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From crisis to resilience: Helping countries get back on track

Joachim von Amsberg's picture

Just two weeks ago, the citizens of Sierra Leone celebrated the end of Ebola transmission in their country with cheering and dancing in the streets of Freetown. It’s a milestone worth celebrating in a country that has suffered nearly 4,000 deaths from the deadly virus.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The Closing Space Challenge: How Are Funders Responding?
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
As restrictions on foreign funding for civil society continue to multiply around the world, Western public and private funders committed to supporting civil society development are diversifying and deepening their responses. Yet, as a result of continued internal divisions in outlook and approach, the international aid community is still struggling to define broader, collective approaches that match the depth and breadth of the problem.
The Prosperity Index
Legatum Institute
Is a nation's prosperity defined solely by its GDP? Prosperity is more than just the accumulation of material wealth, it is also the joy of everyday life and the prospect of an even better life in the future. This is true for individuals as well as nations. The Prosperity Index is the only global measurement of prosperity based on both income and wellbeing. It is the most comprehensive tool of its kind and is the definitive measure of global progress.  The annual Legatum Prosperity Index ranks 142 countries across eight categories: the Economy, Entrepreneurship & Opportunity; Governance; Education; Health; Safety & Security; Personal Freedom; and Social Capital.

Building African nations and communities’ financial resilience to climate and disaster risks

Christoph Pusch's picture
West African Sahel and Dry Savannas @ FlickR / CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems

Sub-Saharan Africa is making significant economic and development strides. Yet, natural disasters, combined with the effects of climate change, rapid urbanization, and conflict situations are threatening these gains, keeping vulnerable and poor communities in a chronic cycle of poverty:
  • 425 million people who live in Africa’s drylands are highly exposed to climate shocks, and this number is set to grow by at least 50% by 2030. We cannot fully quantify the human cost, but Kenya alone suffered losses of $12 billion in the 2008 to 2011 drought. Official development assistance (ODA) in humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa after the 2011 drought was $4 billion, 10% of all aid to Africa.
  • Africa’s coastal cities are engines of growth, but are highly vulnerable to flooding and sea-level rise. In the last three years, major floods have hit cities such as Maputo, Dakar, Lagos and Douala. Like droughts, floods won’t go away. Along with periods of extreme heat, strong winds and coastal storms, they are likely to become more frequent.
  • Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, from March 2014, was the most widespread, and reached epidemic proportions. The poor bore the brunt, lost their jobs and incomes, had difficulty accessing medical services and suffered psycho-social trauma. On a macro-level, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are estimated to lose over $1.6 billion in forgone economic growth in 2015.
  • Conflicts and disasters often reinforce each other to worsen negative development impacts and increase human suffering. From 2005 to2009, more than 50% of people affected by disasters lived in fragile and conflict-affected states (globally). Fourteen out of the 20 most conflict-affected states are in Africa.

There is no planet B

Paula Caballero's picture
Zanizbar, Tanzania. Photo by Sonu Jani / World Bank

At this week's UN Sustainable Development Summit, the world's oceans will be getting the attention they have long deserved -- but not always received. They are the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 14: "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development."

The inclusion of oceans for the first time in the international-development agenda illustrates the ambitious and holistic view of challenges and solutions that nations are embracing. With the SDGs, nations are calling for a future in which nature is managed to drive economies, enhance well-being and sustain lives -- whether in Washington or Nairobi, on land or sea.

Fifteen years ago, nations convened at the UN and created an unprecedented set of guideposts, the Millennium Development Goals. In that timespan, the number of people living in extreme poverty was more than halved. But the oceans were not part of those goals. We now have the opportunity to focus minds globally on restoring healthy oceans for resilient economies and thriving communities. 

This attention comes not a moment too soon.

Campaign Art: Ebola still needs our attention

Roxanne Bauer's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

Ebola has largely disappeared from news headlines in recent months as the epidemic started to settle. Earlier this week, on August 24, Sierra Leone’s last-known Ebola patient was released from the hospital, possibly signaling the end of the disease in that country. No new cases have been reported in Liberia since mid-July, and only three new cases have emerged in Guinea as of last week.

