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November 2018

The shifting gravity of global poverty

Daniel Mahler's picture

Thirty years ago, 1 in 7 of the world’s extreme poor – those living on less than $1.90 a day – were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the years, as other regions successfully reduced their poverty levels, this number has increased and by 2015, 4 in 7 of the global poor were living in Sub-Saharan Africa. The newly published Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report warns that as many as 9 in 10 of the world’s poor may live in this region by 2030 if current trends continue.

Numbers (and Alessandro Volta) don’t lie: Anaerobic digestion as a potential solution towards sustainable wastewater re-use and renewable energy for Mexico

Christian Borja-Vega's picture
Example from part of a biogas plant
By Bertold Werkmann via Shutterstock

In one of Mexico City’s most populated areas, Iztapalapa, there is a street named Alessandro Volta. With little knowledge about who this man was, we researched a bit and found that Alessandro Volta concluded, in 1776, that there was “a direct correlation between the amount of decaying organic matter and the amount of flammable gas produced”. Sir Humphry Davy determined 32 years later (in 1808) that methane was present in the gases produced during the anaerobic digestion (AD) of cattle manure. The first digestion plant was built at a leper colony in Bombay, India in 1859 (just 83 years later!).

Anaerobic digestion (AD) as a renewable resource has been growing since, in the international context, and has the potential to be a sustainable, affordable solution for wastewater management. In the 21st century, we are still fascinated with the idea of the benefits of biogas production. In modern times, AD is being used as a reliable energy source, and sludge resulting from AD processes can be used as fertilizer. Countries like the UK are producing enough biogas to power 1 million homes, 210 years after Sir Humphry Davy’s discoveries. In fact, according to a new report from the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) of the UK, in 2017 the total energy generation from anaerobic digestion plants reached 10.7 Terawatt-Hour (TWh) / year.

How do entrepreneurs in the poorest countries navigate taxes? Guest post by Gabriel Tourek

Development Impact Guest Blogger's picture

This is the ninth in this year's series of posts by PhD students on the job market.

In low-income countries, small firms account for the majority of taxpayers (World Bank 2011). Yet we know little about how they navigate taxation.  Existing research in the developing world focuses mostly on middle-income countries (Pomeranz 2015; Best et al. 2015; Brockmeyer and Hernandez 2018), and there is good reason to think that the tax behavior of firms in the world’s poorest countries might look different.  On the one hand, higher credit constraints may undermine entrepreneurs’ ability to meet their tax obligations. On the other, limited resources for tax oversight might create gaps in enforcement that allow firms to evade taxes more easily.
 
The question of how such firms respond to taxes is a consequential one.  It matters both for governments’ ability to raise revenues, in places where funds are much-needed, and for the take-home earnings of large populations of poor entrepreneurs.
 
My job market paper explores how small firms in Rwanda respond to a change in tax incentives. Rwanda provides a useful setting to study small firms’ tax behavior because such firms comprise 99% of all taxpayers.  Rwanda is also a representative low-income country, ranking as 18th poorest in the world (IMF 2018). I focus on entrepreneurs that are earning less than USD $4,000 per year.

A Caribbean crystal ball: What can experience from Caribbean islands tell us about investing in climate resilience?

Kristalina Georgieva's picture
A man walks amid destruction on a street in Roseau on the Caribbean island of Dominica following passage of Hurricane Maria. © CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images
A man walks amid destruction on a street in Roseau on the Caribbean island of Dominica following passage of Hurricane Maria. © CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP/Getty Images

In the Caribbean, people are already living in the future. It is world where climate change can seriously affect economic growth, government decisions and people’s jobs and lives. 
 
The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave a stark warning of what happens if the world goes beyond the target of a 1.5 degree increase in temperature. At 2.0 degrees, we will see far worse droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. 

Today, climate change is intensifying pressure on communities and ecosystems all over the world, but the Caribbean countries are facing quite unique challenges. 
 

Act now for a brighter future for the Afghan people

Hartwig Schafer's picture
Today, over 8.5 million students attend school–over 40% of them girls
Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

In 2001, only one million Afghan children attended school–none of them girls. Today, over 8.5 million students attend school–over 40% of them girls.

Amina, a 9th grade student, is one of over 3 million girls that now attend school through the contributions of the Afghan people and support from the international community.

