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It will take innovation and counterintuitive approaches to #EndPoverty

Korina Lopez's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français | 中文

The path to ending poverty is strewn with familiar obstacles: poor sanitation, gender inequality, lack of financial access. You’ve heard of them all. But solutions often come from the most unexpected things.

Take toilets and drones, for example.  

In India, poor sanitation causes 1 out of 10 deaths a year. The solution? Encouraging every home to have a toilet, and educating citizens on the importance of proper sanitation. The Indian government has launched an unusual campaign called No Toilet, No Bride. The campaign encourages the growing trend that grooms offer toilets as a part of a dowry. Having a safe and sanitary place to relieve oneself leads to a cleaner environment, improving the quality of water and helping people enjoy better overall health. People in good health are better able to work and study, which means a greater chance at keeping up at school and ultimately achieving financial prosperity. #ItsNotOnly a toilet, it’s a path to better health.








 

Spring Meetings webcasts feature Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, John Kerry, economy, climate change, and more

Donna Barne's picture

2016 Spring Meetings Live Events

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are among the featured speakers at the first major gathering of the world’s finance and development leaders in 2016 – the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group.

The global economy, climate change, refugees, and the digital divide are just a few of the topics on the agenda in the lead-up to the meetings the week of April 11. We’re webcasting 19 events in multiple languages featuring government ministers, experts, and CEOs.

Tune in Wednesday for a special event with Obama on educating adolescent girls. Later, the World Bank’s top economists will weigh in on economic growth in turbulent times, and Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization co-hosts a session on bringing mental health issues out of the shadows. 

In the face of disaster, resilient communities are just as important as resilient infrastructure

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
What does it take to prevent or mitigate the impact of natural disasters?
 
For many, disaster resilience is all about better infrastructure, efficient early warning systems, and stronger institutions. While those aspects are obviously crucial, we shouldn’t overlook the role of communities themselves in preparing for and responding to disasters. After all, the success of both preparedness and recovery efforts depends largely on local residents' ability to anticipate risk, on their relationship with local and national authorities, and on the way they organize themselves when disaster strikes. In the aftermath of a catastrophe, rebuilding not just the physical environment but also the livelihoods of people is also essential, including through effective social protection systems and safety nets.
 
In this video, Senior Social Development Specialist Margaret Arnold explains how the World Bank is working with client countries and local communities to bring the social dimension of disaster risk management to the forefront.

Mercy: Where religion and development can intersect

Adam Russell Taylor's picture
A high-level panel of faith-based organizations and religious leaders and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim discussed the role of faith in combating poverty at the 2015 Spring Meetings. © Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank



World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will deliver a keynote address, “The Principle of Mercy,” at Union Theological Seminary in New York tomorrow night. The event is co-organized with the Jewish Theological Seminary and Riverside Church and will be livestreamed

At first glance, a seminary may seem like an unusual venue for a speech by a World Bank Group president. However, Kim’s speech fits into the broader context of the Bank Group’s revitalized engagement with faith-based and religious organizations over the past two years. He will share how faith communities have impacted his own journey and describe how the Catholic commitment to an “option for the poor” has served as an anchor and guiding ethic in his career — from his work at Partners in Health to his term as director of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, to his present leadership of the World Bank Group.

Are billionaires good for growth?

Donna Barne's picture
Also available in: Español | Français | 中文 | العربية
Rich People, Poor Countries

We are living in a world where the largest corporations are larger and the richest entrepreneurs are richer than ever before – and an increasing number of billionaires are based in emerging countries. Who are these tycoons and how important are they to their economies?

A new book by Caroline Freund aims to answer these questions by examining the characteristics and impact of 700 emerging-market billionaires whose net worth adds up to more than $2 trillion.

Rich People, Poor Countries: The Rise of Emerging-Market Tycoons and Their Mega Firms finds that very large firms are export superstars in their home countries.

In the United States the top 1% of firms account for 80% of exports. In emerging countries, the top 1% account for 50% of exports but that figure is rising rapidly, Freund said at a book launch at the World Bank’s Infoshop on March 23.

The lessons of Carabayllo: making tough choices in the fight against TB

Carlos Ferreyra's picture
Also available in: Español | Français
Former Tuberculosis Patient is Symbol for World Bank Group President
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Poverty and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis condemned Melquiades Huaya Oré to a certain death.

He was 17 in 1993, and so thin that doctors needed only a few fingers to encircle his arms; his skin was stretched so taut that you could see his ribs and other bones. All the odds were against Melquiades, and he should been another number in the statistics of TB, a major public health threat that costs 4,000 lives daily.

Globally, 9.6 million people fell ill with tuberculosis in 2014, one million of them children. According to the latest world health statistics, in 2014, 1.5 million people died of the disease.

