Access to safe and reliable drinking water is not only problematic in rural areas but is becoming a growing concern in rapidly urbanizing cities in developing countries. Often, utilities do not get extended in low income areas and, even if they do, they are generally of poor quality. As a result, the poor are impacted the most. In recognition to this, The UN General Assembly recently passed a regulation (2010) that declared access to safe drinking water and sanitation a human right. However, to enable proper implementation of this declaration, meaningful participation is required from citizens to secure service delivery that meets their needs. Here is a case experiment in Kenya that sheds some light on the advantages and challenges involved in promoting citizen participation in water service delivery.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
at the 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University
Fifteen years ago, Easterly and Levine published “Africa’s Growth Tragedy”, highlighting the disappointing performance of Africa’s growth, and the toll it has taken on the poor. Since then, growth has picked up, averaging 5-6 percent a year, and poverty is declining at about one percentage point a year. The “statistical tragedy” is that we cannot be sure this is true.
Take economic growth, which is measured in terms of growth in GDP. GDP in turn is measured by national accounts. While there has been some progress, today, only 35 percent of Africa’s population lives in countries that use the 1993 UN System of National Accounts; the others use earlier systems, some dating back to the 1960s.
To show that this is not an arcane point, consider the case of Ghana, which decided to update its GDP last year to the 1993 system. When they did so, they found that their GDP was 62 percent higher than previously thought. Ghana’s per capita GDP is now over $1,000, making it a middle-income country.
In several rich, post-industrial constitutional democracies, angry citizens are marching once again. And can you blame them? They watched as out-of-control banks took outrageous risks and brought hitherto sound economies to their knees. They watched as these banks were rescued with tax-payer resources. They watched as the same bankers and banks returned to their buccaneering ways, while escaping any accountability. Now, everywhere austerity measures are crushing the underclass and shrinking the middle class. The culture of impunity at the top of society is driving ordinary citizens into paroxysms of rage. Now, they are beginning to march, and march. Nobody knows where it is all going to lead.
By any account, the amount of money stolen by corrupt officials and bureaucrats in developing and transition economies each year is vast. It is estimated that the amount of stolen assets is as high as US$ 40 billion per year, but there are experts who put the figure even higher.
When 150 marriages are solemnized in a day within 60 minutes in the same venue, the challenges are not just with the brides and grooms to stick to their own soul mates, but also to the municipal authorities to keep track and issue marriage certificates in a reasonable time frame. As many Keralites located all over the world chooses Guruvayoor Temple for their marriage, delivering their marriage certificates adds to the troubles of a small municipality with less than 10 staff in the section.
On a recent visit to Kerala as part of the World Bank supported Kerala Local Government Service Delivery Project (KLGSDP), I found that in 2010 September, Guruvayoor Municipality solved the problems with marriage certificates, and opened a window of transparency and efficiency in its service delivery to the general public, through an e-governance platform. Meeting us in his current office in the Attingal Municipality, N Vijayakumar, former Municipal Secretary of Guruvayoor, took us through the journey he and a highly committed team made for bringing an e-revolution in the Municipality.
"Princes had need, in tender matters and ticklish times, to beware what they say: especially in these short speeches, which fly abroad like darts, and are thought to be shot out of their secret intentions."
Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Sedition and Troubles,' Essays
Investment in gender equality is smart economics, according to the recently launched World Development Report (WDR 2012) of the World Bank. Increasing women’s access to resources and participation in economic opportunities can increase productivity, improve outcomes for children and improve the overall development prospects of a country, concludes the report. However, a number of factors, mainly gender roles guided by staunch social norms and rigid institutional practices, have impeded recognition of women’s participation and contributions in economic activities. To address this issue, WDR proposes focused domestic public policies. In a recently held brown bag luncheon at the Bank, Dr. Fouzia Saeed shared her experience regarding these topics, and the resultant groundbreaking legislation in protection and promotion of Pakistani women’s rights and contributions to their country’s development.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
The Wall Street Journal
World Bank Says National Anti-Corruption Authorities Need to Step Up
“The World Bank’s anti-graft unit says many countries aren’t following through with investigations of corrupt conduct discovered by bank officials.
The Integrity Vice Presidency referred 40 cases to governments and anti-corruption agencies for investigation in fiscal 2011, and 32 cases the year before, but the response has been underwhelming, bank officials said in a report released Friday.
“We expect national authorities to give proper attention and consideration to the Bank Group’s referrals of investigative information,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick in an introduction to the report. ‘Ideally, this should lead to their undertaking competent investigations, prosecutions, and adjudication within the country—but it often has not.’” READ MORE
We know very little about governments’ willingness to take risks. Technologies to enhance public sector performance are widely known and available nowadays, but we still can't predict when governments are likely to take risks in the implementation of complex public sector reforms.