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Toward a Livable Dhaka

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Toward a Liveable Dhaka


The Dhaka Metropolitan Area is the economic and political center of Bangladesh and has been the country’s engine of economic growth and job creation. Dhaka’s role as a commercial hub has led to rapid population growth, with the population increasing 10 times in 40 years to about 18 million in 2015. This has contributed to Bangladesh having one of the fastest rates of urbanization in South Asia.
Today, more than one-third of Bangladesh’s urban population lives in Dhaka, one of the world’s most densely populated cities with 440 persons per hectare – denser than Mumbai (310), Hong Kong, and Karachi (both 270).
Dhaka is also one of the least livable cities in the world. It is ranked 137 on livability out of 140 cities, the lowest for any South Asian city surveyed. The low livability in Dhaka disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, such as the poor, women, and the elderly.

Brazil’s small farmers offer lessons to India

Priti Kumar's picture
Angela, on the far left and dressed in red, is a small-holder farmer and entrepreneur in Brazil. She started a banana business that expanded to packed lunches for truckers, college students, and travelers. Credit Priti Kumar/World Bank

“Once, it was a rodeo day here and my son asked for money to go. But I didn’t have the money and told him to sell our farm’s bananas on the road instead. So, he took 50 bunches of bananas and sold them all in a few hours. Soon I started a banana business. The sales enabled me to expand my business to packed lunches for truckers. Over time, with the help of my family, the road administration, and my own investments, I started receiving invitations to make meals for college students and travelers.”

Angela, small-holder farmer and entrepreneur, São Paolo, Brazil.

 
Angela told us her story one afternoon as we ate the delicious lunch she had prepared for us at her rather humble roadside eatery in rural São Paulo, Brazil.

Her story was not only touching but also summed up the importance of entrepreneurial foresight and the power that collaboration holds in opening new doors for poor farming communities.
 
India and Brazil have much in common. Both have smallholder farmers - called family farmers in Brazil - (although these farmers make up a much smaller proportion of Brazil’s overall farming community and have a different landholding structure).

Yet Brazil, like many other Latin American countries, has been able to promote commercial agriculture and raise farmers’ incomes by creating collectives, comprised mainly of family farmers.
 
Even though family farmers represent a small slice of Brazil’s cooperatives, the impact of their collectives is considerable.

Often referred to as the “breadbasket of the world”, half of Brazil’s food comes from its 1,500 plus agricultural co-operatives, which employ more than 360,000 people.

The productivity of Brazil’s agriculture is evident.

With only 15% of Brazil’s population living in rural areas, more than 20% of its GDP comes from the agriculture sector.

 In India, on the other hand, 66% of the people live in rural areas while just 15% of GDP comes from agriculture.
 
Brazil’s success in making agriculture more market-oriented and raising farmer incomes holds many lessons for India.

For many years now, India has recorded a surplus in most critical agricultural commodities. 

Yet, farmers’ incomes continue to be subdued.

To help farmers earn more from the land and move onto a higher trajectory of growth, India has gradually shifted its policy focus to linking farmers to markets, as well as enabling them to diversify their production and add value to their produce.
 
So how do Brazil’s farmer collectives work?

An update on Bhutan’s economy

Tenzin Lhaden's picture
Accelerating the reform momentum after the 2018 elections is key to consolidating and furthering Bhutan’s development
Accelerating the reform momentum after the 2018 elections is key to consolidating and furthering Bhutan’s development. Credit: World Bank

Bhutan is one of the smallest, but fastest-growing economies in the world.
 
Its annual average economic growth of 7.6 percent between 2007 and 2017 far exceeds the average global growth rate of 3.2 percent.
 
This high growth has contributed to reducing poverty: Extreme poverty was mostly eradicated and dwindled from 8 percent in 2007 to 1.5 percent in 2017, based on the international poverty line of $1.90 a day (at purchasing power parity).
 
Access to basic services such as health, education and asset ownership has also improved significantly.
 
The country has a total of 32 hospitals and 208 basic health units, with each district hospital including almost always three doctors.
 
The current national literacy rate is 71 percent and the youth literacy rate is 93 percent.
 
The recent statistics on lending, inflation, exchange rates and international reserves (Sources: RMA, NSB) confirm that Bhutan maintained robust growth and macroeconomic stability in the first half of 2018.  

Gross foreign reserves have been increasing since 2012 when the country experienced an Indian rupee shortage.
 
Reserves exceeded $1.1 billion, equivalent to 11 months of imports of goods and services, which makes the country more resilient to potential shocks.
 
The nominal exchange rate has been depreciating since early 2018 (with ngultrum reaching Nu. 73 against the US dollar in early November).

