Syndicate content

September 2010

Zoellick: Bank to ‘democratize and demystify’ development economics

Julia Ross's picture

In a speech before students, faculty, policymakers and journalists at Georgetown University yesterday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick urged a sweeping new approach to development economics research. He said the Bank will change its research model to better access developing country experience through “Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Solutions,” and make research more easily accessible to policymakers.

MDG Summit: Day 3 Wrap-Up

Julia Ross's picture

Investing in women’s health isn’t just the right thing to do, it contributes to economic growth and builds secure nations.

It’s a message we heard at the Bank last week during a moving panel discussion on reducing maternal mortality, and it’s a message the U.N. Secretary General and heads of state made loud and clear yesterday, with the launch of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Bridging the Malaria Gap

Kavita Watsa's picture

As prominent advocates for anti-malaria efforts in Africa cautioned at the United Nations yesterday, recent successes against malaria—however significant—are still fragile. Both the malaria parasite and the mosquitoes that carry it can develop resistance, to drugs as well as to insecticides, and therefore the fight against malaria must gain rather than lose momentum.

“The British army surgeon who in 1897 helped discover that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes predicted it would be eliminated in two years, but the parasite has remained a silent and stealthy killer,” said World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick, noting that the preventable and curable disease continues to have a debilitating effect on many African economies.

Zoellick acknowledged the tremendous job that Ray Chambers, the UN Special Envoy for Malaria, had done to raise money for anti-malaria efforts, in conjunction with the African Leaders Malaria Alliance. Anti-malaria funding, which stood at just $175 million in 2005, is $1.6 billion today thanks to their efforts and many countries such as Rwanda and Zambia have made dramatic progress in recent years.

For Conflict-Affected Countries, MDG Challenge 'Daunting'

Julia Ross's picture

Over at the Bank's Conflict and Development blog, Nicholas Van Praag, Communications Manager for the 2011 World Development Report, shares his thoughts on the insidious impact of violence on development.

He writes:

"With more than 1.5 billion people living in conflict-affected countries, the challenge is daunting. There’s no chance of coming close to attaining the MDGs at the global level unless we move from bumper-sticker aspiration to policy action in fragile states."

Read the full post

Three Big Tasks for Every Woman, Every Child

Cristian Baeza's picture

Sri Lanka. Photo © Dominic Sansoni / World Bank


So the big news out of the MDG Summit today is the launch of Every Woman, Every Child, the new joint action plan to help reach MDGs 4 and 5 on child and maternal health.

The World Bank, numerous UN agencies, governments and civil society groups have all pledged their support. But another document with pledges is not going to make much difference to poor mothers and children in developing countries unless we act on three things.

What does it take to keep more mothers alive?

Sadia Chowdhury's picture

On Tuesday evening, four countries-Nepal, Benin, Botswana, and Ethiopia-shared  insights from their recent strong progress in reducing maternal mortality. They presented to a packed auditorium at UNICEF in New York.

"Human resources have been the foundation of Nepal's health successes in general, and especially of maternal health successes," said Dr Sudha Sharma, Secretary of Health of Nepal-a country that recently won an "MDG award"  for progress on reducing maternal mortality.

Infrastructure paramount issue for Africa

Vivien Foster's picture

Africa's Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation

Yesterday in New York I attended a discussion on infrastructure in Africa. As co-author of the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, I've been talking with people for years about the importance of reliable infrastructure for economic and social activity in Africa. Today we're talking about how infrastructure can help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The core of the MDGs is poverty reduction and improved human development, but how can those goals be met without basic infrastructure to create economic opportunities and support public service delivery? This is a critical question when you think about the facts that 30 Sub-Saharan countries have a power supply crisis, their road freight moves as fast as a horse-drawn cart, and less than 5 percent of agricultural land is irrigated. Although Africa’s infrastructure needs may look daunting, countries like China have shown that it is possible to deliver on the requisite scale.

MDGs: what’s tech got to do with it?

Jim Rosenberg's picture

 This week, we’re blogging and tweeting from New York, trying to keep up with the blizzard of events, meetings and talks intended to spur global progress toward achieving the eight development goals agreed to by UN member nations in 2000. You’ll see coverage elsewhere on this blog, as well as on our newly-revamped @worldbank Twitter feed. And we’re only one of many voices online this week talking about the MDGs.

