A few weeks ago David linked to a paper. I meant to read it, but forgot until my enterprising colleague at RAND, Sebastian Bauhoff, reminded me.
UNICEF and WHO's recent report on Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation brought both good and bad news. The good news: 88% of the world’s population now has access to an improved drinking water source. The bad news: the world is still off-track to meet the Millennium Development Goal for sanitation. In this blog post published by the Center for Global Development, Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development, and Claire Chase, an evaluation specialist with the Water and Sanitation Program, examine whether an increased focus on sanitation will ironically lead to further neglect of hygiene, and second, which sector should hold responsibility for scaling up access to sanitation.
Since my Blog on regional integration, I have been thinking about the possible role of an Arab Development Bank in the region, especially but not exclusively to spur regional and global integration. Colleagues who know a thing of two about the region, economic development and Arab organizations had mixed views. Some liked the idea, others thought the idea not very useful, especially since it is often voiced and then shot down. The feeling was that yet another institution would be confusing and redundant.
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An hour down a dirt road stands the most beautiful natural treasure in Kenya’s Western Province—the Kakamega Forest. The forest is a fraction of its former size, and it grows smaller every day because of the insatiable demand for firewood.
When I first came to Kenya, in August 1990, I was a backpacker on a shoestring budget. At midcourse between Cape-town and Cairo, I got accommodation at the New Kenya Lodge in River Road for US$ 2.50. After spending two nights there, I continued to Garissa and Liboi, heading to Somalia.
In 1994, I returned with my wife, and in downtown Nairobi, urban chaos and poverty struck her so much, that she was reluctant to come back 15 years later, when I was offered a job.
Today, I enjoy the full beauty of Kenya with my family, and we all agree—my wife included!—that this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. If you created an index of "natural beauty per square-kilometer" Kenya would probably come up on top of the list. Starting from Nairobi, within a few hours of driving, you enjoy the most amazing nature: the Masai Mara, Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, and Lake Victoria, are all within reach. Nairobi is surprisingly pleasant, with one of the best climates in the world: it is one of the few cities where you neither need air-conditioning nor heating—all year long (well, it will soon get “cold” in July but the fireplace will help).
“Every two seconds, across the world, an area of forest the size of a football field is clear-cut by illegal loggers.” This is not the work of poor people trying to find wood to cook a few grains of rice to sustain life. No. This is the work of the illegal logging mafia - aided and abetted by corrupt government officials - from forest rangers to ministers of government. They do this for greed and with the arrogance of those who have no fear of arrest or prosecution.
Small firms are commonly believed to have weak access to finance. Previous studies have shown that small firms report larger financing obstacles and use less external finance than large firms do.
It is then a surprise to find in the new research we just published that small firms are significantly less likely to pledge collateral. Using the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES) covering 6800 firms across 43 developing countries, we find that all else being equal, the odds of small firms-- those with less than 20 workers-- pledging collateral for formal loans from financial institutions are about 35-37% lower than those of larger firms. Yet when loans are collateralized, the ratio of collateral value to loan value for small firms is not statistically different from that for larger firms. These results are robust across countries, or within a particular country. Given that small firms have weak access to finance, this is a counter-intuitive, yet interesting finding.
In September last year, I ran a rather crude survey inviting readers of my blog on Pakistani news channel, Dawn to take part. The survey was a rather tongue-in-cheek response to the tenth anniversary of George Bush’s Axis of Evil Speech, but it has thrown up some points of interest to communications professionals.
Most readers picked up on the fact that in today’s connected world, labelling an entire nation as “evil” was not a useful rhetoric. However, I was overwhelmed with hundreds of responses. More people completed the questionnaire than I had money to access on the free online survey and many of the comments certainly didn’t shy away from national stereotypes or allegations of evil.
In response to the global need for consistency when measuring and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a group of organizations have partnered to develop a Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (community protocol). Beginning today and for the next month, the draft edition of the GPC is open for public comment, marking a landmark effort which seeks to harmonize the emissions measurement and reporting process for cities of all sizes and geographies.
“C40 operates under the premise that cities must measure emissions in order to manage them; with this unprecedented and collaborative initiative, we are empowering all cities to do both,” says Jay Carson, CEO of C40.
An interesting new paper by Ben Olken, Junko Onishi, and Susan Wong gives us some evidence on how incentives can make aid more effective. They look at a community block grant program in Indonesia and compare the effects of these grants with and without incentives. Incentives make a difference.