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The rising cost of nutritious food in South Asia

Felipe F. Dizon's picture
 World Bank
A malnourished child will face poorer outcomes as an adult. In South Asia, where malnutrition persists in multiple forms, improving nutrition in the early stages of life is critical to a child's future development and health. Credit: World Bank

A malnourished child will face poorer outcomes as an adult.
 
That’s why improving nutrition, especially in the early stages of life, is critical.
 
The path toward better nutrition includes adequate maternal and child care, access to better sanitation facilities, health services, and naturally, nutritious foods.
 
But whether an individual consumes—or not—nutritious food is contingent upon a myriad of factors, ranging from the availability of certain foods, how convenient they can be turned into meals, or simply, if they meet consumers’ tastes.
 
But above all, the high cost of food remains the most critical barrier to proper nutrition and affects the poor more than the rich.
 
And in South Asia, where malnutrition persists in multiple forms, the cost of nutritious food is prohibitive.

How to diversify Bhutan’s economy?

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Bhutan has made tremdendous progress in reducing poverty. But it needs to do a better job at diversifying its economy by improving its physical and human capital by using resource rents from hydropower.
Bhutan has made tremendous progress in reducing poverty. But it needs to do a better job at diversifying its economy by improving its physical and human capital by using resource rents from hydropower.

Will diversifying its economy help Bhutan address its youth unemployment, let alone its macroeconomic volatility and vulnerability?

With the right approach, yes.

And to that end, the latest World Bank Bhutan Development Report: A Path to Inclusive and Sustainable Development proposes solutions relevant to Bhutan’s context.

For more than ten years, developing the private sector through greater economic diversification has been Bhutan’s top policy as described in the 10th and 11th five-year plans.

Yet, youth unemployment, especially for educated Bhutanese, has remained high: 67 percent of bachelor’s degrees holders were jobless in 2016.

Diversifying the economy is touted as a standard prescription to cure such development ailments as joblessness, low productivity, and macroeconomic volatility.

However, international experience shows that this prescription does not always work.

Case in point: A World Bank’s analysis Diversified Development concludes that in resource-rich countries, investing in physical capital, human capital and economic institution are the best ways to sustain growth in the private sector.

Further to that, the development of specific sectors, which is often a common ingredient of diversification strategies in certain countries, is neither necessary nor sufficient for private-sector-led growth.

The main driver of Bhutan’s high growth and poverty reduction, hydropower has led the country’s development and will remain the backbone of its economy.

However, Bhutan needs to do a better job at diversifying its economy by improving its physical and human capital by using resource rents from hydropower.

Bhutan ranks 149 out of 160 countries on the 2018 Logistics Performance Index and 121 out of 176 countries on the 2017 ICT index.

Bhutan falls in the bottom half of the Human Capital Project rankings on critical indicators such as expected years of schooling.

ایجاد صلح و ثبات در افغانستان از صنف درسی شروع می شود

Mohammad Ibrahim Shinwari's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
Education is the bedrock for peace and a more resilient and self-sufficient Afghanistan
شاگردان یکی از مکاتب ابتداییه در ولایت پنجشیر. امتیاز عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/ بانک جهانی

امروز ۲۴ ماه جنوری مصادف به روز بین المللی معارف میباشد. این در حالیست که در ماه دسمبر سال ۲۰۱۷ میلادی مجمع عمومی سازمان ملل متحد این روز را بمنظور ارج گذاری به نقش محوری و اساسی تعلیم وتربیه در راستای تامین صلح و انکشاف پایدار مسمی نموده و قرار است منبعد از این روز همه ساله بعنوان روز جهانی معارف تجلیل بعمل اید.

هدف از تجلیل این روز جهانی نه تنها جلب توجه به معارف به عنوان یکی از اهداف کلیدی اهداف انکشاف پایدار ۲۰۳۰ سازمان ملل متحد میباشد، بلکه بر نقش کلیدی تعلیم و تربیه در راستای فقرزدایی، افزایش دسترسی به خدمات صحی، گسترش و نهادینه سازی تساوی جنسیت، تامین و تحکیم صلح در سراسر جهان نیز تاکید میورزد.

بدون شک اموزش یگانه راه ایجاد نیروی بشری مورد نیاز برای رشد پایدار در دراز مدت پنداشته میشود.

