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Labor and Social Protection

Commitment to reforms improves business climate in South Asia

Hartwig Schafer's picture
Rikweda, an Afghan fruit processing company in the Kabul Province is well on its way to restoring Afghanistan as a raisin exporting powerhouse—a status the country held until the 1970s when it claimed about 20 percent of the global market. Credit World Bank

Imagine a state-of-the-art processing plant that harnesses laser-sorting technology to produce a whopping 15,000 tons of raisins a year, linking up thousands of local farmers to international markets and providing job opportunities to women.
To find such a world-class facility, look no further than Rikweda, an Afghan fruit processing company in the Kabul Province that’s well on its way to restoring Afghanistan as a raisin exporting powerhouse—a status the country held until the 1970s when it claimed about 20 percent of the global market.
In Afghanistan’s volatile business environment, let alone its deteriorating security, Rikweda’s story is an inspiration for budding entrepreneurs and investors.
It also is an illustration of the government’s reform efforts to create more opportunities for Afghan businesses to open and grow, which were reflected in the country’s record advancement in the Doing Business 2019 index, launched today by the World Bank.
Despite the increasing conflicts and growing fragility, and thanks to a record five reforms that have moved Afghanistan up to the rank of 167th from 183rd last year, the country became a top improver for the first time in the report’s history.
And Afghanistan is not the only South Asian country this year that took a prominent place among top 10 improvers globally.
India – which holds the title for the second consecutive year – is a striking example of how persistence pays off, and the high-level ownership and championship of reforms are critical for success. Its ranking has improved by 23 places this year and puts India ahead of all other countries in South Asia. This year, India is ranked 77th, up from 100th last year. 

Budding entrepreneurs in rural Bihar

Vinay Kumar Vutukuru's picture

Agricultural entrepreneurship

Rahul Kumar is a 25-year-old community extension worker at Jeevika in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. He set up an agri-business enterprise six months ago and it’s turned out to be quite a success. Kumar earned more than INR 180,000 ($2,700) in barely one month during the rainy season crop cycle, also known as Kharif crop in India. What’s more, he sold quality seeds and other agriculture inputs to more than 150 farmers during that period, helping them save over INR 50,000. “Whatever I could earn as a Village Resource Person (VRP) over a period of one year, I managed to earn that much as an agri-entrepreneur in just one month,” said Kumar.
A three-way partnership between JEEViKA (a Government of Bihar supported program for economic empowerment), Syngenta Foundation India (a civil society organization working towards enhancing farmers’ incomes) and the National Institute of Rural development & Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR), an academic institution helped Kumar and his farmer friends achieve a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes.
In this partnership, NIRDPR provided training to the budding entrepreneurs under the overall technical support of SFI, who provided on-the-ground hand-holding and mentoring support. JEEViKA provided the institutional platform from where promising local youths were identified, selected and incubated to work as entrepreneurs. The community organizations, in many cases, also provided the initial credit for seed capital to these entrepreneurs to start their agri-business ventures. 

Pathal Ram, a small farmer from the same village said, “If I could get good quality seeds and other inputs at my home, what is the point of going to the market? It saves my time and money. I could use this time in my field for better cultivation.”

Afghanistan: Learning from a decade of progress and loss

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Afghanistan: Learning from a decade of progress and loss

In Afghanistan, the past decade saw remarkable progress, as well as reversals and lost opportunities.

The overall macroeconomic and security context in Afghanistan since 2007 can be broken into two distinct phases, pre- and post- the 2014 security transition, when international troops handed over security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
The pre-transition phase was marked by higher economic growth (GDP per capita grew 63 percent relative to its 2007 value) and a relatively stable security situation.

Since 2014, growth has stagnated, falling below rates of population growth, and the security situation continues to deteriorate. With the withdrawal of most international troops and the steady decline in aid (both security and civilian aid) since 2012, the economy witnessed an enormous shock to demand, from which it is still struggling to recover.

Similarly, welfare can be characterized into two distinct phases.

Finishing the job of ending poverty in South Asia

Hartwig Schafer's picture
This Bangladeshi woman was born in poverty. With the right kind of education, life in poverty quickly became a story from the past for her. Credit: World Bank

"I have a four-year-old son back in my village. I want to make a better life for him,” says Sharmin Akhtar, a 19-year-old employee in one of Dhaka’s many flourishing garment factories.

