South Asia was hit by a series of unprecedented shocks: economic crisis in Sri Lanka, catastrophic floods in Pakistan, a global slowdown, and impacts of the war in Ukraine on top of Afghanistan’s ongoing crisis, and the lingering scars of COVID-19. Our bloggers explored these issues, highlighting how the World Bank stepped up its support to help the people of South Asia. They also wrote about a range of other development priorities in the region such as building resilience in the face of increasing climate risk, strengthening regional cooperation and connectivity, empowering women, and curbing deadly air pollution. Here’s a look back at the year in 10 blogs.
As South Asian countries manage the scars of COVID-19 amid a series of other shocks-devastating floods in Pakistan, skyrocketing commodity prices, tightening monetary policies by advanced countries, and the global economic slowdown- they face competing priorities. How can they mitigate the adverse impacts of these historic events while also crafting carefully calibrated policies to combat inflation and manage fiscal pressures? Find out in Zoe Leiyu Xie and Xiao’ou Zhu’s blog on our latest regional economic update.
Air pollution is a major public health crisis in South Asia. According to a recent World Bank study on Bangladesh, it caused between 78,145 and 88,229 deaths in the country in 2019. Mitigating the crisis requires a collective effort from Bangladesh’s government through policy reforms and initiatives aimed at improving health services, strengthening early warning systems to minimize exposure to bad air, and conducting research on air pollution. Wameq Azfar Raza and Iffat Mahmud discuss the report’s findings in this blog post.
Sri Lanka was on its way to eliminating extreme poverty until COVID-19 and this year’s economic crisis threw it into disarray. Today, ordinary Sri Lankans all over the country face extraordinary challenges to make ends meet. On End Poverty Day 2022, Faris Hadad-Zervos wrote about Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, and how it is an opportunity to commit to and implement a solid and credible fiscal and structural reform program to get the country back on a sustainable and inclusive growth path.
Pakistan experienced its worst-ever floods this year. Heavy monsoon rains, about 6 times the average of the last 30 years, submerged a third of the country, affecting over 33 million people. This devastation compounds Pakistan’s learning crisis and is expected to worsen its Learning Poverty. Rebuilding its education system will require coordinated effort, resources, and the smart sequencing of interventions, write Jaime Saavedra and Lynne Sherburne-Benz.
In South Asia, climate change is not an abstract concept; it is happening now, and fast. Investing in climate resilience is an urgent priority, writes Martin Raiser. This requires strengthening the systemic resilience of rural landscapes including food, fresh water, and forest systems to boost adaptation to a changing climate, livelihoods, and food security. It also requires building climate-resilient cities and infrastructure, and a people-centric approach to strengthen community resilience through early warning systems and shock-responsive safety nets. Read more here.
reflects on the findings of Shifting Gears: Digitization and Services-Led Development.. In 2021, visitor arrivals reached more than 80 percent of pre-COVID levels, far outpacing other similar tourist destinations. What lessons can other countries learn from Maldives’ recovery in the tourism sector? Valerie Mercer-Blackman
Empowering women entrepreneurs is an economic priority that will bring considerable benefits to India’s economy. explain how a World Bank-supported pilot is helping.But to achieve this, micro-level women entrepreneurs will need to better manage their businesses, find ways to reach wider markets, and obtain easier access to finance. Tushar Arora, Karthik Laxman, and Sharmista Appaya
Meet Manika Gurung, a 31 year-old mother of two in Barpak, Nepal, who has been able to make earn more money growing vegetables thanks to the World Bank-financed Food and Nutrition Security Enhancement Project (FANSEP). FANSEP is being implemented in eight remote and vulnerable districts in Nepal’s Madhesh and Bagmati provinces and aims to enhance climate resilience and improve agricultural productivity and nutrition practices of 65,000 targeted smallholder farming households. Read more about it in Karishma Wasti’s blog.