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Sri Lanka: Building a more resilient economy

Smriti Daniel's picture



At the launch of the Sri Lanka Development Update (SLDU), our Twitter chat #SLDU2017: Environmental Benefits of Economic Management set out to explore how Sri Lanka could meet the twin challenges of increasing its physical and financial resilience.
 
The panel comprised experts from the World Bank - Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough; Senior Economist Ralph van Doorn and senior environmental specialist Darshani De Silva – and Kanchana Wickramasinghe, a research economist in the Institute of Policy Studies. Together, they unpacked the SLDU, discussed its key findings and fielded questions from across the region around its main themes.
 
The bi-annual report, notes key economic developments over the preceding months, placing them in a longer term and global perspective; in the Special Focus section, it explores topics of particular policy significance to Sri Lanka. 
 
Ralph started with the idea that Sri Lanka faces a window of opportunity during which key reforms could transform the country and its economy. He noted that Sri Lanka’s position in the global economy improved its global growth prospects, as well as that of its key export partners. Low commodity prices and the restoration of the GSP+ preferential trade arrangement with the EU had also combined to improve the outlook for the Sri Lankan economy.

For Idah, the country’s mood and the government’s commitment to change were critical to success:   
 
The panel delved into how natural disasters and extreme weather events posed a threat to Sri Lanka’s growing economy. In the short-term the damage was clear and serious, with losses amounting to several billions a year, as Idah noted in her blog. During the chat, she emphasised how Sri Lanka needed to be prepared for future disasters or it would cost the country enormously.
 
Kanchana pointed out that in the long-term, disasters could set back poverty alleviation efforts, especially in agricultural and rural areas, adding:
 

With the chat underway, questions poured in from an online audience who were interested in diverse issues – from managing Sri Lanka’s ongoing drought and its impact on the Northern Province to what insights the SLDU had to offer other countries in the region such as India.

معارف یگانه راه ترقی و پیشرفت افغانستان

Mohammad Homayoon Rahmani's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
برنامه ارتقای کیفیت معارف از طریق پرداخت وجوه انکشافی مورد نیاز زمینه اعمار ساختمان های مکاتب و فراهم آوری سایر تسهیلات همچو تجهیز لابراتوار های ساینسی، تاسیس کتابخانه ها و تجهیز لابراتوار های کمپیوتر را حمایت مینماید. این تغیرات مثبت باعث بهبود فضای درسی گردیده، خانواده ها را در ولسوالی های ولایت بلخ بیشتر تشویق نموده، تا فرزندان شان را به مکتب بفرستند. عکاس: فردین واعظی/ بانک جهانی


تعلیم راه گشای ترقی افغانستان است: سخن معروف بزرگان است که تعلیم تهداب ترقی هر کشور میباشد. چنانچه بعد از سپری شدن  چهار دهه جنگ و نا امنی ها، اکنون برای هر افغان، بیشتر از پیش، معلوم و ملموس گردیده که برای خودکفایی این کشور نیاز به ترقی دارد.  

بسیار علاقمند بودم، تا محیط اجتماعی خود را بهتر سر و سامان دهم، تا از این طریق بتوانم مصدر خدمت به مردم رنج دیده خود گردم، به همین دلیل با برنامهٔ ارتقای کیفیت معارف، که هدف آن بهبود دسترسی و کیفیت تعلیم در افغانستان است، به کار آغاز نمودم. زمانیکه شامل کار با این برنامه گردیدم، برنامهٔ ارتقای کیفیت معارف در مرحله دوم فعالیت های خود قرار داشت، که قبلاً در ماه جنوری سال ۲۰۰۸ آغاز گردیده بود. از طریق این برنامهٔ،  تلاش ما این بود، تا با مردم در محلات مختلف مخصوصاً ساکنان روستاها که دیدگاه و تعبیرات نادرست در مورد تعلیم داشتند، از نزدیک کارنموده ذهنیت منفی آنان را نسبت به اموزش تغیر دهیم. درست به یاد دارم زمانیکه با تیم برنامه ارتقای کیفیت معارف در سال ۲۰۱۰ به کار آغاز کردم، تعداد کثیری از مردم نزد ما آمده، میگفتند که آنها هیچگاه حاضر نیستند، تا دختران شان را به مکتب بفرستند. بعد از سعی و تلاش زیاد، بلاخره  این برنامه موفق گردید.