Scaling development learning with MOOCs

Sheila Jagannathan's picture
“The main point I took away from the course is that PPPs are a complex process and are only as good as the legal, regulatory and technical framework that support them,” said Felister Munyua, a participant in the World Bank Group’s Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). “To ensure their success a country must work on building these resources.” 
 

Mitigating El Niño's impact on water security

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Every 2 to 7 years, the cyclical warming of Pacific Ocean waters triggers a global pattern of weather changes that can be felt across many different parts of the world. This phenomenon, known as "El Niño", translates into intense rainfall and floods in certain areas, and severe drought in others. Due to its impact on precipitation, El Niño can seriously undermine water security, decrease agricultural yields and threaten livestock–putting considerable pressure on the livelihoods of affected communities.
 
Ahead of World Water Day 2016, Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist Christoph Pusch explains how the World Bank helps client countries anticipate, respond to, and recover from El Niño-related shocks such as droughts or floods.

After the Adolescent Girls Initiative: Recommendations for Future Research

Sarah Haddock's picture
The Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) pilots taught us a great deal about how to make skills training more female-friendly and how to improve the quality of skills training broadly. They also highlighted new questions for the next generation of skills training projects to answer.

Five of the eight AGI pilots were able to successfully embed a rigorous impact evaluation design. We also had a centralized research team that ensured standardization of the research objectives and methods as much as possible. You can access the papers from the individual pilots on our website, and you can download useful documents such as our evaluation concept notes, list of core indicators, and survey instrument in our Resource Guide.

Here are some key recommendations for further research:

Unbundle evaluation designs and provide cost-benefit information by project component. AGI evaluations weren’t able to compare the relative impact of technical training versus life skills training or measure the impacts of specific project strategies, such as mentoring or placement assistance. Similarly, we can say very little about disaggregated costs of these components.

Have a cash-only evaluation arm. Youth employment interventions of all kinds are under pressure to demonstrate that their impacts are larger than what could be achieved through giving cash directly. See, for example, this relevant blog post from Chris Blattman. As part of this agenda we also need to understand the differential impacts of cash provision on young men and women.

Determine the optimal composition, intensity, and delivery of different mixes of skills. This is particularly true for life skills training, which tends to be much more heterogeneous across contexts and is far less expensive to implement than technical or business skills. Related questions around the appropriate age to focus on different types of skills and whether training works better in sex-segregated classrooms will aid in designing the next generation of youth employment programs.

Test strategies for job placement. Progress has been made in improving the delivery of skills training and in helping youth start businesses, but much less is known about how to cost-effectively assist youth to find and retain wage jobs. Interventionssome implemented in AGI pilotsthat deserve more testing include:
  • Variations in the length and intensity of job placement support: Most AGI interventions  included three to five months of placement support;
  • Performance-based contracts for the training providers, as used in both the Liberia and Nepal AGI pilots, though these have not been tested rigorously;
  • Wage subsidies, as tested among young female community college graduates in the Jordan AGI, which achieved significant short-term gains but no long-term impact;
  • Partnerships with large firms to create custom training programs.
Find ways to reduce occupational segregation. Few interventions have tackled the issue of occupational segregation head-on. Studies from the World Bank Group Africa Gender Innovation Lab show that lack of information is indeed a constraint that prevents women from crossing over into male-dominated fields, and that having a male mentor seems to help women make this transition. However, the only randomized controlled trial we are aware of, involving an informational intervention in Kenya, was unsuccessful in increasing women’s engagement in male-dominated trades. We need to learn how to break occupational segregation while minimizing women’s exposure to harassment, social isolation, and other risks. One approach to test is the encouragement of women to enter non-traditional trades in groups, as in the Liberia and Rwanda AGIs. Research is also needed on how to induce young women to enter new industries in which no clear gender assignment has yet been made, as in the business process outsourcing industry in India.

Untangle the relationships between young women’s labor and health outcomes. The AGIs in Liberia and Nepal, using a technical and vocational education and training (TVET) model, did not have significant impacts on sexual behaviors or health outcomes, while the Uganda girls' club-based approach dramatically lowered fertility and increased condom use. One distinguishing factor about the Uganda project was that it worked with younger girls, starting at age 14. Another important question to answer is whether there is an optimal age threshold or whether there are other conditions under which skills training projects can affect sexual behaviors.
 

Igniting innovation requires leadership and culture change

Adarsh Desai's picture
Most old and large institutions are built around driving efficiency and focus around existing core competencies. Taking risks and trying new approaches is not viewed as essential to delivering highly efficient and predictable products or services. In such institutions leadership and culture rewards efficiency, risk-avoidance, and predictability, all things contrary to what’s needed for innovation.
 
When such institutions aspire to inculcate more innovation, where do they begin? What’s the secret for igniting innovation?
 

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