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Every day is Women’s Day for IDA

Akihiko Nishio's picture
Basira Basiratkha, principal of the Female Experimental High School in Herat, Afghanistan. Her school benefited from an IDA-supported program. © Graham Crouch/World Bank
Basira Basiratkha, principal of the Female Experimental High School in Herat, Afghanistan. Her school benefited from an IDA-supported program. © Graham Crouch/World Bank

At the World Bank, we believe no country, community, or economy can achieve its potential or meet the challenges of the 21st century without the full and equal participation of women and men, girls and boys. This is particularly true in developing countries supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank that supports the poorest countries.

IDA countries have made encouraging progress on closing the gaps between women and men in recent years, especially in health and education. For example, women in IDA countries on average can expect to live longer than men (66 years vs. 62 years). With education, girls have caught up with or overtaken boys in enrolling in and completing primary school, as well as in transitioning on to secondary education.

The road to recovery: Rebuilding the transport sector after a disaster

Melody Benavidez's picture
Transport and disaster recovery

In the Paradise, California fires of November 2018, a range of factors coalesced leaving 86 people dead and over 13,900 homes destroyed. Fueling the fires were gale-force winds that when combined with the area’s institutional and infrastructural challenges led to one of the deadliest fires in California history.

When Paradise was developed, the road network was built to maximize buildable space for homes. However, as the Paradise fires demonstrated, in the event of a large-scale disaster, the road network inhibited community-wide evacuation. Paradise featured nearly 100 miles of private roads that dead-ended on narrow overlooks with few connector streets. As wind rapidly accelerated the fire throughout the community, residents trying to flee found themselves on roads paralyzed by traffic for hours on end. Evacuation routes turned into fire traps. Local officials went on to say that the miracle of the tragedy was how many people escaped.

The Paradise example demonstrates the importance of transport networks for allowing swift evacuation during the response phase, and also hints at how important effective recovery of the transport network will be in Paradise, California. In the aftermath of any significant disaster event, it is the roads, railways and ports that underpin the restoration of economic activity and the reconstruction of critical infrastructure after a disaster. In the aftermath of devastating floods, earthquakes, landslides, or typhoons, roads may be rendered unusable, making it more expensive to transport goods and services as well as preventing people from earning income. As such, having multiple ways to get from point A to point B, by modality and by route, is critical to continued connectivity. The recovery phase can be the impetus to reexamine vulnerable links in the transport network and address those deficiencies to help reduce future risks and strengthen the economic and physical resilience of people and infrastructure assets.

The power of investing in girls in Tanzania

Quentin Wodon's picture

Mwajuma* was 15 in rural Shinyanga when her parents informed her she would not be going to school anymore – she was getting married. She never objected. Several of her peers had similarly had their schooling terminated and were already busy taking care of their own families. Neither did she object to the fact she was to be the second wife – this too was commonplace among her peers. But the marriage did not last.

Demystifying machine learning for disaster risk management

Giuseppe Molinario's picture

To some, artificial intelligence is a mysterious term that sparks thoughts of robots and supercomputers. But the truth is machine learning algorithms and their applications, while potentially mathematically complex, are relatively simple to understand. Disaster risk management (DRM) and resilience professionals are, in fact, increasingly using machine learning algorithms to collect better data about risk and vulnerability, make more informed decisions, and, ultimately, save lives.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are used synonymously, but there are broader implications to artificial intelligence than to machine learning. Artificial (General) Intelligence evokes images of Terminator-like dystopian futures, but in reality, what we have now and will have for a long time is simply computers learning from data in autonomous or semi-autonomous ways, in a process known as machine learning.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)’s Machine Learning for Disaster Risk Management Guidance Note clarifies and demystifies the confusion around concepts of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Some specific case-studies showing the applications of ML for DRM are illustrated and emphasized. The Guidance Note is useful across the board to a variety of stakeholders, ranging from disaster risk management practitioners in the field to risk data specialists to anyone else curious about this field of computer science.

Machine learning in the field

In one case study, drone and street-level imagery were fed to machine learning algorithms to automatically detect “soft-story” buildings or those most likely to collapse in an earthquake. The project was developed by the World Bank’s Geospatial Operations Support Team (GOST) in Guatemala City, and is just one of many applications where large amounts of data, processed with machine learning, can have very tangible and consequential impacts on saving lives and property in disasters.

