After almost a year of crisis, Yemen has embarked on a political transition based on an agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in November 2011. Yemen started a 565-member National Dialogue process in March 2013, which concluded in January 2014 with the decision to transform Yemen into a Federal State.
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Despite being a predominantly rural country—with 68% of its total population living in rural areas—where irrigated agriculture remains the main economic activity, and source of income and employment, ... Show More +Yemen was undergoing a rapid dwindling of its groundwater resources. Per capita availability of water was 115 m3 per year, compared to 1,250 m3 in MNA countries, while the rest of the world relied on an average of 7,500 m3. If nothing was done, this already low water availability would gradually be reduced to an unsustainable 65 m3 per year by 2031. Moreover, farmers had no, or barely any, on-farm water management practices that could help minimize consumption. Therefore, the depletion of groundwater directly impacted poverty, employment and social order. SolutionThe Groundwater and Soil Conservation Project was intended to assist the Government of Yemen (GOY) in promoting groundwater conservation in farming areas, and increasing surface and groundwater availability. The project aimed at improving irrigation water use efficiency, thus increasing farmer returns to water and creating the conditions that would allow farmers to reduce groundwater pumping from aquifers. It also focused on improving recharge and protection of watersheds in order to increase surface and groundwater availability. Another emphasis of the project was on supporting the groundwater management framework and institutions to provide the incentive and capacity to manage local water resources in a sustainable manner.ResultsMany of the farmers assisted by the project have received substantial benefits, which helped to reduce costs and improve yields. Smaller farmers received a higher rate of subsidy, while subsidies for larger farmers were limited by an area ceiling. Besides saving more than 80 million cubic meters (MCM) of groundwater per year, the project investments resulted in significantly improved levels of family incomes for project beneficiaries, increasing from 13.8 to 27% over the previous levels. Additionally, the economic rate of return (ERR) increased from 16.6% at project appraisal to 36.4%. Furthermore, the net present value (NPV) reached Yemeni Rial (YR) 13.7 billion (US$62.3 million) as opposed to YR 2.27 billion at appraisal. The production increase of benefited farms and the reduction in production costs (mainly from the reduction of groundwater pumping by 16%) resulted in a 43% increase of the pumped water productivity (from YR 53 of net value of production per cubic meter of water pumped to YR 76).Bank Group ContributionA total amount of US$54.2 million was disbursed out of an IDA credit of US$40.0 million and an Additional IDA credit of US$15.0 million to complete the project. In addition to this, US$1.1 million was provided from Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) to support three pilot schemes which successfully demonstrated sustainable management of groundwater resoruces by communities.PartnersThe project was implemented by the project coordination unit (PCU) established under the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. Under the PCU, 10 field units were established to carry out day-to-day supervision of the project activities in the selected governorates. Sanaa University participated in the project as an implementing agency for JSDF-funded activities. Through the implementation of this project, the Bank played a leading role in irrigation and water resources management in Yemen and led the discussion of the National Water Sector Strategy and Investment Program with the Government in collaboration with other development partners (GIZ, KfW, Netherlands, and JICA).Moving ForwardThe project was scaled up by additional financing of US$15 million. Moreover, the project was followed by the Water Sector Support Project of US$90 million loan as a nationwide project cofinanced with KfW and the Netherlands.BeneficiariesThe project promoted bucket type drip irrigation by women for home garden vegetable farming to increase nutrition of poor families. This aspect of the project was later taken up by a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project. For piped conveyance systems, 94% of farmers reported increased incomes, and 80% reported increased incomes for localized on-farm irrigation systems. On average, farmers saved 46% in pumping costs, 39% in diesel fuel, and 54% in labor. A few farmers—4% for piped conveyance and 9% for localized on-farm irrigation systems—indicated that the project had a positive impact on groundwater levels. In relation to sustainability, farmers have already started maintaining the piped and localized on-farm irrigation systems by themselves. In terms of long term impact, a problem solving partnership has developed with farmers, particularly with regards to the piped conveyance systems. Farmers felt the main benefits were in reduced labor, increased yields, and water savings, with even stronger impacts for the localized on-farm irrigation systems. Show Less -