Poor sanitation is stunting children in Pakistan

Ghazala Mansuri's picture
A nutrition assistant measures 1 year old Gullalay’s mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) at UNICEF supported nutrition center in Civil Dispensary Kaskoruna, Mardan District, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan.
With a stunting rate of 38 percent, Pakistan is still among the group of countries with the highest rates of stunting globally and the pace of decline remains slow and uneven. In Sindh, for example, things have worsened over time, with one in two children now stunted. Credit: UNICEF


More than one in every three children born in Pakistan today is stunted.

Child stunting, measured as low height for age, is associated with numerous health, cognition and productivity risks with potential intergenerational impacts.

With a stunting rate of 38 percent (Demographic & Health Survey 2018), Pakistan is still among the group of countries with the highest rates of stunting globally and the pace of decline remains slow and uneven.

In Sindh, for example, things have worsened over time, with one in two children now stunted!

The policy response to this enormous health crisis has been almost entirely centered on interventions at the household level—reducing open defecation (OD), improving household behaviors like child feeding and care practices and food intake.  

A recent World Bank report, which I co-authored, suggests that a major shift is this policy focus is required for significant progress on child stunting.

The report begins by showing that over the past 15 years Pakistan has made enormous progress in reducing extreme poverty, with the poverty rate falling from 64 percent to just under 25 percent in 2016.

This has improved dietary diversity, even among the poorest, and increased household investment in a range of assets, including toilets within the home.

This has, in turn, led to a major drop in OD, from 29 percent to just 13 percent. Curative care has also expanded, with the mainstreaming of basic health units and the lady health worker program.
 

Protecting Bhutan’s cultural heritage

Dechen Tshering's picture
Cultural heritage is an extremely important aspect of Bhutan and is one of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness, the guiding philosophy of Bhutan’s development


Culture defines the sovereignty and identity of Bhutan and its people.

And the intricate beauty and uniqueness of its traditional architecture are known around the world.

As such, cultural heritage preservation is one of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness, the guiding philosophy of Bhutan’s development, and is embedded in all its national development policies.

In this context, the Royal Government of Bhutan has made it a priority to sustain both tangible and intangible aspects of its culture with dedicated offices under the Department of Culture of Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (MOHCA), which work closely with local governments.

This work is critical as Bhutan’s monuments are vulnerable.

The 2009 and 2011 earthquakes damaged hundreds of historic monasteries and fortresses known as dzongs, including the Lhuntse and Trashigang Dzongs (2009) and the Paro Tadzong (2011).

Also, fires triggered some of the worst disasters in Bhutan’s cultural history.

The famous Paro Taktshang, nicknamed the Tiger’s Nest and the Wangduephodrang Dzong were burnt down in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Dzongs of Bhutan is their strategic location.

Making higher education accessible to Afghan women

Muzhgan Aslami's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Afghan students attending their class in Kabul University
Students attending class at Kabul Medical University. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

As a women’s rights activist who has dedicated the past six years of her life to empowering women, ensuring that women can access education is crucial to me.
 
This is what motivates me in my work with the Higher Education Development Program (HEDP) at the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), the principal body responsible for providing and regulating higher education in Afghanistan.  
 
When I joined the MoHE as a Gender Specialist in 2016, I mainly focused on making sure female students did not face the same challenges I personally encountered as a student at Kabul University.

Some of the issues my friends and I remember was traveling long distances to the university, the lack of facilities for female students on campus, and the few opportunities to go abroad for postgraduate studies. Factors which, together, led to low female enrollment rates.

Today, with support from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), many of the challenges I witnessed have been resolved with the initiation of the second National Higher Education Strategic Plan, 2015–2019, under the HEDP.

افزایش دسترسی زنان به تحصیلات عالی

Muzhgan Aslami's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
Afghan students attending their class in Kabul University
حضور محصلین پوهنتون طبی کابل در صنف درسی. عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/ بانک جهانی

برای من منحیث یک فعال حقوق زن، که شش سال اخیر عمر خود را صرف توانمند سازی زنان کرده ام، خیلی مهم است، تا از دسترسی دختران و زنان به تحصیلات عالی مطمین شوم.
 
کار با پروژه انکشاف تحصیلات عالی  در چوکات وزارت تحصیلات عالی افغانستان که مسؤلیت اساسی تأمین و تنظیم تحصیلات عالی در کشور را به عهده دارد، برایم انگیزه میدهد.
 
زمانی که در سال ۲۰۱۶ کار را به حیث متخصص جندر با وزارت تحصیلات عالی شروع کردم، عمدتاً  تلاش کردم، تا محصلین اناث با مشکلاتی که خودم در پوهنتون کابل در دوران محصلی روبرو بودم، مواجه نشوند.
 
