As we prepare to sign off over the holidays, we thought we’d reflect on our job market series over the past two weeks (and note that we have one more guest blogger tomorrow). We asked our guest bloggers, for most of whom this was their first blog post, to reflect on whether this has been a useful experience. Their impressions complement our paper on the role of blogs.
A tiny green oasis stands out amidst acres of dry arid land. As many as 12 different crops—including a wide variety of pulses, fruits, vegetables, and flowers—as well as a farm pond constructed through the Employment Guarantee Scheme and a vermicomposting pit are all seen on this one acre farm in the drought-ridden village from Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh. Suhasini, a young Dalit woman who decided to experiment with the only acre (0.4 hectares) of land she owned, asserts confidently “Next year, most of this surrounding land would be green as well—the other farmers will definitely follow me.”
Suhasini is one among over 1.2 million farmers across 9000 villages that are practicing a cheaper and more sustainable method of agriculture across 1.2 million hectares in the state, even as more farmers are becoming part of what is termed a farmers’ movement for sustainable agriculture in Andhra Pradesh. The program named Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) is essentially an alternative to the conventional-input intensive-agriculture model. It promotes the use of locally available, organic external inputs—including cow dung, chickpea flour, and palm sap—and the use of traditional organic farming methods such as polycropping and systems of rice intensification (SRI).
Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011
Originally published on September 6, 2011
Most of those who have been riveted to the breaking news in North Africa and the Middle East during the so-called “Arab Spring” and the recent grimmer months this summer have been focused on predicting the actions of the various heads of state—of Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar Assad. But many academics have been trying to figure out who have been the prime movers of the grassroots unrest sweeping the region.
A conference on access to malaria medicine recently held at the World Bank offered many substantive studies – and I will discuss some in detail in the new year. However with my last post of 2011 I’d like to end the year on some good news (even if the news is only partially related to impact evaluation).
Did you know that the World Bank Group actually wants to listen to the men and women of Sri Lanka and their views on Sri Lanka’s development and ensure that their voices are taken into account whenever development activities are carried out? Most of you like me (some months ago), would probably answer in the negative. Having joined the World Bank this year and having being tasked with assisting with the preparation of Sri Lanka's next Country Partnership Strategy for Sri Lanka, I have come to realize that some of my own perceptions about public involvement in World Bank activities have not been entirely accurate.
My current role in the Bank has enabled me to understand firsthand the efforts undertaken by bank staff to ensure that development activities remain sustainable. One of the ways in which this is achieved is through active engagement with as wide a group of stakeholders as possible prior to the commencement of any new project. All of us who are a part of the Bank Group strongly believe that it’s only by invoking the ownership of development among citizens that long term sustainability is achieved.
At the High-Level Forum on aid effectiveness (known as HLF4) a few weeks ago in Busan, South Korea, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel on education and aid. Unlike the HLF4 plenaries, our session didn’t involve Hillary Clinton or Tony Blair or Ban Ki-Moon, nor did we help to hammer out the Busan outcome documents. But what we saw in our panel on aid for education, and in the one-day pre-conference that informed it, was very encouraging: it showed how Korea’s lessons about student learning are influencing international education policy.
The event had been given the title “Dream with Education!” by our hosts in the Korean government. The exclamation point may seem over-exuberant, but in the Korean context, it’s not. Korea’s universal high-quality basic education and high rates of participation in higher education have helped it achieve development that would have exceeded any dreams fifty years ago, when rapid growth started. Between 1960 and 2001, Korea’s economy grew at an average of more than 7% per year. Equally important, Korea has achieved rapid progress in many other areas of life, from technological to social to political. While the country’s success has brought new challenges, as a recent Economist article pointed out, its ascent to this point has been remarkable.
Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011
Originally published on July 28, 2011
Recently I attended a course on social norms and social change organized by UNICEF at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Understanding how social norms affect change in practices and behaviours is becoming an increasingly ‘hot topic’ in development discourse, and rightly so I would add. In some of my previous blogs I’ve discussed how in many cases the failure to achieve expected results should be ascribed to technocratic solutions, which are not always understood and agreed upon with local communities. The lack of a clear understanding of the role and mechanisms of behaviour change has been responsible for many development failures. However, developing strict behaviour change strategies might also be not enough to promote change.
As a consequence of the global economic crisis, 2009 marked a hiccup in the trend of increasing remittance flows to developing countries. In most parts of the world, the growth rate of remittances was indeed negative. But what is striking is that there was an inverse relationship between remittances and unemployment. In other words, the greater the drop in remittances, the higher was the increase in the unemployment rate. In Moldova, for instance, remittances decreased by 36% in 2009, while the unemployment rate increased by 61%. By contrast, in Fiji, remittances increased by 24% and unemployment dropped by 7%.
The scatter plot below illustrates the relationship between changes in remittances and changes in unemployment, both measured as the annual growth rate (in percentage) between 2008 and 2009, for 29 developing countries. The x-axis represents changes in remittances and the y-axis the change in unemployment. The figure shows a negative correlation between the two variables.