Last week, I discussed the two very different South Asias and the need for regional cooperation to bring the lagging regions up to the standards of thriving regions. However, increased market integration by itself will not be sufficient to accelerate growth and benefit the lagging regions. South Asia suffers from a massive infrastructure deficit. Infrastructure is like second-nature geography, which can reduce the time and monetary costs to reach markets and thus overcome the limitations of physical geography.
Improved infrastructure that enhances connectivity and contributes to market integration is the best solution to promoting growth as well addressing rising inequality between regions. The Ganga Bridge in Bihar in India is a good example of second-nature geography. The bridge has reduced the time and monetary costs of farmers in the rural areas in north Bihar to reach markets in Patna, the largest city in Bihar. The Jamuna Bridge in Bangladesh is another good example of spatially connective infrastructure. The bridge has opened market access for producers in the lagging Northwest areas around the Rajshahi division. Better market access has helped farmers diversify into high value crops and reduced input prices.
South Asia suffers from three infrastructure deficits. First, there is a service deficit, as the region’s infrastructure has not been able to keep pace with a growing economy and population.
NPR story cited World Bank report
In the report, "Iraq's Shaky Economy Poses Threat to Future," NPR cites The World Bank's Doing Business report that ranks economies based on the ease of doing business in particular countries:
The process of setting up a business in Iraq requires 11 procedures,
We've been exchanging emails with many of the hundred DM2009 finalists to get their collected thoughts on the competition. Many of them had good things to say about the event and its programs, and how Development Marketplace could better their projects' chances, even if they weren't among the 26 winners. But sprinkled among the positive assessments was some criticism.
Ben Stein, who heads a reverse-osmosis desalinization project to provide drinking water for 48 households on Rah Island in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, praised Development Marketplace for "starting to understand what social entrepreneurship is," and singled out the knowledge exchange sessions. But Stein says something important was missing: "People. The World Bank is not a very 'people-friendly' or public place. As there are no more Peoples' Choice awards [given in previous years' competitions], it appears that most Bank employees aren't willing to spend the time to look at the DM. Perhaps future DMs should be held at a more public venue and really marketed to the interested public, or find some way to make the Bank a more accessible place and really market the event to the interested public. Also, there was so much talk about social media, social marketing, and networking one would think that everyone in DC knew about DM, but in fact it seems to have been one of DC's best-kept secrets."
Climate change in the news (Dec 7 - Dec 11, 2009)
- News Update
This morning I published an interview with Jean Pesme from the World Bank's anti-corruption program StAR. Here's a look at what else happened on Anti-Corruption Day:
A few days before the start of the U.N. climate conference this week in Copenhagen, the results of an interesting – and very relevant – poll were released by the World Bank. While world leaders and other high-level representatives from more than 190 countries negotiate during the two-week conference (Dec. 7-18), this multi-country survey attempts to give a voice to average people in the developing world.
A lot of brouhaha has been brought about by The Guardian’s supposed steal on a leaked non-paper drafted by the Danes. Though the non-paper has been around for a while, the drama put fuel on the fire of the discomfort and sense of injustice felt by many developing country delegations. The other story dominating the headlines is bankers' pay. Let me try to link the two in the context of the financing discussions in Copenhagen.
Large-scale public services and expenditure, especially those specifically designed for the poor, are vulnerable to leakages. Whether it is access to quality health care or education, clean water or entitlements under a development scheme; the poor face many barriers in accessing the public services and programs that are intended for them.
Social accountability interventions aggregate citizen voice and strengthen their capacity to directly demand greater accountability and responsiveness from public officials and service providers. Such interventions include the use of tools such as community scorecards, citizen report cards and social audits.
In 2007, three social accountability interventions were introduced in India in public programs on a pilot basis, representing budgets that run into the billions of dollars. With social accountability as the common denominator, three different states with three different service delivery contexts have been able to precipitate a series of impacts in just one year.