Every place where I travel in Africa and Asia I hear stories about the dramatic loss of wildlife and the destruction of ecosystems and habitats. Most recently, while attending the third high-level Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in Hanoi that was attended by heads of states and delegates from 54 countries and international organizations, the World Bank’s Vietnam Country Director Ousmane Dione shared his own personal story on the disappearance of wildlife.
In Ousmane’s home country of Senegal, the lion is a national symbol, displayed on the coat of arms, the President’s exclusive seal, and is even the namesake of the national soccer team: The Lions. However, in the past 20 years, 80% of the lions in West Africa have been lost and in Senegal a mere 16 lions remain relegated to the Niokolo Koba National Park where their prey is diminishing as a result of the bush meat trade and competing resources with grazing livestock. Ousmane fears his children will never see a lion in their native country.
We are all too aware that difficult times lie ahead for coastal communities.
Coastal erosion, especially in West Africa, has already displaced communities, with economic losses costing about 2.3% of GDP in Togo alone. In the past 60 years, sea temperatures in the Western Indian Ocean increased 0.6 C, triggering mass coral bleaching and deadly climate-related disasters across the region. The economic cost of the 1998 coral bleaching event to Zanzibar and Mombasa was in the tens of millions of dollars. The natural cost is still unknown.
Stories and anecdotes of how migrants contribute to our economies are everywhere. A recently released McKinsey Global Institute report put some numbers to it. Migrants account for only 3.4% of the global population but produce 9.4% of the world output, or some $6.7 trillion. That’s almost as large as the size of the GDP of France, Germany and Switzerland combined. Compared to what they would’ve produced had they stayed at home, they add $3 trillion – that’s about the economic output of India and Indonesia combined.
We live in an inter-connected, data-driven world. Investors, like many other professionals, rely more and more on data to make informed decisions on where, when, and how they should invest their money.
But, as I discussed in a recent blog, a number of commercial dashboards are aiming to close this gap, with information on infrastructure projects that need financing in emerging markets. These and other specialized commercial databases are trying to map the market, giving investors tools to identify investment-ready opportunities with the best chance of a sizeable return.
Sexual harassment is robbing far too many girls of the chance to get a school education, which can be a lifeline to ending economic and social poverty. This was a key issue highlighted at a recent high-level Regional Workshop in Burkina Faso. The event focused on findings of the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law report, specifically those relating to laws affecting women's entrepreneurship and employment in West and Central Africa. It brought together Ministers of Gender and policy makers, civil society organizations, and the private sector. One of the issues raised was how sexual harassment in schools and universities affects girls’ economic opportunities. “At the university, some professors ask students for sexual favors in exchange for good grades,” said a female participant attending the workshop. Burkinabe students are not the only ones facing with sexual harassment. A Zimbabwean female student came face to face with this issue; not once but twice, first from her university administrator and later from a professor offering to help pay her university fees. School-related gender-based violence is an issue that affects girls worldwide. Globally, it is estimated that 246 million girls and boys are harassed and abused in and around school every year.
I recently watched a remarkable work of art take shape. A mural depicting the story of the IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, brings to life the many transformative changes the world has seen since IDA’s founding in 1960. The “green revolution” staved off widespread famine in South Asia in the 1970s. The Montreal Protocol protected the world’s ozone layer. Haiti rebuilt its homes and schools following a devastating earthquake.
Yet when she got home, the elation dissipated with the dust. Her father had his own news to deliver. She would not be going to secondary school, as she had worked for, as she had wanted. Instead, she would be getting married, an economic necessity for Rubi’s family as well as a common practice in Bangladesh. Early marriage is on the decline in Bangladesh, but high rates continue to prevail; 59 percent of all girls are married by age 18 and 16 percent by age 15.
The Advocates: When little, Rubi had been denied access to primary school because her parents hadn’t registered her at birth. Rubi’s mother got her daughter a birth certificate, and with that, she was admitted to school, a place where she thrived.
At 15, smart, ambitious Rubi did not want to get married. So she found advocates in her teachers and Plan International, a child rights organization. With their support, Rubi went to the Union Council Office where the chairman informed her parents about the legal ramifications of child marriage. She was not old enough and her birth certificate proved it. She was underage. So Rubi went back to school and on to graduate at 18.
Child Marriage: Rubi’s story highlights the global problem of . Child marriage remains pervasive: every year, 15 million girls are married before 18.
- #16Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence
- Child Marriage
- identification for development
- Social Development
- Law and Regulation
- Information and Communication Technologies
- South Asia
- Syrian Arab Republic
- Sustainable Communities
This blog post draws on material from "Can cash transfers prevent intimate partner violence?" which was published on the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) blog in May.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most pervasive form of violence globally—with 1 in 3 women physically or sexually abused by a partner in her lifetime. Despite knowing a lot about prevalence and detrimental impacts of IPV, we are still at the infancy of knowing what works to prevent violence. Recently, development economists have begun exploring the potential of anti-poverty programming, including cash transfers. Cash transfers are a widely used policy tool for decreasing poverty and improving human capital, reaching up to 1 billion people across Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Cash is often given directly to women, thus potentially changing power dynamics within the household. Their scale and reach to the most vulnerable populations have led many to ask, "If cash can change household well-being and power dynamics within households, can cash transfers also be used to decrease IPV?"
A mixed methods study in Ecuador found that key factors there were decreases in poverty-related stress (leading to less tension and fewer arguments over women needing to ask men for money to buy food) and increases in women’s empowerment due to being targeted (which improved their bargaining power in the household, self-confidence, and freedom of movement). However there is still a lot we do not know. For example, many cash transfer programs—including those in the existing studies—combine transfers with other components, such as nutrition trainings and conditions related to education and health, which may affect women’s social or human capital distinctly from the transfers. So far, no study has been able to disentangle the impacts of cash versus the other components on IPV.
Moreover, the evidence to date on cash transfers and IPV has come from limited contexts. Given that the effects on IPV may depend on gender norms that vary by context, we need to collect evidence from other regions before concluding that transfers can reduce IPV globally. Importantly, we still do not know enough about whether in specific contexts or sub-groups, women might actually be put in danger from receiving cash, due to men utilizing IPV as a method to extract the cash or due to male backlash if men use IPV to re-assert their authority after a shift in power dynamics.
Our ongoing Bangladesh study with co-authors John Hoddinott and Akhter Ahmed, recently awarded funding from the World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative, will help to fill some of these knowledge gaps. First, the intervention has both transfer-only arms and combined transfer-and-child-nutrition-training arms. Since the intervention arms are assigned randomly, we can disentangle whether a transfer is enough for impacts on IPV or whether adding training is really necessary. Second, the study comes from a context where IPV is very high—about 53-62 percent of women in Bangladesh report experiencing it in their lifetimes – and where gender norms are very different from Latin America or Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, female seclusion (women staying inside the home) is a strong sociocultural norm in rural South Asia. This could limit how much power dynamics shift when transfers are given to women, since women may have restricted mobility to use the transfers independently; on the other hand, it could increase the benefits of trainings for women, since trainings provide rare opportunities to leave the home and build social capital. Patriarchal norms in Bangladesh could also plausibly contribute to backlash if large transfers to women subvert traditional power dynamics.