We are pleased that the Bank has installed new spam-filtering software and so comments are now working again on the blog.
One of those stories going the rounds about a month ago concerns a blogger in San Francisco, who worried he was wasting too much time on Facebook and Reddit. As he writes on his blog, he used a software app which tracked what he was doing with his time and found almost 19 hours a week went to these activities.
In a post last week, Martin Ravallion pondered the issue of caring equally about poor people wherever they may live. He provides his thoughts on the merits of overseas development assistance (ODA) to MICs and points out several reasons why it may be time to revisit graduation thresholds. The post generated some buzz, including on The Economist’s Feast and Famine blog. Read it here. Also there are some interesting comments on his post from various experts, as well as a separate post on the topic by Shaida Badiee, Director of the Bank’s Data Group. Read them here.
Is aid data transparent? If this intrigues you, check out the “global aid data visualization” competition being run by The Guardian. Visualize the world of aid and it’s transparency and win $2000. The competition ends on 29 November, 2012. Find out more here.
- weekly roundup
Just a few weeks ago, I launched a new World Bank report on gender in Pakistan – Is the microfinance sector in Pakistan serving women entrepreneurs? The report highlighted some troubling patterns which emerged from a review of the microfinance sector there, mainly that most women borrowers are actually acting as loan conduits for the men in their family, that much of the sector is engaging in de facto discriminatory practices, and that women who are actually running businesses in Pakistan have little interest in using microfinance products, because the products offered are unsuitable for their business needs. These are pretty counterintuitive findings, and have us questioning whether these observations are specific to Pakistan, or if these practices are more widespread.
As a follow up to that work, our team was given a great opportunity to organize a session at the recent FPD Forum on Supporting Women Entrepreneurs Around the Globe: Challenges and Opportunities. We saw this session as a way to raise the profile around this important agenda (beyond Pakistan), and ask some very important questions about how the Bank is supporting women in the private sector, what the key challenges to reaching this market segment might be, take stock of what we’ve learned about the impact of our work to date, and hear about the innovative work others are doing in this space.
A number of recent innovations have increased the scope of climate insurance available for rural communities. For example, by using rainfall or forage cover instead of individual assessments, farmers and pastoralists have the option of insuring a portion of their livelihoods. A range of schemes have been attempted to provide a similar level of coverage for out-of-pocket health expenditures to workers in the informal sectors.
Speaking at the World Bank on Wednesday, musician and activist Bono made the call for “open data and transparency” to “turbocharge the fight against poverty.”
When asked what the World Bank could do, he responded: “We need better data.”
This week, the BBC and the International Rescue Committee blog both featured a project that I am evaluating together with coauthors Maddalena Honorati and Pamela Jakiela. IRC approached us because they were interested in conducting a rigorous impact evaluation of their project.
Here are a few of the things IRC has to say about its project:
"NAIROBI, Kenya —
In many ways, 19-year-old Susan Kayongo is a typical Kenyan teenager. Brought up by her grandmother in Eastleigh, one of Nairobi’s poorest neighborhoods, she did well in primary school but could not afford to continue her education. Her future looked bleak, like so many young women in her country with little education and work...
Susan partnered with nine other teenagers like herself to open the Downtown Salon. Located in a repurposed freight container left behind in the inner city, the parlor is surprisingly inviting, its white walls decorated with bright posters of trendy cuts. The women sell beauty products and hair extensions as well as style hair."
Education is fine example of the strengths and weaknesses of judicial activism in India. The Right to Education (RTE) Act was passed in 2009, arising out of constitutional amendment in 1999 that redefined the right to life as including education (!). Private schools challenged the act, especially its requirement that they reserve 25% of places for lower castes, but the Supreme Court upheld it.
To see what all this means on the ground, I duck out of my boring conference and head for Madanpur, a colony for slum dwellers ‘rehabilitated’ in 2000 – i.e. their previous homes were steamrollered and they were shunted to the margins of Delhi. Its current population of 145,000 earns income from construction, domestic work etc – almost entirely in the informal economy.
Oxfam India’s partner, the slightly ungrammatical EFRAH (Empowerment for Rehabilitation, Academic and Health) is an RTE activist NGO working with schools to implement the Act – part support, part watchdog (‘they like us, and they are afraid of us’). There is plenty to work on, as the gap between the Act and reality is great: it mandates school management committees with equal teacher/parent representation, but there are none to be seen in Madanpur.
I recently returned from two weeks in India. First in Hyderabad, where 240 people from 60 countries got together for the 4th South-South Learning Forum 2012 on "Building Resilience and Opportunities: the Role of Labor and Social Assistance Policies." Second in New Delhi, where 120 academicians and policy makers gathered for the 7th IZA-World Bank Conference on Employment and Development.