About 70% of India's salt comes from the state of Gujarat, where about 70,000 self-employed small-scale salt workers/producers often have to borrow money from exploitative lenders-cum-traders who fix a low price for the salt. However, this might be changing. A social enterprise initiative, called “Sabras,” now allows salt producers to borrow money at a much lower rate. To learn more about this, read the article from the Guardian.
I never thought I would descend to being the kind of person who read budget speeches for pleasure. I was therefore alarmed when, en route from Washington to Johannesburg, via Dakar last month, I found myself reaching out to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's Budget Speech that he had just delivered to the South African parliament. Worse, I soon found myself reading it with pleasure. The pleasure came from two sources: the eminent sensibility of the speech, and comfort from the realization that the problems we contend with, wherever we are, are fundamentally similar. South Africa is wrestling with keeping its fiscal deficit under control, its flagging growth rate up and yawning inequities in check. Musing about these problems I dozed off. When I woke up the cabin was dark. Curious about who was going to Dakar I looked around. Of the passengers in my cabin, around 30 percent were Black, 70 percent were White, and 80 percent were watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
The following blog post is an excerpt of a speech delivered by Pascal Lamy at the ‘Conference on International Cooperation in 2020’, held in The Hague on 7 March 2013.
The current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have roughly a thousand days to go before their end-2015 target date. The significance of the MDGs lies first and foremost in the fact that they gave the world a shared development agenda. They identified a set of shared goals around which we could collectively mobilize and they established time-bound goalposts for progress, many with quantifiable targets, against which we could measure our performance.
But beyond these targets and goals, the MDGs placed poverty reduction at the top of the global agenda. In doing so, they reshaped policy priorities, galvanizing the attention and interest of governments, international organizations, the private sector, and individuals.
- MDGs and Beyond 2015
The last few months have been a busy time for inequality. And over the last few days the poor thing got busier still. Inequality is now dancing on two stages. It must be really quite dizzy.
We need an inequality goal. No we don’t. Yes we do
One of the two stages is the post-2015 development goals. At some point, someone seems to have decided that reducing inequality needs to be an explicit commitment in the post-2105 goals. The UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda wrote a report on inequality and argued that “addressing inequalities is in everyone’s best interest.” Another report by Claire Melamed of Britain’s Overseas Development Institute argued that “equity, or inequality, needs to be somehow integrated into any new framework.” Last week a group of 90 academics wrote an open letter to the High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda demanding that inequality be put at the heart of any new framework.
Adverse events coming from systemic or idiosyncratic risks may destroy lives, assets, trust, and social stability. While risks in some areas have diminished in recent years (notably health, and economic crises in developing countries), risk has become more pronounced in other areas, including natural hazards, crime, the environment, and food prices. Especially when risk is mismanaged, the consequences can be severe, turning into crises with often unpredictable consequences.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is putting policies to meet and combat climate change on top of the Bank’s agenda. That is extremely timely and has the potential to fundamentally revitalize the Bank, making it more relevant in today’s world.
Global finance for new clean energy projects is currently at $300-400 billion per year, of which the Bank funds about $10 billion. The International Energy Agency estimates that a minimum agenda, compatible with a two-degree temperature target, requires “green” energy investments of about $1 trillion per year. The Bank alone will only be able to provide a small portion of such additional finance.
While most of the attention to the gender impacts of violent conflict has focused on sexual and gender-based violence, a new and emerging literature is showing a more wider set of gender issues that document the human consequences of war better and help in designing effective post-conflict policies.
In a recent paper, ‘Violent Conflict and Gender Inequality: An Overview,’ Mayra Buvinic, Monica Das Gupta, Philip Verwimp, and I try to organize this evolving literature using a framework that identifies the differential impacts of violent conflict on males and females, known as first-round impacts, and the role of gender inequality in framing adaptive responses to conflict, known as second-round impacts.
It's a while since I blogged about the iPad. I thought it might be useful to pull all my tips on this handy little gadget (including some new ones) together in one post. I'm going to focus for the most part on using it to improve productivity, but there will be some thoughts at the end on using the iPad to have a little fun.
Get yourself a keyboard and stylus
There's a lot you can do without these add-ons, but they'll dramatically increase your productivity.
There are lots of keyboards on the market — here's a nice review. I waited until the Brydge came out. The Brydge team had functionality in mind, but what sold me was the design — it makes your iPad looks (almost) as cool as the MacBook Air but gives you the advantages of the iPad.
Whether Africa is ‘catching up’ or ‘is not catching up enough’ with economic development, it’s definitely lagging behind in Technical Maverick Movements (TMM). Taking a cue from the ‘economic transformation’ model, Bright B. Simon writes, “Technical Maverick Movements (TMMs) when they become part of the establishment are adept at harnessing power…… You either shift or you don’t”. Read the post on FT.com and find out why there is no middle way for Africa’s path to competitiveness.
Many readers are probably familiar with the rankings of the top Universities worldwide by quality of education. But have you checked out their reputational ranking? California Institute of Technology may be the place to study in 2103, but reputation-wise, it’s not so high. Find the entire list here.
With Alessandro Olper*
Mass media plays a crucial role in distribution of information and in shaping public policy. Theory shows that information provided by mass media reflects its incentives to provide news to different groups in a society and in turn shape these groups’ influence on policy making.
