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To be a delivery unit, or not to be a delivery unit. That is the question

Ray Shostak's picture
 © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank  
 

When Shakespeare posed this question (or something like that) in 1603 he would not have guessed that the President of the World Bank would commit to the ‘science of delivery’ or that many countries we work with would be asking the same question.  But they are.

In the technical note When Might the Introduction of a Delivery Unit Be the Right Intervention (pdf) we outlined some of the issues to consider in answering this question. Since then I’ve had the privilege to work with the World Bank colleagues, and others, mobilizing new Delivery Units and for me the tension between strategy/policy and implementation has come into sharper relief. So this piece is to explore a further question: when a country asks for help with delivery, do they (and we) really want assistance with strengthening their strategy and/or policy capacity?

In the technical note, we argued that the innovation of a Delivery Unit is fundamentally about changing the culture of a government to one that is focused on results and improving the way the government gets better results quicker.  We also argued that the skills of working in a Delivery Unit are different than those of policy development.

Pollution, worker efficiency and the role of management: Evidence from India

Markus Goldstein's picture
In a nice, recent paper Achyuta Adhvaryu, Namrata Kala, and Anant Nyshadham take a look at how air pollution hurts productivity and what effect, if any, managers can have in mitigating these effects.   The short answer is yes, pollution hurts worker productivity, and yes, managers with certain qualities do a better job of mitigating these effects as they manage their workers.   That’s the short story, but how they get there is quite fascinating.  

A BIT far? Geography, Investment Agreements, and FDI

Gonzalo Varela's picture
Despite hard times at home, emerging market multinationals (EMMs) continue their impressive rise in the global marketplace. In 2014, outward foreign direct investment (FDI) by developing and emerging economies increased by 23 percent, reaching a record level of $468 billion or 35 percent of global FDI flows (UNCTAD, 2015). In little more than a decade, emerging market firms like India’s Tata Group, South Africa’s SABMiller, and China’s Haier, have established operations around the world, becoming global leaders in their respective products.

Bridging the public-private divide to scale-up health solutions: the story of VillageReach

After a day of discussions on how to scale social enterprise innovations to improve health outcomes during an event hosted by the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Innovation Labs and Health Global Practice on June 8th, one clear message emerged – public-private dialogue and collaboration, as well as collaboration between the public sector, the private sector and multilateral organizations such as the WBG is required to reach those living at the last mile.   

A prime example of this need  can be seen in a mobile phone health clinic program developed by VillageReach, a social enterprise working to provide access to quality health care to underserved communities through an integrated approach.

Domestic factors drive maize price volatility in Burkina Faso, not external ones

Moctar NDiaye's picture

Food price volatility remains a pressing challenge for many African countries (FAO, IMF, and UNCTAD, 2011).  The vast majority of Africa’s population still derives a substantial share of their income from agriculture and low-income households allocate a large share of their budget to food (often more than 60 percent). As a result, large and unexpected swings in food prices cause substantial losses in welfare, and when adequate coping strategies are absent, it may even trap households permanently into poverty. It should thus not surprise that food price shocks still feature highly among the reported shocks by households in Sub-Saharan (Nikoloski, Christiaensen, Hill, 2015).

Among African policymakers, the main reasons for high food price volatility in the domestic markets is often thought to be external, i.e. “imported” from the world food markets. However, the sources may also be domestic, for example when markets are poorly integrated internally. Under the “Agriculture in Africa – Telling Facts from Myths project, data collected by the Société Nationale de Gestion du Stock Alimentaire (SONAGESS) on maize prices in 28 markets from Burkina Faso during the 2000s (July 2004-Nov 2013) were analyzed to tease out the extent to which maize price volatility is driven by domestic rather than external factors. Over the past decades, maize has become the most marketed and exported cereal in Burkina Faso. It now accounts for 31% of grain production, against only 7% three decades ago, and represents the second source of income for farmers, after cotton.

