Asha, from Udaipur District in Rajasthan, used to sell vegetables in a nearby town. Over time, this traditional village woman observed that flowers were in demand near the town’s main temple for use as ritual offerings. With encouragement from Manjula, a micro enterprise consultant under the Bank’s Rajasthan Rural Livelihoods Project (RRLP), Asha began cultivating marigolds on part of her family farm where millets had always been grown. She has devoted a larger area of her farm to floriculture, and started a nursery to grow flower saplings to sell to other aspiring marigold farmers. Asha is now looking to expand her sapling nursery by renting more land, for which she is seeking a bank loan.
Outside Kathmandu in Nepal, Ambika Ranamgar used to work for building contractors, cutting marble and laying tiles in houses under construction. Then she struck out on her own. With encouragement and support from a community mobilizer under the Nepal Poverty Alleviation Fund (NPAF), Ambika took a loan of Rs. 80,000 ($740) to buy her own equipment, including a marble-cutting machine and a generator to power the machines during the city’s frequent power cuts. She then scouted for work visiting local hardware stores, and gradually began to get more clients. Ambika’s income has now more than doubled from her daily wage of Rs. 600 to reach between Rs. 1,000 to 1,500 rupees per day. She is now focused on getting more business and managing her supplies and workers. At the time we visited her, Ambika had employed five workers, including her husband, and was busy laying the flooring for two houses.
Two years ago, we started counting how many Sri Lankan agencies were involved in trade facilitation processes such as issuing permits and managing the movement of goods in and out of the country. We counted at least 22 agencies in this assessment, and today, the Department of Commerce estimates that number at least 34 agencies are involved in issuing permits or publishing regulations that affect trade.
We know trade is critical to Sri Lanka’s future and that there are strong links between trade, economic growth and poverty reduction.
However, the trading community reports a lack of transparency, confusion around rules and regulations, poor coordination between various ministries and a dearth of critical infrastructure—you can see why trade has suffered in Sri Lanka.
When the World Bank evaluates a country’s performance in critical rankings like Doing Business, the ease of trading across borders is one of the benchmarks we consider. In this, and in other lists like the Logistics Performance Index, Sri Lanka is underperforming compared with its potential. Here, the average trade transaction involves over 30 different parties with different objectives, incentives, competence and constituencies they answer to, and up to 200 data elements, many of which are repeated multiple times. This environment constrains the growth of Sri Lanka’s private sector, especially SMEs.
But now for the good news. By ratifying the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement, Sri Lanka has signalled its determination to intensify reform efforts.
In recent decades, income inequality has risen in most of the developed world and many developing countries. There are plenty of reasons to be worried about income inequality, as it often leads to unequal life opportunities, exacerbates disparities in health and life expectancy, and jeopardizes social unity.
While most of research work on inequality tends to focus on the poor, a recent World Bank Group survey set out to explore how the opinion leaders—who are often economically better-off—perceive the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
The survey interviewed more than 10,000 key opinion leaders in fifty-two developing countries to find out 1) how concerned they are about income inequality, and 2) whether they perceived a link between equality of opportunity and poverty reduction.
Let’s take a look at the key findings.
The survey data show that majorities of opinion leaders in all but two countries (Uzbekistan and Belarus) perceived the gap between the rich and the poor as “a very big” or “moderately big problem” in their countries.
Why is ecological restoration so critical to the World Bank’s mission of reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity? Quite simply, because
Some 42 percent of the world’s poorest live on land that is classified as degraded. The situation becomes worse every year, as 24 billion tons of fertile soil are eroded, and drought threatens to turn 12 million hectares of land into desert.
The World Bank’s Country Survey Program has been surveying key influencers, in nearly all of its client countries systematically, since 2012, in order to assess and track their views over time. These respondents come from a range of stakeholder groups including government, media, private sector, civil society and academia. The views of respondents from government (i.e., the offices of presidents/prime ministers/ministers/parliamentarians, employees of ministries, including PMUs, and other governmental bodies) are the focus of this blog (and how their views compare to those outside of government), because this group is one that Bank Group interacts with the most in ‘client’ mode. In a sense, the Country Surveys are really ‘client satisfaction’ surveys when it comes to the thousands of government respondents who participate.
How do these government ‘clients’ think the Bank Group is faring in fragile and conflict states? How do they perceive our engagement on the ground? How can the Bank do better? Where is the perceived Bank Group niche, according to those who own the projects and programs that the Bank supports?
Over the past decade, commitments and support for Forest Landscape Restoration have grown significantly. As part of the Bonn Challenge, for instance, some 40 countries, sub-national jurisdictions, and non-governmental entities have now pledged to restore forest landscapes across 148 million hectares. Although the environmental benefits in terms of ecosystem services, soil restoration, water, biodiversity and climate resilience are evident, the tremendous economic arguments and the value proposition for poor people living in, or nearby, the forests, are not always at the forefront of the efforts to restore landscapes.
In fact, some 1.3 billion people around the world depend on forests for their livelihood—that is 20% of the global population. This includes income from the sale of trees and tree-related products. It also includes the value of fruit, fodder, medicines, and other direct or indirect products that they consume. However, the restoration of forest landscape at a global scale needs a new vision for an integrated forest economy which appreciates and understands forests along their entire value chain. Thus it is crucial to see forest landscape restoration efforts as much more than just protecting forests, but as a force for economic growth and poverty reduction.
As we commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of #Poverty and #Vietnam’s Day for the Poor today, think what’s the most important question you want to ask about reducing poverty in Vietnam. What do you want to know about ensuring equal opportunities? About social #inclusion? Shared prosperity?
Post your questions at www.facebook.com/worldbankvietnam and we will collect the top 5 questions asked within the next two days.
Achieving shared prosperity, one of the World Bank’s twin-goals, isn’t just a middle-income country’s preoccupation. It has a special resonance in Tanzania, a US$1,000 per capita economy in East Africa.
Tanzania has seen remarkable economic growth and strong resilience to external shocks over the last decade. GDP grew at an annualized rate of approximately 7 percent. Yet, this achievement was overshadowed by the slow response of poverty to the growing economy. The poverty rate has remained stagnant at around 34 percent until 2007 and started a slow decline of about one percentage point per year, attaining 28.2 percent in 2012. To date, around 12 million Tanzanians continue to live in poverty, unable to meet their basic consumption needs, and more than 70 percent of the population still lives on less than US$2 per day. Promoting the participation of the poor in the growth process and improving their living standards remains a daunting challenge.
However, does economic growth affect poverty reduction equally in different countries? Contrary to conventional wisdom, we don’t think so. And here’s why.
Africa’s population grew at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent between 1950 and 2014, much faster than the global average of 1.7 percent as estimated from UN population projection data. During this time, the region experienced a demographic transition, moving from a period of high mortality and fertility rates to one of lower mortality, yet still high fertility rates. Other regions, most notably East Asia, took advantage of their transitions to accelerate growth, and reap a so-called ‘demographic dividend’. Africa is now being presented a similar opportunity.