Bank Group ContributionThe overall WB biodiversity portfolio of 245 projects in the ten years from FY2004 to 2013 included direct biodiversity commitments worth over US$ 1 billion. Of this, 27 percent... Show More + came from GEF funds, while 69 percent came from IBRD/IDA. These projects have taken place in 74 countries in all six of the WBG’s regions. Most projects were in the Africa and in the Latin America and Caribbean regions, which between them accounted for more than two thirds of biodiversity projects. In 2013, new biodiversity commitments amounted to US$ 35 million relatively low compared to previous years, but the current pipeline contains projects worth US$ 269 million.PartnersGlobal and regional partnerships are playing an important role in promoting biodiversity conservation. Some of the key partnerships are as follows:The Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF) has brought together the governments of France and Japan together with the MacArthur Foundation, the European Commission and Conservation International, and awarded grants to over 1,600 civil society organizations to reduce threats to 21 critically endangered hotspots.The Global Tiger Initiative launched in 2008 has helped strengthen political ownership by the 13 tiger countries of their endangered tiger populations.The Save our Species (SOS) program seeks to leverage private sector engagement for funding for threatened species and has provided support to 75 species across 34 countries to date.The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime is a collaborative effort of five inter-governmental organizations to bring coordinated support to national wildlife law enforcement agencies and sub-regional networks. Moving ForwardGoing forward, Bank investments in biodiversity will build on our comparative advantage as an institution that sets the benchmark for public development finance globally. The World Bank’s leadership and coordinating role within the donor community, complemented by access to trust funds and lending resources, can help mainstream biodiversity within national agendas as a critical part of sustainable development.Four areas of emphasis have emerged from our decades of experience investing in biodiversity and ecosystem services:(1) addressing policy failures through the design and application of new tools (e.g. to implement natural capital accounting), financing instruments (especially Development Policy Operations (DPOs), and partnerships (e.g. Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services WAVES), and the Global Partnership for Oceans);(2) strengthening governance and the role of public sector agencies in partnership with the private sector and civil society, focusing in particular on improving systems of governance and institution-building;(3) building resilience through investments in biodiversity and ecosystem services across landscapes in close collaboration with other sectors, particularly through the use of land-use planning, moving beyond sector silos, and mainstreaming the use of green infrastructure to reduce the exposure of physical and social capital to external shocks; and(4) reducing governments’ exposure to volatile boom-and-bust financing by creating, piloting and mainstreaming financial mechanisms that enable long-term investment in nature and create financial flows from biodiversity and ecosystem services.Beneficiaries“Training on navigation is used quite a lot during patrols. We’ve also been able to use training in the arrest of suspects through ambushes and takedowns. We’ve also found training in reconnaissance and first aid to be very helpful as well,” remarked Salak Chairacha, Enforcement Ranger Patrol Team Leader, TLNP.“It’s been a rigorous process but the long-term engagement of SOS over two years has meant we could take the time to build the formal partnerships and relationships we needed. Now we have a strong foundation for the future,” says Mr. Brad Rutherford, Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Trust. The community programmes launched with SOS support are being recognised as a key part of Pakistan’s strategy for meeting its national snow leopard survival objectives as well as the goals set by the Global Snow Leopard Forum. Show Less -
ChallengeWater is one of the most basic human needs and is indispensable to almost all economic activities, including agriculture, energy production, industry, and mining. With impacts on health, gend... Show More +er equity, education and livelihood, water management is crucial to sustainable economic development and the alleviation of poverty. Yet water is under unprecedented pressures as growing populations and competing economic sectors demand more of it leaving insufficient water to meet human needs, as well as sustaining the environmental flows that keep our ecosystems healthy. Groundwater reserves are depleted in many places, leaving current and future generations with close to no buffer against increased climate variability.Worsening water quality resulting from a wide range of economic activities is reducing the available amount of fresh water, degrading land, impacting many terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and adding to the costs of water treatment. Access to safe sanitation and water is still out of reach for 2.5 billion and 768 million people respectively, leading to thousands of lives lost daily and billions of dollars in economic losses annually.Ample evidence exists that climate change will exacerbate the challenge by increasing hydrologic variability which will result in more frequent and intense weather events like droughts, floods and major storms. Experts estimate that by 2080, 43 to 50 percent of the global population will be living in water-scarce countries, compared to 28 percent today. A recent World Bank report, Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C