As Agriculture Economists who work on advancing the food and agriculture agenda, SDG 2 articulates much of our work in the Sustainable Development agenda and illustrates how food and agriculture are intertwined with poverty reduction. Goal 2 seeks to “End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.”
Without making progress on Goal 2, we can’t achieve the Bank’s twin goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
But what does Goal 2 mean, exactly? On the surface, it might seem to be a matter of producing more food in a sustainable way. But a deeper dive into this SDG reveals that it is not quite that simple.
There has been substantial progress in reducing child mortality in the past several decades. Between 1990 and 2016, the global under-five mortality rate dropped by 56 percent from 93 deaths per 1,000 live births to 41 deaths per 1,000 live births. Over the last sixteen years, the reduction in child mortality rates accelerated, compared to the previous decade. As a consequence, around 50 million more young children survived the first five years of life since 2000 who would have died had under-five mortality remained at the same level as in 2000.
But even in 2016, 15,000 children died every day (totaling 5.6 million a year). While a substantial reduction from the 35,000 deaths a day in 1990 (12.6 million a year), more needs to be done to meet target 3.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims for all countries fewer than 25 deaths of under-5s per 1,000 live births.
China has provided foreign assistance to countries around the world since the 1950s. Since it’s not part of the DAC group of donors who report their activities in a standard manner, there isn’t an official dataset which breaks down where Chinese foreign assistance goes, and what it’s used for.
A team of researchers at AidData, in the College of William and Mary have just updated their “Chinese Global Official Finance” dataset. This is an unofficial compilation of over 4,000 Chinese-financed projects in 138 countries, from 2000 to 2014, based on a triangulation of public data from government systems, public records and media reports. The team have coded these projects with over 50 variables which help to group and characterize them.
Activity-level data on an increasingly important donor
This dataset is interesting for two reasons. First, China and other emerging donors are making an impact on the development finance landscape. As the Bank has reported in the past (see International Debt Statistics 2016), bilateral creditors are a more important source of finance than they were just five years ago. And the majority of these increases are coming from emerging donors with China playing a prominent role.
Second, this dataset’s activity-level data gives us a look at trends and allocations in Chinese bilateral finance which can inform further analysis and research. Organizations like the World Bank collect data on financial flows directly from government sources for our operational purposes, but we’re unable to make these detailed data publicly available. We compile these data into aggregate financial flow statistics presented from the “debtor perspective”, but they’re not disaggregated by individual counterparties or at an activity-level. So there can be value added from sources such as AidData’s China dataset.
A detailed view, but only part of the picture of all financial flows
However, this dataset has limitations. It only presents estimates of “official bilateral credits”. These are flows between two governments, and are just one part of the total financial flows coming from China. By contrast, the World Bank is able to integrate the granular data it collects from countries into the full set of financial flows to and from its borrowing countries. This situates official bilateral credit among the broader spectrum of providers of long-term financing (such as bondholders, financial intermediaries, and other private sector entities), sources of short-term debt (including movements in bank deposits), and equity investments (foreign direct and portfolio investments). This data integration leads to better quality statistics.
In short, AidData’s China dataset provides more detail on one type of financial flow, but is likely to be less reliable for a number of low-income countries. With these caveats in mind, I’ve done a quick exploration of the dataset to produce some summary statistics and give you an idea of what’s inside.
Looking at foreign assistance by type of flow
First, let’s see what the trends in different types of foreign assistance look like. AidData researchers code the projects they’ve identified into three types of “flow”:
Official Development Assistance (ODA), which contains a grant element of 25% or more and is primarily intended for development.
Other Official Flows (OOF), where the grant element is under 25% and the the financing more commercial in nature.
Vague Official Finance, where there isn’t enough information to assign it to either category.
Here are the total financial values of the projects in AidData’s dataset, grouped by flow type and year:
It looks like more Chinese finance is classed as OOF ($216bn in the period above) than ODA ($81bn), and that 2009 is a bit of an outlier. With this dataset, we next can figure out which countries are the top recipients of ODA and OOF, and also which sectors are most financed.
Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 – Good Health and Well-being - explores a myriad of causes of ill-health and mortality, and hopes to improve the lives of many through its targets. Two recent blogs by the authors have focused on health during pregnancy and childbirth, and the prevention of some communicable and non-communicable diseases.
This blog turns its attention to other factors that impact people: mental health, alcohol and tobacco, and road traffic injuries and deaths.
Suicide rates are falling gradually in many parts of the world
Mental health is a focus of target 3.4, alongside other non-communicable diseases. Suicide accounts for 8.2 percent of deaths among young adults ages 15-29 globally and is the second leading cause of death after road traffic injuries for that age group.[i] Suicide rates for all ages tend to be higher in Europe and Central Asia and in high-income countries. In middle- and low-income countries, there has been a decline in rates since 2000.
Say you want a snapshot on digital entrepreneurship in Tunisia, or you are trying to understand tourism trends in Mexico. You'll probably need to identify 30-50 relevant indicators, dig up the data, create a presentable format, and hope that you have organized the report the way an expert well-versed in the topic might. Yes, it can be very difficult to put together a report that gives you reliably sourced, current, and properly structured information on the topic you are interested in.
