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Going in-depth: A qualitative application of Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI)

Sonia Akter's picture

Photo courtesy of Sonia AkterEmpowerment is an intangible, multidimensional and culturally defined concept. This presents major challenges for researchers, development practitioners, and donors seeking to measure women’s empowerment. How do we know if women are empowered through a particular intervention or initiative? And how can we measure women’s empowerment in an effective, robust, and practical manner?

To try and gain a better understanding of the global landscape of women’s empowerment in agriculture, our research team—comprised of researchers from the National University of Singapore and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)—combined elements of one of the most common tools used to measure empowerment, the quantitative Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), with the qualitative approach of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). In addition to expanding upon the tool, we expanded the geographical scope of the study of empowerment in agriculture, which has typically focused on Sub Saharan Africa. We collected qualitative cross-country data from four Southeast Asian countries (Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines) and explored overall regional trends as well as intra-regional variation in women’s empowerment in Southeast Asian agriculture.

Our research demonstrates that focus group discussions offer a valuable complement to traditional quantitative instruments, but also bring some challenges.
 

Early-Bird Discount on WB-Annenberg Summer Institute Ends April 27

Umou Al-Bazzaz's picture

Each summer, the World Bank collaborates with the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California to offer the executive education course on Reform Communication: Leadership, Strategy and Stakeholder Alignment.

Apply today! The early-bird deadline is this Friday, April 27!

During the 10-day program, participants learn the most recent advances in communication and proven techniques in reform implementation, including interpreting and using political economy analyses; crafting multi-stakeholder collaboration, coalition and network building strategies and tactics; providing communication skills that support the implementation of reforms; and developing communication metrics and applying monitoring and evaluation frameworks relevant to reforms.
 
Participants also connect with a global network of development professionals working on initiatives in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
 

It’s time to improve the ‘Value for Money’ toolkit, and not junk it

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture

 Julio Pantoja / World BankThe ‘results agenda’ of donor agencies have inspired several heated debates. Value for money is one of the main tools that helps further this agenda. There is significant pressure on donor development agencies to ‘demonstrate’ what they have achieved (results), and further, examine whether these results have been achieved in a cost-effective manner (‘value for money’). This pressure to demonstrate ‘value for money’ often leads to plenty of frustration, as those designing and implementing aid programmes struggle to strike a balance between what is easy to prove versus the complex nature of an intervention designed to tackle a real-world problem.

There are several problems with the results agenda – development interventions take place in a wide range of contexts, that lend themselves to comparisons on some counts and not, on others. These contexts change every day, and certainly over the lifetime of a development project, and attempting a grand theory or mathematical formulae to capture the entire process is nearly impossible.

Besides technical problems, there are valid fears that focusing too closely on ‘value for money’ will lead development workers to focus on ‘bean-counting’ and preferring interventions that can be easily measured and whose costs and benefits are easy to estimate. Some researchers have gone further and argued that an obsession with such metrics essentially forces development workers into lying about how their projects actually work.

Civilization, Civilizations, and Art at the World Bank

Gonzalo Castro de la Mata's picture
Eat the News, installation, table, place settings (5) collage, newspaper clippings, enamel, 2017. Courtesy of the Artist, Helen Zughaib
Eat the News, installation, table, place settings (5)
collage, newspaper clippings, enamel, 2017.
Courtesy of the Artist

There is a lot of excitement regarding the new “Civilizations” series on the BBC. Anybody who watched the original 1969 “Civilization” series hosted by Kenneth Clark will find it hard to forget the extraordinary opening scene, in which a professorial Clark, properly attired in tweed and tie, exclaims: “What is civilization? I don’t know, I can’t define it in abstract terms, but I think I can recognize it when I see it, and I am looking at it now.” He then turns back and the camera focuses on Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral in all its splendor.

The new BBC series is no longer just about European civilization as seen through its artistic achievements since the Renaissance, but expands into civilizations more broadly defined, thus the additional “s.” It is hosted by legendary art historian Simon Schama, as well as Mary Beard and David Olusoga. It covers civilizations around the world including the ancient ones of China, Egypt, and Mexico.  Like the original series, it uses art as a defining and unifying principle that not only accompanies it but more properly, defines and characterizes human civilization.

Why is this so? Once again, turning back to Clark, he quotes John Ruskin as saying, “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last.”

Why doctors leave their posts – problem-solving irregularities in the health sector with healthcare workers in Bangladesh

Mushtaq Khan's picture

It’s not often you get together the very people working on the frontline to sit down together and discuss why and how irregular practices occur in their sector – and what can be done about them. But that’s just what we did with a group of frontline health workers at a workshop in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka in December 2017. We wanted to understand why corrupt and irregular practices occur in the health sector - what are the underlying incentives and processes? And what are some feasible and impactful ways to change these practices?

Many developing countries, including the three where our research consortium, the Anti-Corruption Evidence research consortium is working, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Tanzania, struggle to provide free or low-cost healthcare to all their citizens. Instead, citizens are often forced to buy services from the private sector at higher fees or worse, approach untrained or traditional healers. There is agreement in the literature that a large proportion of these inefficiencies occur due to corrupt practices (though there’s an active debate about whether using the c-word is helpful in this debate, which is why we talked about ‘irregularities’ during this workshop). Many of these practices are related to the way societies in developing countries are organized around patron-client relations, where tax resources are insufficient, and resources, jobs and promotions require lobbying powerful politicians.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
 

The State of Social 2018 Report: Your Guide to Latest Social Media Marketing Research [New Data]
Buffer
What’s in store for the social media industry in 2018? The way consumers use social media channels is constantly evolving and as marketers and entrepreneurs, we need to adapt to these changes. To better understand these changes, plus what’s ahead for 2018 and beyond we teamed up with Social Media Week to collect data from over 1,700 marketers and create the State of Social Media 2018 report. The report shows us how marketers, from businesses of all sizes, are approaching social media marketing.
 