world must be avoided, suggests that in a 4°Celsius warmer world, water stress will increase in areas around the world. The roughly 1 billion people living in monsoonal basins and the 500 million people living in deltas are especially vulnerable. The poorest people will suffer the most and are the least prepared. Water-resources management issues have become so pressing that the World Economic Forum named water as one of its top challenges two years in a row, in 2013 and 2014. Within this changing physical and socio-economic landscape, water practices of the past are no longer adequate. Countries cannot grow sustainably, or strengthen their resilience to climate change, without smart water management that takes into account decreasing water availability and quality, and the need for deliberative allocation based on social, environmental, and economic needs.Global water challenges require multi-sectoral solutions:Water and agriculture: By 2050 the world will need to feed 9 billion people — 2 billion more than today’s population. This will result in a 50 percent increase in agricultural production and a 15 percent increase in already-strained water withdrawals. Already, the agricultural sector is by far the largest global user of water. Irrigated agriculture accounts for about 70 percent of total freshwater withdrawals worldwide. Yet, water is becoming increasingly scarce as a result of continued population growth, declining groundwater supplies and water quality issues. Climate change will worsen the situation by increasing water stress. Poorer countries contributing least to the problem will be most affected.Water and energy: Today, over 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity. Currently, water withdrawals for energy are estimated at around 15% of global water withdrawals. At the same time, estimates show that by 2035, global energy consumption will increase by 35%, and while water use will become more efficient, actual water consumption by the energy sector may increase by 85%. Water and sustainable cities: over the next 20 years, cities in developing countries will double and so will their demand for integrated approaches to managing water supply, water quality, sanitation, drainage, recreational use, and flood management.Water and disaster risk management: Many of the impacts of natural disasters on socio-economic development occur through water. Water-related hazards account for 90% of all natural hazards, and their frequency and intensity is generally rising. Some 373 natural disasters killed over 296,800 people in 2010, affecting nearly 208 million others and costing nearly US$110 billion (Source: United Nations Secretary General Report to the 66th General Assembly on the Implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. New York, UN).Water and sanitation: at least 2.5 billion and 768 million people remain without access to improved sanitation and water, respectively. Providing these services sustainably requires integrated planning and management, including securing a quality water supply. Most economic activities (e.g. agriculture, energy, industry, and mining) affect not only the quantity but also the quality of water resources, thereby further limiting water availability. Allocation of limited water resources among competing economic sectors and environmental water needs will be an increasing challenge for many countries. Failing to establish appropriate allocation mechanisms will impede development, resulting in increased income inequality and exacerbating environmental pressures.SolutionThe World Bank is positioned to play a key role by working across sectors and countries to help communities build resilience to climate change through integrated water resources management (WRM). The Bank is one of the key providers of knowledge and technical assistance on water. It is the largest multilateral donor for water development with a water portfolio accounting for 18 percent of its overall portfolio (representing 32 billion dollars in active commitments) as of 2014, with a clear focus on building foundations for shared prosperity and poverty alleviation. Show Less -
ChallengeIn mid-2008, the world experienced large spikes in key global food prices. The World Bank Food Price Index rose by 60 percent in the course of just a few months of 2008, and international pri... Show More +ces of maize, rice, and wheat increased by 70 percent, 180 percent, and 120 percent, respectively, compared to the mid-2007. These price spikes were unexpected, and the impact on developing countries was large. They were estimated by the World Bank to have kept or pushed 105 million people into poverty in low-income countries.After 2008, world food prices spiked twice. In early 2011, the Bank Food Price Index, after declining by 30 percent from mid-2008 to mid-2010, rose sharply, reaching its 2008 peak again in February 2011. Then, in mid-2012, world food prices escalated again. The Bank Food Price Index rose 14 percent from January to August 2012 as world maize prices soared to an all-time high in July 2012, surpassing their 2008 and 2011 peaks and rising 45 percent within a month.These latter price spikes also had adverse impacts on developing countries, but overall the impact was smaller than in 2008, largely because many developing countries had increased their cereal production since 2008, had reduced their import bills, and fuel and fertilizer prices were at lower levels than in 2008. Countries also reacted more swiftly. The 2011 food price spike was estimated to have affected 40-44 million people in low- and middle- income