اختصاص دادن یک روز به عنوان روز جهانی معارف، اراده و عزم جامعه بین المللی را مبنی بر حمایت همه جانبه از دسترسی عادلانه همه ای مردم به تعلیم و اموزش با کیفیت را نشان میدهد.

منحیث معین وزارت معارف افغانستان، خوشحالم که معارف امروز درصدر اجندای جامعه جهانی قرار گرفته زیرا تعلیم و تربیه در تامین صلح و ثبات نقش خیلی مهم و ارزنده دارد.

در حالیکه افغانستان با چالش های ناشی از چندین دهه جنگ روبرو است، تاکید بر اهمیت نقش تعلیم وتربیه در راستای تامین و تحکیم پایدار صلح و ثبات در این کشور بسیار مهم و حیاتی است.

 برای ما، معارف به معنای بنیاد یک افغانستان صلح آمیز، خودکفا و مترقی میباشد.

په افغانستان کې سوله او ثبات راوستل له درسي ټولګيو پیلېږي

Mohammad Ibrahim Shinwari's picture
Also available in: English | دری
Education is the bedrock for peace and a more resilient and self-sufficient Afghanistan
د پنجشیر ولایت د یوه ابتدایه ښونځۍ زده کونکې. د انځور امتیاز: د رومی شرکت/ نړیوال بانک

نن، د جنورۍ مياشتې ۲۴مه د پوهنې نړيواله ورځ ده. د سولې په راوستو او دوامداره پرمختیا کې د ښوونې او روزنې اساسي او رغنده رول ته د درناوي له پاره د ملګرو ملتونو سازمان د ۲۰۱۷ زېږديز کال په ډسمبر مياشت کې دغه ورځ [د جنورۍ ۲۴مه] د پوهنې د نړيوالې ورځې په نامه ونوموله او ټاکل شوې ده، چې تر دې وروسته به هر کال دا ورځ د پوهنې نړیوالې ورځې په نامه لمانځل کېږي.

د دغې نړيوالې ورځې له لمانځلو هدف نه یوازې دا دی، چې پوهنې ته، چې د ملګرو ملتونو د ۲۰۳۰زېږديز کال د دوامداره پراختیا مهم هدف بلل کېږي، پام راجلب شي، بلکي د بې وزلۍ پر کمښت، روغتيايي خدمتونو ته د لاسرسۍ پر زیاتوالی، د جنسیتي برابرۍ پر زیاتوالی  او عامولو، په ټولې نړۍ کې د سولې پر تامينولو او ټينګښت کې هم د ښوونې او روزنې اساسي په رول باندې ټينګار کوي.

له شک پرته زده کړه یوازينۍ لاره ده، چې په اوږدمهال کې د دوامدارې پرمختیا لپاره د اړتیا وړ بشري قوه تامينولی شي.

د پوهنې نړيوالې ورځې په نامه د یوې ورځې نومول، د نړيوالې ټولنې ټينګه اراده او ژمنه څرګندوي، چې تعلیم او زده کړې ته د ټولو خلکو د مساوي او باکیفیته لاسرسي په پار يې ملاتړ کوي.

د افغانستان د پوهنې وزارت د معين په توګه، خوښ یم چې نړيوالې ټولنې پوهنه د خپلې اجنډا په سر کې راوستې ده، ځکه ښوونه او روزنه د سولې او ثبات په ټينګښت کې رغنده رول لري.

په داسې یو حالت کې چې افغانستان د څو لسیزو راهیسې د جګړو له ګواښونو سره لاس او ګريوان دی، د دوامدارې سولې په راوستو او د ثبات په ټينګښت کې د ښوونې او روزنې پر رول تينګار کول حياتي موضوع بلل کېږي.

The journey to a peaceful Afghanistan starts in the classroom

Mohammad Ibrahim Shinwari's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Education is the bedrock for peace and a more resilient and self-sufficient Afghanistan
Students attending school in a remote village in Afghanistan's central Panjshir Province. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Today, January 24, we’re celebrating the International Day of Education after a unanimous UN resolution recognized last December the pivotal role of education for peace and development.
 
The International Day of Education not only calls attention to education as a key goal in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also highlights the role education plays in eradicating poverty, improving public health, promoting gender equality, and building peace worldwide.
 
