Recent reforms in multilateral agencies, including those under implementation at the World Bank, have focused on the key question of how institutions can implement global priorities in organizations driven by country level decision making. A recent report on basic education financing, by the Center for Universal Education at Brookings and the UNESCO-Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA GMR), takes a closer look at the extent to which the global development goal of universal access to primary education has been supported by multilateral action.
The challenge is substantial. Despite good progress over the past decade and a reduction of 45 million in the number of out-of-school children, there are still 57 million children out-of-school, and 250 million children who are in school but who are not learning. Most of these are from marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Keeping the global promise of universal access for all children will require more money, as part of the solution. After taking account of available domestic resources, the EFA GMR estimates that an additional $26 billion will be needed per year to make sure all children receive a basic education by 2015. This gap will need to be filled by domestic as well as international resources.
The remittances sent home every year by the African Diaspora should create a doorway to still greater opportunities, and the key to this door is financial access. While remittances do impact the living standards of beneficiaries directly, the banks that pay out the remittances month after month should offer recipient families a basic financial package including savings accounts, payment services and small loans for microenterprise. This should facilitate growth from current levels of remittances saved and invested. Leveraging of remittances through financial inclusion is certain to increase their development potential.
with Ervin Dervisevic
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) final International Remittance Rule (“Remittance Rule”) became effective on October 28, 2013.
In the past, consumers sending money from the United States abroad might have received limited information on the costs of international money transfers and how much money would the beneficiaries receive. Whenever consumers experienced problems sending money abroad, little federal law was there to protect them.
In my previous blog posts on Global Vale Chains (GVCs), I discussed the important role of lead suppliers in linking up with small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). Since IFC is planning to work with anchor companies to influence supplier-SME relationships, I’m now looking into what type of anchor leads we should work with: those anchors whose business model is built around a Western-style, arm’s-length relationship, or those whose model and business style is based on joint trust, cooperation and support for their suppliers – using a type of keiretsu model (which seeks to enrich a relationship for mutual long-term benefits).
In other words: Should we work with those anchors that only check the inspection documents of suppliers’ factories, or with those who also examine the physical workplace and social well-being of their employees?
To achieve long-term socioeconomic benefits for all – especially to unemployed, unskilled and untrained workers – working with lead firms who embrace key elements of the keiretsu model simply makes sense in our development context. Such a model provides a much-needed upgrading for suppliers who hire such workers, offering clear benefit to them and their products by positioning them in a more relevant role in the GVC.
...but is only one aspect of what we can achieve with effective risk management.
Resilience has become a sexy word in development. Ban Ki Moon has said that resilience should be an important component of the post-2015 agenda; there is a blooming industry of publications with the term resilience incorporated into their titles; daily google searches for the word resilience have roughly doubled in the past few years.
From a risk management perspective, resilience can be understood as the ability of a system to withstand and recover from negative shocks. Given the plethora of risks people face in their daily lives, and the damaging and sometimes permanent effect that negative shocks can have, resilience is clearly a worthy goal of improved risk management. This is especially the case for the poor: with few assets to help them prepare for these risks, and often without good access to markets and government services, they are often disproportionately exposed to and affected by negative shocks.
- WDR 2014
A few years ago I was on the streets alongside fellow students protesting against spending cuts to education and rising tuition fees in the U.K. Although the government’s decisions did not apply to me directly (at the time I was finishing my studies), I empathized with the many students who faced increasing challenges in attaining higher education. We were protesting against a move which would limit the future choices for youth, and we did not think it was good policy to penalize the future due to the pains of the present.
Now I look at the events of the past three years as a social scientist. Globally, the youth cohort is the largest in history and it has increasing demands for opportunities, voice and justice – a global cry for social inclusion. The newly launched World Bank report Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity notes – “The Arab Spring may have been one of the most costly reactions to exclusion of educated youth.” But as one of those born into what media has called a ‘lost generation,’ I rather see us as a driving force for change in the current socio-economic and political environment. We can argue about the extent of our impact, but we are clearly a spark for discourse and action.
Underpinning almost every protest and social change movement – and even causing them – are young people, mostly students, or unemployed graduates, many of whom are now sadly being called “lost”. Young people are often more emotional, idealistic, passionate and less cautious about the consequences of their actions, and very often the ones who fight for the causes they believe in (remember the 14-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai?). We are high-tech savvy and exploit social media to connect, organize groups, gatherings, events and use it to expose malfeasances. We want to be heard and be listened to, and at the forefront of global protests. We demand better alternatives for the sake of all people.
The Economist this week has an excellent article on giving cash transfers, conditionally or unconditionally, to poor people to alleviate their poverty. Calling it “possibly the single best piece of journalism on cash transfers that I’ve seen so far,” Chris Blattman—one of the scholars whose research has provided grist for this mill—laments that such writing “tends to make the Pulitzer committee fall asleep in bed.” Maybe so, but the idea is potentially transformative.
That cash conditional on sending your children to school or taking them for a medical checkup improves health and education outcomes has been established for some time now. More recently, some studies show that unconditional cash transfers could have the same effect. Chris’s work demonstrates that giving cash to idle young people leads to higher business earnings than if the money were used to run vocational training courses for these people.
In parallel, Todd Moss at the Center for Global Development and my colleague Marcelo Giugale and I (along with several others) have been exploring the idea of transferring oil revenues to citizens as cash transfers, as a way of reducing the resource curse that afflicts many resource-rich countries, especially in Africa. Gabon for instance, with a per-capital income of $10,000 has the second-lowest child immunization rate in Africa. Marcelo and I show that, with just 10 percent of resource revenues’ being transferred directly to citizens (in equal amounts), poverty can largely be eliminated in the smaller resource-rich African countries.