About a decade ago, we started a project to improve solid waste management for waste pickers like Ibrahim and the 840,000 people in the southern West Bank governorates of Bethlehem and Hebron. One of the project components included the closure of the Yatta dumpsite, where illegally dumped and burned household waste was reaching a very unsanitary and hazardous level.
But here came the challenge.
While the closure of the dumpsite would mean putting an end to a serious environmental and public health problem, it was terrible news for the waste pickers and their families. It meant that the livelihoods of those families would come to an end.
With this idea in mind, and the powerful belief that "brilliance is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not," Andela, founded four years ago, began recruiting recent graduates in Africa with the mission of connecting them to job opportunities in high-tech companies. Today, about 650 developers in Lagos, Nairobi, and Kampala work full-time for over 100 firms spread across 45 cities worldwide.
Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi is doing things differently. Before his appointment as the Director General for Statistics Netherlands in April 2014, he was the General Director of the Netherlands Forensic Institute. No doubt that’s why phrases like “actionable intelligence” and forensic analogies about “tracing data” pepper his vision for national statistics in the Netherlands. At a recent presentation here at the World Bank, Tjin-A-Tsoi shared his thoughts on what a modern statistics office looks like, how cognitive science informs data communications, and whether big data will render official statistics obsolete.
A new approach to official statistics
Almost four years after Tjin-A-Tsoi took the helm, Statistics Netherlands has been transformed. It has its own newsroom, a team of media professionals, and employs the latest cognitive science research in its quest to deliver statistical truths to the public. It recently opened a shining new Center for Big Data Statistics, and has an innovation portal for beta products which invites public feedback. One of their current beta products is a Happiness Meter, an interactive infographic that people in the Netherlands can use to calculate and compare their personal happiness score with the rest of the Dutch population.
In the Andean mountain range in the province of Arequipa, women can be found working on rural road maintenance projects.
Meanwhile, back in the capital, members of Peru’s local and national government, as well as representatives from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, gathered in Lima at the “Experiences of Women in Rural Roads” conference to discuss the role of women in the transport sector.
The event highlighted women’s participation in rural road construction and maintenance as a significant step toward gender equality: it gave participants a chance to discuss the impact of these projects, share lessons learned, and inform a Gender Action Plan for the ongoing Support to the Subnational Transport Program. Indigenous women from rural communities in in Arequipa, Junín, Huánuco, and the Amazon attended the event and emphasized the importance of these projects in the development of their communities and the role of these employment opportunities in their own lives, their self-esteem, and their aspirations for a better future.
Since 2001, the World Bank Group (WBG) and the Peruvian government have worked together to promote women’s participation in rural transport projects, expanding employment opportunities for women in rural areas. The Peru Decentralized Rural Transport Project has seen the female participation in rural road maintenance microenterprises reach almost 30%.
Machine learning methods are increasingly applied in the development policy arena. Among many recent policy applications, machine learning has been used to predict poverty, soil properties, and conflicts.
In a recent Policy Research Working Paper by Paolo Brunori, Paul Hufe and Daniel Mahler (BHM hereafter), machine learning methods are utilized to measure a popular understanding of distributional injustice – the amount of unequal opportunities individuals face. Equality of opportunity is an influential political ideal since it combines two powerful principles: individual responsibility and equality. In a world with equal opportunities, all individuals have the same chances to attain social positions and valuable outcomes. They are free to choose how to behave and they are held responsible for the consequences of their choices.
Zero Discrimination Day (March 1) comes this year at an opportune moment.
The global discourse is abuzz with conversations around discrimination and its impacts on those who have experienced it. In fact, in some ways the #MeToo movement is an assertion against a form of discrimination, as are other movements of groups that have historically been oppressed. They are sometimes minorities based on race, but often, as in the case of the movement against sexual harassment and assault, they may well be members of half the population.
