With a population of 355 million and the vast majority of people living in middle-income countries, the MENA region came into the Arab Spring with multiple strengths, including a young and educated population, strong resource base, and economic resilience that helped it weather the 2008/9 global financial crisis.
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Besides Pakistan, the other countries participating in the program in the initial phase are Indonesia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia. A four-year budge... Show More +t of $11.6 million has been allocated to the program, which is expected to expand further in response to client demand. For developing countries, increasing the share of energy powered by domestic, renewable sources is a critical component to improving energy security and access, strengthening the national fiscal outlook, and transitioning to a more sustainable energy sector. The new program will make funding available for high resolution mapping, ground-based data collection, geospatial analysis, and strategic environmental assessments. The work will be undertaken by World Bank operational units, acting in close consultation with client governments. “We expect this initiative to be highly catalytic,” said Oliver Knight, Senior Energy Specialist at ESMAP. “Resource mapping is a crucial step in providing the resource and policy certainty that commercial developers need to scale up investment in renewables. In addition, government authorities will be better informed in negotiations on specific projects, and donors will have a clearer sense of the data and capacity needs, as well as the renewable potential, of clients.” As well as mapping, the program will support a wide variety of activities, including consolidation and validation of existing datasets, work to standardize resource assessment methodologies, and capacity development of local institutions and experts. An open data repository will be developed to facilitate free and open access to the data, and the geospatial outputs (GIS layers) will be made available via a new web portal. The outputs will also be made available to the Global Atlas for Solar and Wind that has been developed by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Clean Energy Ministerial. The program is one of a number of initiatives the World Bank Group is undertaking in support of the global Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) campaign. One goal of the initative is to double to the share of renewable power in the global energy mix from 18 percent to 36 percent by 2030. According to the SE4ALL Global Tracking Framework report produced by a multi-agency team led by the World Bank and released on May 28, renewable energy (excluding biomass) made up only 1.6 percent of total final energy consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 1.8 percent in Southern Asia, as of 2010.“The resource mapping initiative will open a floodgate of possibilities for both large and smaller investors, as well as for consumers who desperately need new energy options,” Arif Alauddin said. Show Less -
A mobile revolutionThis new report, the third in the World Bank’s series on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Development, analyzes the growth and evolution of mobile telephony, an... Show More +d the rise of data-based services, including apps, delivered to handheld devices.The report explores the consequences for development of the emerging “app economy,” especially in agriculture, health, financial services and government, and how it is changing approaches to entrepreneurship and employment.For Tim Kelly, lead ICT policy specialist at the World Bank and one of the authors of the report, “The mobile revolution is right at the start of its growth curve: mobile devices are becoming cheaper and more powerful while networks are doubling in bandwidth roughly every 18 months and expanding into rural areas.”“We have included the latest available data and indicators for the mobile sector for more than 150 economies in the report,” explains Shaida Badiee, director of the World Bank’s Development Data Group, adding that, “the spread of mobile phones means we now have data that can be used for cross-country comparisons.”Developing mobile applicationsThe report emphasizes the role of governments in enabling mobile application development. In the agriculture sector, for instance, many of the mobile services that are being developed – such as information services for Senegalese farmers or a traceability scheme for coffee-growers in Colombia – are reliant on public funding and are still in pilot stages.“Government support is needed to develop sound business models, foster ICT skills, and ensure that the infrastructure is in place and affordable,” explains Kelly.The study also highlights how mobile innovation labs – shared spaces for training developers and incubating start-ups – can help bring new apps to market. For instance, infoDev, in collaboration with the Government of Finland and Nokia, has established five regional mobile innovation labs (mLabs) in Armenia, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, and Vietnam.“Most businesses based around mobile app technology are at an early stage of development, but may hold enormous employment and economic potential, similar to that of the software industry in the 1980s and 1990s. Supporting the networking and incubation of entrepreneurs is essential to ensure that such potential is tapped,” says Valerie D’Costa, program manager of infoDev.The study benefits from research funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, the Korea Trust Fund for ICT4D, and UKaid. Show Less -
Rapid urbanization and climate change are reshaping and exacerbating disaster risk. Together, they have added urgency to the task of building resilience in communities and countries around the world.C... Show More +limate extremes that we could hardly imagine and cope with every 20 years are going to happen every two years in this century. This is the message of a sobering report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the dramatic climate extremes that are expected to increase around the world.Meeting on the margins of the World Bank/IMF spring meetings on April 20 to discuss the implications of the report for their work on building resilience, donors, developing countries and international organizations reaffirmed their commitment to making disaster resilience a priority in development planning. The group of leading officials also agreed that integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into the development agenda is critical to building resilience in communities and countries."We have too often witnessed how disasters can roll back years of development progress," said World Bank Managing Director Mahmoud Mohieldin. "On top of that, we now need to prepare for a changing world—rapid urbanization and a changing climate are reshaping and exacerbating disaster risks.""But as we discussed today, geography need not be destiny, and the future—however uncertain and unpredictable when we factor in the impact of climate change—need not be feared