اکنون به اطمینان کامل گفته میتوانیم که ما از حمایت کامل مردم در محلات در سراسر ولایت بلخ برخوردار هستیم. به گونهٔ مثال، در هیچ ولسوالی ولایت بلخ، به خریدن زمین که روی آن مکتب اعمار کنیم، مجبور نشده ایم. بلکه این اهالی منطقه بودند که هر بار قطعهٔ زمین را خریداری و یا هم در اختیار ما میگذاشتند. انان از ما میخواستند، تا روی ملیکت شان مکتب برایشان اعمار کنیم - حتی فقرترین اهالی منطقه نیز همین کار را میکردند. زمانی در ولسوالی بلخ  به قریهٔ  چهارسنگ برخوردیم که هیچ مکتبی در آن وجود نداشت. باوجودیکه اهالی آن قریه زیر خط فقر میزیستند ولی همهٔ شان گرد هم آمدند، تا قطعهٔ زمینی را برای اعمار یک مکتب خریداری نمایند. برنامه ارتقای کیفیت معارف برای اطفال اهالی آن منطقه یک باب مکتب را اعمار نمود، امروز تمام اطفال قریه متذکره به مکتب میروند.

Engaging communities in the Golden 1,000 Days in Nepal

Kaori Oshima's picture
Field survey team in Nepal
A field survey team for the qualitative study holding a focus group discussion with women in one of the SHD project communities. Photo credit: World Bank

In Nepali, “Sunaula Hazar Din” means, “Golden 1000 Days” – which is a critical window of opportunity between conception and the age of two years that, with good health and nutrition, can mitigate the risks of malnutrition that hamper a child’s long-term physical and cognitive development.

Sunaula Hazar Din (SHD) is also the local nickname of the Government of Nepal’s recently completed “Community Action for Nutrition Project”, implemented by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development and  financially supported by the World Bank from 2012 to 2017. The project aimed to improve practices that contribute to reduced under-nutrition of women of reproductive age and children under the age of two and to provide emergency nutrition and sanitation response to vulnerable populations in earthquake affected areas.

The project used a “Rapid Results Approach (RRA)”, where target communities formed groups of nine members that would collectively select and work on an activity to address malnutrition for 100 days. RRA focused especially on the “1000 days” households– namely, households with children under 2 years and pregnant and/or lactating women and also had community -wide interventions targeted to address malnutrition.  

To better understand the local dynamics around the SHD design and activities, a qualitative study was conducted, with support from the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI).

The study team gathered the voices of various stakeholders, including the community members, facilitators, and the village and district-level authorities. Listening to the voices of these stakeholders makes development practitioners and project teams recognize how participatory designs may work as expected – or not – in a specific context.

When in the eye of a storm….

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Abandoned fishing boats lay on the banks of the dried Siyambalankkatuwa reservoir in Sri Lanka's Puttalam District, Aug. 10, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Amantha Perera
Abandoned fishing boats lay on the banks of the dried Siyambalankkatuwa reservoir in Sri Lanka's Puttalam District, Aug. 10, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Amantha Perera
This year, yet again, flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains came and receded. Meanwhile, this year alone, more than one million people have been hard hit by the worst drought in 40 years.
 
The media, with few exceptions, have moved on to other topics and a sense of calm pervades. 
 
We are in the eye of the storm -- that misleading lull before mother nature unleashes her fury once again. 
 
In Sri Lanka alone, costs from natural disasters, losses from damage to housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and from relief are estimated at LKR 50 billion (approx. USD 327 million).  The highest annual expected losses are from floods (LKR 32 billion), cyclones or high winds (LKR 11 billion), droughts (LKR 5.2 billion) and landslides (LKR 1.8 billion). This is equivalent to 0.4 percent of GDP or 2.1 percent of government expenditure. (#SLDU2017). Floods and landslides in May 2016 caused damages amounting to US$572 million.   
 