countries. Broad agricultural price increases sustained overtime pinpoint to structural weaknesses in the global food supply system. Higher global food prices and food price volatility have become a longer-term phenomenon, as indicated in the Spring 2011 Development Committee Report, Joint International Organizations Report to G20, and the World Bank’s 2012 Global Monitoring Report. Price spikes and volatility are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, with persistent uncertainty on the supply side, including continued low grain stock levels, against projected rising demand and the inherent low responsiveness of the global food system to shocks. This long-term phenomenon requires a longer-term response.SolutionAn era of food crises reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s seemed to return in 2008, prompting clients to request fast-disbursing financial support and urgent policy advice to help them cope with the food price crisis without creating further problems for the future. This led the World Bank to create the Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP). The GFRP gave countries alternatives to the food emergency response policies of 1970s, many of which involved closing borders, government intervention in food and input markets, and other actions that had the effect of discouraging both smallholder and broader market-led investment in agriculture for many years. In 2008, GFRP’s immediate efforts included boosting social protection, bolstering affected countries’ fiscal space, and maintaining short- and medium-term food production, with grant resources targeted to the poorest and most vulnerable countries. As time passed, country needs shifted to making social protection and food production systems more resilient to variable circumstances, and the nature of GFRP grants evolved to meet these demands. Drawing upon expertise across the Bank, the GFRP financed stand-alone technical assistance, development policy lending, and investment operations under four components: food price policy and market stabilization; social protection actions to ensure food access and minimize the nutritional impact of the crisis on the poor and vulnerable; enhancement of domestic food production and marketing response; and implementation support, communications, and monitoring and evaluation. The GFRP encompassed several funding sources, with an authorized ceiling on the use of Bank sourced-funds of US$1.2 billion in May 2008, later increased to US$2 billion in April 2009. Funding sources included a single-donor trust fund (the Food Price Crisis Response Trust Fund) of US$200 million from the IBRD surplus account, a further US$1.8 billion in headroom for fast-tracked loans from existing IDA and IBRD resources already available to countries, and several externally-funded trust funds supporting the full range of activities available under the GFRP. Show Less -
ChallengeGlobally, 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty. The CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program was designed to address the reality that there are few sustainable pathways out of extre... Show More +me poverty for the most vulnerable. Both microfinance and livelihoods programs tend to reach people at, or immediately below, the poverty line – but not those who are extremely poor: those at the lowest level of the economic ladder. While they do benefit from social safety net programs, which typically include cash transfers, food aid and/or public-works employment, most such programs lack effective exit strategies and fail to prepare beneficiaries for market activities. So, once the support ends, beneficiaries fall back into the ranks of the food-insecure. The development problem identified was two-fold as both a targeting challenge and an approach challenge. Although the poorest of the poor are those most in need, they are often inadvertently overlooked by many development interventions.SolutionCGAP created the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program in 2006 to learn how safety nets, livelihoods and microfinance can be sequenced to create pathways for the poorest to “graduate” out of extreme poverty in a time-bound manner. The program is built on five core elements: targeting, consumption support, savings, skills training and regular coaching, and an asset transfer. The interdisciplinary approach of the Graduation Program cuts across social protection, livelihood development, and access to finance. Ten pilot projects operate in Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Pakistan, Peru and Yemen. Project monitoring, qualitative research and/or impact assessments through randomized controlled trials (RCT) are built into each pilot. The program uses a targeting approach to identify the poorest households. Within 18 to 36 months, between 75% and 98% of participants graduate and become more food-secure, enjoy stabilized and diversified incomes, increase assets, have better healthcare access, increase self-confidence, and have a plan for the future.ResultsThe program is building resilience among its participants. RCT impact evaluations are conducted in eight pilots to measure the benefits that can be confidently attributed to the Graduation Program. Results are in from four sites. Six pilots have been completed to date involving between 150 and 1,000 participants each for a total of 2,976 participants in the pilot phase, with graduation rates between 75% and 98%. Four of the six pilots specifically targeted women, while the pilots in Pakistan and Honduras targeted the poorest households in selected communities