When I was growing up in rural Nigeria in the ‘80s and ‘90s, agriculture was already a central part of my life. As a child, I gained farm experience working with my father, who was a veterinarian. My mother, a teacher, would send me off to school each day with the parting words, “Go out there and be the best amongst equals.” This is still the motto by which I try to live.
This is the first post in a series of six in which Michael Woolcock, Lead Social Development Specialist at the World Bank and lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, discusses critical ideas within the field of Social Development.Both globalization and international development bring a wide range of people into contact with one another, linking distant communities to transnational networks and opening up spaces to new ideas. Alongside the state, multilateral development banks (MDBs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), private contractors, and development professionals converge on project sites, often interacting directly with local communities.
This influx of people brings global values concerning trade, democratic governance, human rights, and environmental sustainability— among many others— in contact with local conceptions of these values. This can create friction when international actors push for global liberal values that local communities are unfamiliar with or when they disregard traditional patterns of discourse. The tussle over values also occurs within states as district and national communities debate how development should progress. Urbanization, immigration, and the arts, for example, can all be experienced differently by various groups within a society.
Michael Woolcock asserts that, “putting a very strong premium on the legitimacy of the change process” is critical to a credible and accountable development intervention. Further, he states that if multi-level stakeholder engagement can be sustained over time, “then a lot of the process of dealing with contention can be acquired and incorporated into the way in which systems get managed.”
At each end of a bridges is a structure which supports the weight of the deck. These are known as abutments, and they are often the first part of the bridge to fail. Blockage of the main channel by debris can cause water to look for the path of least resistance around the sides of the bridges, thus placing the abutments at risk.
Traditional bridge construction requires the installation of piles for the foundations of abutments—a lengthy and expensive process that involves specialist materials, skills and equipment.
But there is another promising solution: Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) abutments. These allow for rapid and resilient construction of bridge abutments using locally available materials, without specialized equipment. With GRS, bridges can be constructed in as little as five days (Von Handorf, 2013) and at a cost 30-50% lower than traditional approaches (Tonkin and Taylor, 2016) .
GRS abutments are based on ‘geogrids,’ a high density mesh made out of polyethylene (plastic). Layers of soil and geogrid are combined to create a solid foundation for the bridge deck. Construction can be completed with basic earthmoving and compaction equipment, and a range of local fill materials can be used with guidance from geotechnical specialists.
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Land and property lie at the center of many of today’s pressing development challenges. Consider that at most 10% of land in rural Africa is reliably registered. At this week‘s annual Land and Poverty Conference here at the World Bank, we will hear how this vast gap in documentation of land gap blunts access to opportunities and key services for millions of the world’s poorest people, contributes to gender inequality, and undermines environmental sustainability.
I have just finished writing up and expanding my recent policy talk on active labor market policies (ALMPs) into a research paper (ungated version) which provides a critical overview of impact evaluations on this topic. While my talk focused more on summarizing a lot of my own work on this topic, for this review paper I looked a lot more into the growing number of randomized experiments evaluating these policies in developing countries. Much of this literature is very new: out of the 24 RCTs I summarize results from in several tables, 16 were published in 2015 or later, and only one before 2011.
I focus on three main types of ALMPs: vocational training programs, wage subsidies, and job search assistance services like screening and matching. I’ll summarize a few findings and implications for evaluations that might be of most interest to our blog readers – the paper then, of course, provides a lot more detail and discusses more some of the implications for policy and for other types of ALMPs.
Fish farmers in Jatobá, Northeastern Brazil
“When you are a woman in authority, they say you are hard, dry and insensitive, while a man in the same position is strong, firm and charming. One day, after tiring of hearing how tough I was, I said [sarcastically] that yes, that’s right, I am a hard woman surrounded by sweet men; all of them so sweet.”
- Dilma Rousseff - 36th President of Brazil from 2011 to August 2016.
Quoted in Financial Times print edition December 10, 2016 "Spectrum | Women of 2016."
- Quote of the Week
The fragile and conflict situations in which the World Bank Group supports development programs are seen as a top and increasingly urgent strategic priority for the institution and donors, and the Bank Group is increasing attention and focus there (note the WBG’s paper “The Forward Look”). The statistics related to fragile situations are staggering. Two billion people live in countries where development outcomes are affected by fragility, conflict and violence. Nearly fifty percent of the global poor is predicted to be living in fragile and conflict affected situations by 2030. Terrorism incidents have increased and forced displacement is a global crisis.
The WBG pays close attention to what its key stakeholders in client countries think about development and the work of the Bank through its Country Opinion Survey program - a mandated survey effort that assesses the views of influential across the Bank’s client countries annually (40+ countries/year on three year cycles). By keeping ‘ears to the ground’ it can understand what the institution’s key stakeholders think about their own development situations, the Bank’s work within this context, and how the Bank can increase its value in these increasingly difficult and complicated situations. The data below reflects opinions from more than one thousand opinion leaders in FCV countries.