound. Yet, Afghanistan carries ambitious development goals including achieving gender parity in primary schooling by 2030 among others. To ensure Afghanistan meets its goals, it is important to know how the country has progressed on socio-economic outcomes.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Economy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and based on data provided by the Central Statistics Organization, the World Bank recently published the third edition of the Provincial Briefs (also available in Dari and Pashto), which provides a comprehensive profile of the most recent progress on a set of socio-economic indicators including education both at the national and at the provincial levels.
What do they reveal? We can see Afghanistan has achieved impressive improvements in human development outcomes—in areas such as education, health, and access to basic services. But this overall progress has not benefitted everyone equally and gaps in access between Afghans living in different provinces persist. In fact, where Afghan families live matters greatly for their socio-economic outcomes. And when it comes to schooling, this is no different. Location determines whether children will go to school or not.