About two thousand years ago, the country built one of the world’s first irrigation system to control its water supply.
This feat of engineering, which boasted hundreds of kilometers of channels, tanks, and innovative valve pits, helped the great kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa flourish into sophisticated societies and protect their people against hunger.
Today, building resilience to natural disasters and other shocks is more critical than ever.
Sri Lanka is no exception. The country ranked fourth most vulnerable to climate change in 2016.
Further to that, a recent World Bank report indicates that
The losses caused by significant shocks like natural disasters have long-lasting consequences.
Children, especially, can suffer permanent damages if they are not educated or fed correctly in their critical early years.
And the loss of assets, livestock, and crops can severely hurt small business owners and farmers and further discourage them from investing.
And while some people gradually restore their standards of living, some never fully recover and get stuck in poverty.
But the poor aren’t the only ones who need to worry about shocks.
Our analysis of the 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey reveals that a 20 percent sudden decrease in household welfare—or consumption shock—would more than double the poverty rate: almost 1 in 10 Sri Lankans would be poor.
If the shock triggered a 50 percent decrease in consumption, one in three Sri Lankan families would fall into poverty.
Further to that, rural or urban infrastructure, the commitment levels of teachers, and the nature or extent of corruption in the community can affect how a female student will perform in school.
In general, the past many years of conflict and political unrest in Afghanistan have damaged the country’s education system; eroding the quality of staffing and curriculum.
As a result, the unfavorable political economy has blocked policy reforms and their implementation, taking a toll on the quality of education services.
This has led to weakened governance.
In 2011, Bangladesh and India flagged off the first of their border haats, representing an attempt to recapture once thriving economic and cultural relationships that had been truncated by the creation of national borders.
Border Haats are local markets along the Indo-Bangladesh border that stretches 4100 Kms and runs through densely populated regions.
Conceived as Confidence Building Measures between India and Bangladesh, 4 Border Haats were set up between 2011 and 2015.
- Balat (Meghalaya) – Sunamgunj (Sylhet)
- Kalaichar (Meghalaya) – Kurigram (Rangpur)
- Srinagar (Tripura) – Chagalnaiya (Chittagong)
- Kamalasagar (Tripura) – Kasba (Chittagong)
Initially only local produce was permitted for trade. But subsequently, the range of items has been broadened to include goods of household consumption.
But border haats are not only about trade.
A decade of strong economic growth helped Bangladesh reach lower middle-income status while sharply decreasing its poverty rate, a remarkable achievement. But like many countries in the world, such progress has come at considerable environmental cost.
The monetary cost to the Bangladeshi society of environmental degradation in urban areas, measured in terms of foregone labour output was equivalent to about one percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually. If one takes into account the broader welfare impacts of mortality attributed to environmental risks, the economic cost is equivalent to 3.4 percent of the national GDP. Noncompliant industries and inadequate waste management of hazardous and nonhazardous materials are polluting the cities' air as well as surface and ground water. The study also indicated that many rivers around Dhaka are polluted.
Last month, I visited Nepal to understand the gravity of gender-based violence (GBV) and how victims can seek help and access confidential and quality support services.
In 2017, 149 people were killed as a result of GBV in Nepal.
Of these victims, 140 were female, 75 of whom were killed because of domestic violence.
In 2017, out of 680 documented cases, the main perpetrator was a family member or relative in 163 cases of them.
However, such cases are generally unreported due to the stigma attached to GBV.
In this bleak context, it was heartening to hear about an integrated platform that addresses GBV issues and has helped improve response and support to the victims.
Since 2017, these programs have supported over 677 cases.
Last year, Afghanistan became the 60th country to join Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), a global movement to end malnutrition, and thus signaled its strong commitment to invest in a better future for its citizens.
—or of low height for their age.
and will reduce their potential to contribute toward their country’s growth and prosperity.
On the other hand, a well-nourished child tends to complete more years of schooling, learns better, and earns higher wages in adulthood, thereby increasing the odds that he or she will escape a life of poverty.
As such, , which in turn can help boost its economic growth, productivity, and human capital development.
To help the Afghan government invest in better nutrition, the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI), the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), World Bank and UNICEF have partnered to determine what it would take to reach more children, women, and their families and provide them with essential nutrition services that would ultimately reduce stunting and anemia.
“Woman face harassment in all type of jobs, no matter where or who. One can’t say that she works in a big firm so she is safe… [but] she doesn’t know who will believe her if she reports harassment – she… fears that the others will say she is asking for it. Thus, she doesn’t say anything.” -Young working woman in Quetta.
This statement was echoed by 93 educated women of all ages in the Pakistani cities of Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore, and Karachi.
In the era of the #MeToo Movement, focus group discussions with these women affirmed that
For employed women, sexual harassment disrupts careers and dampens professional potential; its fear can deter women from entering the labor force at all.
We explore this as part of a study on female labor force participation in Pakistan with the Center for Gender and Policy Studies and support from the Pakistan Gender Platform.
The women we spoke with talked about experiencing sexual, physical, verbal, non-verbal or psychological harassment at the hands of supervisors, senior staff members and colleagues, as well as strangers in public transport and spaces.
They also highlighted cyberstalking, staring, phone numbers being leaked, lewd comments, stalking in public places and harassment on public transport as common occurrences, and that such harassment occurs regardless of a woman’s age or socio-economic status.
Home to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, South Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic regions.
It's also one of the least integrated.
A few numbers say it all: Intra-regional trade accounts for only 5 percent of South Asia’s total trade; Intra-regional investment is smaller than 1 percent of overall investment.
To associate a gun shot with foul play seems logical. But that’s not necessarily the case in Guldara, a district nearly 40 kilometers outside of Kabul City in Afghanistan.
from the Guldara river. The Guldara river is both a blessing and a curse for the local communities.
. It is also a threat to life and assets. In March 2017, when the mountain snow melted, heavy floods killed two children and washed away the only road that connects the city with Kabul.