These numbers do not paint the full picture of impact for those most affected, who lost loved ones, irreplaceable belongings, or livestock and more so for those who are back to square one on the socio-economic ladder.
 
Even more alarming, these numbers are likely to rise as droughts and floods triggered by climate change will become more frequent and severe. And the brief respite in between will only get shorter, leaving less time to prepare for the hard days to come.
 
Therefore, better planning is even more necessary. Sri Lanka, like many other countries has started to invest in data that highlights areas at risk, and early warning systems to ensure that people move to safer locations with speed and effect.
 
Experience demonstrates that the eye of the storm is the time to look to the future, ready up citizens and institutions in case of extreme weather.
 
Now is the time to double down on preparing national plans to respond to disasters and build resilience. 

It’s the time to test our systems and get all citizens familiar with emergency drills. But, more importantly, we need to build back better and stronger.  In drought-affected areas, we can’t wait for the rains and revert to the same old farming practices. It’s time to innovate and stock up on critical supplies and be prepared when a disaster hits.
 
It’s the time to plan for better shelters that are safe and where people can store their hard-earned possessions.
 
Mobilizing and empowering communities is essential. But to do this, we must know who is vulnerable – and whether they should stay or move.  Saving lives is first priority, no doubt. Second, we should also have the necessary systems and equipment to respond with speed and effect in times of disasters. Third, a plan must be in place to help affected families without much delay.
 
Fortunately, many ongoing initiatives aim to do just that.

And a river runs through it

Atul Agarwal's picture

Integrating the Brahmaputra’s innumerable ferries into Assam’s wider transport network

Anyone who has visited Assam cannot help but be struck by the mighty Brahmaputra. The river straddles the state like a colossus, coursing through its heart, and severing it two - the northern and southern banks. During the monsoon, so vast is the river’s expanse - almost 20 km in parts - that you cannot see the other side. So fearsome are its waters that the Brahmaputra is India’s only river with a masculine name; all the others have feminine appellations. Yet, just four bridges, including India’s longest bridge that was recently inaugurated on its tributary the Lohit - and one more under construction - span the state’s entire 900 km stretch of river.
 
Given this formidable natural barrier, most of Assam’s towns have developed on the river’s southern flank, where the plains are wider. With little connectivity, the northern side remains cut off from the mainstream, and is largely underdeveloped.


 
What’s more, the small communities living on the river’s hundred or so inhabited islands remain isolated. It can be quite frustrating to see a school or a medical center on the other side and not be able to access it! Only Majuli, the world’s largest riverine island and an administrative district by itself, supports schools and some form of medical facilities for its more than 100,000 residents.

Sri Lankan Winners and exciting news: #StoriesfromLKA photo contest!

Tashaya Anuki Premachandra's picture

The three winning pictures of the online campaign #StoriesfromLKA

World Bank Sri Lanka launched an online campaign titled #StoriesfromLKA during the month of June celebrating World Environment day “Connecting People to Nature”. The campaign included online interactions to learn about World Bank operations related to the environment and a photo competition to appreciate the natural beauty of Sri Lanka that needs to be preserved while Sri Lanka pursues a development drive.
This competition began on the 21st of June and aimed at showcasing the many talented photographers from Sri Lanka as well as celebrating the rich flora and fauna of the country. After the contest ended on June 30th, 167 entries were shortlisted. We asked you which photos were your favorites and you voted on your selections through social media. Your votes helped us narrow down the top three winners, here they are:

How can digital technology transform lives and improve opportunities in Bhutan?

Yoichiro Ishihara's picture
Tech Park
The recently opened Thimphu tech park – Bhutan’s first IT park -

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country located high in the eastern Himalayan mountain range with its population 760,000. Up until about 20 years ago, the country was isolated from the world; Bhutan’s first ever television broadcast occurred in 1999. Since then, information communications technology (ICT) has made rapid advancement. Mobile subscriptions increased from 0.4 per 100 people in 2003 to 87 in 2015. The proportion of people using the internet have increased from 0.1% in 1999 to 40% in 2015. Today, all 20 districts and 201 (out of 205) sub-districts are connected through fiber optic cables.