World Bank’s ‘Global Dataset’ Offers New Way for Comparing Countries’ Educational Performance
Market Brief Ed Week
For years, efforts to explore and compare the educational performance of impoverished countries–and by implication, their economic potential–have been stymied by a lack of useful data. An ambitious new analysis by the World Bank aims to change that. A “global dataset” unveiled by the international development organization uses statistical methods to put the results of much-publicized international tests like the PISA and TIMSS–which many poor nations do not take part in–on a comparable scale as regional exams commonly used by developing countries. The result is a new method for comparing the test performance of rich and poor nations that World Bank researchers say hasn’t been accomplished before.
 

Taking the lead on green growth

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture

Bangladesh has what it takes to influence this global movement

Manik, a solar pump operator for Nusra works near the solar panels in Rohertek, Bangladesh
Solar panels in Rohertek, Bangladesh, Oct 2016

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress over the past two decades, lifting millions out of poverty and sustaining expanding levels of economic growth.

It has achieved this in spite of major internal and external challenges — global economic downturns, natural disasters, and periods of political uncertainty that have tested the resolve of the Bangladesh economy.

In spite of this and efforts in climate change adaptation, Bangladesh still remains one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2015.

This crisis has sparked an urgent response from the government. The government of Bangladesh is a leader amongst Less Developed Countries (LDCs) in enacting policies to tackle the risks emerging from climate change, as well as in negotiating on behalf of other vulnerable countries to finance both climate change adaptation and mitigation activities.

Bangladesh played a leading role in helping set up the global Green Climate Fund (GCF) with an ambitious agenda to mobilise $100 billion per year from rich countries by 2020 to finance climate change initiatives in developing countries.

Domestically, much more remains to be done towards climate change mitigation. There are multiple sector-specific and cross-cutting policies in place. However, a comprehensive set strategy in support of green growth is yet to be formulated.

Using behavioral sciences to teach fitness: A (sometimes unwilling) student’s perspective

Julie Perng's picture

 U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nathan L. MaysonetEvery Monday and Wednesday afternoon, sometime between two and three, the email arrives. There’s no content, only a subject line inviting me to tomorrow morning’s cycling class.

I’m not one to enjoy spinning. But thanks to Arben Gjino, the originator of these emails, I participate in the cruel exercise approximately 150% more than I would have in an Arben-less world. So how did this Albanian-born, former volleyball Coach get me to ride time and time again alongside a dedicated group of early morning spinning enthusiasts?

Over time, I have pieced together his secret. What helps Arben – and his students – is the utilization of concepts from psychology. In particular, he uses concepts such as being non-discriminatory, salient nudges, making the classes fun and personal, and role-modeling. As a member of the World Bank’s behavioral sciences team, which applies psychology to international development projects, I especially appreciate the use of these techniques being used on – and for - me.

Lessons from the field: How the World Bank-Annenberg Summer Institute can help propel your career

Umou Al-Bazzaz's picture

Each summer, the World Bank collaborates with the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California to offer the executive education course on Reform Communication: Leadership, Strategy and Stakeholder Alignment.
 
Apply today!  The first early-bird deadline is February 23.

During the 10-day program, participants learn the most recent advances in communication and proven techniques in reform implementation, including interpreting and using political economy analyses; crafting multi-stakeholder collaboration, coalition and network building strategies and tactics; providing communication skills that support the implementation of reforms; and developing communication metrics and applying monitoring and evaluation frameworks relevant to reforms.
 
Participants also connect with a global network of development professionals working on initiatives in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
 
But you don’t have to take our word for it. Here is some of the feedback we have received: 

#1 from 2017: Future jobs for youth in agriculture and food systems: Learning from our backyard in DC

Iftikhar Mostafa's picture
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2017. This post was originally posted on March 14, 2017.
 
When we think of agriculture and food, we think of a farmer working in a rural area producing food for consumption and selling some surplus.  With growing urbanization and increasing demand for food, food system has moved away from just agricultural production. It involves aggregating, value addition, processing, logistics, food preparation, restaurants and other related services.  Many enterprises from small to large are part of the enterprise ecosystem.  The potential for new jobs for youth who start and are also employed by their enterprises is significant. The Africa Agriculture Innovation Network (AAIN) has developed a business agenda targeting establishment of at least 108 incubators in 54 African countries in the next 5 years focusing on youth and women among other actors. At least 600,000 jobs will be created and 100,000 start-ups and SMEs produced through incubation and 60,000 students exposed to learn as you earn model and mentored to start new businesses.


In recent past, there have been many innovations in areas of technology, extension, ICT, education, and incubation leading to new generation of enterprises and enterprise clusters resulting in the creation of good quality and new jobs in agriculture and food systems. A key challenge in the future is how we create more and better jobs in the agriculture and food system value chain. One of the major requirements for creating more jobs is a radical change in the way youth are taught agriculture and entrepreneurship. The skills required for a modern agriculture and food system are of a higher order and need to be upgraded significantly.

As part of the 2017 Global Learning Forum more than 250 staff in the Agriculture Global Practice from around the world are learning how Agriculture and Food Systems are going to look like in future. The group participants visited the Urban Food Hubs Program being managed by the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). The Urban Food Hubs focus on four components: food production, food preparation, food distribution, and waste and water recovery.

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