I was glad to read the announcement made by World Bank President, Dr. Jim Kim, at the start of this year’s UN General Assembly meetings, about the Bank’s projected financing support through the end of 2015 to help developing countries reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and children’s health. As we move toward the culmination of the MDGs in 2015 and beyond, preventing maternal and child deaths should be seen by all government delegations and their partners in the international development community as a clear yardstick to measure their commitment for creating more just and inclusive societies.
The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'managing risk for development,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2014.
There are three fundamental challenges in mainstream risk management for development organisations: a culture of blame, lack of adaptive capacity on the part of development organisations and the lack of a shared concept of risk management.
Quite often the manifestation of risks is associated with failure, which subsequently leads to blame. This in turn hinders proactive risk-taking behavior among development organisations and limits their performance. Often we forget that only by failing can we learn to succeed. At the same time, there are also failures that are unnecessary and avoidable if risks are systematically taken into account. Failing to prevent recurrent crises, for example, is unjustified. Recurring drought and hunger are not typical of the Horn of Africa as a geographical region. They are signs of continuing failure on the part of local governments and the international community to address the risks of drought and hunger, which then results in recurrent crises.
The call for innovation in assembling and sharing global knowledge has become louder, since World Bank President Jim Kim’s assumption of office. Interestingly, however, there are many nascent and innovative attempts which are part of “communities of practice” (CoP) across the Bank which can be help learn lessons for effective design and delivery of global knowledge.
MIRPAL is an “external” community of practice (CoP) for knowledge delivery on migration challenges related to economic crises in ECA. During a July 2009 meeting on the “Moscow Protocol for CIS Migration Management,” migration service representatives and academics from nine CIS countries – Armenia, Belarus, Moldova , Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan created the MIRPAL group.
The conflict in Syria, raging into its third year, is devastating the country’s population, economy, and infrastructure. The impact on neighboring countries, while less visible in the media, is nonetheless real and growing rapidly. At the request of Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the World Bank, in collaboration with the United Nations, the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund, undertook an Economic and Social Impact (ESIA) Assessment of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon. The report, available here, was presented to the newly formed International Support Group to Lebanon (ISG) at its inaugural meeting on the sidelines of the recent United Nations General Assembly.
Children from the Mukuru Talent Development center showcasing their creativity in the Lunga Lunga slum in Kenya.
From Bombay to Manila to the favelas in Rio, more than one billion people are estimated to be currently living in slums. According to the United Nations, this figure is expected to surpass the two billion mark by 2030.
With no roof or solid walls and no access to clean water or toilets, living conditions in the slums are unhygienic and hazardous. Considering that approximately 70% of slum dwellers are under 30, the future of the slums rests in the hands of the young generations. What do these youth need to reverse the trend and improve the daily lives of slum dwellers?
Happy International Day of Older Persons! The United Nations established this day of observance in 1990 as a way to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly and to appreciate the contributions that older people make to society. If we are not there already, we will all eventually be joining the growing global population of elders. According to the World Health Organization, the proportion of the global population aged 60 and up will double from 11 percent in 2006 to 22 percent by 2050.
The World Bank Social Develpment department’s upcoming report. Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity, details the impacts of social exclusion on people’s well-being and on society overall. Unfortunately, aging is typically viewed as decline, and our elders are often marginalized both socially and physically (in nursing homes or other institutions).
My own eyes were opened to this about a year ago, when I met Emi Kiyota, founder and president of Ibasho, an NGO that develops simple and low-cost solutions to integrate elders into their communities. Having worked on disasters and resilience for some time, I have always advocated for empowering women and marginalized groups to drive their recovery process. But I had to admit that I still listed older people as a “vulnerable group” to be cared for. After learning about Ibasho’s work, I invited Emi to share her experience with World Bank staff. She provided a beautiful example of the benefits of providing opportunities for older people to actively take part in disaster recovery and community development.
Today, Transparency International releases The Global Corruption Report: Education, and its message is clear: When there is corruption in education, the poor and disadvantaged suffer most. Education is critical if we are to meet the goal of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity by 2030. Corruption undermines the equally critical goal of ensuring that all children and youth go to school and learn.
While corruption hampers all development efforts, it is a debilitating presence in the education sector. In my contribution to the report, I highlight the damage from corruption in one of the most important aspects of education, teacher absenteeism.
Conflict and post-conflict countries traumatized by years of instability are not commonly thought of as a source for entrepreneurial talent. Nonetheless, even under the most difficult circumstances, incredible entrepreneurial and innovative talent can and does surface.
According to the World Bank’s Fragile and Conflict Situations unit, one in four people in the world – more than 1.5 billion – live in fragile and conflict-affected situations. These are countries that are often rife with socio-political instability and large-scale organized crime, resulting in precarious security situations. Although there are consistent efforts from international organizations and NGOs to aid in their transition, as the 2011 World Development Report states, insecurity is one of the biggest developmental challenges of our time. It severely affects a country’s overall economic growth.
Yet even under these circumstances, grassroots entrepreneurship can be a way for people to impact their communities while also promoting economic growth. Still, many in the development community question why entrepreneurship thrives in some places rather than others.
At infoDev, we believe that great ideas can be born anywhere. That philosophy is supported by our recent feasibility study that aimed to gauge the mobile applications sector in Afghanistan and provide recommendations for growth.
Cases like these begin to answer the question posed earlier: why entrepreneurship thrives in some environments versus others. In the future, however, perhaps we should strive to better understand the conditions that foster entrepreneurship and its growth in fragile, less secure environments.
Last week saw hundreds of people gather for the UN General Assembly debates on the post-2015 agenda. Member states agreed on an outcome document that outlines the process for getting to an agreement. That will still take two years. First, a group of countries comprising the Open Working Group will consider what the agenda should be. They are expected to deliberate until February next year, and then negotiate a text during the summer to present to the 2014 General Assembly. Then, the Secretary-General will be tasked with presenting a draft for member states’ consideration and eventual agreement at the 2015 General Assembly.
So much for process. But what about substance? Already, some of the contours of the new agenda are emerging. It will be a single agenda, merging the efforts to eradicate poverty and to promote sustainable development. It will be a universal agenda, with actions to be taken by all countries. It will probably include consideration of personal safety, of strengthening institutions, and of infrastructure, jobs and growth, none of which are currently part of the Millennium Development Goals. Gender equality is likely to be emphasized more. There is much talk of a new global partnership, although that means making progress on things like agricultural subsidies, the global trade talks, and other international agreements on which progress has stalled. These themes have emerged in a number of reports that were considered by the UN at various special events last week. Among those reports is the report of the High-Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda (Disclaimer: I was the Lead Author for that report.)