Photo: Giuseppe Milo | Flickr Creative Commons
This year’s Infrastructure Week held in May came as public support for infrastructure investment is at an all-time high. According to a recent Gallup poll, three out of four Americans support increasing investment in the U.S. transportation and energy systems. And with the majority of infrastructure projects in the U.S. already funded by the private sector, all the pieces are in place for large-scale investments.
Energy commodity prices increased 3 percent in July, led by a 3 percent gain in oil and 8 percent surge in coal, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet noted.
Agriculture prices rose 1 percent, led by 2 percent gains in oils & meals and beverages. Most other groups registered small increases, including raw materials (up nearly 1 percent). Fertilizer prices declined 1 percent.
Metals and mineral prices increased 5 percent, led by an 18 percent jump in iron ore prices. All base metal price recorded strong increases. Precious metals prices fell 2 percent led by a 5 percent decline in silver.
The pink sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
Most commodity price indexes rose in July.
In dense built-up cities like Karachi, Pakistan, public spaces are even more important. These are areas of respite and recreation from the stress of city life. They are also social and cultural spaces where livelihoods and businesses are conducted, especially for the urban poor. Public open spaces in Karachi have suffered from rapid urban growth:
- The total share of green space detectable in satellite imagery has fallen from 4.6% in 2001 to 3.7% in 2013.
- Large tracts of vacant land in prime areas in the city center are closed off to the public and neglected.
- Twelve square kilometers of prime waterfront area, often a valuable public asset in other cities, is still mostly undeveloped more than 10 years after the roads were built.
- Many sidewalks in the main commercial areas and busy corridors are broken down, converted to unregulated parking areas, or used for dumping trash—to the detriment of pedestrian safety and public health.
- In a focus group, women also remarked on the lack of safe playgrounds or other recreational facilities for children.
Here is my colleague, Sohaib Athar talking about #Karachi Neighbourhood Improvement Project: https://t.co/s1BTsv9hst
Beyond the investments in the physical space and urban design, a key design feature of KNIP is its emphasis on active and sustained engagement with the residents of Karachi. The project aims to use a participatory planning process to identify, prioritize, and design highly impactful enhancements to public areas such as sidewalks, open spaces and green spaces, and public buildings. While the exact nature of investments will be determined through community consultations, they may include safety features for pedestrians and other non-motorized transportation, accessibility and mobility improvements close to commercial areas and planned transit stations, new or upgraded neighborhood parks and playgrounds, infrastructure to foster safe and vibrant street activity (kiosks for vendors, tables and seating, temporary street closures for festivals, etc.), measures to address traffic congestion and parking, and improved municipal services in public areas (street lighting, garbage collection, drainage, etc.).
KNIP is intended to be an entry point to showcase the value of participatory planning and inclusive urban design, as the first step in a longer-term strategy for city transformation and rejuvenation. Building confidence and inclusiveness in city management is critical to ensure the success of deeper institutional reforms and larger infrastructure investment programs down the road. KNIP is expected to help lay the foundation for a multi-year partnership between the World Bank Group and the local and provincial governments focused on inclusivity, livability, and prosperity. To this end, KNIP will also support the creation of a Karachi Transformation Steering Committee (KTSC), comprised of elected officials, government representatives, business leaders, community stakeholders and NGOs representing various public interests. KTSC’s mandate is to develop a shared vision for Karachi’s transformation and a roadmap to achieve that vision in an inclusive way.
On the ground, it is not too difficult to see why this is so. More than 40% of residents rely on public transport, but with 45 residents competing for one bus seat, travel within the city is difficult. Water supply is highly irregular, and rationing is widespread. The availability of water ranges from four hours per day to two hours every other day. Many households rely on private vendors who sell water from tankers at high prices. The sewage network has not been well maintained since the 1960s, and all three existing treatment plants are dysfunctional. Industrial waste, which contains hazardous materials and heavy oils, is dumped directly into the sea untreated. Of the 12,000 tons of municipal solid waste generated each day, 60% never reaches a dumpsite; 80% of medical waste is not disposed of properly.
[Download report: Transforming Karachi into a Livable and Competitive Megacity]
Let’s find out.
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This week in Mogadishu, the World Bank launched the second in our Somalia Economic Update series, “Mobilizing Domestic Revenue to Rebuild Somalia.” The series aims to support policymakers and other stakeholders with analysis of trends in the Somali economy. What is starting to emerge is a picture of a country undergoing three parallel (and linked) transitions: political, security, and economic.
What can labor ministers in the developing world learn from the heated debate on minimum wages that Seattle’s dramatic reforms reignited? The answer may be confusion. After more than 6,000 scientific articles, the discussion on the costs and benefits of raising minimum wages is still one of those unresolved million-dollar questions: Many economists claim that it is a very effective way to guarantee decent jobs for workers and to reduce inequality, but other economists and policymakers seem convinced that it would do just the opposite. The recent experiment in Seattle, unfortunately, adds little clarity.
Without further ado, let's see what he has...
Un bon proviseur, ça change tout.
« L’on pense communément qu’un bon proviseur est la clef d’une école à succès. » C’est aussi ce que pensent Branch, Hanushek, et Rivkin dans leur étude sur les effets du rôle des proviseurs dans l’apprentissage des élèves. Mais comment peut-on mesurer la qualité d’un proviseur ? En utilisant une base de données provenant du Texas, aux États-Unis, ils ont employé la méthode de la valeur ajoutée, employée d’habitude pour mesurer la performance des enseignants. Ils ont contrôlé les informations générales sur les élèves (telles que le genre, l’origine ethnique, et un indicateur de pauvreté) ainsi que les résultats d’examens scolaires de l’année précédente. Ils se sont ensuite demandés comment l’apprentissage de ces élèves évoluait lorsque l’école changeait de proviseur ? Ils ont trouvé que lorsque la qualité d’un proviseur augmente d’un écart type de 1, l’apprentissage des élèves augmentait d’un écart type de 0,11. Même après quelques ajustements statistiques additionnels, leurs estimations les plus rigoureuses montrent « qu’une augmentation d’un écart type de 1 dans la qualité du proviseur, se traduit pour un écart type de plus ou moins 0,05 en bénéfice d’apprentissage moyen pour l’élève, soit, l’équivalent de deux mois additionnels d’apprentissage. »