Like thousands of other poor women, Sharmin came down to Bangladesh’s capital from her village in the country’s north to seek a better job and create a more prosperous future for her family—leaving behind a life of crushing poverty.

Today, as we mark End Poverty Day 2018, it’s important to note that Sharmin’s heartening story is one of many in Bangladesh and the rest of South Asia, where economic growth has spurred a dramatic decline in extreme poverty in the last 25 years.

And the numbers are striking: In South Asia, the number of extreme poor living on less than $1.90 a day dropped to 216 million people in 2015 from 275 million in 2013 and 536 million in 1990.

Even more remarkable, South Asian countries experienced an increase in incomes among the poorest 40 percent of 2.6 percent a year between 2010-2015, faster than the global average of 1.9 percent.

On a global scale, the highest concentration of poor shifted from South Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012. And India is likely to be overtaken, if it has not already been, by Nigeria as the country with the most people living in extreme poverty.

It’s worth thinking about how far South Asia has come – but remaining clear-eyed about how far we must go to finish the fight against extreme poverty.

Indeed, it is increasingly clear that poverty is more entrenched and harder to root out in certain areas, particularly in rural areas and in countries burdened by violent conflict and weak institutions.

Estimates for 2015 indicate that India, with 176 million poor people, continued to have the highest number of people in poverty and accounted for nearly a quarter of the global poor.

True, the extreme poverty rate is significantly lower in India relative to the average rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. But because of its large population, India’s total number of poor is still large.

And while there has been a substantial decline in the numbers and rate of people living below $1.90 in South Asia, the number of people living on less than $3.20 has declined by only 8 percent over 1990-2015 because of the growing population.

In 2015, 49 percent of the population of South Asia were living on less than $3.20 a day, and 80 percent were living on less than $5.50 a day.

څنګه په افغانستان کې د تیر یوه لسیزی د لاسته راوړنې او تللې فرصتونو څخه زدکړو

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: English | دری
څنګه په افغانستان کې د تیر یوه لسیزی د لاسته راوړنې او تللې فرصتونو څخه زدکړو

افغانستان په تېره یوه لسيزه کې د پرمختګونو شاهد و خو په ورته مهال د شاتګ ځيني موارد يې هم درلودل او فرصتونو يې هم له لاسه ورکړي دي.
په ټوله کې، کولاۍ شو د افغانستان ستر اقتصادي او امنیتی وضعیت له ۲۰۰۷ کال راهيسې پر دوو پړاوونو و ویشو:  ۲۰۱۴ کال کې د امنیتي مسوولیتونو له لېږد څخه وړاندې او وروسته، کله چې نړیوالو ځواکونو په افغانستان کې امنیتي مسوولیتونه افغان ځواکونو ته وسپارل.
د امنيتي مسوولیتونو له لېږد وړاندې پړاو کې د لوړې اقتصادي ودې شاهدان وو (۲۰۰۷ کال کې د يو کس ناخالص عاید ۶۳ سلنه وده وکړه) امنیتي وضعیت په نسبي ډول پایدار و. خو له ۲۰۱۴ کال نه راهيسې اقتصادي وده مخ پر ځوړ وه چې د دغه هېواد د وګړو د ودې له کچې څخه هم ټيټه ده او همداراز د هرې ورځې په تېرېدو امنيتي وضعیت ترینګلی کېږي.
له افغانستان څخه په زیاته کچه د بهرنيو نړیوالو ځواکونو وتل او ۲۰۱۲ کال کې په پوځي او ملکي برخو کې په دوامداره توګه د مرستو کمښت،  اقتصادي وضعیت له سخت حالت سره مخ کړ چې تر اوسه يې د ژغورولو لپاره هڅې روانې دي.
په ورته مهال، عامه سوکالي هم کولی شو چې پر دوو جلا برخو یې ډلبندي کړو.