​Integrating West African economies PPP-wise

François Bergere's picture
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

What do Benin, Niger, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Mali have in common? Apart from being members of the eight-country strong West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), they share a common status as low-income countries, faced with huge infrastructure needs and financing challenges.
 
Furthermore, they have decided that one way to address these challenges and sustain their economic growth was to promote public-private partnerships (PPPs) through a regional framework and strategy. This initiative is supported by the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) for the World Bank, and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Expertise France on the French cooperation side.
 
Which is why — on July 2-3 in the midst of sweltering weather in the leafy  suburbs of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso,  which  is also  home to  UEMOA headquarters — 20 or so experts and decision-makers attended a two-day seminar to discuss the framework and strategy. Beyond PPIAF and AFD, regional participants included representatives from the UEMOA Commission, the Regional PPP unit at the West African Development Bank (BOAD), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), the Organization for Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO).
 
The issues we covered included the need to:

On the geopolitics of "platforms"

CGCS's picture

Robyn Caplan is one of ten 2015 Milton Wolf Emerging Scholar Fellows, an accomplished group of doctoral and advanced MA candidates selected to attend the 2015 Milton Wolf Seminar. Their posts highlight critical themes and on-going debates raised during the 2015 Seminar. In this blog post, the evolving relationships between social and traditional media and between politics and information policy regimes are reviewed.

Map of the frequency with which people in different places @reply to each other on TwitterIn the last year, questions about the roles that both non-traditional and traditional media play in the filtering of geopolitical events and policy have begun to increase. Though traditional sources such as The New York Times retain their influence, social media platforms and other online information sources are becoming the main channels through which news and information is produced and circulated. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, and other micro-blogging services bring the news directly to the people. According to a study by Parse.ly, the era of searching for information is ending—fewer referrals to news sites are coming from Google, with the difference in traffic made up by social media networks (McGee, 2014; Napoli, 2014).

It isn’t just news organizations that are finding greater success online. Heads of state—most famously President Obama—have used social networks to reach a younger generation that has moved away from traditional media. This shift, which began as a gradual adoption by state and public officials over the last several years, is quickly gaining speed. Iranian politicians, such as President Rouhani, have also taken to Twitter, a medium still banned in their own country. The low barriers to entry and high potential return make social media an ideal space for geopolitical actors to experiment with their communications strategies. ISIS, for example, has developed a skillful social media strategy over the last few years, building up a large following (which emerged out of both shock and awe) with whom they can now communicate directly (Morgan, 2015, p. 2). As more information is disseminated through these platforms, considering the role that technological and algorithmic design has on geopolitics is increasingly important.

MDG5: Despite progress, improving maternal health is still a challenge

Haruna Kashiwase's picture

This is the fifth in a series of posts on data related the Millennium Development Goals based on the 2015 Edition of World Development Indicators.

Millennium Development Goal 5  is to "Improve maternal health" and is measured against a target to “Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio” and to “Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health”

In 2013, 99% of world’s 289,000 maternal deaths occurred in developing countries

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 1.00.17 PM.png

According to the WHO, every day, around 800 women lose their lives before, during, or after child delivery. In 2013, more than half of all maternal deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, and about a quarter occurred in South Asia.

However, countries in both South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have made great progress in reducing the maternal mortality ratio. In South Asia it fell from 550 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 190 in 2013, a drop of 65 percent. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where rates are more than double those of South Asia, they’ve also dropped by almost 50 percent over the same period.

These achievements are impressive, but progress in reducing maternal mortality ratios has been slower than the 75 percent reduction between 1990 and 2015 targeted by the MDGs. Aside from a handful of countries, no developing regions on average are likely to achieve the target. But the average annual rate of decline has accelerated from 1.1 percent over 1990–95 to 3.1 percent over 2005–13.

Achieving trillions out of billions

Bertrand Badré's picture


The release of the joint statement “From Billions to Trillions: Transforming Development Finance” at the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings is one of the most satisfying moments during my two-year tenure as Managing Director and World Bank Group CFO.

My one regret is that the title should have been Billions for Trillions.

Why?


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