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November 2018

Measuring regional poverty in MENA: Update and remaining challenges

Aziz Atamanov's picture


​When the World Bank recently released the 2018 Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report; Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle, which includes the global and regional poverty estimates, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) stood out for two particular reasons. First, the MENA region is the only region where the extreme poverty rate increased between 2011 and 2015.

Innovative research has an impact against gender-based violence

Diana J. Arango's picture
WBG/SVRI Development Marketplace 2018 winner Equal Playing Field is helping boys and girls in Papua New Guinea build social and soft skills to participate in advocacy campaigns to end gender inequality and violence against women and girls. © Equal Playing Field
World Bank Group/SVRI Development Marketplace 2018 winner Equal Playing Field is helping boys and girls in Papua New Guinea build social and soft skills to participate in advocacy campaigns to end gender inequality and violence against women and girls. © Equal Playing Field

Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic affecting one-third of women. It takes many forms, including female infanticide, female genital mutilation, battering, rape, sexual abuse, harassment and intimidation, trafficking, and forced prostitution. It occurs in the home, on the streets, in schools, workplaces, farm fields, and refugee camps, during times of peace as well as in conflicts and crises.

To stem violence, it is crucial that countries and program implementers are informed by evidence on what works best. There needs to be a stronger, broader knowledge base about prevention and response that can inform investments, policy and practice.

Game-changing technology empowers India’s women farmers

Paramveer Singh's picture
 World Bank
Since it started a decade ago, JEEVIKA, a World Bank program that supports Bihar’s rural communities, has mobilized more than nine million women into self-help and producers groups. Joining forces has helped lower costs and boost agricultural production. Credit: World Bank

It’s a dusty September morning, and Kiran Devi is finishing her chores at lightning speed.

 “Wouldn’t it be nice to keep 5,000 women waiting, especially when it’s a celebration,” she says with a touch of gushing pride and makes her way to the annual general meeting of the women-owned Aaranyak Agri producer company.

Located in Purnea district in Bihar—one of India’s poorest states—the company is made up of small local women small farmers and producers and lies in the most fertile corn regions in eastern India.

But until recently, small farmers did not fully reap the benefits of this productive land.

Local traders and intermediaries dominated the unregulated market. Archaic and unfair trading practices like manual weighing, unscientific quality testing, and irregular payments made it difficult for small farmers to get the best value for their produce.

 “The trader would come, put some grains under his teeth and pronounce the quality and pricing. For every quintal of maize [corn], 5-10 kilos additional grains were taken, sometimes through faulty scales and sometimes simply by brazenly asking for it,” says Lal Devi, one member of the company. “We had the choice between getting less or getting nothing.”
 

Kanchan Rani Devi bringing her corn to Sameli
Kanchan Rani Devi bringing her corn to Sameli. Credit: World Bank

Such practices stirred local women farmers into action, and they formed the Aaranyak Agri Producer Company Limited (AAPC) to access markets directly and improve their bargaining power.  

The company established a farmer-centric model and received funding and technical assistance through JEEViKA (livelihoods in Hindi), a World Bank program that supports the Government of Bihar and has achieved life-changing results for Bihar’s rural communities.

Since it started a decade ago, JEEVIKA has mobilized more than nine million women into self-help and producers groups. Joining forces helped lower costs and boost production. Together, the groups saved $120 million and leveraged more than $800 million in bank loans.

Further, digital technologies have been introduced as an innovative way to improve the production, marketing, and sale of small-farmers’ produce.

For example, women farmers receive regular periodic updates on their mobile phones to learn best practices to grow corn as well as weather information to inform farming decisions.

During harvest season, farmers receive daily pricing information from major nearby markets to help them stay abreast of the latest variations in prices.

The Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership: Working at the cutting edge of water policy and practice

Jennifer J. Sara's picture

Over the past 12 months, the world has seen water in its extremes. In the same year, the City of Cape Town, announced “day zero,” the day on which it was predicted the city would run dry, and a million victims of massive flooding were evacuated from Kerala, India.  Floods, droughts, infrastructure shortfalls, poor quality and poor water resources management all made global headlines. Countries are facing a new normal where water is either “too much, too little, or too polluted.”

