Over the summer I was part of a team looking at the potential impact that an influx of Syrian refugees could have on labor markets in Lebanon. Indeed, as of August 2013, over 914,000 people had crossed the border between Lebanon and Syria because of the Syrian conflict.
The progress in achieving the target set for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) continues to be diverse across goals and regions. The goals aim at actualizing a universal standard of being free from grinding poverty, being educated and healthy and having ready access to clean water and sanitation. While progress has lagged for education and health related MDGs, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has indeed fallen. To accelerate further progress in the latter, development strategies have to attempt to increase not only the rate of growth but also the share of income going to the poorest section of the population along the rural-urban continuum.
Economic projections for developing countries prepared by the World Bank state that approximately 970 million people will continue in 2015 to live below $1.25 a day. This would be equivalent to 15.5% of the population in the developing world. Herein, the pertinent challenge of reducing extreme poverty through creation of new income opportunities and better delivery of basic services largely remains in rural areas. In addition, such poverty is concentrated more in Asia (East and South) and Sub Saharan Africa with 38% and 46% of their poor residing in rural areas respectively. Thus, the task of effective rural development remains daunting. But the latter has to be operationalized and implemented holistically, and more importantly, in context of the complexities posed by the rural -urban continuum.
Financial Markets… U.S. Treasuries gained for a fifth day on Tuesday, with the benchmark 10-year note yields sliding to 2.84%, as investors await on a Federal Reserve announcement tomorrow on the future of U.S. stimulus program. U.S. government bonds have declined 3.6% this year through yesterday, while they gained 2% last year.
Djibouti does not make the headlines as often as its larger neighbors Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia –or Yemen, just across the Gulf of Aden. As children go back to school this month, the small, French speaking country deserves our attention as it works to overcome serious education challenges with a committed group of partners including the World Bank.
SHANGHAI, China, Sept. 17 -- I'm standing in front of a building at Linkong International Garden that has solar panels on the outer walls and rooftops, geothermal heat pumps, and online energy management. This is part of the front line of the fight against climate change, and Shanghai is helping to lead the way in making sure rapid urbanization involves a wide array of clean technologies. Watch the video to learn more.
From a demographic point of view, more than 9 billion people are expected to live on planet earth in 2050, two-thirds of them in cities. Actually, the entire anticipated population increase is to take place in urban areas, with over 90 percent in Africa, Asia, and Latin American and the Caribbean ; so, global urbanization has long since shifted to developing countries and emerging economies. Approximately 2.7 billion people live in urban agglomerations in developing and emerging economies today; in 2030, that number will rise to 3.9 billion – and reach 5.1 billion in 2050. Around 95 percent of this urban momentum is going to take place in metropolitan regions. Established mega regions like Sao Paulo or Mumbai, as well as urban agglomerations composed of rapidly growing small and medium-sized cities will become the key living and economic spaces of the urban millennium.
After an intense and exciting week in Stockholm for World Water Week, it is time to look back at some conclusions of the conference and the way forward for next year. I was in Stockholm as a “Lead Rapporteur” and reported in the closing plenary session on “Cooperation to achieve equity by balancing competing demands”; other teams reported on “Managing waters across borders,” “Responding to Global Change,” and “Closing the science-policy-practice loop” (see closing plenary here). This is my attempt to summarize over 100 sessions, you can find all the sessions in the WWW website.
‘Imagine you have a lot of mangoes on your farm and your neighbor has lots of tomatoes. You make a bargain and he says he will give you three tomatoes for every mango you give him. If you give him fourteen mangoes, how many tomatoes do you expect him to give back to you?’
This question, amongst others, has been asked in the 2009 and 2011 Kenya FinAccess surveys. If you got the answer to this question right (see end of the blog for the correct answer), congratulations! It may be an indication that you are financially literate. Or would you rather be financially capable? ‘Financial Literacy’ and ‘Financial Capability’ are two terms many have heard about and usually they are used interchangeably. However, in a recent World Bank publication, which tries to ‘Make Sense of Financial Capability Surveys around the World’, the authors (Perotti, Zottel, Iarossi, and Bolaji-Adio) reviewed key approaches to measure financial literacy and capability. In doing so, they identified Financial Literacy to be often associated with financial knowledge.
I blog for a simple reason: Poor people are poor because markets fail them, and governments fail them. When markets fail—for instance by underproviding public goods such as swamp drainage or aerial spraying of locusts—governments have been known to step in, provide the public good, and take credit for it. But when government fails—when public school teachers are absent from the classroom, or government doctors provide no service in the public clinic (to encourage patients to use the fee-paying private clinic), or transport costs are inflated because of a trucking monopoly that is tied to the ruling party—it is not clear who will correct the problem. For these government failures are the result of politically powerful interests’ capturing the system at the expense of the poor. Leaders who try to correct these failures risk losing the next election.
As can be expected, this last step on the civil society engagement continuum has been the most difficult for the World Bank to achieve over the years. This is because institutional partnerships necessarily involve common goals, shared decision making, and even long term relations. While there are a number of examples of Bank – CSO partnerships in the areas of education, health, and environment, many of these are still ad hoc and pilot in nature. Nonetheless, as the latest edition of the World Bank–Civil Society Engagement Review of Fiscal Years 2010–12 shows, this period represented a watershed in terms of promoting institutional partnerships by providing CSOs with a seat at the decision making table in several funding mechanisms.
During the past three years, the Bank did enter into new partnerships with CSOs on number of fronts. In the area of access to information and open data, for instance, the Bank held joint training workshops on geo-mapping and collaborated on data collection on several programs such as Open Aid Partnership (see photo). In the environmental area, the Bank launched the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) in 2012 which includes more than 100 governments, CSOs, and business partners. To date, some 27 CSOs are supporting the initiative, including Conservation International, the Environmental Defense Fund, and World Wildlife Fund. The Bank also established partnerships with Foundations in a number of areas such as health and education, support to fragile states, and gender mainstreaming.