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Development impact calls for knowledgeable development practitioners

Martin Ravallion's picture

These days we talk a lot about how best to assess development impact through evaluative research. Sound data and methods are essential. Here there has been considerable progress over the last 20 years or so.

All that progress will come to nothing if it does not make those people actually doing development more knowledgeable about what they are doing.  This depends in part on whether the research that is done is useful and well disseminated. Here there has also been progress, though more work is needed.

Africa’s statistical tragedy

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Fifteen years ago, Easterly and Levine published “Africa’s Growth Tragedy”, highlighting the disappointing performance of Africa’s growth, and the toll it has taken on the poor. Since then, growth has picked up, averaging 5-6 percent a year, and poverty is declining at about one percentage point a year. The “statistical tragedy” is that we cannot be sure this is true.

Take economic growth, which is measured in terms of growth in GDP.  GDP in turn is measured by national accounts.  While there has been some progress, today, only 35 percent of Africa’s population lives in countries that use the 1993 UN System of National Accounts; the others use earlier systems, some dating back to the 1960s. 

To show that this is not an arcane point, consider the case of Ghana, which decided to update its GDP last year to the 1993 system.  When they did so, they found that their GDP was 62 percent higher than previously thought.  Ghana’s per capita GDP is now over $1,000, making it a middle-income country. 

Marching citizens: when elections do not produce accountability

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In several rich, post-industrial constitutional democracies, angry citizens are marching once again. And can you blame them? They watched as out-of-control banks took outrageous risks and brought hitherto sound economies to their knees. They watched as these banks were rescued with tax-payer resources. They watched as the same bankers and banks returned to their buccaneering  ways, while escaping any accountability. Now, everywhere austerity measures are crushing the underclass and shrinking the middle class. The culture of impunity at the top of society is driving ordinary citizens into paroxysms of rage.  Now, they are beginning to march, and march. Nobody knows where it is all going to lead.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

CIMA
BBC to Launch Citizen Journalism Mobile App

“The BBC is planning a ’news gatherer’ app that will let ’citizen journalists’ file stories directly from their phones, which can be on the air within minutes.

Theoretically, the ”news gatherer app” will be able to feed user-generated content into the BBC’s content-management system, which is then edited by editorial staff and aired within minutes of submission.

The app is scheduled to launch using the HTML5-based web language to minimise reliance on specific handset operating systems, such as Apple iOS or Google’s Android, although a roadmap for the product is unclear.” READ MORE

Reliable Supply Chains: An Answer to Competitiveness and Growth Challenges

Monica Alina Mustra's picture

In today’s interconnected world economy, efficient, reliable and cost-effective supply chains have become necessities in global trade. Trading in a timely manner with minimal transaction costs allows a country to expand to overseas markets and improve its overall economic competitiveness. For many countries, however, identifying bottlenecks along a supply chain and then determining which logistics procedures and infrastructure to upgrade can be a challenging feat.

A voice in history: Tunisia readies for change

Inger Andersen's picture

The Prime Minister of Tunisia, Béji Caïd Essebsi, is in Washington DC this week on an official visit to the United States and we were honored that he made time to visit the World Bank and share his thoughts about his country’s future as it prepares for elections on October 23. What a remarkable story it is. The Prime Minister, who has served in public life since Tunisia’s independence in 1957 and wryly describes himself as “no political novice”, told us he had expected change. But the manner and speed and unpredictability of the revolution in December and January was a surprise. Mr. Caïd Essebsi has been a unique leader for this fast-paced and game-changing period in Tunisia.

Investing early in children: what will it take to spur integrated action?

Leslie Elder's picture

Last week, the World Bank hosted the Washington, D.C., launch of The Lancet’s 2011 child development series, four years after the journal revealed that more than 200 million children under five in low- and middle-income countries were not reaching their developmental potential, due to (preventable) risk factors like stunting, iron and iodine deficiencies, and lack of cognitive stimulation. The latest research findings in The Lancet provide even greater clarity on the developmental inequality that continues to plague many millions of children.

The Road to Academic Excellence: Lessons of Experience

Jamil Salmi's picture

Cover of The Road to Academic Excellence

When I published my first book on World Class Universities two years ago, I certainly did not anticipate the world-wide exposure it received. Now, I sometimes worry about having contributed to raising expectations about the importance of world-class universities. 

 

When I visited Nigeria last year, I was told that the country wanted to have 20 World Class Universities by 2020. Recently, Sri Lanka announced that it would increase its higher education budget in the hope of having at least one world-class university. Today we launched The Road to Academic Excellence, a new book I edited with Professor Phil Altbach, and already, the burden of guilt regarding the possible consequences of the new book haunt me.

A $450 house for only $5 a month – no interest paid.

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

Photo credit: International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)What’s the catch? It seems too good to be true but a 2009 DM winner, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), has successfully developed a bamboo prototype and payment scheme that is affordable and appealing to the poor.

The project entitled "Elevated Bamboo Houses designed to Lift Communities above Flood Zones" is being implemented in Ecuador and it is already being considered a victory. Even before the project has completed its funding cycle with the DM, the European Commission and Common Fund for Commodities have contributed €1,647,959 and $2,007,300 respectively so the project can scale up.


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