There's no doubt that effective learning builds the human capital necessary for sustained long-term growth.
 
And by dedicating a global day to education, the international community has shown its determination to support inclusive, equitable, and quality education for all.
 
As Deputy Minister of Education in Afghanistan, I am pleased to see education on top of the international agenda and that its contribution to peace and development is now being recognized.
 
For Afghanistan, this recognition is crucial as the country faces the challenge of overcoming the devastating effects of decades of conflict and instability.

India: Building trust in local governance institutions in Bihar’s villages

Farah Zahir's picture
Sushumlata, the head of the gram panchayat of Dawan village, Bhojpur District, Bihar, conducts a meeting at the newly furbished panchayat office.
Sushumlata, the head of the gram panchayat of Dawan village, Bhojpur District, Bihar, conducts a meeting at the newly furbished panchayat office.


In a remote village in Bihar’s Bhojpur district, Sushumlata sits behind a spanking new desk in a newly-refurbished government building.

From the time she came to the village as a new bride, this young woman has chosen to get involved in community affairs by joining the Self Help Group (SHG) movement.

Later, armed with a master’s degree in social work, she joined active politics and, in 2016, was elected the Mukhiya, or head of the Dawan village Gram Panchayat – the local governance institution – under the seat reserved for women.

Sushumlata is the face of the government in this remote corner of Bihar. When we visit her in the newly upgraded Gram Panchayat building – refurbished under the World Bank (IDA) funded Bihar Panchayat Strengthening Project – she tells us how the newly painted and equipped building has made a difference.

A young man is busy on a computer beside her, helping an elderly gentleman apply for a government pension.

In Pakistan, music meets public debt management

Andrew Lee's picture
Recently on mission in Pakistan to unveil a new tool to help the Punjab government better manage its public debt, the blog author, Andrew Lee, interacted and shared a few selfies with youth in the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore.
Recently on mission in Pakistan to unveil a new tool to help the Punjab government better manage its public debt, the blog author, Andrew Lee, interacted and shared a few selfies with youth in the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore.


“Sí, sabes que ya llevo un rato mirándote
Tengo que bailar contigo hoy” 
 
The Despacito tune blared in the bus, and my fellow riders kept tempo to the rhythm.
 
I was recently on mission in the Punjab province, Pakistan, on my way to the Shalimar Gardens for some sightseeing on my day off.

The last thing I expected to hear was the top song of 2017 on a bus in Lahore but in hindsight, this shouldn’t have surprised me.

We live in a global community, and across the world, individuals are getting more connected every day.  Music perfectly exemplifies this – a universal language which we can all understand.  With this increased connection comes higher expectations.

In addition to roads and clean water, citizens now demand that their government provide reliable digital connectivity. And when taxes and other revenues are not sufficient to cover this and other public services, governments must borrow to pay for it.
 
As with music, debt transcends borders, and the basics are almost the same. The key elements of music – rhythm, harmony, and melody – as with the critical components of debt – interest payments, maturity, cash flow, and risk – remain the same no matter where you are.

Managing public debt was precisely my reason to be in Lahore where I introduced a cash flow tool the World Bank helped design.

Celebrating 40 years of engagement with Maldives

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
The World Bank Group (WBG) and Maldives have had a trusted partnership for the past 40 years, which has seen tremendous growth and development in the country.

Over this period, Maldives has transformed from being among the poorest countries in the world to having a per capita GDP of over $10,000 and boasts impressive human development achievements, with a life expectancy of over 77 years and nearly 100% literacy.

However, vulnerability to environmental sustainability and climate change are among the challenges that the country faces. 

To help respond to them, the WBG continues to work closely with Maldives to help realize the aspirations of its people through enhancing employment and economic opportunities, strengthening natural resources management and climate resilience, while improving public financial management and policy-making through strengthening institutions.

Here are five milestones of our engagement:

1. Joining the World Bank
Maldives joins World Bank
Photo Credit: World Bank Group Archives
On January 13, 1978, Maldives became the 131st member of the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA), the fund that helps the poorest countries through interest-free credits.

The Articles of Agreements were signed by His Excellency Fathulla Jameel, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations. At that time, Maldives had a GDP per capita of just over $200 and had achieved independence only 13 years prior.