چگونه از پیشرفت ها و ناتوانایی های یک دهه گذشته در افغانستان آموخت

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
چگونه از پیشرفت ها و ناتوانایی های یک دهه گذشته در افغانستان آموخت

افغانستان در یک دهه یی گذشته شاهد پیشرفت های زیاد بوده اما در عین زمان با عقب گرد های نیز رو برو شده و فرصت های را نیز از دست داده است.
در کل، وضعیت اقتصاد بزرگ و امنیت افغانستان از سال ۲۰۰۷ میلادی به بعد را میتوان به دو مرحله متمایز تقسیم کرد: قبل و بعد از انتقال مسولیت های امنیتی در سال ۲۰۱۴، زمانیکه نیرو های بین المللی مسوولیت های امنیتی را به نیرو های امنیتی ملی افغانستان سپردند.
مرحله قبل ازانتقال مسولیت های امنیتی شاهد رشد بلندتر اقتصادی (در سال ۲۰۰۷ تولید ناخالص سرانه ۶۳ درصد رشد نمود) وضعیت امنیتی نسبتاً پایدارتر بود. از سال ۲۰۱۴ به بعد رشد اقتصادی رو به رکود بوده که پایین تر از میزان رشد جمعیت در این کشور است و همچنان وضعیت امنیتی با گذشت هر روز وخیمتر گردیده است. بعد از خروج بخش بزرگی از نیروهای بین المللی و کاهش دوامدار کمک ها در بخش امنیتی و ملکی بعد از سال ۲۰۱۲، وضعیت اقتصادی ضربه محکم و بزرگی را متحمل شد که  اکنون تلاش ها برای بیرون رفت از آن آدامه دارد.
هم  زمان با این، رفاه عامه را نیز میتوان به دو بخش متمایز دسته بندی  کرد.

وضعیت افغان های بیجا شده چگونه است؟

Christina Wieser's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
Afghans represent the world’s largest protracted refugee population
فامیل های عودت کننده افغان بمنظور ثبت نام به دفتر کمیشنری عالی سازمان ملل متحد در امور پناهنده گان  در کابل مراجعه میکنند. عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/ بانک جهانی

بزرگترین شمار مهاجرین جهان را افغانها تشکیل میدهند در حالیکه انان نیز در عین زمان بیشترین کسانی در طی این قرن هستند که دوباره به ذات گاه (کشور خود) بر میگردند.
از ۲۰۰۲ الی ۲۰۱۷ میلادی، در حدود ۷ میلیون مهاجرافغان دو باره به کشور خود عودت نموده، که بیشترین رقم این عودت کنندگان شامل انعده افغانهاست که از ایران و پاکستان برگشته اند.
در حال حاضر، عودت کنندگان تقریباً یک- پنجم حصۀ نفوس تخمینی این کشور را تشکیل میدهند.
همزمان با این، گسترش نا امنی و درگیری های مسلحانه بطور روز افزون سبب  افزایش شمار بیجا شدگان داخلی در افغانستان گردیده است.
شرایط دشوار کنونی، موجودیت کُتله بزرگ از بیجا شدگان داخلی و رقم بلند عودت کنندگان در کشور فشار زیادی را بالای چگونگی ارایه خدمات دولتی وارد ساخته و همزمان میزان رقابت را برای دسترسی به فرصت های اقتصادی و کاریابی در میان بیجاشدگان داخلی و بقیه نفوس شهرها افزایش داده است.
هم اکنون افغان ها در شرایط فوق العاده دشوار اقتصادی زندگی می کنند. آمار سالهای ۲۰۱۶ و ۲۰۱۷ نشان میدهد که بیشتر از نصف نفوس این کشور در زیر خط  فقر زندگی میکنند، و بسیاری دیگر انان در معرض آسیب پذیری فقر قرار د ارند. بمنظور حمایت از افغانها در مناطق فقیر و آسیب پذیر، نیاز است تا تدابیر همه جانبه در راستای فراهم سازی کمک های بشردوستانه و انکشافی روی دست گرفته شود. 
روی همین ملحوظ مسؤلین و سیاست گذاران همواره با پرسش های زیادی مواجه میشوند. 

د بې ځایه شویو افغانانو وضعیت څرنګه دی؟

Christina Wieser's picture
Also available in: English | دری
Afghans represent the world’s largest protracted refugee population
هېواد ته د بېرته راستنېدونکو افغان کډوالو کورنۍ په کابل کې د کډوالو په چارو کې د ملګرو ملتونو د عالي کمېشنرۍ دفتر ته د نوم لیکنې په هدف مراجعه کوي. انځور: د رومي مشورتي شرکت/ نړیوال بانک

افغانان د نړۍ د کډوالو لویه برخه جوړوي، په داسې حال کې چې هغوی په ورته وخت کې د دې پيړۍ په ترڅ کې تر ټولو زیات شمیر کسان دي چې بیرته خپل ټاټوبي ته ستنیږي.