MDG Summit: Day 1 Wrap-Up

Julia Ross's picture

Mali. Photo: © Curt Carnemark / World Bank

MDG Summit participants were off and running yesterday, speaking, blogging, Tweeting and texting from the main U.N. campus and at several marquee side events nearby.

A high-level “Education for All” advocacy session—focused on MDG 2, to achieve universal primary education—got the ball rolling, with Queen Rania of Jordan and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaking out for universal access to quality schooling.

How Strong is LAC’s China Connection?

Carlos Molina's picture

Authors: Emily Sinnott & John Nash

 

For Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC), there has been a substantial shift from exporting commodities to advanced economies to trading instead with emerging economies. China, in particular, has become an important destination market, with its share of commodity exports having grown tenfold since 1990 (from 0.8 percent in 1990 to 10 percent of total commodity exports in 2008).

 

Click to enlarge

In our report on “Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean: Beyond Booms and Busts?” we argue that one advantage of these changing trade patterns has been the important role that China’s demand for commodities played in the region’s economic rebound from the global crisis. While we are not alone in this view (see the CEPAL report on the drivers of the LAC recovery launched on September 2, 2010), there has been some anxiety in LAC that the region is going down the path of increased dependence on exports of raw materials with little value-added, while at the same time increasing its reliance on manufacturing imports from China.

From goals to achievements

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's picture

Almost two thirds of developing countries reached gender parity at the primary school level by 2005. Maternal mortality rates have dropped by a third. As many as 76 developing nations are on track to reach the goal of access to safe drinking water. 

The statistics tell us there is a clear path to achieving the goals.  So in New York, the focus should be on action and the next concrete steps to turning the goals from paper targets to reality. Given a decade has passed, the time for just more talk has also passed. 

Early action means healthy children, mothers

Meera Shekar's picture

Malnutrition happens early in life, and we have a critical, 1,000-day window of opportunity between the time before birth, (what we call pre-pregnancy) until the age of two. This is a special time when we can make a huge difference in a child’s life. If we miss that opportunity, we miss an entire generation because the damage that happens in the early months is irreversible. Such damage affects not just the child’s ability to learn, but also his or her ability to become a fully capable and productive citizen.

Gordon Brown hails education as the best anti-poverty program

Kavita Watsa's picture

World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Global Campaign for Education’s youngest 1GOAL ambassador Nthabiseng Tshabalala of South Africa.

This morning, 69 million children would not have gone to school around the world. And of those who did, many did not learn what they should have. It is a good thing that education has such energetic champions as Queen Rania of Jordan and Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, both of whom made strong statements today in New York in support of universal access to good-quality education.

“I have one goal—to advocate that every child receives a quality education,” said Queen Rania, who is the co-founder and co-chair of 1Goal , a campaign that was founded with the objective of ensuring that education for all would be a lasting impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Climate change has everything to do with fighting poverty

Jim Rosenberg's picture

Over on the World Bank's climate change blog, Andrew Steer, Special Envoy for Climate Change, notes that the effects of climate change will be felt most acutely by the poor:

 

There is an old-fashioned view that rich countries can afford to think about climate change but developing countries have more urgent short-term needs. This is well and truly debunked by the evidence of where developing countries are putting their money. Four out of five countries we work with, list climate change among the top priorities for their anti-poverty plans. In the past twelve months, nearly 90% of Country Assistance Strategies requested by developing countries, and approved by the World Bank’s Board, listed climate change as one of the major pillars for World Bank support.

 

Read the full post.

Celebrating MDG successes

Kavita Watsa's picture

The Millennium Development Goals Awards ceremony last night in New York was a brief moment of celebration for the wonderful progress that some countries have made towards the goals. Even as we dwell this week on sobering statistics and the tough road ahead, these awards are an inspiring reminder that success is possible in the face of tremendous odds in poor countries.

MDG Summit Gets Under Way; Zoellick Addresses Assembly

Julia Ross's picture

Following months of preparation, the U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) officially kicks off this morning in New York. Traffic is bumper-to-bumper and security tighter than usual in Manhattan’s Midtown East area, but the 140+ country delegations gathered here are focusing on how to accelerate progress on the goals to meet the 2015 deadline.