2. First project signing
Maldives 1st Project Signing
Photo Credit: World Bank Group Archives

 Maldives signed its first project to help increase fisheries production with the World Bank on June 4, 1979.

The project helped mechanize fishing craft, established repair centers, and installed navigational aids to increase the safety of fishing operations.

Those present for the signing from left to right, Said El-Naggar, Executive Director of the World Bank for Maldives, His Excellency Ahamed Zaki, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Maldives to the United Nations, and Robert Picciottto, Projects Director for South Asia.

South Asia's new superfood or just fishy business?

Pawan Patil's picture
Across South Asia, four known species of indigenous, fully mature, small food-fish – now dubbed ‘NutriFish’ have nutritional and health benefits for pregnant and lactating women and young children when consumed over the first one thousand days. Here, children from Kothi, Odisha in India show their curiosity and share their excitement with a new kind of harvest happening in their village. Credit: Arun Padiyar
Kale, Kefir, and Quinoa have now joined the ranks of better-known foods like Blueberries, Orange Sweet Potato, and Salmon on family dinner tables across the world.

Considered superior for their health and nutrition benefits, these so-called ‘Superfoods’, often considered “new” by the public are now ever-popularized by celebrity chefs and have become all the rage of foodies from San Francisco to Singapore.   

We live in a world of paradox, where old world and almost forgotten food like Quinoa (which dates back as a staple food over three thousand years to Andean civilization but largely disappeared with the arrival of the Spanish) is now back on the menu.  

Salmon, a staple part of Nordic diets from paleolithic times and woven into the culture of native populations across northwestern Canada and many other superfoods share comparable stories.

And, there are many other old world foods, indigenously known, disappearing but not fully forgotten, yet to be re-discovered.

Food is also now advancing to the front-line of the war on poverty

A health and human capital crisis is now sweeping the world, and a lack of diverse, accessible, affordable, and available nourishing foods is increasingly blamed.  

For example, obesity, from poor diet and poor exercise has tripled since 1975 to almost two billion people today.  

Undernutrition contributes to 45 percent of all deaths of children under five years old (3.5 million each year), much of it avoidable, but difficult to detect as it remains “hidden.”  

Policy makers and stewards of national economies are starting to wake up to the fact that poor nutrition has massive economic implications too, reducing GDP by 3-11 percent, depending on the country. 

While economies such as Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan may look strong, just as bellies look full, critical micronutrients and vitamins, essential for healthy physical and cognitive development over the first 1,000 days of life are largely missing from diets of many developing countries and are a proven drag to educational attainment and economic prosperity.  

And parents, from both rich and poor nations alike, seem to know something is not quite right. 

If healthier food choices that are accessible, affordable, and readily available are better known, would parents purchase such food from the market for their families?     

With a small grant from the World Bank-administered South Asia Food and Nutrition Initiative (SAFANSI) supported by the EU and the United Kingdom, a partnership with WorldFish was established to test this premise.  

A 60 second TV spot, a collaboration between scientists, economists, a private sector digital media company, broadcasters and the Government of Bangladesh, was created and broadcast across the nation on two occasions and watched by over 25 million people.  

A parallel radio program was also developed and aired reaching millions more, particularly the rural poor and marginalized communities.
 
NutriFish1000 TV

 

Act now for a brighter future for the Afghan people

Hartwig Schafer's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Today, over 8.5 million students attend school–over 40% of them girls
Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

In 2001, only one million Afghan children attended school–none of them girls. Today, over 8.5 million students attend school–over 40% of them girls.

Amina, a 9th grade student, is one of over 3 million girls that now attend school through the contributions of the Afghan people and support from the international community.

"I have seen many improvements at my school. We are learning more now through better teaching methods and materials,” she said. Amina is one of the millions of Afghans whose lives have improved and has great hopes for the future.

As the first country that I visited after becoming the World Bank’s Vice President for the South Asia Region in July 2018, Afghanistan impressed me with its resilient people and achievements in spite of challenges, notably in education, health, and infrastructure.

The country has immense potential. Located in the center of a fast-growing region blessed with a young population and abundant natural resources, Afghanistan can achieve rapid growth and huge improvements in living standards through sound planning and tight implementation.

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