The World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report on “
Digital Dividends” argues that digital technologies have boosted growth, expanded opportunities, and improved service delivery. Use of ICT for development is especially applicable to small states with populations of less than 1.5 million. Another report, “World Bank Group Engagement with Small States” finds that ICT investments can help reduce economic isolation, lessen barriers to trade, promote tourism, and improve mobility. These messages are highly relevant to Bhutan today.

The Government has enthusiastically adopted the use ICT to improve its services to its citizens as described in Bhutan ICT Roadmap and Bhutan E-Government Masterplan. The Government to Citizen (G2C) program, launched in 2005, provides a one-stop-shop for more than 100 services such as procuring a passport. The national ePayment Gateway Infrastructure, established by the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), the central bank, has enabled citizens to pay for some public services online. Recently, the National Land Commission (NLC) launched eCitizen Portal - an online one-stop shop for transferring property titles online. This has reduced the number of days to transfer ownership of a property from 90 days to 62 days in the capital, Thimphu. More importantly, the NLC is reaching out to the private sector to seek feedback on how to improve its usability by piloting a feedback survey using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) tool for the first time in Bhutan. The government has also introduced an electronic government procurement system (e-GP) to make optimal use of resources. Given the size of the budget (exceeding 30 percent of GDP), the adoption of e-GP will contribute to effective use of public resources. The World Bank Group has been supporting these efforts through various instruments such as the second Development Policy Credit: Fiscal Sustainability and Investment Climate, which helped get the eCitizen Portal off the ground.

Is technology the way forward for addressing mental health among youth?

Varalakshmi Vemuru's picture
After an accident at his workplace, Bhoomi, a 26-year-old from rural Tamil Nadu, India, lost interest in work and isolated himself from everyone. His neighbors were at a loss to understand the change in his behavior. He was labeled a “lunatic,” which worried his parents and propelled them to seek help.
 
Mental illness or disability can be a debilitating experience for an individual as well as his or her family. People not only have to deal with the physical and biological impacts of an illness, but also with the social and cultural stigma that accompanies it.
 
This was what Bhoomi and his family went through before they benefited from the Tamil Nadu government’s Mental Health Program (TNMHP).

Can small grants, training, and mentorship for micro-entrepreneurs create jobs in Afghanistan?

Pratap Sinha's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
The NATEJA project supports entrepreneurs like Nooria to start new business. "With support from NATEJA, we were able to purchase the required equipment and
raw material to weave the carpets ourselves," said Nooria. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


As the world marks International Youth Day on August 12, many in Afghanistan, especially the youth, strive to find better ways to make a prosperous future for themselves. According to the United Nations Population Fund, about 63 percent of Afghans are under 25 years of age, reflecting a steep pyramid age structure whereby a large cohort of young people is slowly emerging. Yet, young people in Afghanistan face significant challenges in health, education, employment, and gender inequality.

To tackle these challenges, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled is targeting youth with low education in rural and semi-urban areas through a pilot micro-grants scheme to support aspiring entrepreneurs in the face of low growth and dim job creation prospects in the private sector. The scheme is implemented under the Non-Formal Approach to Training, Education, and Jobs in Afghanistan (NATEJA) project financed by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

When I saw Fariha, 23, during her selection interview for the micro-grant scheme, she was sceptical of receiving any government support, but confident about her beauty salon idea. It was a dream come true when she got the news of the micro-grant of $500. Fariha had learnt her skills first as a trainee at a beauty salon. After four years working there, she used the grant money to invest in the business and is now a partner and manager in the salon. “I did not earn enough as a trainee, but now I am a partner. It is a good job and it is getting better,” she says.

As a NATEJA grantee, Fariha attended a business training course to learn basic accounting, marketing, and key tips to start a business as a woman. She was also very happy to receive a pictorial, practical, and illustrative business start-up booklet at the training, given her low level of education.

