Fair in Capiibary, San Pedro Department. Farrah Frick / World Bank
The producers of Capiibary, a small town in the San Pedro Department, will never forget Friday, May 4th, 2018, when Mario Abdo Benítez, the elected President of Paraguay, visited their fair during his first field trip after winning the elections.
In 2017-18 we visited the Meta department in Colombia on multiple occasions. Located right where Colombia’s Llanos Orientales (Eastern Plains) disappear south into the vastness of the Amazon rainforest, this area of the size of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg combined is a magical spot in the world’s second most biodiverse country.
Meta is not a poor region - it boasts some of the nation’s largest oil reserves. Highly fertile soil and multiple thermal floors have created a boom in agribusiness in recent years, while its geographic proximity to Colombia’s capital has more recently led to a thriving tourism industry.
Despite having made significant progress on many fronts, this region still faces critical challenges. On our last visit, we had the opportunity to chat for hours with several small-scale farmers from south-western Meta – a sub-region where economic development has been seriously damaged by the cultivation of coca leaf, the raw material used to produce cocaine.
In the 1950s, the Italian-American economist Franco Modigliani introduced his "life cycle" hypothesis.Children and youth on one end, and older adults on the other, consume more than they earn. Sandwiched between both is a working-age group, which does have the capacity for savings (voluntarily or through taxation) to cover, in addition to the needs of their dependent children: their future consumption via pension systems with individual retirement accounts; or consumption by the elderly in the case of pay-as-you go pension systems.
“When the company let us down, we only imposed a fine. We must be firm with companies and with vendors, otherwise they fail to fulfill their end. This is how to move the project forward”. This testimony impressed me a lot when I heard it from an indigenous woman in Bolivia, who was proud to be part of the steering committee and defend the interests of the community in the project.
Bolivia has a terrific success story to tell about encouraging rural women to take the lead in their communities and organizations and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Community leaders discuss systems of violence prevention in the community of San Juan de Floresta in Loreto, Peru. Photo credit: G Shannon, DB Peru
In the Peruvian Amazon, the Lower Napo River communities that we are working with for the upcoming GBV in the Amazon of Peru (GAP) Project are negotiating a transition to modernity, where increasing access to transport, telecommunication and media has meant that communal life is changing. This has coincided with increasing concerns about gender violence: recent figures from Mazan, a remote township on the Lower Napo River, show that 79% of women between the ages of 18 and 29 report experiencing sexual violence at some point in their life.
In the Dominican Republic, more than one third of young women aged between 18 and 22 get married or form an informal union before turning 18, while one in five has already given birth before reaching that age. Child marriage is not only a moral issue; it also has economic impacts for the country.
I recently visited the small villages nestled in the mountains between Oaxaca and Veracruz to meet with women entrepreneurs running small forestry, toymaking, ecotourism and coffee businesses. I went to hear first hand their experiences starting businesses and taking on leadership roles in their communities. I also wanted to understand the challenges faced by them and generations of women to come.