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Data for development impact: Why we need to invest in data, people and ideas

Haishan Fu's picture
© Shutterstock
© Shutterstock


High quality development data is a must for development impact

We know that high quality development data is the foundation for meaningful policy-making, efficient resource allocation, and effective public service delivery. Unfortunately, even as new technology makes more data and wider uses of data possible, there are still many blank spaces on the global data map. A paper by my colleague Umar Serajuddin et al. (2015) describes this phenomenon as “data deprivation”, finding that as of just a few years ago, 77 countries still lacked the data needed to adequately measure poverty. What’s worse, data is often most scarce in the areas where it is most desperately needed. For one, the scarcity of individual-level data on issues like assets and consumption severely curtails our ability to make decisions to reduce gender disparities. Similarly, despite the urgency of the need to manage climate risk, significant voids remain with regards to climate data, such as impacts on freshwater resources. Education, health, food security, and infrastructure are just a few of the many other areas where more and better data is needed to deliver progress.

So what’s to be done? Looking forward, I propose three data priorities, which we are working to put into practice.

How crowdsourcing can improve food safety

Colin Finan's picture
Also available in: Español
Left photo: Patrick Quade. Right photo: Flore de Preneuf/ World Bank

Unsafe foods cost developing economies over $110 billion in lost productivity and medical expenses each year, according to the World Bank's own figures. And yet in many cases surveillance is limited, and there are few effective ways for a consumer to report a case of food poisoning.

 New Technology Can Help

This is where we believe new technology solutions can make a significant contribution. In the large towns and cities of the pantropics the mobile phone now reigns supremeit is possible to input citizen data accurately in order to detect food poisoning and identify issues in real time. This is what motivated us to found Iwaspoisoned.com and B2B service Dinesafe.org. We think the journey we embarked on - and the hurdles we faced - could provide interesting lessons to entrepreneurs and policy-makers who are eager to harness the power of data to fix age-old problems. 

2018: A year of influence, impact and cooperation on global issues through social media

Zubedah Robinson's picture


​In 2018, the themes of climate change, disruptive technology, and human capital were not only priorities for the World Bank Group, but for governments, private companies, and international organizations of all kinds. The level of partnership online among these groups has been unprecedented as the world collectively tries to address global challenges.

The same kind of cooperation that is driving impact on the ground is also driving awareness and advocacy more broadly as the world rises to these challenges. Below are just a few examples of how collaboration online has strengthened and amplified the global effort to end poverty in 2018 across three key themes.

Calling all innovators! Help achieve ‘Good ID’ for the world’s invisible billion

Makhtar Diop's picture
© Daniel Silva Yoshisato
© Daniel Silva Yoshisato

An estimated one billion people around the world – half of which are in Africa – lack official identification to prove who they are. And many millions more have forms of identification that cannot be reliably verified or authenticated. More than 450 million of these are children who have not had their birth registered. Women and the poor in low-income countries are less likely to have official identification.

Without a trusted and secure way to prove their identity, the poorest and most vulnerable face challenges in accessing healthcare, education, and financial services, as well as opportunities that can improve their economic and social mobility.

Planet of the Apps: Making small farms competitive

Julian Lampietti's picture
Also available in: Français
 
Photo: Shutterstock

Apps have revolutionized everything from getting to work, keeping in touch with faraway friends, and dating (though the jury’s still out on this one). Can apps be the salvation of the world’s farms that are under two hectares in size – a group that most people think is going the same way as humans in Planet of the Apes?

Economies of scale in agriculture (or any other sector) occur when the average cost per unit of production decreases as farm size increases and conventional wisdom suggests that farms need to get bigger to be competitive. And this is exactly what is happening in richer countries, though the trend is less clear in poorer countries.

Giving people control over their data can transform development

Nandan Nilekani's picture
Suguna, one of the many women who has benefited from Aadhaar– her digital identity. © Bernat Parera
Suguna, one of the many women who has benefited from Aadhaar– her digital identity. © Bernat Parera

In Para village of Rajasthan, India, Shanti Devi’s livelihood depends on wages earned through MNREGA (India’s rural employment guarantee program) and a pension for her and her disabled husband. Eight years ago, a postman would deliver this cash to any household member he found. Sometimes she did not receive the full amount because a relative would claim her money. Even when she did, women like Shanti Devi did not have a secure way to save it because she was unbanked. Opening a bank account needed an individual identification card which many women lacked.