Has the rise in international food prices since the mid 2000s hurt the poor, or helped them? Until recently, everything we knew about this topic came from simulation analyses rather than survey data. Simulation approaches invariably predict that poverty and food insecurity increases as the result of higher food prices, but there are many reasons why these predictions might not eventuate. On the other hand, standard household surveys yield information only after long lag periods. In light of these constraints, in some of my work I use an indicator of self-assessed food security from the Gallup World Poll (GWP). Since 2005, Gallup has survey men and women in a large number of developing countries and asked them (among other things) whether they have had “any trouble affording sufficient food in the last 12 months?” I take the percentage of respondents who answer yes to this question as a measure of national food insecurity.
In a recent blogpost I asked whether Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is old wine in a new bottle, and if so whether that’s so bad.
I argued that UHC is ultimately about making sure that “everyone – whether rich or poor – gets the care they need without suffering undue financial hardship as a result.” I suggested UHC embraces three important concepts:
• equity: linking care to need, not to ability pay;
• financial protection: making sure that people's use of needed care doesn't leave their family in poverty; and
• quality of care: making sure providers make the right diagnosis, and prescribe a treatment that's appropriate and affordable.
As we celebrate the 102nd International Women’s Day today, what do women of the world hope to achieve this year? An end to gender-based violence. The Guardian has put together a page to highlight the voices from all over the globe on tackling violence and discrimination against women. Read them all here on this interactive page.
While on the subject of Women’s Day, where is best place to be a working woman in the rich world? Apparently, the answer is New Zealand. The Economist has compiled a “glass-ceiling index” to show where women have the best chance of equal treatment at work. See the index here, which compares data from 26 countries.
In the policy discussions related to hunger, malnutrition, poverty and wellbeing, calorie intake is often the focus. Increasingly, however, micronutrient malnutrition appears to be a critical problem in many developing countries. Women and children are most vulnerable to micronutrient malnutrition due to their elevated micronutrient requirements for reproduction and growth. According to some estimates, nearly three billion people (including 56% of the pregnant and 44% of the nonpregnant women) suffer from iron deficiency anemia (IDA), and one-third of the world's population suffer from zinc deficiency. Twenty percent of the maternal deaths in Africa and Asia are due to IDA. One in every three preschool-aged children in the developing countries is malnourished. Undernutrition, coupled with infectious diseases, accounts for an estimated 3.5 million deaths annually. At levels of malnutrition found in South Asia, approximately 5% of GNP is lost each year due to debilitating effects of iron, vitamin A, and iodine deficiencies alone.
A commitment to gender equality in economic outcomes, as in other areas of social development and human rights, has emphasized women's empowerment. There is evidence that expanding woman's opportunities - particularly in the areas of health, education, earnings, civic rights, and political participation - decreases gender inequality and accelerates development. However, despite important advances towards equality, gender differences in many socioeconomic outcomes still persist. In light of this, policy makers and social scientists have shifted attention to the role of men in reducing gender disparities.
In Sierra Leone's rainy season, the Sewa River, feared by many locals for its powerful currents, floods over its banks separating entire villages from basic services. Konta health clinic in Kenema district operates near the shores of the Sewa, and during the six-month rainy season, five of Konta’s 17 dependent villages cannot access the clinic. If women in those villages give birth during the rains, they entrust care to traditional birth attendants; if children fall ill, they turn to traditional medicine, stockpiled drugs, and, often, prayer. As one woman explained during a recent community meeting in Konta, these are the only options, even if the all-too-frequent consequence is death. Hearing her account, it’s difficult not to feel a strong sense of injustice, even in an incredibly resource-constrained country like Sierra Leone. But is there a role for the law in remedying this situation?
I am heartened by the discussions at the recently-concluded Global Thematic Consultation on Governance and the Post-2015 Development Framework, held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The meeting, facilitated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and hosted by the Pan-African Parliament, brought together a wide range of stakeholders across regions and constituencies, including from government, grassroots to international civil society, national human rights institutions, youth groups, parliamentarians, and representatives of the media and the private sector, allowing them to share their views and concerns about the post-2015 agenda.
The exchanges at the two-day meeting have been thoughtful, articulate and yet passionate. And they have all pointed in the same direction: the need for a new and more effective framework that will improve the mixed outcomes achieved by the current MDGs. As Varun Gauri elegantly pointed out (MDGs that Nudge – Ask your mom or dad), we need a new MDG framework that “captures the attention and enthusiasm of non-experts (regular people)”. We also need a framework that can make a difference on the ground.
By encompassing social, political, and feudal factors in development, Rural Support Programmes have enjoyed success in India and Pakistan for the past 30 years. Why did they work? For one, the approach acknowledges that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and second, it looks for a holistic growth. Read the article on the Guardian to find out how communities can unlock their own potential.
What is a middle-income trap? The concept has been quite popular for some time, but only recently has been tested and defined. The concept broadly defines the fast-growing economies that suffered steep slowdown, and hence their dilemma of being caught between poverty and prosperity. There has been a lot of debate on poverty or prosperity, but it has substantially benefitted from work done by Barry Eichengreen, Donghyun Park, and Kwanho Shin. Read the post on Free Excgange to get an insight on their work.