It is not often that I get to connect Youtube videos, tabloid headlines, and a study tour to the Republic of Korea to a project I am working on, especially when it involves improving connectivity for the poorest minorities in the furthest parts of Vietnam, such as the Mekong delta.
Vietnam’s temporary monkey bridges are not your ‘normal’ problem. Made of locally available materials such as bamboo, rope, and wood, have long been the mainstay for rural communities – often ethnic minorities – living in the remote sections of the Mekong Delta. Though sometimes tourists romanticize them – as this Youtube video shows – even in the best of times they add considerably to the hardships of life in the delta. Moreover, they do not offer even this minimal level of service year round. As this article and video illustrates – when the river is in spate – more dramatic solutions are often necessary. You’ll see this family crossing the river where the father puts the kids in a plastic bag and carries them across the river so they can go to school.
Photo: Inova BH
In English, “Belo Horizonte” means “beautiful horizon,” and this is an apt description of the long-term possibilities for educating the children of Belo Horizonte, the sixth largest city in Brazil and capital of the state of Minas Gerais. As a Brazilian who went through the national school curriculum, I believe that this system should be accessible to all citizens, and so I took a particular interest in the goals of this public-private partnership (PPP).
Greater access to education was a widely-shared ambition among the government team as well. The Municipality of Belo Horizonte already believed that a competitive workforce – and a functioning society – depends on good schools. That’s why it made early education a top priority and sought out advisory services from our Brazil-based team to find out if PPPs could help government make the grade. It seemed like this was a proposal the community could stand behind: Demand for better education was already strong, with over 11,000 children, many underprivileged, on a waiting list to enroll in school.
As many as one billion children under the age of 18 experience some form of violence every year. This exposure is not only a violation of child rights; it can also hamper children’s cognitive development, mental health, educational achievement, and long-term labor market prospects.
Meanwhile, an estimated 1.9 billion people in 136 countries benefit from some type of social safety net, such as cash transfers and public works that target the poor and vulnerable—presenting a vast policy instrument with potential to help prevent childhood violence.
Today, the internet is increasingly accessed through mobile devices, people are sharing more across multiple outlets, and bulk collection of data is growing. Private, personal information—Google searches, page clicks, GPS locations, and credit card swipes are all collected constantly and invisibly, often without the consumer's permission. Not only are businesses engaging in this tracking, but governments are also conducting surveillance on the basis of national security concerns.
Governments have defended their actions by claiming that the information gathered helps fight threats to national security, both foreign and homegrown. People understand that governments need to give due weight to both privacy and national security; unfortunately, many do not receive even the most basic information regarding their country’s surveillance programs or whether their privacy is being violated.
According to Claire Connelly, “people’s right to privacy is being reduced by the day on the grounds of national security. And while it’s important to keep people safe from terror and other forms of national security threats, it’s arguable whether this should come at the cost of privacy."
But what does this look like in practice? On the surface, projects that adopt the Digital Principles may not look so different from more conventional ICT4D efforts. Consider, for instance, a new participatory monitoring program in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. MOPA invites citizens to report problems in the waste management services through a digital platform, relaying these problems via an open-source map for the city council to enlist microenterprises to collect the waste. This is far from the first community engagement and participatory monitoring program to use technologies aimed at reducing barriers for citizens to more directly inform anything, from budget allocation to policy options to service delivery. And like many other participatory engagement programs, MOPA faced a slew of familiar challenges that have caused other similar projects to stutter, including:
Institutional investors have become the majority owners of most large corporations and are expected to play a key role for financial development by providing funding for firms, enhancing market liquidity through more active trading, and by promoting better corporate governance in the companies in which they invest.
For developing countries, while most of the literature has focused on the impact of foreign institutional investors on capital markets, little is known about the relation between domestic institutional investors and trading activity, transactions costs, and governance practices. Understanding the role of domestic investors is particularly important since in many of these countries, business groups, which are typically collections of publicly traded companies with significant amount of common ownership, dominate private sector activity. In such context, money management institutions which belong to these business groups are prone to conflicts of interest between their fiduciary responsibilities and the objectives of their own management. For example, business groups’ relations can be used by controlling managers as a mechanism to enhance the entrenchment of corporate control. Alternatively, an institutional investor which belongs to a business group might have access to private information in affiliated firms. Ownership concentration and business group ties potentially exacerbates information asymmetries, discouraging investment.
- Financial Sector
Blog #9: Where you live decides how ‘well’ you live
India is home to the largest number of poor people in the world, as well as the largest number of people who have recently escaped poverty. Over the next few weeks, this blog series will highlight recent research from the World Bank and its partners on what has driven poverty reduction, what still stands in the way of progress, and the road to a more prosperous India.
We hope this will spark a conversation around #WhatWillItTake to #EndPoverty in India. Read all the blogs in this series, we look forward to your comments.
Location and poverty are intimately linked. In India’s rapidly transforming economy, where the boundaries between rural and urban have become increasingly blurred, living standards are much higher in ‘good’ locations, and much worse in places that are not so ‘good’. In the years to come, creating more such ‘good’ locations, and spreading their prosperity to surroundings areas, will play a key role in raising incomes and reducing poverty in India.
Evidence and analysis, when used well, can form the foundation for effective policymaking. But what happens once an analytical report is published, and the findings are shared? In the worst case, these reports sit collecting dust on a few lucky office shelves.
In the best cases, however, smart, rigorous, and timely evidence leads to real impact for the least well off. We set out recently to find out a bit more about how this can work in practice, looking at the case of Indonesia.
Effective social assistance is crucial not only for helping people move out of poverty, but also keeping people from falling into poverty. Too often, however, well-meaning programs do not reach those who need them the most. The poor stay poor, shocks push the vulnerable into poverty, and fiscal space is wasted on programs that are not doing what they need to do.