آیا کمک های مالی کوچک، آموزش و ارایه توصیه ها و مشوره ها برای متشبثین کوچک می تواند فرصتهای کاریابی را در افغانستان ایجاد کند؟

Pratap Sinha's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
نوریه یکی ازمتشبثین که با حمایت برنامه نتیجه دستگاه  قالین بافی  خودش را فعال کرده است میگوید" با حمایت برنامه نتیجه اکنون ما توانستیم وسایل مورد نیاز و مواد خام خریداری نمایم و بعد ازآن برای خود قالین ببافیم. عکاسی: شرکت مشورتی رومی/بانک جهانی

همان طوری که جهانیان ۱۲ ماه اگست را همه ساله به عنوان روز جهانی جوانان تجلیل مینماید، اکثریت اقشار جامعه افغانستان، بالخصوص طبقه جوان، تلاش می نمایند، تا راه های بهتر و مناسب برای یک آینده درخشان  و موفق را برای خودشان جستجو و دریافت نمایند. براساس معلومات صندوق جمعیت سازمان ملل متحد، در حدود ۶۳ فیصد نفوس افغانستان زیر سن ۲۵ سال قرار دارند که این حالت ساختار اهرم شیب دار (steep pyramid) را با در نظرداشت سن نفوس کشور به تصویر کشیده و انعکاس دهنده افزایش سریع رشد قشر جوان در کشور میباشد. این در حالیست که جوانان افغان بطور قابل ملاحظه­ با چالشها و مشکلات جدی در عرصه های  صحت، تعلیم و تربیه، فرصتهای کاریابی و نابرابری های جنسیتی مواجه  میباشند.

جهت رسیده گی به این چالش ها، وزارت کار، امور اجتماعی، شهدا و معلولین، طبقه  جوان مناطق روستایی و نیمه شهری که سطح تعلیم بلند ندارند، را تحت پوشش برنامه آزمایشی فراهم نمودن کمکهای مالی کوچک بلاعوض قرار داده است. قابل یادآوریست که هدف این کمک مالی کوچک و بلاعوض با در نظرداشت رشد ضعیف اقتصادی وچشم انداز نامطلوب، ایجاد فرصت های شغلی در سکتور خصوصی آنعده جوانانی را که علاقمند ایجاد تشبث / اشتغال خودی اند، مورد حمایت قرار میدهد. این برنامه تحت پروژه نتیجه به کمک مالی صندوق بازسازی افغانستان تطبیق میگردد.

زمانی که من، فریحه ۲۳ ساله، را هنگام مصاحبه انتخاب متشبثین به منظور دستیابی به کمکهای مالی کوچک بلاعوض را ملاقات کردم، در مورد دریافت هر گونه حمایت از طرف دولت در حالت شک و تردید قرار داشت، اما در مورد آینده و راه اندازی آرایشگاهء خودش اطمینان خاطر داشت.  این رویای فریحه، بعد از دریافت خبر کمک مالی کوچک بلا عوض (۵۰۰ دالر امریکایی) تحقق یافت. فریحه، در ابتدا به مدت چهار سال به عنوان شاگرد در یک سالون آرایش مهارتهای لازم را آموخت. اکنون با استفاده از  این کمک مالی برای سرمایه گذاری در کسب و کار خود استفاده نمود و در حال حاضر وی یک شریک و مدیر سالون آرایشگری خود میباشد. وی میگوید: "من به عنوان شاگرد درآمد کافی نداشتم، اما در حال حاضر من یک شریک هستم. این کار خوبی است و در حال بهتر شدن میباشد."

فریحه، به عنوان یکی از مستفید شوندگان کمک مالی کوچک بلاعوض پروژه نتیجه، در کورسهای آموزش انکشاف تشبثات بمنظور آموزش  حسابداری مقدماتی، بازاریابی و همچنین نکات کلیدی برای آغاز کسب و کار/ تشبث به عنوان یک زن اشتراک کرد. او همچنان از دریافت کتاب های تصویری مشرح و کارهای عملی  بخاطر آغاز تشبث در جریان کورس و از اینکه معلومات مقدماتی در این زمینه ها برایش ارائه گردیده است،  بسیار خوشحال میباشد.

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