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August 2012

Re-thinking irrigation to fight hunger

Jonathan Kamkwalala's picture

Photo: Arne Hoel, The World BankFood prices are spiking globally and in Africa one way to ensure food security is to rethink the role of irrigation in agriculture and food production.

Achieving food security in Africa is a critical issue, even as efforts are stymied by drought, floods, pestilence and more. To these natural disasters, we can add the challenge of a changing climate that is predicted to hit Africa disproportionately hard.  

So, what can we do? World Water Week kicked off on Sunday in Stockholm and how water impacts food security will be the focus.

In the World Bank’s Africa Region, we are working on the belief that a proven way to expand agriculture and food production in Africa is to focus on scaling up irrigation programs, bringing water to parched lands, and strengthening the hands of farmers who produce food against climatic odds.

Leveraging Regional Integration for Rwanda

Birgit Hansl's picture

For Rwanda to become an emerging middle-income economy, it will need to unleash its export potential. The country has a natural comparative advantage in services, including tourism, and can serve as a gateway between Anglophone East Africa and Francophone Central Africa. But Rwanda can only reap these benefits if it integrates with its neighbors.

Regional integration can bring substantive benefits to all EAC members. But will progress affect all countries in a similar fashion? The answer is no.

Three countries are landlocked (Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda), and two are coastal (Kenya and Tanzania). Kenya’s GDP (PPP) is similar to Tanzania’s, but 5 times that of Rwanda and almost 20 times that of Burundi. 

East Asia Pacific leads in seaport investments

David Lawrence's picture
Click image to view larger version.

In this digital age, it’s easy to forget that there is a staggering amount of physical goods moving across the globe. Most trade—80 percent by volume—moves through seaports. Trade in developing countries makes up a good chunk of the total, and is growing fast. Handshake, IFC’s quarterly journal on public-private partnerships (PPPs), reports trade in developing countries is growing at nearly 14 percent.

And a lot of this trade is happening in Asia. In its June 21, 2012 issue, the Economist reports that the center of gravity of cargo trade is shifting from Europe to Asia. So it should come as no surprise that Asia is leading investment in seaports. Handshake reports that from 2000-2011, the East Asia Pacific region accounted for nearly $14 billion—32 percent—of private investment in seaports, mainly from China. The Philippines and Singapore are also major Asian investors in seaport projects.

Much of this investment comes through PPPs. Does this really make a difference? I’d say it does. Private sector financing and expertise make seaports and shipping more efficient. This in turn benefits emerging markets, which are becoming more and more engaged in global trade.

Could seaport investments be a predictor of future trends in trade? If so, Asia will become even more of a trade hotspot than it is today.

For further information, read Issue #6 of Handshake: Air & Sea PPPs.

Quote of the Week: Samuel Brittan

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“The biggest obstacle to reform is that insiders can devote time and energy to maintaining their position.  For ordinary citizens, political reform is a sideshow that hardly repays such efforts.”

-- Samuel Brittan, Financial Times, July 5, 2012, Nil desperandum in the fight against crony capitalism

Welcome to World Water Week 2012

Jaehyang So's picture

Thousands of water development practitioners have begun to descend upon Stockholm for World Water Week, the annual knowledge-sharing event hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute. It was raining earlier today in Sweden’s capital. But some parts of the world have suffered through unprecedented high temperatures and drought. The drought in the US can be seen from space, as described in this Wired magazine article. This drought has led to damages to, and drops in, yields of crops of maize and soybeans, for which the US is the largest exporter in the world. It has also meant higher food prices.

Incentivizing Calculated Risk-Taking: an Experiment with Commercial Bank Loan Officers

Martin Kanz's picture

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, there has been much criticism of compensation practices at banks. Although much of this debate has focused on executive compensation (see the recent debate on this blog), there is a growing recognition that non-equity incentives for loan officers and other employees at the lower tiers of a bank’s corporate hierarchy may share some of the blame — volume incentives for mortgage brokers in the United States that rewarded high-risk lending at wildly unsustainable terms are a particularly striking case in point.

Three Wise Women Design the Perfect City

Dan Hoornweg's picture



There is no such thing as a free dessert.   At a recent dinner party all guests had to declare a favorite city before the cheese cake and coffee.  With time running out I hastily picked São Paulo (see past blog).  Not at the dinner, but with me during my last visit to São Paulo, Abha, Alexandra and Judy were quick to send comments, questioning my choice of São Paulo and offering thoughts on alternative favorites.

Similar to how Italo Calvino’s ‘Invisible City’ reveals 55 views of cities through a conversation between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo, here with input from the three wise women, and others who responded to the blog, the celebration of cities continues.

ICT and rural education in China

Michael Trucano's picture

answers on how best to proceed may come in all shapes and sizesLast year on this blog, I asked a few questions (eLearning, Africa and ... China?) as a result of my participation in a related event in Dar Es Salaam where lots of my African colleagues were ‘talking about China’, but where few Chinese (researchers, practitioners, firms, officials) were present. This year's eLearning Africa event in Benin, in contrast, featured for the first time a delegation of researchers from China, a visit organized by the International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education (INRULED), a UNESCO research center headquartered at Beijing Normal University (with additional outposts at Baodin, Nanjing and Gansu). Hopefully this is just the beginning of a positive trend to open up access to knowledge about what is working (and isn’t working) related to ICT use in education in places in rural China that might more resemble certain situations and contexts in many developing countries than those drawn from experiences in, for example, Boston or Singapore (or from Shanghai and Beijing, for that matter). Establishing working level linkages between researchers and practitioners (and affiliated institutions) in China and Africa, can be vital to helping encourage such knowledge exchanges.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

NPR
Saving Lives In Africa With The Humble Sweet Potato

“A regular old orange-colored sweet potato might not seem too exciting to many of us.

But in parts of Africa, that sweet potato is very exciting to public health experts who see it as a living vitamin A supplement. A campaign to promote orange varieties of sweet potatoes in Mozambique and Uganda (instead of the white or yellow ones that are more commonly grown there) now seems to be succeeding. (Check out this cool infographic on the campaign.) It's a sign that a new approach to improving nutrition among the world's poor might actually work.

That approach is called biofortification: adding crucial nutrients to food biologically, by breeding better varieties of crops that poor people already eat.”  READ MORE

Can Direct Democracy Work in Rural Afghanistan?

Andrew Beath's picture

The paradigm of community-driven development (CDD) aims to increase program impact by involving communities in the selection, design, and implementation of local development projects. However, its effectiveness can be undermined when local elites capture or otherwise exploit the paradigm’s prescribed participatory processes. In such cases, the type of projects implemented, as well as the benefits they provide, may end up serve the interests of elites, rather than the targeted communities. Large local landholders, for instance, may be more interested in funding irrigation projects than digging deep wells, building schools, or funding local clinics that benefit the community at large.


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