“This can’t be Karamoja,” I thought, looking around me. I had read the reports, which focus on the vulnerability and poverty of this region in northern Uganda, home to the Karamojong, a nomadic people with their own language, traditions, and customs. But it’s one thing to read about a place, and quite another to visit it. Karamoja was stunningly beautiful: there were boulders the size of mountains scattered across the horizon, vibrant green bushes and pasture atop red clay earth, and uninterrupted blue skies.
Recently, I had traveled to Karamoja on a field trip to review the implementation of a government safety net, the Third Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF III), which had scaled up in response to the recent drought.
Uganda’s population is predominantly rural and is limited in its ability to cope with production shocks. The country’s smallholder farmers, and especially the poorest 40% of households, are extremely vulnerable to drought [Uganda poverty study, WB 2016]. Drought response in Uganda has primarily been financed by international donors and delivered through humanitarians and NGOs, with the government playing a coordination role. This ad hoc, reactive approach presents drawbacks, including delayed response.
There are many views about how a country develops. Some view institutions as the key determinant, while others emphasize the fundamental importance of human capital. Still others highlight the importance of infrastructure, while the World Bank and other international organizations have argued for improving the overall business environment in which firms operate. Finally, a recent strand of literature has emphasized the importance of agglomeration economies as a source of long-term growth. What, however, are the relative explanatory power of these alternative, though not necessarily-mutually exclusive, views? And are their effects specific to the context such as the level of development, the sector in which a firm operates, firm size and age? Answering these questions is important because governments only have limited resources to deal with key challenges. If there are bottlenecks to a country’s development, it is important to diagnose these to provide a sounder basis for policy.
What are the key considerations for a public authority when drafting a Force Majeure provision in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) contract? What are the differences between emerging and developed PPP markets in treating Change in Law clauses? And are there particular legal matters that need to be contemplated in a civil law jurisdiction rather than in a common law country when dealing with termination payments under a PPP agreement?
These are only some of the questions the World Bank Group’s recently-published Guidance on PPP Contractual Provisions, 2017 edition aims to address for the benefit of public authorities (contracting authorities) involved in PPP. This blog is the first in a series of posts that will discuss and explore the issues covered in the 2017 Guidance.
Hydromet is the union of hydrology and meteorology, combining water, weather, and climate studies as a formidable force in a government’s ability to accurately understand, forecast, and communicate storms and hazards. This means that something as simple as an accurate weather forecast, or the monitoring of river levels could make the difference between a farmer losing his/her entire crop or a fisherman knowing when best to head out to sea.
That regional cooperation in South Asia is lower than optimal levels is well accepted. It is usually ascribed to – the asymmetry in size between India and the rest, conflicts and historical political tensions, a trust deficit, limited transport connectivity, and onerous logistics, among many other factors.
Deepening regional integration requires sufficient policy-relevant analytical work on the costs and benefits of both intra-regional trade and investment. An effective cross-border network of young professionals can contribute to fresh thinking on emerging economic cooperation issues in South Asia.
Against this background, the World Bank Group sponsored a competitive request for proposals. Awardees from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, after being actively mentored by seasoned World Bank staff over a period of two years, convened in Washington DC to present their new and exciting research. Research areas included regional value chains, production sharing and the impact assessment of alternative preferential trade agreements in the region.
Young Economists offer fresh thoughts on economic cooperation in South Asia
Mahfuz Kabir, Acting Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and Surendar Singh, Policy Analyst, Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS International) presented their research: Of Streams and Tides, India-Bangladesh Value Chains in Textiles and Clothing (T&C). They focus on how to tackle three main trade barriers for T&C: a) high tariffs for selected, but important goods for the industries of both countries; b) inefficient customs procedures and c) divergent criteria for rules of origin classification.
Sreerupa Sengupta, Ph.D. Scholar at Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi discussed Trade Cooperation and Production Sharing in South Asia – An Indian Perspective. Reviewing the pattern of Indian exports and imports in the last twenty years, her research focuses on comparing the Global Value Chain (GVC) participation rate of India with East Asian and ASEAN economies. Barriers to higher participation include a) lack of openness in the FDI sector; b) lack of adequate port infrastructure, and long port dwell times; and c) lack of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs).
Aamir Khan, Assistant Professor, Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad presented his work on Economy Wide Impact of Regional Integration in South Asia - Options for Pakistan. His research analyzes the reasons for Pakistan not being able to take full advantage of its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, and finds that the granting of ASEAN-type concessions to Pakistan in its FTA with China would be more beneficial than the current FTA arrangement. The work also draws lessons for FTAs that are currently being negotiated by South Asian countries.
Although Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world, whenever we come to the country we tend to land in just one of two places: Astana (the capital) or Almaty (the former capital). We hear a lot about the oil-rich west, but few of us go there to explore business opportunities – a big mistake in my view. From what I’ve seen, I would claim that Aktau – in the western Mangystau region - is a gateway to Kazakhstan.
250 million children under the age of five in the developing world are failing to reach their full development potential. Faced with this challenge, governments and donors across the globe have turned to early childhood education and development (ECED) services. These are a cost-effective way to overcome the developmental losses associated with growing up in a disadvantaged environment. The services can be delivered in different ways, such as through kindergartens and community-based playgroups.
Higher education is available today to more young people in Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) than at any other time in the region’s history. And while this increased access is a positive development, it does not guarantee the quality education countries need to capitalize on this momentum. Countries need to help students reach their potential by the creation of high-quality, diverse programs that equip them for success in the labor market. Our pursuit of growth and prosperity—and the economic future of the region— depends on it.
A good higher education is not a one-size-fits-all model: it needs to take into account individual interests, motivation, innate talent, and academic readiness. It needs to be equitable, relevant and diverse enough to know that different occupations require varying length of training: indeed, a “short-cycle” two-year program, similar to an American associate’s degree, may be sufficient to train an administrative assistant, while other professions, like engineer or architect, require a full bachelor’s program, which often last upwards of five or six years in the region.
Last week, water practitioners gathered in Stockholm for World Water Week. This is an annual meeting to discuss the world’s water issues, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute. And if any reminder were needed as to the urgency of water challenges, this year’s event took place against a backdrop of Tropical Storm Harvey in the United States, monsoons and flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, and an ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa. Billions of dollars’ worth of damage to economies, communities displaced and people killed – it’s a terrifying window into the devastating impacts of water-related extremes.
It’s for these reasons and others that the World Economic Forum categorizes water scarcity as one of the main global risks facing humanity today. Around the world, 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation and 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed water. And new World Bank research provides a wake-up call about the scale of the challenge in low and middle-income countries.
If we are to manage these hazards to minimize future suffering, urgent action is needed. One of my main reflections post World Water Week is that valuing water must be an essential part of the policy agenda if we are to bend the curve towards a water-secure world.