Batticaloa District, in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka is an ethnically diverse city with a population of approximately 490,000. The three decade old civil war wreaked havoc in this beautiful coastal town where the majority of the people are Tamil (74.5%) with a smaller Muslim (23.5%) and a Sinhala (1.3%) community living amidst some amount of tension over their ethnic differences.
Driving into Batticaloa town was a pleasant surprise for me after almost ten years. The bustling town was visually coming alive with the excellent road network that made the long drive from Colombo a real pleasure. Well constructed roads, the new and gleaming centre median lamp posts and the ongoing construction work painted a very positive feeling about the overall development of downtown Batticaloa, which was a welcome change for me. Batticaloa town’s landscape was surely changing. Needless to say I was wowed!
Earlier this year, Mohammed Faruk Ahmed was one of 37,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers forced to flee the conflict in Libya.
Forsaking his job and only source of income, he returned home empty handed. Watch this video to know how returnee migrants like Ahmed, now have a chance to rebuild their life, thanks to a World Bank-sponsored initiative to repatriate and support Bangladeshi migrants from Libya.
In common with many readers, I was aware of the discrimination and severe disadvantage faced by widows in many countries.
Nonetheless, I was completely unprepared for what I found when I looked closely at the data for Mali. As documented in my recent paper (Lasting Welfare Effects of Widowhood in a Poor Country, 5734), Malian women who have experienced the shock of widowhood, sometimes very young, have lower living standards than other women of the same age. These detrimental effects persist through remarriage and are passed on to their children ─ possibly more so to daughters ─ suggesting an intergenerational transmission of poverty stemming from widowhood.
Comme beaucoup de lecteurs, j’étais consciente de la discrimination et du sévère désavantage auxquels les veuves font face dans de nombreux pays.
Néanmoins, ce que j’ai trouvé en examinant des données maliennes était bien pire encore que ce que j’imaginais. Comme je le documente dans un récent article (Effets persistants du veuvage sur le bien-être dans un pays pauvre, 5734), les femmes maliennes qui ont connu le choc d’un veuvage ont un bien-être moins élevé que d’autres femmes du même âge. Par ailleurs, les effets négatifs du veuvage persistent après un remariage et sont transmis aux enfants – probablement plus à leurs filles – ce qui suggère une transmission intergénérationnelle de la pauvreté engendrée par le veuvage.
The three decade long war in Sri Lanka was instigated due to unmet youth aspirations. Today, Sri Lanka is well known as a post conflict country. No Sri Lankan in their right minds would like to witness the same again. As a Sri Lankan who has lived and worked most of my life in Sri Lanka, I can’t help but feel that my future could have been different if there was no conflict during the best part of my youth. I know many others feel the same.
Right now, most of Sri Lanka’s population is of working age. This demographic bonus was opened in the 1990s and will close in a few years time. According to Prof. Indralal De Silva from the University of Colombo, this demographic dividend will close in 2017, given the current trends.
It's time all decision makers and development practitioners think YOUNG. Youth need to be mainstreamed into development work and given a seat at the table to actively participate in policy making processes.
Working for the two Congos – DR Congo, Kinshasa and Congo Republic, Brazzaville (the closest two capital cities in the world) – over the last three-and-a-half years has been like running a fast-track marathon. Everything was urgent and important. Time was never our friend.
Yet, when I settled in Kinshasa as the first World Bank Country Director to serve the two Congos in-country, I was convinced that I would find a few weeks now and then to catch my breath. As I am leaving, I know better. The two Congos demand all the time and energy we have… and more, to make a dent in the many development challenges of the countries.
As I leave Kinshasa for my next post as World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, I will surely miss the dynamic and hard working people of the Congos. Happily, I will take indelible memories with me. I will forever remember my first field trip to the Province Orientale in the northern part of DR Congo. It came on the heels of my assuming service in Kinshasa at the end of January 2008. I remember the big smile of farmers in several villages along the 750km road we were helping to rebuild in order to reestablish the Eastern Corridor with Uganda and Kenya. “We are happy,” the farmer told me about the road, beaming from cheek to cheek. He explained that, only a few days before, he had seen for the first time in seven years, a car coming from Bunia (a town in the same province). Another farmer noted: “Before the road was built, a trip to Kisangani would cost us $10. We are now paying $2. Now we can travel faster and sell our products more easily.”
As in any other sectors, laws governing gender-based violence may well be in place in a country but the problem, as always, lies in the implementation and enforcement of these laws. Various factors, mainly cultural attitude, social norms and institutional weaknesses, often impede victims of violence from exercising their rights and protecting themselves. A 2010 video documentary entitled A Country for My Daughter examines these aspects in South Africa, which has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world.
Earlier this month, I participated in a four-day mission to Mandera, a county in northeastern Kenya, some 640 km from Nairobi on the Somali border. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Agency (ECHO) arranged the mission to assess progress of various community-managed drought risk reduction initiatives.
We visited several projects being implemented across Mandera’s central, northern and eastern districts, an area which is home to more than a million people, according to the last census in 2009. The area is classified as arid and receives on average 250 mm of rainfall in a good year. But for the last several months, not a single drop of rain has fallen and all water reserves have been depleted. Famine could be imminent in Mandera and its neighboring counties if policies are not put in place to prevent it.
Being my first visit to Mandera the mission was eye-opening but also disquieting, coming as it did in the midst of what is now accepted as “the most severe drought in the Horn of Africa in the last 60 years”.
The best part about working in a country office is the wide array of stakeholders one gets to work with. Development is never a solitary, insular process; indeed, it combines the expertise and inputs of a variety of people from diverse backgrounds: the government, civil society, the private sector, multilateral and bilateral financing institutions – the list is long! So you can imagine my excitement when my colleague, Tahira Syed, called me a few days ago to ask me to participate in a series of consultations with government and civil society representatives from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Tahira is the TTL for a Multi-Donor Trust Fund-financed project which will focus on providing sustainable livelihood opportunities and improvement in local-level infrastructure for FATA residents.
As the project is moving forward in the design and preparation phase, it was an opportune time to hold consultations with the two most important stakeholders of the project: local government and community organizations and representatives. Both groups have very different mandates and roles to play in the development of their areas, but hearing their perspective is crucial and informs the overall outcome of the project.