Today, Shanti Devi’s life has changed because of Aadhaar – her digital identity. All of her cash benefits are transferred directly into her bank account, which she was able to open with her Aadhaar number and her fingerprint. She can make and receive digital payments, with any person or business, even without a smartphone. With her ID, she is now fully empowered to exercise her rights, access services and economic opportunities. Most of all, she is afforded the dignity to assert her identity.  

Everything you need to know to follow the 2018 Annual Meetings

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | العربية | 中文


The IMF/World Bank Group Annual Meetings is an event you won't want to miss. Join us for a week of seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and many other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world's financial system. This year's events will take place in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 8-14, 2018.
 
Find out why the World Bank, countries, and partners are coming together to try to close the massive human capital gap in the world today. Catch the launch of the new Human Capital Index on October 11, 2018, and spread the message that it’s critical to #InvestinPeople.
 
The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, and the Government of Indonesia are also co-sponsoring a first-ever technology fair to bring innovation to the heart of the Annual Meetings.
 
This three-day “showcase” will feature 28+ innovators – companies from around the world – who will demonstrate the powerful role that technology can play in spurring development, strengthening financial development and inclusion, and improving health and education outcomes. The 2018 Innovation Showcase will run from October 11-13 in the Bali International Convention Center.
 
So, start planning your #WBGMeetings experience. Connect, engage and watch to take full advantage of everything the Meetings has to offer. We've got you covered on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Identification as a centerpiece for development: What can other countries learn from Peru?

Samia Melhem's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español
© World Bank
Juan and his sisters proudly show their identification. © Daniel Silva Yoshisato/World Bank

Peru has placed so much emphasis on the importance of identification that it has created a museum dedicated to it. The "Museum of Identification" in Lima demonstrates to visitors the significance of identity in the country’s narrative. In fact, the Incas, centuries before the Europeans arrived, kept track of the population by using “quipus”, an accounting tool based on strings, with each node denoting a village or community.
 
Peru has continued to prioritize identification, and the uniqueness of each person—long before the Sustainable Development Goals made “legal identity for all and free birth registrations” a global priority (SDG 16.9).
 

5 inspirational youth you should follow this #YouthDay 

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية | Español | 中文
Refugees take wood working courses at the Kalobeyei Youth Training Center in Kalobeyei, Kenya.
© Dominic Chavez/International Finance Corporation

Youth are the engine of change. Empowering them and providing them with the right opportunities can create an endless array of possibilities. But what happens when young people under 25—who make up 42% of the world’s population – lack safe spaces in which they can thrive?
 
According to the United Nations, one in 10 children in the world live in conflict zones and 24 million of them are out of school. Political instability, labor market challenges, and limited space for political and civic participation have led to increasing isolation of youth. 
 
That's why the United Nations theme for International Youth Day this year focuses on “Safe Spaces for Youth.” These are spaces where young people can safely engage in governance issues, participate in sports and other leisure activities, interact virtually with anyone in the world, and find a haven, especially for the most vulnerable.

Digital skills have great potential in unlocking economic opportunities for youth

Zubedah Robinson's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Français | Español | العربية


Giving youth the education and skills they need remains one of the world’s most pressing challenges. Globally, more than 260 million children and youth are not in school. Worse, nearly 60 percent of primary school children in developing countries fail to achieve minimum proficiency in learning. Adding a new layer of complexity to this challenge, technology is quickly transforming the skills required to compete for jobs and access economic opportunities—as highlighted in the World Bank’s forthcoming 2019 World Development Report on the changing nature of work. And for regions with a huge youth population such as South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s time to put digital skills training front and center.
 
International Youth day is August 12. This year’s theme is Safe Spaces for Youth and the contributions they make towards freedom of expression, mutual respect and constructive dialogue. Among these spaces are civic spaces, public spaces, digital spaces and physical spaces. Personally, I am very interested in the digital spaces concept, not because I am a digital engagement specialist here at the World Bank, but because I think the future of tomorrow’s work is going to be very aligned with technology.

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