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April 2012

Land Rights and the World Bank Group: Setting the Record Straight

Klaus Deininger's picture

The leasing or purchase of agricultural land in the developing world has become a hot button issue as the planet has grown more crowded and the pressure to stake out more arable land – whether for food or biofuels – grows. At the same time, agricultural productivity in many of the poorest communities around the globe has stagnated and, unless higher crop yields can be attained, far too many people will remain trapped in poverty.  Helping such smallholders catch the wave of rising interest in farmland is a key aim of the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, which began Monday. Our theme this year is ‘Land Governance in a Rapidly Changing Environment.”

It’s clear that this year, many stakeholders who are either taking part in the conference or criticizing the event from outside think that global interest in farmland in the developing world is at a tipping point.

How Kenya is using World Bank Group Instruments to Leverage Private Investment in Power

Esohe Denise Odaro's picture

Having spent some of my formative years on the African continent, I can attest to the fact that the frequency of power blackouts desensitized citizenry to the point that power outages were neither a cause of despair nor excitement but just another mundane facet of everyday life. Power outages remain common phenomena throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa owing to various reasons such as low capacity output, over-reliance on volatile sources of energy, outdated machinery, mismatched pricing, energy theft, low collection rates, among other reasons. Over 30 countries in the continent have suffered power shortages in recent years, with detrimental economic effects including lost revenues, typically ranging between 1 and 4 percent of GDP.

Brazil: Redefining 'resettlement' to meet urban challenges

Fabio Pittaluga's picture

Pelourinho, Salvador de Bahia

It is no secret Brazil is undergoing a “renaissance” of sorts. After decades of rough economic times marred by the stigma of deep inequity and social exclusion, Brazil has emerged as an economic powerhouse in the region and globally.

Sustaining such momentum, however, demands and will continue to demand substantial investments in infrastructure. This is particularly true in Brazil’s urban spaces –especially the megacities and a growing number of smaller but important cities and towns-- where more than 80 percent of the country’s population lives.

Less Poor but More Unequal

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Photo: Scott WallaceFirst, the good news: The world has become considerably less poor. Today, 43 percent of people are considered to be living in poverty—that is, living on less than $2 per day—compared to 30 years ago when almost three-fourths of the developing world was doing so. Even more heartening is that extreme poverty—that is, living on less than $1.25 per day to meet the most basic human needs—has declined even more.

The Unintended Consequences of Increases in the Minimum Wage

Ximena Del Carpio's picture

Most countries around the world have some form of minimum wages. Policymakers have often argued that raising the minimum wage increases the income of low-income workers, and therefore can be used as a tool to reduce poverty and inequality. Some policymakers also argue that wage increases can improve workers’ productivity (Levine, 1992; Raff and Summers, 1987) because they lead to increases in work effort, reductions in job turnover and more on-the-job training (Katz, 1987). However, several studies find that increases in minimum wages without commensurate increases in labor productivity could lead to job losses in the formal sector. The main reason provided for this argument is that poor workers—the people expected to benefit from the policy—are more likely to be pushed out of formal employment because they often have limited skills and low productivity, and thus tend to be among the first to be laid off when minimum wages increase.

Using GIS to Manage the Urban Ecosystem

Henry Jewell's picture

Growing up on a farm meant I spent very little time in cities. I felt more at home when surrounded by green than grey. As a kid, I saw cities as noisy, bright, busy and quite frankly, confusing. I always thought to myself why would anyone want to live in them? However, when I grew up, I moved to a city to take advantage of the opportunities it provided. I am not alone. More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities and this number will rise. Cities are hubs of productivity, innovation and vast human capital; but once you live in them you begin to see that they are like any other ecosystem: complex and fragile, whose balance can be easily disturbed. With many cities rapidly growing and evolving, how do you manage this increasing complexity without destroying the ecosystem?

GIS Image.  Source - University of Texas at DallasGeographical Information System (GIS) techniques have proven successful in mapping, analyzing and managing natural ecosystems. It is now time to make use of the same technology to manage, model and design our expanding global system of cities. GIS consists of a proven set of tools that can provide information to leaders at the local and national level to facilitate evidence-driven decision making. It allows us to move beyond 2D paper maps and incorporate everything that lies below, above and around a city to create a 3D digital representation of the city’s ecosystem. By integrating this information into the planning process, it will hopefully lead to harmonized planning across sectors. For example, integrated transport and land use planning and development will allow for economic, social and environmental benefits. More sectors can then be incorporated, with this integration not only happening within the city limits but including the urban periphery, where a lot of urban expansion is currently occurring. This holistic view will allow planners to make cities more livable.

Cooperative financial institutions – the Missing Bottom?

This post is part of our Closing the Gap: Financial Inclusion blog series, which shares the views of selected experts and practitioners on different financial inclusion topics.

Recent successes in linking lower income clients to the formal banking system via mobile banking and agent solutions have shifted attention away from non-bank deposit taking institutions.  Indeed, the use of modern technology can reduce the costs of service delivery and facilitate the availability of banking services in less densely populated areas. Yet, experience indicates that the roll-out and uptake of these innovative delivery channels is limited by the absence of suitable products and the banking sector’s interest in this market segment.  While banks have started to explore delivering financial services to  lower income segments of the population, these clients are not likely to become their core focus. Same for mobile network operators, who are mostly interested in increasing customer retention rates and offering additional income sources for their agent networks, but do not necessarily focus on providing a range of suitable financial products in a supervised setting. For both players, catering to otherwise unbanked segments of the population is more an add-on, something additional to explore in good times, but – let’s be honest - not a priority during  bad times.

Cooperative Financial Institutions cater to low-income clients in good times, and bad. (Credit: Maciej Dakowicz, Flickr Creative Commons) 	This is why cooperative financial institutions (CFIs) and other forms of member-based deposit taking institutions will continue to be important players in the financial inclusion space. Their market niche is developing suitable products for low to middle-income clients. They usually operate in areas that are otherwise under-banked, and bring added value by collecting deposits and “recycling” these funds through on-lending in the same geographic area. Being savings-based, they depend on the resources of their many poor to middle income clients, and thus have a natural and vital interest in this market segment.  And in contrast to banks, CFIs continue and even expand their services to this market segment in times of crisis: For example, credit unions in the US have increased their membership by 4 million since 2007, while membership in Paraguay surged to 16 percent of the population when the banking sector largely withdrew from retail banking after the 2002 crisis.

Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, but for how long?

Maryse Pierre-Louis's picture

www.worldbank.org/malaria

This year, on World Malaria Day, April 25, the global health community has reason to celebrate. Indeed, thanks to substantial investments from partners and countries over the last decade, the scorecard on malaria reports good news:  a reduction of more than 50% in confirmed malaria cases or malaria admissions and deaths in recent years in at least 11 countries south of the Sahara, and in 32 endemic countries outside of Africa. Overall, the number of deaths due to malaria is estimated to have decreased from 985,000 in 2000 to 655,000 in 2010. 

The fact that an estimated 1.1 million African children were saved from the deadly grip of malaria over the last decade is an extraordinary achievement. By the end of 2010, a total of 289 million insecticide-treated nets were delivered to sub-Saharan Africa, enough to cover 76% of the 765 million persons at risk.

Over the past 5 years, four countries were certified as having eliminated malaria: Morocco, Turkmenistan, the UAE and Armenia.  In southern Africa, health ministers of eight countries -- Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe--have developed a regional strategy to progress towards E8 malaria elimination status.  


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