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It’s possible to end poverty in South Asia

Annette Dixon's picture

October 17 is the international day to end poverty. There has been much progress toward this important milestone: the World Bank Group’s latest numbers show that since 1990 nearly 1.1 billion people have escaped extreme poverty. Between 2012 and 2013 alone, around 100 million people moved out of extreme poverty. That’s around a quarter of a million people every day. This is cause for optimism.
But extreme poverty and the wrenching circumstances that accompany it persist. Half the world's extreme poor now live in sub-Saharan Africa, and another third live in South Asia. Worldwide nearly 800 million people were still living on less than $1.90 a day in 2013, the latest year for which we have global numbers. Half of these are children. Most have nearly no education. Many of the world's poor are living in fragile and conflict afflicted countries. In a world in which so many have so much, it is unacceptable that so many have so little. 

This week in #SouthAsiaDev: June 3, 2016

Mary Ongwen's picture
Variedades nativas de papa, que solían consumirse solo en la sierra, actualmente se sirven en los mejores restaurantes de Lima y se exportan en forma de hojuelas.
Fotografía: Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP)
La agricultura peruana ha tenido un crecimiento impresionante durante las últimas dos décadas, lo que ha contribuido a una caída sostenida del número de peruanos que viven en la pobreza. Y sin embargo millones de los pequeños agricultores del país no se han beneficiado de dicha prosperidad.  Un nuevo libro sobre el sector agrícola en el Perú ofrece ejemplos de enfoques más equitativos para  impulsar el desarrollo agrícola, a fin de aprovechar plenamente las potencialidades del sector para aliviar la pobreza.

This Week in #SouthAsiaDev: April 15, 2016

Mary Ongwen's picture

Tal vez se asombre, pero la mayoría de los hogares centroamericanos reciben subsidios eléctricos directos, favoreciendo, en algunos casos, a 8 de cada 10 hogares. Esto beneficia, sin duda, a muchas familias en pobreza y con pocos recursos, ya que reduce el monto que pagan por la electricidad.

Time for South Asia to deal with fiscal weaknesses

Annette Dixon's picture

Landing in Port-au-Prince awakens your senses. Exiting the airplane, you are re-energized by the explosion of colors, the welcoming smiles, and the warm weather – particularly when coming from a cold January in Washington, D.C.  Loud honking, a high density of houses and buildings, and streets bustling with pedestrians and small informal businesses are all evidence of the rapid urbanization process in Haiti.
As soon as you land, the challenges of the city are evident; Port-au-Prince expands to the ocean on flat plains exposed to flooding and quickly rises on steep hills with challenging access and risks of landslides and flash floods.  The reconstruction efforts after the earthquake in 2010 are still ongoing, and many of the houses seem to be hanging from the sky, perched on steep slopes. If you look at the houses from afar they appear as a single skyscraper, as distance makes the houses seem as if they are built on top of the one another. These false skyscrapers are highly exposed to landslides, flooding and earthquakes.

This week in #SouthAsiaDev: April 8, 2016

Mary Ongwen's picture
A house after a flood in Bolivia. World Bank.

Imagine que vive en una ciudad que se inunda constantemente, e incluso durante semanas en algunas ocasiones, después de lluvias extremas.

Imagine que vive en esa ciudad inundada, donde usted y miles de sus vecinos deben encontrar un lugar donde quedarse hasta que el agua retroceda, y finalmente puede regresar a su hogar con el temor de encontrarlo destruido.

Así es la ciudad de Trinidad, ubicada en las tierras bajas amazónicas de Bolivia, y que sufre con frecuencia los embates de fuertes y prolongadas precipitaciones que provocan el desborde de ríos, lagunas y lagos, afectando a miles de familias.

En Bolivia, el 43% de la población vive en áreas de alto riesgo de inundación. Trinidad y otras ciudades ubicadas en tierras bajas experimentan inundaciones, mientras que, en La Paz, los frecuentes deslizamientos de tierra causan muertes y daños a viviendas e infraestructuras.

This Week in #SouthAsiaDev: March 11, 2016

Mary Ongwen's picture

Uno de los problemas más visibles de la capital peruana es el tráfico vehicular. Las avenidas colapsadas se han convertido en una estampa habitual en esta gran metrópolis, generando contaminación, accidentes, inseguridad y perdida absurda de tiempo. ¿Qué soluciones existen? 

 David Hermoza.
Tráfico durante hora punta en Lima, Perú. Foto: David Hermoza.

Equal opportunity to women benefits all

Annette Dixon's picture

Celebrating the women of South Asia

As we today mark UN Women’s Day, it is worth considering what the inequality between men and women costs South Asian countries and what can be done about it. 

One big cost of inequality is that South Asian economies do not reach their full potential. In Bangladesh, for example, women account for most unpaid work, and are overrepresented in the low productivity informal sector and among the poor. Raising the female employment rate could contribute significantly to Bangladesh achieving its goal in 2021 of becoming a middle-income country. Yet even middle-income countries in South Asia could prosper from more women in the workforce. Women represent only 34 percent of the employed population in Sri Lanka, a figure that has remained static for decades.

Economic opportunities for women matter not just because they can bring money home. They also matter because opportunities empower women more broadly in society and this can have a positive impact on others.  If women have a bigger say in how household money is spent this can ensure more of it is spent on children.

Improvements in the education and health of women have been linked to better outcomes for their children in countries as varied as Nepal and Pakistan. In India, giving power to women at the local government level led to increases in public services, such as water and sanitation.

Just as the costs of inequality are huge, so is the challenge in overcoming it. The gaps in opportunity between men and women are the product of pervasive and stubborn social norms that privilege men’s and boys’ access to opportunities and resources over women’s and girls’.


This Week in #SouthAsiaDev: March 3, 2016

Mary Ongwen's picture
Access to paradise? Photo by authors.

GoPro videos have become ubiquitous among mountain bikers. The more adventurous the journey the better. Go viral on social media, and you have a winner. You might even get a payout from YouTube. But we want to discuss another way to make money. Money for local roads in the Philippines. We want to discuss a way that officials and citizens could make a GoPro-type movie, convert it into a digital map, and possibly receive a payout from the Department of Budget and Management under a new program called Kalsada.
It’s More Fun in The Philippines!
The Philippines is a tropical archipelago of over seven thousand islands, making for many jewel destinations. The country’s tourism slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” tries to capture the spirit of a friendly, welcoming and fun-loving people which the adventurous tourist will experience. Palawan was recently voted as the planet’s best island destination by a top travel magazine. In search of fun, we tried to visit one of its towns, Port Barton, two years ago. But chronic infrastructure means that sometimes you are in for a rough ride. Confronted with bad roads, we were only able to actually make it to this idyllic destination many months later.