irrespective of gender. Five of the six graduated pilots have scaled up, with targets to reach 5,000 to 60,000 people. Four pilots are still ongoing with a total of 2,400 participants in Ethiopia, Ghana, Peru and Yemen.The benefits in the lives of the poorest provide strong evidence that the Graduation model can work across time and location. For example, in Honduras and Pakistan, early results indicate a rise in food security and increased asset value/ownership, in particular livestock ownership. The pilot in West Bengal (PDF) showed higher food consumption, rise in control over business income and a significant increase in health indicators of the participants.Esther Duflo, Founder and Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, said about the results: “Let me be clear: These are very good results . . . seeing people 10 to 15 percent richer after two or three years. I don’t think you could have expected anything much better.”One of the most intriguing results is that reported “happiness” increased in the two sites (Honduras and West Bengal) where it was measured. These indicators of hope and an orientation toward the future may be one of the keys to unlocking poverty traps. Show Less -
ChallengeGender inequality is manifestly unfair. It is also bad economics: under-investing in women and girls puts a brake on poverty reduction and limits economic and social development. There has be... Show More +en major progress in health and education over the past three decades: two-thirds of all countries have now reached gender parity in primary education, fertility rates have declined, and life expectancy for women has increased substantially.Yet, serious gender disparities persist. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, for example, still see maternal mortality rates comparable to that of Northern Europe in the 19th century. Wage gaps and gender segregation in economic activity are pervasive—for example, women agricultural workers, especially in Africa, operate smaller plots of land, have less access to essential inputs such as fertilizer, are limited in their access to credit, and farm less remunerative crops, leading to less overall productivity. Globally, only one in five national parliament members is a woman and an estimated one in ten ever-partnered women will be abused by a partner in her lifetime. In some cases, there is a reverse problem, in over one-third of countries, girls significantly outnumber boys in secondary education. The World Bank Group has focused on gender since 1977, when it appointed its first Women in Development Adviser. In 1995, then-President Jim Wolfensohn chose to give his first major speech at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, proposing universal primary education for girls and boys by 2010. The Bank adopted a mainstreaming strategy in 2001, and in 2008, then-President Robert Zoellick called for an increase in IDA investments toward gender as one of his six commitments on gender equality.The Gender Action Plan (2007-2011) boosted the Bank Group’s support to women and girls in the traditionally difficult-to-mainstream economic sectors, using pilots to increase visibility and yield results in the short term. The plan’s clear message, “Gender Equality as Smart Economics” built on the World Bank’s comparative advantage and helped gain broad-based support.Gender was identified as a special theme for the 16th IDA replenishment which mobilized funding for the IDA16 implementation period FY2012-2014. IDA committed to strengthen gender mainstreaming in its operations and analytical work through specific gender-related deliverables in these countries over the three-year period.Among the deliverables was the completion and launch in September 2011, of the World Bank’s World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development (WDR 2012), which provided much-needed evidence documenting areas of progress and remaining gender gaps globally.Disparities in gender equality come with economic costs, shortchange the next generation, and lead to suboptimal institutions and policies. Studies show that progress in this area benefits everyone, not just women and girls. Economies thrive; women, men, girls, and boys have access to equal opportunities; and communities prosper when women and men are equally empowered.SolutionUnder IDA16, the Bank made specific commitments to accelerate progress on gender mainstreaming and gender-related MDGs, and introduce a robust results framework to track this progress. The actions are as follows:Complete the World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development;Ensure that 100 percent of IDA CASs draw on and discuss the findings of a gender assessment, which would be supported through the issuance of a guidance note on the World Bank gender policy, training for staff on how to mainstream gender issues in CASs, and more robust corporate review of gender analysis of CASs by the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) network;Increase gender-informed IDA investments and monitor progressContinue to track three indicators to measure IDA’s support to gender-based country outcomes in the percentage of: (i) safety nets projects designed to mitigate risk and vulnerability for women and girls; (ii) agriculture and rural development operations that target women; and (iii) health projects that address high fertility and maternal mortality;Complete the preparation of Regional Gender Action Plans;Implement the Reproductive Health Action Plan with a focus on 52 priority countries with high maternal mortality and total fertility rates, including 