I first visited Madagascar in 1985 as a student doing research with FOFIFA, Madagascar’s national center for agricultural research. I was fortunate to be able to come back in the early 1990s as a task team leader for a project funded by the World Bank, at a time when the Bank was restructuring its projects to respond to drought in southern Madagascar. Over two decades later, here I am again in the South of this beautiful country, which is suffering again from drought and continues to be counted among the poorest countries in the world.
The story of a country’s economic development is often told through the lens of new roads, factories, power lines, and ports. However, it can also be told through the voices of every day heroes, individuals who have taken action to improve their lives and those around them.
In this blog series, the World Bank Group, in partnership with the Ivorian newspaper Fraternité Matin and blogger Edith Brou, tells the stories of those individuals who, with a boost from a Bank project, have set economic development in motion in their communities.
And for good reason. Countries such as South Korea and Malaysia have succeeded in transitioning to emerging market status thanks to their investments in building some of the best education systems in the world. For the Nobel Prize winner in economics, Robert Lucas Jr. and the World Bank’s chief economist, Paul Romer, economic development depends above all on a country's ability to value its human capital. This not only allows the country to increase its current added value but also to create tomorrow’s technological innovations.
I met Prince Brokou four years ago in 2013, when he joined a road maintenance group as part of the Youth Employment and Skills Development Project (PEJEDEC) funded by the World Bank. At the time, he was still living with his parents in Yopougon, a sprawling suburb of Abidjan.
Brokou performed labor-intensive public works such as clearing out detritus from clogged road gutters that result in flooding during Côte d’Ivoire’s rainy season. This short-term activity allowed him to earn a monthly salary of CFAF 60,000 (about $124) for six months, and receive training on how to set up a small business to ensure his transition to future employment. He was also able to benefit from classes on civics, community development, public health, HIV/AIDS, and the environment.
In 2016, World Bank Ethiopia launched a Blog4Dev contest inviting students to share their ideas for how Ethiopia can reach middle-income country status without leaving anyone behind. This is the second of three winning entries.
How can Ethiopia reach middle-income country status without leaving anyone behind?
This is the first blog in a series on forests and livelihoods.
Africa’s forests, landscapes, and ecosystems have many contributions to development. They contribute directly to the well-being and food security of poor people. According to the World Bank Forest Action Plan, the impact of forests on poverty is greatest in Africa, with forest-related income lifting 11% of rural households out of extreme poverty. Forests also supply critical raw materials needed to grow the economy, provide habitat to rich flora and fauna, regulate hydrology, and sequester carbon.
Last week, I wrote about my field visit in October to the agriculture support project in Togo financed by International Development Association (IDA) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). The visit to a rice field and the discussions with rice farmer Komlan Souley and his family revealed some early successes made possible with Bank support, but also underscored the many challenges that remain to help small farmers move out of poverty in a sustainable way and to help Togo’s agriculture become more productive and competitive.
Can a shift towards a sustainable forestry ecosystem help to deliver the jobs and diversity that Angola’s economy needs?
The timber industry offers enormous developmental potential. According to the Centre for International Forestry Research, domestic wood or community logging markets in Sub-Saharan Africa (as opposed to large-scale commercial felling) employ hundreds of thousands of people. It is an industry that provides employment and wages for entire communities and that has huge socio-economic and environmental importance.
On a hot and dusty day in mid-October, I drove out some 70 to 90 kilometers outside of Togo’s capital city of Lomé, leaving the bustling urban center behind to meet with some of the country’s hard working small holder farmers in their fields.
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Six years ago, a revolution started in Tunisia with an unemployed young Tunisian in a secondary city desperate to make his voice heard. This revolution reshaped the country’s development agenda and triggered a decentralization process to give more say to local governments in policymaking. Since then, the World Bank’s work on local governance in Tunisia has expanded from equipping municipalities with basic services into tackling the diverse challenges of decentralization: institutional reform, participatory processes, transparency and accountability, capacity building, and performance assessment.