At today’s U.N. General Assembly plenary session, World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick called for a redoubling of global efforts to achieve the MDGs, which he said were “central to the World Bank Group’s mission and our everyday work.”

Education is the best investment

Elizabeth King's picture

New research by Chris Murray at the University of Washington gives us powerful evidence of the importance of achieving MDG 2 -- education for all.  Murray found that half the reduction in child deaths over the past 40 years can be attributed to better education of girls.  For every one-year increase in the average education of reproductive-age women, a country experienced a 9.5 percent decrease in child deaths.

Fifty countries have already achieved universal primary education, but there are still 70 million school-aged children who are out-of-school - more than half are girls.  Girls also lag behind boys in completing school.   This is unacceptable. World Bank President Bob Zoellick just announced an additional $750 million in IDA support over the next five years to help girls and boys - mostly in Africa - to get in school, stay in school and learn. 

Will we remember 2010 as the turning point for women, girls, and babies?

Kavita Watsa's picture

This morning, on my way to an advocacy event on “Delivering for Girls, Women, and Babies” at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, I was thinking about a pregnant Tanzanian woman in a film preview I saw recently. The preview of No Woman, No Cry had captured with terrifying clarity the helplessness of a sick pregnant woman in a remote village in Tanzania. I couldn’t help thinking the Manhattan streets around me were far removed from such painful realities.

But, as Graca Machel pointed out during the event, this wasn’t always the case. A women’s hospital had once occupied the site of the historic Waldorf Astoria—it was in fact the last hospital in the United States for women with obstetric fistulas. “We should make every fistula hospital in the world just as unnecessary as this one was found to be,” Machel said.

Aid effectiveness = working together

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture


 

It’s been 10 years since the World Bank signed on to the Millennium Development Goals. At the time, I managed the Bank's HIPC initiative, providing debt relief for the most heavily indebted countries, and I remember the hope we all felt.  I am now responsible for IDA—the World Bank’s fund for 79 of the poorest countries, for whom the MDGs are critical, and I can say that our commitment to these goals remains as strong today, if not stronger. 

We have made considerable progress on many of the goals. Growth over the past decade has contributed to reductions in extreme poverty.  In 1990, over 40 percent of the population in developing countries lived on less than $1.25 per day.  By 2005, that share fell to roughly 25 percent and is expected to fall to 15 percent by 2015, more than meeting the goal to halve extreme poverty. 

Words are not enough this week in New York

Tamar Manuelyan Atinc's picture

As the global summit gets off and running in New York to look at progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, we have a great deal to celebrate. At the same time, we have some big challenges ahead in order to realize the promise of the goals: a world that overcomes poverty and hunger, where all citizens have access to opportunity and hope.

On the celebration side: 30 years ago, 52 percent of people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty; by 2005, that share had been cut by more than half. In Africa before the triple blow of the food, fuel and financial crises in 2008, primary school enrollment rates were rising faster than in any other continent, and child mortality rates had fallen by 25 percent in about 13 countries in just 4 years.
 

O “Consenso de Brasília”

Mauro Azeredo's picture

O Brasil vive um momento excepcional, fruto de décadas de trabalho duro. Alcançou um desenvolvimento social e econômico impressionante, tirou da pobreza dezenas de milhões de pessoas e construiu uma economia que está crescendo fortemente e atravessou sem percalços a grande crise financeira global. Pode-se dizer que o país uniu desenvolvimento econômico com estabilidade e avanços sociais, no que já foi chamado de “Consenso de Brasília” – em contraposição ao de Washington, de conturbada memória.

Women Champions Speak Out on Maternal Health

Julia Ross's picture

 

Earlier today, the bank hosted a film preview and panel discussion on maternal health and progress toward Millennium Development Goal 5, which focuses on reducing maternal deaths. 

The film clip shown—part of a moving documentary titled “No Woman, No Cry”, directed by Christy Turlington Burns—tells the story of a pregnant Tanzanian woman facing a difficult delivery in a remote village. The local clinic is understaffed and ill-equipped for complicated cases, and finding transport to the nearest hospital is difficult and expensive.