So, to mark this day, we talk about a related issue – exclusion, especially social exclusion. We could well debate the conceptual relationship between the ideas of exclusion and discrimination, but this is not the forum for that debate. Here is a paper that specifically addresses discrimination.
This is the moment to remind ourselves who would be most likely to be excluded, stigmatized, and discriminated against. A number of people could be at risk, but we find that social identity is usually a potent driver. Individuals and groups who are disadvantaged on the basis of their identity are at greatest risk of exclusion, but probably also of discrimination. We have talked about at length about this in our 2013 report “Inclusion Matters,” including the processes that underpin exclusion and discrimination.
Watch our video blog and tell us in a comment how we can ensure development projects are truly inclusive.
In the early 1950s, carving out a road in the newly-created Tsavo National Park in Kenya involved “hacking through scrubland,” according to Dame Daphne Sheldrick in her memoir, Love, Life, and Elephants. Founder of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an organization that rescues orphaned elephants and rhinos, she describes the park landscape as “inhospitable country, covered in an entanglement of dense scrub vegetation infested with tsetse fly...” but “known for its diversity of indigenous species, including fearsome lions, breeding herds of elephants, and thousands of black rhinos.”
Today, the two-lane Mombasa-Nairobi highway (A109) dissects the park to form Tsavo East and Tsavo West. This causes problems for wildlife. Richard Leakey, Chairman of Kenya’s Wildlife Service, says that 18 elephants have been killed from collisions with trucks, and other wildlife become roadkill on a regular basis.
Policy makers can find two simple but key messages coming out of the jointly published UN–World Bank report, “Pathways for Peace, Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict.” The first is that economic and social development can play a central role in preventing violent conflict; the second is that development needs to be conceived differently in countries or regions that have obvious risks of violent conflict. The report also argues that governments and the donor community are far from having internalized these messages; as a result, huge opportunities are being missed. The report clearly shows that prevention works and creates significant savings—but for these to be realized, actions must be undertaken early and sustained over a long period of time. They must also be strongly focused on the ways in which security, peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian concerns intersect.
It’s not often you get together the very people working on the frontline to sit down together and discuss why and how irregular practices occur in their sector – and what can be done about them. But that’s just what we did with a group of frontline health workers at a workshop in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka in December 2017. We wanted to understand why corrupt and irregular practices occur in the health sector - what are the underlying incentives and processes? And what are some feasible and impactful ways to change these practices?
Many developing countries, including the three where our research consortium, the Anti-Corruption Evidence research consortium is working, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Tanzania, struggle to provide free or low-cost healthcare to all their citizens. Instead, citizens are often forced to buy services from the private sector at higher fees or worse, approach untrained or traditional healers. There is agreement in the literature that a large proportion of these inefficiencies occur due to corrupt practices (though there’s an active debate about whether using the c-word is helpful in this debate, which is why we talked about ‘irregularities’ during this workshop). Many of these practices are related to the way societies in developing countries are organized around patron-client relations, where tax resources are insufficient, and resources, jobs and promotions require lobbying powerful politicians.
Lao PDR is rich with biodiversity. The country is home to emblematic animals such as Asian Elephants, Gaur, Green Peafowls, Asiatic Black Bears, and northern White-Cheeked Gibbons. Mountainous topography and low human density have allowed the country to preserve its endemic flora and fauna for centuries, to the extent that some species are still being identified like the Saola, one of the world’s rarest large mammals, only discovered in Laos in 1992.
But recent economic growth coupled with an exploding demand for wildlife and wildlife products have fueled increased pressure on Lao PDR’s native species. Forest encroachment, illegal logging and wildlife poaching have eroded biodiversity. Forest cover has declined dramatically since 1992, the number of wildlife species listed as endangered has increased, and some iconic species like tigers have not been sighted for years. At the same time, Lao PDR has become a gateway for international wildlife trafficking: illegal trafficking of ivory, pangolins and other CITES-listed items have transited through the country due to limited enforcement capacity.