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December 2013

Access to Information: Aid Effectiveness is the True Test

Kate Henvey's picture

Are citizens receiving the greatest development impact for their development dollar? This is the same question I asked when the Publish What You Fund Aid Transparency Index was released in October 2013.

This week I found myself asking the same question as the 2013 World Bank Access to Information Report was released, highlighting how the Bank’s Access to Information Policy has provided the framework for the institution to emerge as a global leader in transparency and openness.

 “Of course, data and knowledge are not an end in themselves,” President Jim Kim noted in the opening message of the report, “ultimately the true test of our effectiveness is how we use this evidence to change the lives of over a billion people in extreme poverty.”

Friday round-up: Taper readiness, Collier on migration, African industrialization, Good development reading

LTD Editors's picture

Buzz is growing about taper readiness, as economists and Fed watchers anticipated the market reaction to the likely end of US quantitative easing in 2014. In 'Are investors ready for the taper?' on the FT's 'The Short View,' Ralph Atkins cites from a joint paper by Poonam Gupta and Barry Eichengreen titled "Tapering Talk: The Impact of Expectations of Reduced Federal Reserve Security Purchases on Emerging Markets"

Prospects Daily: S&P cuts EU credit rating, U.S. GDP growth at 2-year high, India’s leading economic index falls

Financial Markets… Rating agency Standard & Poor’s cut its triple A credit rating of the European Union by one level on Friday, citing the deteriorating overall creditworthiness of the bloc’s 28 member nations.  S&P also said in a statement that disagreements among EU member leaders over the common budget process weighed on the downgrade.  The downgrade came after the agency stripped its AAA rating on the Netherlands last month, and today’s rating action leave just six EU member countries with a top credit rating, including Germany, Luxembourg, and F

What matters – and what doesn’t – for youth financial inclusion



YouthSave, created in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation in 2010, investigates the potential of savings accounts as a tool for youth development and financial inclusion in developing countries by co-designing tailored, sustainable savings products with local financial institutions and assessing their performance and development outcomes with local researchers.
 
The project is an initiative of the YouthSave Consortium, led by Save the Children in partnership with the Center for Social Development (CSD) at Washington University in St. Louis, the New America Foundation, and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).
 
YouthSave provides an opportunity to assess the effects of savings on tens of thousands of youth and find out what matters – and what doesn’t – for youth financial inclusion. Which youth will participate in a savings program? How will participants use their accounts? To track this, YouthSave has built the largest database of its kind and recently released a report on 10,710 young participants.

WTO Helping Santa Clear Customs?

Miles McKenna's picture

Happy holidays! Source - Sky Noir.
'Tis the season for the Trade Post to be taking a little holiday hiatus. But before we leave you all to enjoy the holidays, we figured we'd offer you with a few trade-related cookies and carrots to nibble on.

The holiday season is a pivotal time of year for toymakers and retailers. Underneath the mistletoe, companies are trying to woo consumers with the right prices—a task often made tricky by tariffs on imported goods.

Traded goods have their very own naughty-or-nice list, one that the new World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement is trying to make easier to read. Each year, customs officials around the world decide how to classify the millions of toys crossing international borders. They do so according to the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, better known as “HS,” which provides a six-digit numeric code on about 5,000 different commodity groups. These codes help reduce trade costs by creating a uniform classification on goods, and a legally recognized system for customs officials to draw upon. According to the WCO, more than 200 countries use the HS, covering roughly 98 percent of internationally traded goods.

A product's classification can make a big difference on whether or not it becomes this year's top stocking-stuffer. But is there more to this classic tale?

Going the Last Mile: How to Solve the Trickiest Problems with Government and Civil Society

Roby Senderowitsch's picture

© Courtesy CARE Bangladesh.I’ve always been intrigued by the challenge of coming up with new solutions for everyday problems – kind of like 3D-puzzles for adults. Problems that seem simple from the outside but that are really difficult to crack once one focuses on them, like the development challenges countries face. Whether it’s access to basic services such as education or health, or building the infrastructure needed to connect producers to markets, or providing drinkable water to all, a broad range of sound and proven technical solutions already exists. But millions of kids continue to suffer from poor quality education, mothers continue to die while giving birth, and poor families spend a good chunk of their day walking just to get drinkable water.
 
Why is it so difficult to get solutions to reach those who need them the most? Many times, the almost automatic answer is that while the knowledge is there, countries lack the necessary resources to address these problems. But too quickly, more money is thrown at these problems without changing the fundamental issues, resulting in limited success at best. In other cases, we spend millions of dollars to build capacity and share knowledge, but it is hard to see results because the institutional support for a solution is lacking.

Connecting the Diasporas in Singapore

Christian Eigen-Zucchi's picture

(In observance of the International Migrants Day, Dec 18)

While diasporas by country of origin are typically bundled together in broadly held conceptions, they are not monolithic, and are separated by numerous other characteristics, including socioeconomic status.  I was privileged to participate in the South Asia Diaspora Convention 2013 (SADC) that took place in Singapore on November 20-21, 2013, and the stark contrast with the riots that occurred in the Little India district of the city state just a few weeks later, serves as a reminder of these chasms.  Strengthening the connections between varied diasporas, and continuing integration efforts that enable all to build a stake in society, will be essential to realizing shared aspirations.

Let the lights shine, hopefully for 24 hours a day (as needed)

Antoine Jaoude's picture

Growing up in war-torn Beirut, I experienced the Lebanese Civil War from a childlike perspective. I was in middle school at the time when a power outage lingered for months on end. Reviewing textbooks and doing homework at night was no easy task. The flickers of candlelight reflecting on the glossy pages of my textbook made reading very laborious—not to mention how it compromised my safety and shrank my attention span. I was 12 years old at the time. Today, I am 34. It has been 23 years since the war ended and power shortage in Lebanon remains.  
 
In the aftermath of the civil war, there was a national consensus to privatize and decentralize the power sector in Lebanon. Decentralization would shift control from the ministerial level to distinct municipalities across the country. Privatization in particular would help the power grid expand to meet the growing demands of population increase. Both moves would involve inflows of foreign direct investment, and open up competition, and create more jobs. However, political disagreements erupted around the intricacies of privatization policies and decrees and any further attempt to privatize or decentralize has floundered.
 
Today, Electricite du Liban (EDL), a state-owned enterprise run by the Ministry of Energy and Water controls 90 percent of power generators, transmission, and distribution services in the country. A surge of demand after the civil war has pushed EDL to further expand the power grid.
 

In Memory of Michael

Wael Zakout's picture

Yemen

On the morning of December 5th, Michael Nebelung, the Yemen Country Director for Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German development organization, went to the hospital in Sana’a for a medical checkup. He was accompanied by a fellow GIZ staff member and their driver. While they were there, a group of terrorists attacked the hospital.


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