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Year in Review: #Music4Dev aims to end poverty one song at a time

Korina Lopez's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français
End Poverty.

Seems impossible, even ridiculous, especially since the goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030, right? But consider the progress that has been made: In 25 years, we've gone from nearly 2 billion people experiencing extreme poverty to fewer than 1 billion. Still, a billion's a lot of people, so there's a lot of work to be done.  
 

The welfare of Syrian refugees and the way forward

Paolo Verme's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية | Español
In Pictures: Syrian Refugees Living in Jordan and Lebanon
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, over 6.5 million of the country’s people have been internally displaced and almost 4.4 million are registered refugees, which amounts to about half of Syria’s pre-crisis population. Nearly 1.7 million people have fled to neighboring Jordan and Lebanon. Prior to becoming refugees, many had suffered repeated shocks within Syria, leading them eventually to abandon their assets, property, and capital to seek safety in the neighboring countries.

The Syrian crisis has now become one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time. The numbers are staggering. About half of the Syrian pre-conflict population has been displaced, over 200,000 people have been killed, millions of Syrians have been injured or traumatized and millions more have fled to neighboring countries and elsewhere. Yet, we know surprisingly little about the actual living conditions of those who are suffering from the crisis. For the people who have remained in Syria, information is either very scarce or unavailable. For the people affected by the Syrian crisis who have migrated to Europe, we have mostly anecdotal information that mixes victims of the Syrian crisis with other types of migrants. For those Syrians who have fled to neighboring countries and registered as refugees, we have a substantial amount of information but to date this information has been little exploited to study the welfare of refugees.

Every day of activism to combat violence against women

Garam Dexter's picture
Also available in: العربية
A woman gets a medical checkup at a clinic in Afghanistan. © Graham Crouch/World Bank

Why do we need to talk about violence against women? The question has been raised by many organizations and individuals, but most of the time is not properly addressed and nor even clearly understood. “Yet another human rights issue… but we are seeking economic opportunities to be able to pay the bills,” is what I have been hearing from many people in the Middle East and North Africa, where I grew up. The truth is that empowering women and protecting them from violence can actually make everyone wealthier. This topic has been a heated debate not only in the Middle East and North Africa, but also in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

How can we reduce the impact of natural disasters on schools?

Vica Rosario Bogaerts's picture
Making schools resilient to the impact of disasters is arguably a no-brainer. Who would ever disagree with the need to make sure children are safe when they’re in school? Nobody.

And yet, schools continue to be destroyed when disasters strike – putting children at risk and disrupting education.

Why? Simply put, countries face a number of technical challenges to make their schools resilient. And I saw it firsthand during a visit to Mozambique, where lack of capacity hampered the government’s efforts to build safer schools. A few years back the Ministry of Education introduced a new form of school construction, involving a pre-fabricated steel frame. While in theory this technique makes construction faster and structures more reliable in the event of a disaster, reality is more complicated. The skilled labor required to use the steel frames was not always available, sometimes resulting in delays and additional costs in remote areas.

Another common challenge relates to the availability of risk information needed to identify safe locations where new schools can be built. In Indonesia for example, local communities are typically in the lead when it comes to deciding where a school will be built. And if they are not aware of potential hazards, they will likely decide to build schools on marginal lands with low economic value which are often highly exposed to hazards, such as flooding and landslides.

But these technical challenges only tell part of the story. Things become more complex when we factor in political incentives. Population growth and progress towards universal primary and secondary education have put pressure on decision makers to step up the construction of new schools. Because success is often measured in terms of number of classrooms, quantity is sometimes favored over quality, skewing incentives toward unsafe building practices. Likewise, improving the safety of existing schools can be a costly investment, and therefore a difficult decision.

Women are key for corporate success

Ahmed Ali Attiga's picture

Female board members can dramatically improve the fortunes of public companies — and the Middle East

While the Middle East has made strides towards gender equality in recent years, the upper echelons of its corporate world are still dominated by men.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in Jordan. Women there hold just 4% of all board of directors’ seats, and nearly four-fifths of firms don’t have any women on their boards. Those numbers pale in comparison with many other countries, including the United Kingdom, where 25% of all board members are women.

But a new study from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, suggests that companies would do well to inject some female leadership into their ranks — a finding that has deep implications for the entire region.

Don’t shut your doors to refugees

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | العربية
The author on the day of his graduation from the Master of Writing Studies program at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia in 2008. © Jenny Spinner

I walked among dead bodies of people blown up by bombs. I ducked and covered from bullets falling around my feet, and I was almost choked to death by an angry mourner. One of millions of Iraqis, I was trying to survive a brutal reality that never seemed to end.

I still cannot escape these images. I still smell the dead. I had to go to where death lay due to my job as a reporter. That job left many journalists, including one of my former colleagues at the Washington Post, dead.

As rewarding as it was, that job cost me my country. I had to seek refuge. Armed groups had taken every chance to attack journalists and their families, especially those who worked for American media. They kidnapped them, tortured them, and asked for ransoms to spare their lives. I did not want this to happen to my family.

#Music4Dev guest Rahim Alhaj: We have a responsibility to end the refugee crisis

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

He learned to play the oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument, at an early age in his hometown of Baghdad. He grew up writing protest songs against the dictator who ruled his country with an iron fist for three decades. He was imprisoned, tortured, and eventually forced to leave his beloved Iraq in 1991. He later found refuge in the United States.

A new strategy to address gender inequality

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français | 中文
The evidence is clear: When countries value girls and women as much as boys and men; when they invest in their health, education, and skills training; when they give women greater opportunities to participate in the economy, manage incomes, own and run businesses—the benefits extend far beyond individual girls and women to their children and families, to their communities, to societies and economies at large.

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