The map above illustrates the “Rapid Housing Quality Assessment”, in which the agreement between ML-identified soft-story buildings, and those identified by experts is shown (Sarah Antos/GOST).

Invest in women to boost growth in MENA

Lili Mottaghi's picture

Only one in five working-age women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has a job or is actively looking for one. Currently, women make up only 21% of the labor force and only contribute 18% to MENA’s overall GDP. Had the gender gap in labor force participation been narrowed over the past decade, the GDP growth rate in MENA could have doubled or increased by about US$1 trillion in cumulative output. Instead, the current gender gap in the traditional labor market has extended to the rest of the economy, including the technology sector, impacting women’s access to, and use of, digital services. Women are 9% less likely to own a mobile phone and 21% less likely than men to use mobile internet. 

Holding up half the sky—and some blogs

Cara Santos Pianesi's picture


Pexels | rawpixels.com

Bloggers write to share unique insights. They may want to simply share knowledge, push an issue forward, establish thought leadership, and in some cases drive business.

Bloggers also create community. For example, this blog platform reaches a subscribed community (25K in number!) interested in infrastructure finance, PPPs, and the use of guarantees to spur private-sector investments—especially in developing countries. With niche topics like this, a blogspace becomes a virtual gathering place where we can exchange war stories, spectacular examples, best practices, trends, and opinions. We can know that others care about the same topics. We can also blog to shape the demographics of discourse and raise specific voices.

Do conditional cash transfers empower women?

Markus Goldstein's picture
A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a new approach to measuring within household decision making.   Continuing in that vein, I was recently reading a paper (ungated version here) by Almas, Armand, Attanasio, and Carneiro which offers a really n

The gender gap in the disaster risk management sector: why it matters

Caren Grown's picture

Over the past decade, the practice of disaster risk management (DRM) has evolved and matured.  From mainly focusing on disaster response, local and international actors alike now emphasize the importance of preparedness and prevention – saving lives and avoiding losses even before disaster strikes.

Forging a path to progress for Haiti's water and sanitation

Carl Christian Jacobsen's picture
The lack of clean water and sanitation has been a major problem in Haiti for years.


In Haiti, lack of access to quality water and sanitation has hit the population severely, with the poorest citizens suffering the most. Between 1990 and 2015, the share of the population with access to potable water decreased from 62% to 52%. Sanitation is also a critical issue; over the same period, access to enhanced sanitation installations only increased by 1% among the poorest in the rural areas. Among the urban poor, it actually declined by 3%.

While the lack of clean water and sanitation has been a major problem in Haiti for years, the situation became dire in 2010 after a massive earthquake destroyed many of the existing sanitation systems.  As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards, with more than 90% of the population at risk. Almost 60% of Haitians live below the poverty line of $2.41 a day, and millions struggle to find clean drinking water.

The water and sanitation sector, however, now has solid means to achieve progress thanks to a close collaboration with the Government and to the efforts of the Direction nationale de l’eau potable et de l’assainissement (DINEPA): Tools have been designed to assess the situation, to map the available resources, and to address the challenges of the water and sanitation sector with a clear roadmap.

On January 29, a one-day workshop was organized by the World Bank in Port-au-Prince to present the findings of the latest studies focusing on the water and sanitation sectors and funded by the Bank and the DINEPA. After several years of dialogue and partnership between the Haitian Government and the donors’ community, this day of exchanges allowed stakeholders to take stock of the work accomplished so far.

What if we could use nature to prevent disasters?

Brenden Jongman's picture
 

Heavy rain and severe flooding brought the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka, to its knees. In China’s Yangtze River Basin, rivers spilled their banks, inundating towns and villages. In Mobile Bay, Alabama, strong ocean waves carried away valuable coastline.

In each of these locations, disasters caused by natural hazards seemed beyond human control. But instead of focusing only on building more drains, seawalls and dams, these governments turned to nature for protection from the disasters. Several years later, the urban wetlands, oyster reefs and flood plains they helped establish are now keeping their citizens safe while nourishing the local economies.

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