"I have seen many improvements at my school. We are learning more now through better teaching methods and materials,” she said. Amina is one of the millions of Afghans whose lives have improved and has great hopes for the future.

As the first country that I visited after becoming the World Bank’s Vice President for the South Asia Region in July 2018, Afghanistan impressed me with its resilient people and achievements in spite of challenges, notably in education, health, and infrastructure.

The country has immense potential. Located in the center of a fast-growing region blessed with a young population and abundant natural resources, Afghanistan can achieve rapid growth and huge improvements in living standards through sound planning and tight implementation.

400 youth from 117 countries to present innovative ideas on how to invest in people

Alejandra de Lecea's picture
Workshop participants discuss their innovative ideas at the 2017 World Bank Group Youth Summit. © World Bank
Workshop participants discuss their innovative ideas at the 2017 World Bank Group Youth Summit. © World Bank

Without investing in their people, countries cannot sustain economic growth, they will not have a skilled workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow and they will not be able to participate effectively in the global economy.

That is why the World Bank Group is joining forces to increase investments in human capital - in the knowledge, skills and health that people accumulate throughout their lives.

Youth from all corners of the world will congregate in Washington DC for next week’s 2018 World Bank Group Youth Summit. This year’s Summit is designed to inspire fresh thinking on how to close the human capital gap.

During the two-day event, 400 students and young professionals from 117 countries will present innovative ideas to contribute to shrinking the human capital gap and foster the skills and well-being of individuals and will participate in sessions and workshops with experts from the World Bank Group, IBM, Intel, the United Nations and Stanford, among many others.

Trains to the future… and past – history and archaeology in underground transport systems

Barbara Minguez Garcia's picture


Today we are creating better, faster, more comfortable, and secure transport systems for our smarter, resilient, more inclusive, and competitive cities. At the same time, we need to ensure the preservation of the cultural values and the heritage, which form the unique identity of every city. This will only be possible if we establish a balance between the past, the present, and the future – by allowing new developments, allowing time for research and study, and allowing space to share the knowledge.

PPIAF’s recipe for enabling PPP finance: Good infrastructure governance

Jemima Sy's picture


It takes a lot to do a first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) well. In the past 12 months, we witnessed the successful financial close of two landmark PPPs: the Tibar Bay Port PPP—a first for Timor-Leste, one of the youngest countries in the world—and the Kigali Bulk Water project in Rwanda, considered the first water build-operate-transfer project in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To make these projects happen, deal teams, sponsors, and financiers did outstanding work in difficult environments. The Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) also earned some bragging rights and a share of the battle scars along with these actors.

Zooming out for better clarity: sovereign asset and liability management

M. Coskun Cangoz's picture

The balance sheet of sovereign entities is far more complex than the balance sheet of private companies. For example, the institutions that manage the assets of a sovereign are different than those which oversee the liabilities, often with different mandates. Other issues include the definition of the “sovereign” and the scope of its balance sheet, the complex valuation of tangible assets and recognition of financial instruments, negative net worth, incomplete recording, and many others. As a result, unlike private companies, most governments manage their balance sheets as separate sub-portfolios without having a holistic approach.

Mapping for sustainable development: The Open Data for Resilience Mapathon

Lorenzo Piccio's picture

On Wednesday, November 14, we joined more than 170 volunteers at the World Bank’s Washington, D.C. headquarters to draw little red boxes on a map of Alajo—a small town in the coastal metropolis of Accra, Ghana.

Some might find tracing a map of a city 8,500 kilometers away to be a surprising way to spend an afternoon, but there are good reasons for it. The boxes represented buildings, and they will go on to become invaluable geospatial data that will help the residents of Accra prepare for and respond to flood risk. Home to over two million people, Ghana’s capital city is highly vulnerable to flooding. In 2015, torrential rainfall left much of the city underwater—affecting 53,000 people and causing an estimated US$100 million in damages.

In just a little over two hours, the volunteers made over 3,000 edits to the map of Alajo, complementing the work of local teams in Ghana that are leading data collection efforts in the field. Once validated by more experienced mappers, the data collected will help guide improvements to Accra’s solid waste disposal management system, and also inform the upgrading of settlements vulnerable to flooding.

Open Cities Africa: Collaborative mapping to build resilient societies

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