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March 2014

Urbanisation and Economic Transformation

Somik Lall's picture

This blog post originally appeared in Ideas for Africa on March 25, 2014.

I was recently invited by the International Growth Center (IGC) to participate in a two day workshop in support of Rwanda’s national forum on sustainable urbanisation (#urbanrwanda) and give a talk on urbanisation, growth and structural transformation. I had never worked in Rwanda before, but this gave me an opportunity to reflect on what it means for a small, landlocked economy, where urbanisation is at an incipient stage (18 percent urban) but picking up speed.

Media (R)evolutions: The impact of the Connected Life over the next five years

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

Mobile technology is redefining our lives and making it increasingly connected. From health and education to transportation and the environment, the proliferation of mobile communication and a 'connected life' is now well established. The examples provided in this infographic only scratch the surface of the impact that mobile devices will have on society over the next five years for both developed and developing markets.


When Breathing Kills

Sameer Akbar's picture

 Curt Carnemark/World Bank

A good friend of mine recently returned from her mother’s funeral in Germany. She had died of lung cancer after spending the last eight years of her life in a slum in New Delhi where she taught orphaned children.

I can’t help but wonder if breathing the dirty indoor and outdoor pollution in New Delhi contributed to her cancer. My friend has the same question.

In new estimates released March 25, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2012, about 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution. Indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in households that cook over coal, wood and biomass stoves. Outdoor air pollution was linked to 3.7 million deaths from urban and rural sources worldwide. (As many people are exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution, mortality attributed to the two sources cannot simply be added together.)

South and East Asia had the largest number of deaths linked to indoor air pollution.

The WHO finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s single largest environmental health risk. In particular, the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer. In the case of both indoor and outdoor air pollution related deaths, 6 percent were attributed to cancer.

Thinking that my friend’s mother perished as result of pollution may not be so far-fetched.

A Fragile Country Tale: Restrictions, Trade Deficits, and Aid Dependence

Massimiliano Calì's picture

 Masaru Goto, World BankPart of the World Bank’s new vision is to step up its efforts to help fragile and conflict-afflicted states break the vicious cycle of poverty. But this is no easy task.
The destruction of productive assets and the restrictions on the capacity to produce are among the most severe economic impacts of conflicts and fragility. These effects explain why countries in conflict or emerging out of conflict typically have very large trade deficits. The productive sector is often particularly weak by international standards, so exports are low and domestic consumption has to rely on imports. Indeed, five of the ten countries with the largest trade deficit in the world (Timor-Leste, Liberia, the Palestinian territories, Kosovo and Haiti) are considered fragile by the World Bank and other regional development banks (figure 1).

Increasing the Impact of Financial Education: Approaches to Designing Financial Education Programs

Andrej Popovic's picture

Recent evaluations of a number of worldwide financial education programs reported widely varied outcomes. While some found evidence of effectiveness, others reported mixed or no evidence. Yet an increasing number of developing countries are putting financial education strategies in place or are expanding financial education programs. The quality of design of such strategies and programs is therefore crucial.

Financial education programs can be ad hoc targeted interventions, aimed at addressing specific financial education gaps, or they can be more comprehensive approaches through financial education or literacy strategies that aim to address a number of priorities. Regardless of the approach – which depends on the local context – financial education programs have a higher likelihood of greater positive impact if they are based on reliable diagnostic tools and focused on clearly defined and sequenced priorities.
Over the past two years, the Financial Inclusion and Consumer Protection team at the World Bank Group has conducted substantial technical and diagnostic work in the area of responsible finance. For example, we have developed methodologies for financial capability surveys and impact evaluation, and we have conducted a series of diagnostic reviews in the area of consumer protection and financial literacy on a global scale.

A Young African Entrepreneur Invests in Caterpillars to Fight Malnutrition

Anne Senges's picture
Eating shea caterpillars

While the shea tree is known for its nuts, used to produce a butter to which myriad benefits have been attributed (skin and nutritional, in particular), much less is known about the caterpillars that feed on its leaves. And this is precisely what a young man from Burkina Faso has set out to change. 

Expanding the Global Youth Agenda beyond Jobs

Gloria La Cava's picture
Young man from MENA

Youth exclusion- is a challenge of staggering proportions in the post-2015 development agenda. Since 2011, disenchantment among the largest youth cohort in history has channeled itself into movements challenging the status quo in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Europe, and Latin America. Popular protests have been called not just for jobs but for changing the old order, for a voice on policies that impact the future of youth, and for justice, freedom and dignity. 

All in the Family

Bob Rijkers's picture
 Arne Hoel

Crony capitalism is the key development challenge facing Tunisia today

Last week’s Economist magazine focused on Crony Capitalism.  From the powerful oil barons in the USA in the 1920s to today’s oligarchs in Russia and Ukraine, they show that such entrenched interests have been a major concern over time and around the globe.  North Africa is no exception. The fortunes  accumulated by the family and friends of President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt were so obscene that they helped trigger the Arab Spring revolutions, with protestors demanding an end to corruption by the elite.