25 countries in the Africa region;Complete the Education Sector Strategy and subsequently implement a program of action targeting gender issues in high priority countries; andStrengthen efforts to integrate a gender perspective in IDA’s support to fragile and conflict-affected countries.This framework was complemented by a Bank Group-wide set of strategic directions, laid out following the release of the WDR 2012 to increase attention to gender equality and to provide a framework for the World Bank’s work going forward. These five strategic directions are:informing country policy dialogue;enhancing country-level gender diagnostics;scaling up lending for domestic priorities;increasing the availability of gender-relevant data and statistics; andleveraging partnerships.The World Bank Group is already seeing marked improvement in the quality and volume of gender-informed work in response to the IDA16 commitments and the strategic directions based on the recommendations of the WDR 2012. The work is far from over, however, and continued attention to issues of gender equality in IDA and across the Bank Group is crucial to ensuring that gains are not temporary and that gender equality remains everyone’s business.Results A number of projects have achieved positive gender results, and promising new projects are getting off the ground that specifically target women and girls as beneficiaries. A few examples are below.In Punjab, Pakistan, home to 60 percent of the country’s population, the Bank is helping expand access to quality education and promote better governance and accountability in the education system. Under the government’s Bank-supported program, more than 400,000 eligible girls receive targeted monthly stipends tied to school attendance; and the government supports approximately 2,000 low-cost private schools serving nearly a million low-income students. This is in a broader context where the primary net enrollment rate increased from 50 percent to 54 percent since 2007 and the ratio of female-male primary net enrollment rose in rural areas from 61 percent to 76 percent.Tajikistan faces high stunting rates, the result of under-nutrition, a condition exacerbated by the 2008 food price shock. To mitigate the risk of malnutrition, the Bank-supported Community and Basic Health Project provides food packages and micronutrient supplements to approximately 50,000 women, infants and children under age 5. By mid-2011, the project had trained 1,000 primary healthcare workers and 300 community volunteers to deliver education on breastfeeding, good nutrition and care of sick children to 1,000 pregnant woman, and micronutrient supplements and vitamins had been delivered to approximately 44,000 women and children.The IDA-funded US$150 million Water and Sanitation Service Improvement Project, approved in 2007, is supporting Kenya’s efforts to expand access to safe water and sanitation services. The project initiated a capacity building program targeting 24 utilities. One example of the project’s aim to improve access is the Githunguri Water Company which, following the utility training, changed its connection policy. It no longer requires women to provide title deeds to secure a connection or to register under their father’s or husband’s names. Meters can now be rented and connection payments made by installments. As a result, between January and May 2011 the company received 18 applications from women. Following the change of policy and awareness creation, within six weeks 50 women had signed up for new connections and 29 had been connected. Similar efforts were recorded with the Kiambu Water Company which reduced connection fees from US$93 to US$67 and made it payable by installments, targeting increased applications from women.The Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MoWI) in Kenya won second place in the United Nations Public Service Award (UNPSA) in 2012, in recognition of its work to promote gender-responsive public service delivery.In Liberia, the Adolescent Girls Initiative, Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women targets 2,500 young women age 16 to 27 in Greater Monrovia and Kakata City at the critical school-to-work transition stage. The program consists of six-months of classroom training followed by six-months of placement and support (including micro-enterprise advisory services and internship and job placement assistance). The aim is to smooth the transition from the classroom to wage or self-employment. About 65% of the girls were trained in business development skills and roughly 35% were trained in job skills. All girls also received life skills training. Post-training all graduates enter a 6-month support period where they are assisted with job searching and placement or otherwise supported to start their own businesses.Preliminary results show that the program led to a 50 percent increase in employment and a 115% increase in average weekly income among project beneficiaries, compared to those in the control group. The majority of the employment increase was driven by the business skills track. The program also significantly increases average weekly income and girls’ savings.More than eleven years after the fall of the Taliban, improving the lives of women in Afghanistan remains a critical challenge. One of the more ambitious efforts has been led by the National Solidarity Program (NSP), a community-driven development project which covers 30,000 villages across Afghanistan. NSP includes special provisions to promote gender equality, such as establishing a gender-balanced village development council and