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Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Johanna Martinsson's picture

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

FreedomInfo.org
Reasons Advanced for Lack of African FOI Laws

"Why does Africa have comparatively few freedom of information laws?

The reasons were explored in a number of papers presented at The First Global Conference on Transparency Research held May 19-20 at Rutgers University-Newark, N.J. (See overall report in FreedomInfo.org.)

One reason is that the western, liberal concept of access to information conflicts with different traditions of citizenship and governance in Africa, said Colin Darch, of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. “Indeed, the fact that the African campaigns for legislation per se have either lasted for decades or failed to get off the ground at all may be evidence that the wrong tree is being barked up.”" READ MORE

In defense of single project evaluations: A response to Ravallion

David McKenzie's picture

Yesterday Martin Ravallion argued that the fact that much of the impact evaluation taking place involves assessing the impact of specific projects one at a time is not that helpful in assessing development impact because it doesn’t tell us about the impact of overall portfolios if there are interactions between policies or if the subset of projects which get evaluated in an overall portfolio are not a representative sample.

Remittances Rebound but Pressures Persist

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Remittances, or the money migrant workers send home to their countries of origin, are finally recovering to pre-crisis levels. In 2010, remittance flows to developing countries reached $325 billion, and they are poised to continue growing sustainably through 2013, according to the World Bank’s latest Outlook for Remittance Flows 2011-13.

This is very good news for developing countries. For many of them, money sent by their migrant workers living abroad is a very important source of external financing –sometimes even higher than the revenues obtained from oil exports or tourism. Thanks to the money being made in the U.S. by their relatives, millions of Mexican families can put food at their tables, just as Indians and Filipinos benefit the same way from the remittances sent from rich and oil producing countries in the Middle East.

Biofuels: Threat or opportunity for women?

Daniel Kammen's picture

In Africa, where two-thirds of farmers are women, the potential of biofuels as a low or lower-carbon alternative fuel, with applications at the household energy, community and village level, to a national resource or export commodity, has a critical gender dimension. The key question is: how will increased biofuel production affect women?

To look at the impacts on women, one logical approach is to use a computable general equilibrium model that tracks economic impacts of new crops and how patterns of trade and substitution will change. It’s important to account for the complexities involved, and rely not on a simple, traditional commodity model but one that tracks the impacts on women through changing prices and demands for crops to be sold on local and international markets. Who gains and who loses as prices change, and as the value of specific crops and of land changes?

In a detailed modeling effort based on the situation today in Mozambique, World Bank economist Rui Benfica and colleagues (Arndt, et al., 2011) found that even with significant land area available, the impacts of large increases in bio-fuels production — which are now under way — will do little to benefit women. This is largely because shifts to export-oriented and commercial agriculture, while they may raise export earnings, often exclude women. Women are often already far over-burdened by work and time commitments to subsistence farming, other income-generating activities and household work, including child care. The CGE model shows that financially profitable bio-fuel expansions may widen this gap, and reinforce this exclusion.

Esther Duflo’s refreshing perspective on fighting poverty

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

A quiet revolution is needed to help pull people out of poverty in many developing countries, since it will be well nigh impossible to replicate export-led success stories like we’ve seen in parts of Asia. Also, even though policies, politics, and corruption are knotty issues that often block progress, there is scope for tweaking institutions at the margins in ways that will improve the status of poor people. These were some of the takeaways I gleaned from the Development Economics lecture yesterday by Esther Duflo, MIT Economics Profession and co-founder of the JPAL Poverty Lab.

Duflo’s lecture was a refreshing mix of pragmatism and idealism. Clearly full of passion for her job and blessed with extraordinary energy, this young economist travels tirelessly to learn what’s happening at the coal face of development and she approaches her task with rigor as well as a sense of mission.

Worrying Too Much about Brain Drain?

David McKenzie's picture

Brain drain worries policymakers around the world. For example, a search today in Google News gives a host of stories in the past month alone concerning efforts by universities in Vietnam to stop brain drain, demands for wage increases to stop the brain drain of doctors in Pakistan, claims that Malaysia’s brain drain hinders its economic progress, efforts to stem brain drain in Jamaica, a plea to “stop the brain drain” in Cyprus, and even fears of massive brain drain from the state of New York.

But does high-skilled emigration really pose such a threat? The last five years has seen a surge in empirical research on the subject, which John Gibson and I use to answer eight key questions about brain drain in a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Perspectives and now out in the World Bank working paper series.

The 8 key questions addressed are: 1) What is brain drain? 2) Why should economists care about it? 3) Is brain drain increasing? 4) Is there a positive relationship between skilled and unskilled migration? 5) What makes brain drain more likely? 6) Does brain gain exist? 7) Do high-skilled workers remit, invest, and share knowledge back home? and 8) What do we know about the fiscal and production externalities of brain drain?

Remittances Rebound but Pressures Persist

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Remittances, or the money migrant workers send home to their countries of origin, are finally recovering to pre-crisis levels. In 2010, remittance flows to developing countries reached $325 billion, and they are poised to continue growing sustainably through 2013, according to the World Bank’s latest Outlook for Remittance Flows 2011-13.

Guest Post by Martin Ravallion: Are we really assessing development impact?

When people ask about “development impact” they are often referring to the impact of some set of development policies and projects; let’s call it a “development portfolio.” The portfolio of interest may be various things that are (ostensibly) financed by the domestic resources of developing countries. Or it might be a set of externally-financed projects spanning multiple countries—a portfolio held by a donor country or international organization, such as the World Bank.

Increasing Profits for Dairy Farmers

Carl Erickson's picture

Three ISAAC Solar Icemakers installed in Kwale District in the Coast of Kenya.The Rural Milk Collection project of DM2006 has been running successfully for two years. The project was to demonstrate the ISAAC Solar icemaker as a method of providing ice and refrigeration to rural farmers. The main findings of the project are that 1) the system is an appropriate technology for rural communities, 2) the village people want more of them, and 3) they are willing to pay for them by sharing profits.


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