له ۲۰۰۲ څخه تر ۲۰۰۷ پورې شاوخوا ۷ میلیونه افغان کډوال بیرته خپل هیواد ته ستانه شوي چې د دې راستانه شویو افغانانو لویه برخه له ایران او پاکستان څخه ستانه شوي دي.

دم مهال، راستانه شوي کسان د دې هیواد د اټکل شوي نفوس شاوخوا یو پر پنځمه برخه جوړوي.

په ورته وخت کې، د ناامنیو پراخیدل او ورځ تر بلې د وسله والو شخړو زیاتوالی په افغانستان کې د کورني بې ځایه شویو د زیاتوالي لامل شوی دی.

اوسني ستونزمن حالات، د کورني بې ځایه شویو لویې برخې شته والی او په هیواد کې د راستانه شویو کډوالو لویه شمیره د دولتي چوپړتیاو د وړاندې کولو پر څرنګوالي زیات فشار وارد کړی او په ورته وخت کې یې د اقتصادي او کار موندنې فرصتونو د لاسرسۍ لپاره د کورني بې ځایه شویو او د ښارونو پاتې نفوس تر منځ د سیالۍ کچه زیاته کړې ده.

اوسمهال افغانان په فوق العاده ستونزمنو اقتصادي شرایطو کې ژوند کوي. د ۲۰۱۶ او ۲۰۱۷ کلونو شمیرې په ډاګه کوي چې د دې هیواد د نفوس له نیمایي زیاته برخه د بیوزلۍ کرښې لاندې اوسیږي او زیاته نوره برخه یې د بیوزلۍ د زیان لیدنې په درشل کې ده. په بیوزلو او زیان لیدونکو سیمو کې، له افغانانو څخه د ملاتړ په موخه اړتیا ده، څو د بشر غوښتنې او پراختیایي مرستو د چمتو کولو په برخه کې هر اړخیز تدابیر په پام کې ونیول شي.

له همدې کبله مسئولین او سیاست جوړوونکي تل له زیاتو پوښتنو سره مخامخ کیږي.

How are displaced Afghans faring?

Christina Wieser's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Afghans represent the world’s largest protracted refugee population
Afghan returnee families are arriving at a UNHCR registration office in Kabul. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Afghans represent the world’s largest protracted refugee population, and one of the largest to be repatriated to their country of origin in this century.

More than seven million refugees returned to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2017, mainly from Iran and Pakistan.
Afghan returnees now make up as much as one-fifth of the country’s estimated population.
At the same time, conflict-induced population displacement within Afghanistan has sharply increased due to the escalation of insecurity across the country. 
In an already difficult context, large-scale internal displacement and returnees from abroad have strained the delivery of public services and increased competition for scarce economic opportunities for both the displaced and the rest of the population.
Afghans are living under difficult economic conditions. More than half of all Afghans lived below the national poverty line in 2016-17, and many more are vulnerable to falling into poverty.

To support struggling communities through scarce humanitarian and development assistance is challenging but necessary.
But policymakers struggle with many questions.

Building up Bhutan’s resilience to disasters and climate change

Dechen Tshering's picture
Building Bhutans Resilience
Despite progress, Bhutan still has ways to go to understand and adapt to the impacts of climate change. And with the effects of climate change intensifying, the frequency of significant hydro-meteorological hazards are expected to increase. Photo Credit: Zachary Collier

The 2016 monsoon was much heavier than usual affecting almost all of Bhutan, especially in the south.
Landslides damaged most of the country’s major highways and smaller roads. Bridges were washed away, isolating communities.
The Phuentsholing -Thimphu highway which carries food and fuel from India to half of Bhutan was hit in several locations, and the Kamji bridge partially collapsed, setting residents of the capital city and nearby districts into panic for fear of food and fuel shortages.
Overall the floods drove down Bhutan’s gross domestic product by 0.36 percent.

While not as destructive as the 2016 monsoon, flash floods, and landslides are becoming a yearly occurrence along Bhutan’s roads.