Fear not — help is at hand! On TCdata360, we offer you country-level reports on demand on a number of topics (tourism, gender, entrepreneurship, investment climate … and the list is growing). All you have to do is to go to our Reports section (tcdata360.worldbank.org/reports), choose your country and topic, and you're done — the site will give you a beautifully laid out report that you can share online or print and take to your next meeting.
Introducing TCdata360's thematic reports
The TCdata360 platform (tcdata360.worldbank.org) is a new open data initiative launched by the World Bank, which provides quick access to over 2000 trade and competitiveness indicators from over 40 international sources.
We shared a few ideas about improving data access and usability with you in an earlier blog post and one demand that kept emerging was to help people make sense of thousands of cross-cutting indicators, and communicate these insights in a simple, portable way. One of the ideas we came up with are these on demand reports. We have worked with subject matter experts to curate TCdata360 indicators and visualize them within the constraints of a two-pager country thematic report that are relevant to both experts trying to quickly gather reliable data, and to beginners exploring new topics.
In recent decades, income inequality has risen in most of the developed world and many developing countries. There are plenty of reasons to be worried about income inequality, as it often leads to unequal life opportunities, exacerbates disparities in health and life expectancy, and jeopardizes social unity.
While most of research work on inequality tends to focus on the poor, a recent World Bank Group survey set out to explore how the opinion leaders—who are often economically better-off—perceive the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
The survey interviewed more than 10,000 key opinion leaders in fifty-two developing countries to find out 1) how concerned they are about income inequality, and 2) whether they perceived a link between equality of opportunity and poverty reduction.
Let’s take a look at the key findings.
The survey data show that majorities of opinion leaders in all but two countries (Uzbekistan and Belarus) perceived the gap between the rich and the poor as “a very big” or “moderately big problem” in their countries.
Communicable diseases cause more premature deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere in the world. But high rates of death through noncommunicable diseases are found in other regions as well. A higher number of health care professionals available to patients correlates with lower mortality before the age of 70, and, as newer drugs to prevent or treat disease come onto market, countries are seeing falls in the incidence of fatal diseases. Data from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators explores progress made towards the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3, which promotes Good Health and Well-Being at all ages.
Sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of communicable diseases
AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria together affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide, and putting an end to these diseases is a priority under Goal 3 (target 3.3). People in Sub-Saharan Africa are more likely than those in other regions to become infected: 2.2 of every 1,000 uninfected people ages 15-49 contracted HIV in 2016; there were 276 new cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people in 2015; and the incidence of malaria was 234 cases per 1,000 persons at risk.
However, the region has shown improvements in tackling these diseases, the incidence of new cases of HIV has declined by nearly two-thirds since 2000, the incidence of new cases of malaria by nearly a half, and the incidence of new cases of tuberculosis by a fifth over the same period.
There’s a crisis in learning. The quality and quantity of education vary widely within and across countries. Hundreds of millions of children around the world are growing up without even the most basic life skills.
The 2018 World Development Report draws on fields ranging from economics to neuroscience to explore this issue, and suggests improvements countries can make. You can get the full report here and to give you a flavor of what’s inside, I’ve pulled out a few of the charts and ideas that I found most striking while reading through it.
The report sets out several arguments for the value of education. The clearest one for me? It’s a powerful tool for raising incomes. Each additional year of schooling raises an individual’s earnings by 8–10 percent, especially for women. This isn’t just because more able or better-connected people receive more education: “natural experiments” from a variety of countries - such as Honduras, Indonesia, Philippines, the U.S., and the U.K. - prove that schooling really does drive the increased earnings. More education is also linked with longer, healthier lives, and it has lasting benefits for individuals and society as a whole.
Sustainable Development Goal 3—Good health and well-being—focuses its first two targets on the health of mothers, babies and young children. Target 3.1 aims to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to fewer than 70 per 100,000 live births, while target 3.2 aims for neonatal mortality to be fewer than 12 per 1,000 live births, and under-5 mortality to be fewer than 25 per 1,000 births. And target 3.7 seeks to provide access to sexual and reproductive health to all, in order to reduce unwanted pregnancies and boost health during pregnancy. The World Bank’s World Development Indicators database includes data that allow us to track progress made by countries towards these 2030 goals.
The World Bank Group collects and analyzes feedback of its stakeholders systematically—on a three-year cycle—in all client countries. The Country Opinion Survey data helps the institution better understand local development context, enhance stakeholder engagement and partnerships, and improve its results on the ground. Tracking stakeholder opinions about effectiveness of the Bank Group’s sectoral support over time is crucial for assessing the progress on top development challenges in countries.
We continue looking at the education sector, as an example, to see how the Country Survey data can help country teams predict stakeholder perceptions and improve effectiveness of Bank’s sectoral work. Let’s look at the trending data, explore what drives the change in numbers, what can be projected for future and why, and how to work with stakeholder perceptions, using a targeted approach.
The first chart shows how the World Bank Group’s stakeholders—partners from the Government, ministries, civil society, private sector, and donor community—have changed their views on the Bank’s work in education in the Central Asian countries—Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—during the past years.