requiring female participation in council elections and in the selection of village projects.The program was found to improve attitudes on female participation in community affairs. Men in villages with NSP were 20 percent more likely to accept women’s involvement in the selection of the village headman, while women were 8 percent more likely. There was also a reduction in the proportion of men and women who felt that female villagers should have no role in community decision-making (by 42 and 16 percent respectively). Women and men in villages with NSP were more likely to report that there is at least one woman in the village well-respected by men and women alike (21 and 27 percent respectively), and women in NSP villages were also 13 percent more likely to have been involved in income-generating activities.In Bolivia, the Urban Infrastructure Project (2006-2010) aims to achieve sustainable improvements in the urban infrastructure and living standards in the poorest neighborhoods of La Paz, to enhance mobility in the city of El Alto, and to expand sewerage coverage in poor areas of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Some early benefits of this project include a reduction in violence against women resulting from the installation of indoor sanitation facilities and street lighting; an expected enhancement of women’s economic opportunities due to the construction of childcare facilities and community centers; and pedestrian friendly infrastructure which took into account the needs of women, the elderly, and children.The Burundi Health Sector Development Support Project (US$25 million), is a national results-based financing program which has helped to increase utilization of reproductive health services. It saw an increase in facility based births by 25 percent; an increase in prenatal consultations by 20 percent; a 35 percent increase in curative care consultations for pregnant women; and a 27 percent increase in family planning services obtained through health facilities during its first year of implementation (FY11). Knowledge efforts include Demographic Dividend in African Countries which focused on addressing the policy implications of population growth and economic development, identified country-specific factors for capturing the demographic dividend, and estimated the expected size and duration of the additional population and economic growth.The Safe Motherhood Vouchers Program has provided services to poor households in Sana’a, Yemen, through vouchers aimed at pregnant women. The project enrolled 9,500 poor eligible women and delivered births to about 7,000 cases. The political climate and security concerns have slowed work in 2012 and have created additional barriers to improving health outcomes, as witnessed by the closure of health centers in Yemen (for example), which will need to be reviewed and addressed moving forward.Current operations specifically addressing at-risk youth and employment in fragile and conflict-affected states include the Afghanistan Skills Development Project (US$20 million from IDA and funding from other donors), the Liberia Youth, Employment, Skills Project (US$6 million from IDA and additional funding from the Catalytic Growth Fund), the Sierra Leone Youth Employment Support Skills Project (US$20 million from IDA) and the Côte d’Ivoire Emergency Youth Employment and Skills Development Project (US$50 million from IDA). These projects target low-skilled male youth and include provisions to assure participation of low-skilled female youth.And, finally, a $50 million IDA operation in Ethiopia, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Project, promotes small and medium enterprises owned or part owned by women, through access to microfinance, developing entrepreneurial skills, technology and cluster development, training in project management, advocacy and outreach, monitoring and evaluation, and impact evaluations to provide lessons about what works.Bank Group ContributionIn FY2012, approximately US$12.9 billion, or 90 percent, of IDA commitments were gender-informed.Moving Forward World Bank Group is ramping up its gender work and policy dialogue in all regions and sectors through Regional Gender Action Plans, Country Assistance Strategies, and a greater emphasis on measuring results, improving data coverage and working in frontier areas. The IDA16 commitments will continue to be tracked, and gender will continue to feature as a prominent area of focus beyond the IDA16 implementation period.World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has made strong commitments on gender, highlighting a need for better data that measures equality for women and girls. In this vein, the World Bank is committed to improving data collection in 10 countries this year, in key areas such as women's earnings, property ownership, and political voice. Next year, the World Bank will target 10 additional countries, and add more each year.A gender companion to the 2013 World Development Report on Jobs will be completed in mid-2013, and a new report on Women’s Voice, Agency, and Participation will be released in Spring 2014. Additionally the third edition of the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law report will be released in Fall 2013, updating and expanding on the existing data, including new economies, and adding information on violence against women legislation. This underlines the World Bank’s long-held assertion that these issues matter intrinsically and that addressing them is the smart thing to do, because inequality is costly, and increasingly so in a globalizing world. Show Less -