There is a lot to like about living in Washington, D.C. I am lucky enough to live in a city with reliable public transport, well-kept parks and friendly neighbors. And perhaps my biggest blessing is that my city enjoys good air quality. Typing “Washington D.C.” into BreatheLife’s website reveals that air pollution in my city is 10 percent below the World Health Organization’s guidelines.
Around the world, not all urbanites can say the same thing. In fact, 92 percent of the world’s population live in places where air quality levels exceed WHO guidelines. And startlingly, air pollution – both household and ambient – caused 6.4 million deaths worldwide in 2015, with most of the burden of disease occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Taking an economic perspective, the World Bank and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimate that air-pollution-related deaths cost about $5.11 trillion in welfare losses worldwide.
Last December, James Dooley Sullivan packed his wheelchair and travelled to Jamaica. Sullivan, an animator and visual arts video editor at the World Bank Group, wanted to see first-hand what it’s like to be disabled in a developing country. He shares his experience and his own history in a video and a series of blog posts.
Luckily, when we land in Kingston we are greeted by the only leased van in all of Jamaica with a wheelchair lift. It fits me, my chair, my colleague Peter and all of the camera gear we’ll need to document my adventures learning about disability access in the developing world. What the van doesn’t have is working shock absorbers. I have to brace myself on a seat cushion as our driver Dereck tries to evade pot holes on the way to our hotel.
Whenever I check into a room I have to make some quick assessments. Here in Kingston, the carpet is thick and hard to push through, while the bed is spacious and at a suitable height. My new 17-inch wide chair just barely squeezes into the bathroom but the sink has a granite slab that whacks my knees. In the win column – there’s a handheld showerhead I can reach. In the no-win column – the toilet is really low and will need my complete concentration when in use.
Over one billion women in the world do not have access to financial services. Having access to a transaction account is a first step for financial freedom and for women to take charge of their lives.
Women are an underutilized resource in development. Not having access prevents women from having an equal footing in society. Financial inclusion can unleash enormous potential for economic development.
The World Bank’s World Development Report on gender estimated income losses due to women being excluded from the world of work at 10%-37% of GDP across all regions. Research by the World Bank Group, the IMF, the OECD, and private sector studies show that billions can be added to global GDP by advancing women's equality.
Digital technologies are extending access to finance to millions of people, including women. This is incredibly exciting and the world is placing high stakes on digital technologies as a principal way to bring the 2 billion unbanked adults into the formal and regulated financial system.
It’s much easier today to save, make payments, access credit, and obtain insurance, all of which helps people manage day-to-day expenses, make long-term plans and handle unexpected emergencies.
In 2016, the G20 issued a report led by the World Bank Group and the People’s Bank of China – the High Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion - which provided eight recommendations for countries to encourage financial inclusion through digital technologies. A few weeks ago, the G20 finance ministers endorsed a follow-up report which profiles what countries have done in line with these recommendations.
Last December, James Dooley Sullivan packed his wheelchair and travelled to Jamaica. The Caribbean nation is a tourist destination, but the trip wasn’t a vacation. Sullivan, an animator and visual arts video editor at the World Bank Group, wanted to see first-hand what it’s like to be disabled in a developing country. He shares his experience and his own history in a video and a series of blog posts.
Life in a wheelchair is pretty straight forward – it just requires a different set of verbs. Each morning I transfer into my chair, roll into the bathroom, and flip onto the toilet. I transfer back into my chair and then wiggle into professional attire. I drink enough tea to become civil before descending on my house’s external lift to the sidewalk.
The way we communicate, produce, and relate to technology is evolving quickly.
Tell me something I don’t know, you’ll say.
That’s where Benedict Evans, a prominent tech guru from the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz ('a16z') in Silicon Valley, comes in. In a recent presentation at the World Bank (Mobile is Eating the World) Evans shared inspiring, and at times, unnerving insights on how technology is shaping our world and how it might impact the global development community. Here are some key takeaways:
On World Refugee Day, we pay tribute to faces of resilience – mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and children, who fled horrific circumstances as refugees, but who continue to strive every day to rebuild their lives with dignity.
As the number of people displaced by conflict climbs to historic highs, it’s easy to lose sight of the faces behind the statistics. But recently, there’s been a sea change in how the world is managing this crisis – by putting people first, and making it possible for refugees to work or go to school and become self-reliant as an integral part of their host country’s development story.
This April, I had the honor of delivering a TED Talk in Vancouver, Canada. TED Talks aim to inspire and spread ideas, and this year’s theme – The Future Us – explored what lies ahead for the world.
Artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technological advances hold great promise, but these changes are coming at break-neck speed. I’m afraid many of us aren’t ready. There’s still too much poverty and inequality in the world, and we have a lot of work to provide opportunities for everyone.
Sixty-five million people worldwide are displaced by conflict and war.
Developing countries host 95% of them.
Displaced people need help. But so do their host communities, which face enormous sudden pressures on their infrastructure, public services and markets. These pressures have the potential to undermine political stability.
This is why international development institutions are rethinking how to approach humanitarian crises, and no longer consider humanitarian assistance and development interventions as two separate, sequential responses. We, at the World Bank, have been ramping up our support to both people and communities affected by fragility, conflict and violence as well as disaster risk, which can exacerbate instability.
Being able to provide quality financial services before, during and after periods of humanitarian crises can improve people’s resilience and help sustain livelihoods.
As the global development community marks World Day to Combat Desertification on June 17, large areas of Sub-Saharan Africa will be gripped by extreme drought, leaving millions of people in need of emergency assistance. This is lamentable, because interventions are available that could significantly increase long term resilience to drought. A recent report that we wrote estimates that a set of 5-6 interventions could help reduce the impact of drought by about half in Africa’s drylands, keeping on average 5 million people per year out of danger in some of Africa’s poorest zones.
The report Confronting Drought in Africa’s Drylands: Opportunities for Enhancing Resilience aims to advance measures to reduce the vulnerability and enhance the resilience of populations living in dryland areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.