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How satellites and social media help us anticipate the needs of conflict-affected countries

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
The World Bank Group plays a major role in recovery and reconstruction efforts in conflict-affected countries. Therefore, it is important for us, in collaboration with international partners, to engage in assessing the needs and planning for recovery and reconstruction as much ahead of time as possible. In recent times, we have been conducting broad-brush damage assessments in active conflict situations using innovative remote-based techniques like satellite imagery or social media analytics to provide not only damage numbers and trends but also qualitative information on the status of various services. These new approaches have helped us maintain situational awareness of and be ready for recovery when the situation allows.

During the initial stages of recovery efforts, supporting local-level recovery initiatives can serve as a springboard for large-scale reconstruction programs, which remains our biggest comparative advantage. Therefore, there is a need to expand these assessments to include other elements of recovery, which would inform preparation of multi-sectoral local level recovery interventions in the short-term, and major reconstruction programs in the medium- to long-term.

From a rubber boat in the sea to swimming in Rio: A story of resilience

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français


On a chilly October day in 2015, 24-year-old Rami Anis boarded a rubber boat in the Aegean Sea in Turkey. His destination was Europe and his goal was a better life away from war and hardship.

Looking at the people around him on the boat, he was horrified. They were children, men, and women. The fact that they might not make it never escaped his mind, even though he is a professional swimmer.

“Because with the sea, you can’t joke,” said the Syrian refugee.

But on Aug. 11, Rami will not be worried about swimming in the sea. He, instead, will be swimming at the Olympics. He made it safely to Belgium after days of heart-wrenching journey, from Istanbul to Izmir to Greece before setting off a trek through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and eventually Belgium.

Rami will be competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team — the first of its kind — and march with the Olympic flag immediately before host nation Brazil at the opening ceremony. 

Lights, camera, #ClimateAction!

Michelle Pabalan's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français


“In a time when gods walked the earth, an epic battle rages between the encroaching civilization of man and the gods of the forest…” That’s the opening line of the official movie trailer for Princess Mononoke.

I’ve always been a fan of Studio Ghibli, but among their films, Princess Mononoke was one that inspired me most. If you don’t know the story, there’s a prince that gets involved in a war between mankind and gods. The fate of the world rests on a forest princess! Yes, there’s a fearless forest princess in this movie. With its strong plot, interesting characters and fantasy elements, it became one of the highest-grossing films in Japan. Sure enough, Mononoke led me to a path of believing in heroes and saving the world.

If I ask you what movie changed your life or inspired you to action, I’m guessing that you would tell me about a blockbuster, or maybe, a cause-related documentary. Stories speak to us differently and individually. The bigger question is, where can these stories take us?

Well-regulated financial technology boosts inclusion, fights cyber crime

Joaquim Levy's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français | 中文

Luceildes Fernandes Maciel is a beneficiary of the Bolsa Família program in Brazil. © Sergio Amaral/Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Agrário

Financial technology — or FinTech — is changing the financial sector on a global scale. It is also enabling the expansion of financial services to low-income families who have been unable to afford or access them. The possibilities and impact are vast, as is the potential to improve lives in developing countries.

The financial sector is beginning to operate differently; there are new ways to collect, process, and use information, which is the main currency in this sector. A completely new set of players is entering the business. All areas of finance — including payments and infrastructure, consumer and SME credit, and insurance — are thus changing.

Argentina’s chance to leap ahead

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: Español

View from Villa 31 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. © Mary Stokes/World Bank

So far, 2016 has been a year filled with challenges and uncertainties. Global economic growth is weak, commodity prices remain low, and international trade isn’t picking up. In fact, voters around the world are questioning long-held beliefs in open markets, and populists are exploiting their fears by suggesting divisive policies and promising easy solutions to complex issues. Against this backdrop, it would seem that staying afloat is already a remarkable feat by any country.
 
But to make progress in the fight against poverty and to reactivate economic activity to provide opportunities for all, countries have to do much more. They have to tackle necessary and sometimes difficult reforms, deal with tradeoffs, but most of all, they need to stay focused on what is good for most people in the long-term.

We asked, you answered. Here's your choice for our 2016 Annual Report Cover

Zubedah Nanfuka's picture
Last week, we asked you to help us choose a report cover for our Annual Report for this year.

Many of you voted and one cover was the clear winner with 60% of the vote. Here is what you chose for our Annual Report.
 

Thank you for helping us with this process and make sure to get your copy of our Annual Report when it comes out later this year.
 

Can Innovative Financing Bring Landscape Restoration to Scale?

Paola Agostini's picture


Vibrant landscapes are not just beautiful to look at, they are productive and resilient. They provide the natural resources and ecosystem services that underpin economic activities like agriculture, mining, and energy, and are thus vital to national economies and the jobs and wellbeing of billions of people. However, in many areas across the globe, economic activities are being carried out at an unsustainable level, undermining the very landscapes on which we depend. FAO estimates that worldwide land degradation costs US$40 billion per year.

By contrast, restoring landscapes could bring renewed economic opportunity, improved water supply, and climate resilience. More than two billion hectares worldwide - an area larger than South America – could be restored, with tremendous value to national and local economies. IUCN estimates the annual net benefit of restoring 150 million hectares of land at approximately US$85 billion per year. In addition, such restoration would sequester massive amounts of greenhouse gases and go a long way towards stabilizing climate change at 2 degrees C.

Help us choose our 2016 Annual Report cover

Zubedah Nanfuka's picture
Each year the World Bank Group produces an Annual Report that focuses on how its two institutions – the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA) – are working side by side with countries to end extreme poverty by 2030 and raise the incomes of the poorest people in the world. You can see last year’s report HERE. This year the Annual Report will look at how interconnected and overlapping many of the world’s biggest challenges are.

My advice for future policymakers: See the public’s success as your success

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | العربية

Students line up to wash their hands before eating at Kanda Estate Primary School in Accra, Ghana. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

The most important word in "public policy" is "public" — the people affected by the choices of policymakers.

But who are these people? And what do they care most about? Policies evolve as the concerns of generations change over time. Regardless of whether you are generation X, Y, or Z, people want the same things: prosperity and dignity, equality of opportunity, justice and security.

Afghan teen rapper sings and advocates to end child marriage

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español


At first she looks like any bride: wearing a white wedding dress with her face covered with the wedding veil and carrying a bridal bouquet. Except that she is no ordinary bride. She is being sold.

As she removes her veil from her face, her forehead appears marked with a barcode. Her left eye is badly bruised and a big scratch on her cheek is as red as a war wound.

The girl in the music video “Brides for Sale” is portrayed by Sonita Alizadeh, an Afghan teen rapper who sings in the video about the ordeal many girls in Afghanistan go through when are sold by their families to marry at an early age in return of money.

But why is she singing about this issue?

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