Yet, experts have warned that international organizations are still not capable of containing it, if it were to re-emerge. It's also clear that the economic impact of the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is profound, as the disease affected livelihoods and led to food shortages, loss of education, and widespread fear and mistrust in communities.

This is why #TrendOnThis, a new campaign from the Ad Council and Y&R New York, aims to keep Ebola on the forefront of people’s minds.  The campaign includes a series of public service announcements featuring celebrities David Oyelowo, Olivia Munn, and Lance Bass. These ads play on the typical, pandering commercials many celebrities have done and, instead, uses ironic self-deprecation to get the message across. Here’s Actor David Oyelowo, who introduces some tongue twisters based on his own name, like Oyelowo's Yellow Oboes, while emphasizing the seriousness of Ebola:
David Oyelowo: Ebola still needs our attention

In the Caribbean, close encounters of a public health kind

Carmen Carpio's picture
Sick Caribbean Map
Illustration: Carmen Carpio and Sabrina Grace Moren

I consider myself a pretty lucky person.  I often work across the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, with their glistening turquoise seas, the lush greenery, fresh tropical fruit… I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Paradise is not always perfect, however: Beneath the postcard views is an often not-so-perfect public health system.

A recent “close encounter” in the Caribbean served as a stark reminder of this truth. Different from the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, it didn’t involve little green men nor giant floating spaceships, but something just as unknown, at least to me: chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, I was infected with chikungunya a little over a year ago during a work trip to the Eastern Caribbean in support a results-based financing project for the health sector.  Our team was de-briefing near the ocean when it happened: I felt a quick sting from a mosquito bite, but didn’t think much of it.  I felt unusually tired that evening, and by the next morning a number of other symptoms appeared – it was indeed chikungunya.

Ebola response: Looking back on an unprecedented year

Shunsuke Mabuchi's picture
Phot credit: Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Exactly one year ago, I received an unexpected call from my manager just as I was finishing a week of paternity leave following the birth of my daughter.   She asked me to lead an “absolutely urgent” project and said she was cutting her summer break short to return to the office.    That project was on Ebola response. We had monitored Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone over the previous months with growing concern, but now the World Bank was mobilizing its first emergency funding commitment to help the three affected countries contain the disease’s spread and help communities cope with the economic fallout.

Are we prepared for the next global epidemic? The public doesn't think so

Jim Yong Kim's picture
A nurse checks the temperature of a patient at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.  © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Too often, the conventional wisdom in diplomatic or scientific circles is that the general public doesn't know what's good for them when it comes to foreign policy or tackling global threats. It's too complicated, the experts say; the public wouldn't understand. Yet new polling suggests that many in the public understand very well how global infectious disease outbreaks pose a serious threat to their lives and economic security - and they know what should be done about it.

Tracking down Ebola with biometrics and digital identity

Mariana Dahan's picture

In the last couple of months, we saw some amazing events making the news headlines. From World Bank President Jim Kim’s outstanding lecture at Georgetown University on “Lessons from Ebola”, to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) announcement that Ebola response is moving to the next stage, one may think that the pandemic is over. That no more lives will be lost to this terrifying disease.

But voices from the scientists, who have been the first to discover the Ebola virus last year, raised above the general enthusiasm and warned the international community to stay focused. Researchers from Institut Pasteur in France fear that the virus has mutated and could have become even more contagious. The new variation poses a higher risk of transmission. This means that dozens, if not thousands, of lives could be again at risk.

And while WHO shifts the focus from slowing transmission of Ebola to ending the epidemic, the world may actually be at the verge of a new pandemic emergency. With the recent surge in new cases in Sierra Leone, the world must stay focused until we reach and maintain zero cases in each affected country.

The UN Secretary General convened an International Ebola Recovery Conference last week to advocate that recovery efforts go beyond redressing direct development losses to build back better and ensure greater resilience.