پیمودن راه طولانی تا پوهنتون، عدم موجودیت تسهیلات و امکانات رهایشی برای محصلین اناث در محوطۀ پوهنتون، و فرصت های محدودی برای تحصیلات فوق لیسانس در خارج از کشور برخی از مشکلاتی بودند که من و دوستانم از آن زمان به یاد داریم. اینها  از جمله عواملی بودند که همه با هم سبب  حضور کمرنگ محصلین اناث در نهاد های تحصیلات عالی می شدند.
 
 اکنون، با تطبیق دومین پلان ملی ستراتیژیک تحصیلات عالی برای سال های ۲۰۱۵ – ۲۰۱۹ تحت پروژه انکشاف تحصیلات عالی به حمایت مالی صندوق بازسازی افغانستان، اکثر چالش های که من شاهد آن بودم از میان برداشته شده اند.

لوړو زده کړو ته د نجونو د لاسرسي زیاتېدل

Muzhgan Aslami's picture
Also available in: English | دری
Afghan students attending their class in Kabul University
د کابل په طبی پوهنتون کې په يوې درسې خونه  کې د محصلیونو حضور. انځور: رومی شرکت/ نړیوال بانک

د ښځو د حقونو د یوې فعالې په حیث چې د خپل عمر وروستي شپږ کلونه یې د مېرمنو د ځواکمنېدو په لاره کې تېر کړي دي، زما له پاره دا خورا مهمه ده چې لوړو زده کړو ته د افغان مېرمنو په لاسرسۍ ډاډه شم.
 
دا هغه څه دي چې د افغانستان د لوړو زده کړو وزرات په چوکاټ کې چې په افغانستان کې د لوړو زده کړو د تأمین او تنظیم اساسي دنده ور په غاړه ده، د لوړ زده کړو د پراختیا پروژې  سره په کار کولو کې ما ته انګېزه راکوي .
 
کله چې ما په ۲۰۱۶کال کې د جنډر د متخصصې په توګه د لوړو زده کړو له وزارت سره کار پیل کړ، عمدتاً هڅه مې دا وه چې ښځینه محصلین  له هغو ستونزو سره مخ نه شي چې زه پخپله په کابل پوهنتون کې د زده کړې په وخت کې ورسره مخ وم.
 
تر پوهنتون پورې د اوږدې لارې مزل، په پوهنتون کې د محصلو نجونو له پاره د اوسېدو د امکاناتو نه شتون، او په بهر کې د فوق لیسانس زده کړو د فرصتونو محدودیت، ځینې هغه ستونزې دي چې زما او زما د ملګرو په یاد دي. دا ټول هغه لاملونه وو، چې په پوهنتونونو کې د نجونو د کمرنګه حضور سبب شوي وو.
 
اوس چې د افغانستان د بیا رغونې صندوق په مالي مرسته، د ۲۰۱۵ – ۲۰۱۹ کلونو په اوږدو کې د لوړو زده کړو د پراختیا پروژې په چوکاټ کې، د لوړو زده کړو دوهم ملي ستراتیژیک پلان تطبیق شوی دی، اکثره هغه ننګونې، چې ما لیدلې وې، له منځه تللې دي. 

Doing better business to fight poverty

Duvindi Illankoon's picture
The new Doing Business ranking places Sri Lanka at 100 out of 190 economies, compared with 111 last year. This year Sri Lanka made it easier for businesses to register property, obtain permits, enforce contracts and pay taxes. Credit: World Bank

End Poverty Day fell on the 17th of October. Two weeks later, the new Doing Business rankings come out for this year.

If you’re wondering what the link is, here’s a quick summary: business-friendly regulations can be instrumental in lowering poverty at the national level.

This is one of those happy instances where economics, common sense and the data align.

A better regulatory environment encourages more businesses to register and expand, bringing more employers to the economy.

Then the market responds- not only do these employers create more jobs, but also going to offer better jobs to attract capable workers to their companies.

Ultimately, a reliable source of income is the catalyst to moving out of poverty.

Sounds too simple? Trust the numbers.

Afghanistan eases doing business

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Doing Business Better in Afghanistan


Despite a volatile business environment, Afghanistan has made gains to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

These gains resulted in Afghanistan’s ranking in Doing Businessa World Bank report that measures business regulations across 190 economies—jumping from 183 in 2018 to 167 in the 2019 report, earning the country a coveted spot in this year’s global top improvers.

This is a first for Afghanistan and the upshot of the record five reforms was to improve the business environment for small and medium companies, increase shareholders’ rights and role in major corporate decisions, and strengthen access to credit.

With more than half of the Afghan population living below the national poverty line, Afghanistan needs to catalyze private investment and create jobs, helping entrepreneurs advance their business initiatives and helping established private businesses, small and large, to grow and create jobs.

There is a great deal of work to do in this regard, but the good news is that Afghanistan is serious about improving its investment climate. An overview of the key reforms Afghanistan has undertaken in the last year shows how the country is easing constraints faced by entrepreneurs and investors:

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