First day on the job

Pinelopi Goldberg's picture
Also available in: Français 

After months of early NY Penn Station mornings trying to remember whether to get on the Amtrak north to New Haven or south to DC, I am thrilled to transition from incoming Chief Economist to Chief Economist. We have so many fascinating problems to tackle and I truly hope my experience and humble efforts will contribute to the Bank’s mission.

Sometimes overlooked, but essential - like good plumbing: Why accounting matters for development

Ed Olowo-Okere's picture



A few weeks ago, The Economist published an article on economic governance that discussed the importance of public sector accounting. It recognized the importance of maintaining existing public-sector assets and investment in new ones. These assets, according to an IMF study, account for a significant portion of GDP. But, the article asserts, filling potholes and repairing bridges are not as politically appealing as flashy new infrastructure, and few economies engage in robust public-sector accounting that demonstrates the net worth of these assets.

Maybe if governments and citizens understood the value of their public assets, they’d be inclined to invest in their maintenance – avoiding waste and even catastrophic accidents when poor infrastructure fails?

Rural electrification and structural transformation: A guar(anteed) bet? Guest post by Faraz Usmani

Development Impact Guest Blogger's picture

This is the sixth in this year's series of posts by PhD students on the job market.
What connects smallholder farmers in the semi-arid tracts of northwest India to the oil and gas barons of Texas and Oklahoma? A little green bean called guar! The seeds of this humble legume yield a potent thickening agent that greatly enhances the effectiveness of fracking fluid. As the fracking boom started in the United States, demand for guar skyrocketed, resulting in windfall gains for farmers across northwest India, the epicenter of global guar cultivation. Nearly simultaneously, India began rolling out its massive national rural electrification scheme, which prioritized certain villages based on a strict population-based eligibility criterion. In my job market paper, my coauthor Rob Fetter and I combine these two “natural experiments” to show that large-scale grid electrification can dramatically increase non-agricultural employment in rural economies when economic opportunity complements infrastructure—but if these complementary economic conditions are lacking, the grid may scarcely make a dent.

A new Good Practice Note for development professionals on mitigation and prevention of gender-based violence

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
 

Thirty-five percent of women worldwide experience violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Kicking off 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (November 25 – December 10), we focus in this video blog on the significant economic and social costs of violence.
 
World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender, Caren Grown (@CarenGrown), and Director for Social Development, Maninder Gill (@ManinderSGill), discuss with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), Senior Director for Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience, a new Good Practice Note created to help World Bank staff and partners identify gender-based violence risks – particularly sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment – in projects with major civil works contracts. This note helps project teams to assess the risks of gender-based violence, address these risks through mitigation and monitoring, and respond to any identified gender-based violence incidents.  
This adds to other World Bank resources, including the Violence Against Women And Girls Resource Guide which offers guidance for development projects along with strategies for policies and legislation.
 
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In China’s Taobao villages, e-commerce is one way to bring new jobs and business opportunities to rural areas

Xubei Luo's picture
E-commerce is often perceived as a phenomenon of high-income countries, but the industry’s rapid growth in China demonstrates that the transition from physical to digital commerce does not necessarily demand such high levels of development.
 
China’s worldwide e-commerce transaction value grew from less than 1% a decade ago to over 40% now, exceeding that of France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States combined, according to a McKinsey study. In rural China, the development of e-commerce shows strong signs of clustering. The number of Taobao villages – those significantly engaged in e-commerce with a total annual e-commerce transaction volume of at least RMB 10 million and at least 100 active online shops – has increased from 20 in 2013 to 3,202 in 2018.
 
Distribution of Taobao Villages in China, 2014-2018

Beverage prices weak on good crops and currency movements

John Baffes's picture

This blog is the fifth in a series of ten blogs on commodity market developments, elaborating on themes discussed in the latest edition of the World Bank’s Commodity Markets Outlook. Earlier blogs are here.
 
The World Bank’s Beverage Price Index is projected to stabilize in 2019 after a more than 5 percent decline in 2018 from the previous year. Beverage prices declined almost 9 percent in the third quarter (q/q), with roughly similar losses across all three components (coffee, cocoa, and tea), reflecting more supplies than expected in all markets.
 
Beverage price index

 


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