if correct preventive policies are taken today.”Convened by the European Union, the Government of Japan, and the World Bank/GFDRR (Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery), the Resilience Dialogue was informed by last month’s IPCC report Managing the Risk of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.Christopher Field, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group ll, warned the group: “The risk profiles are changing—several kinds of climate and weather extremes are increasing and are projected to increase in the future. In the second half of the century, we are looking at a ten-fold increase in the frequency of severe heat events. The most extreme heat waves that we currently experience only once a decade will become annual events.”Field pointed out that we are, in many places, already seeing increases in extremes in heavy precipitation and in the length and severity of droughts. For many poor communities living in areas already exposed to even moderate climate events, such as floods, this is indeed bad news. The people most impacted are those most vulnerable in the developing world—in 2010, the Pakistan floods alone left six million people homeless.Floods are the most frequent of all natural disasters. A recent World Bank paper on cities and flooding estimates that flooding in 2010 affected 178 million people. Unprecedented―and often unregulated and unplanned―urbanization in the developing world, a large part of which is in fertile floodplains and/or coastal regions, is a key cause of increased exposure to flooding. In China, 100 million people have moved from inland to coastal areas in the last 20 years. Globally 600 million people will occupy coastal floodplain land below flood level by 2100.Indonesia knows too well the horrendous impact that disasters can have―the cost in lives and GDP. The 2004 tsunami took more than 200,000 lives. But Indonesia has learned from its disasters.“Indonesia faces more than 100 disasters a year,” said Armida Alisjahbana Minister of National Development Planning, Indonesia. “In 2004, the tsunami cost about 45 percent of Aceh's regional economy. We have tried since to prepare for disasters in a more systematic way—early warning systems in disaster-prone areas, more coordinated efforts, money in our budget to anticipate disasters, a five-year blueprint to prepare for disasters. The key to make coordination work, the key thing is to have a single institution dealing with these issues. We don’t have institutions duplicating work.”The key message from this IPCC report is the need for climate change adaptation, disaster risk management and sustainable development to be integrated into the same agenda in order to help build resilience. But the numbers tell us that we’re not there yet. The world is still spending more on humanitarian aid after a disaster than investing in prevention. According to Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development, European Union, global disaster losses amounted to US$264 billion in 2011. That amount was twice the official development aid in 2011.The World Bank, as a development institution, has been focusing more and more on building resilience. It established disaster risk reduction as a practice group, staffed up, and invested US$6 billion in the last six years in disaster risk reduction to support countries to integrate resilience into their development strategies.“Over the last three years, two-thirds of our country assistance strategies have started to build in disaster risk management. The aim is to get to 100 percent," said Kyte. "We have to change the way we think about infrastructure, agriculture, transportation, water, energy, how communities become resilient, what kind of information we share. We have to help people make infrastructure decisions that will prove resilient far into the future. But we know, too, that we are in an 'adaptation' institution. Climate change adaptation has to be integrated in all we do.”Working Together and Next StepsGFDRR, as the disaster risk reduction (DRR) focal point in the World Bank, is leading assistance to the Government of Mexico to develop DRR as a priority topic for Mexico’s G20 presidency in 2012.Dario Luna, who leads the Insurance, Pensions and Social Security unit in Mexico's Ministry of Finance, is coordinating this initiative for the Mexican government.“We in Mexico give a lot of importance to disaster risk reduction because we are a country that is prone to disasters,” Luna said. “As presidency of the G20, we wanted to put this topic on the agenda―emphasizing the reduction of both human and economic cost. One of the key aspects of our changing world is the increased exposure to natural disasters. We believe that this effort will help DRR gain more prominence in G20 countries and with finance ministers.”A key challenge in the development of risk management strategies based on robust risk information, analysis, and modeling is the lack of systematic tools and methodologies to collect data, assess risk and vulnerability, and inform decision making. A joint Mexico and World Bank public policy publication will be produced on Improving the Assessment of Natural Disaster Risks to Strengthen Financial Resilience, and presented to the G20 summit on 18-19 June in Los Cabos.Naoko Ishii, deputy vice minister of finance for International Affairs in Japan, closed the Resilience Dialogue by announcing that the next high level meeting will be held during the October 2012 IMF-World Bank Annual meetings. The event will be in Sendai, a city in the Tohoku prefecture that bore the brunt of the tsunami last year, and its objective will be to develop a global consensus among the international community to advance the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as a development priority.“The very timely IPCC Report makes clear that disaster risk management and climate change adaptation measures are essentially two sides of the same coin," Ishii said. "These measures need to be incorporated across various sectors as a key component of development policy."The participants in the Resilience Dialogue talked about how they would meet that challenge―through coordination, bridging humanitarian and development efforts, integrated approaches and by working together to turn the reaction versus prevention paradigm on its head. Show Less -
December 9, 2011 - More than a dozen firms vied for contracts on a World Bank-financed transportation project. But that bidding competition largely turned out to be a sham. A Bank investigation reveal... Show More +ed evidence the contracts were steered to particular vendors in exchange for bribes, kickbacks and payments to designated losing bidders. Ultimately the case was escalated to an independent appeals body – the World Bank Group Sanctions Board. The result: seven firms and one individual were barred from World Bank contracts, two permanently – the strongest possible action.While a press release announced the debarments, virtually nothing was published then about the evidence or deliberations in the case – one of the most egregious that have come before the Sanctions Board – or in similar cases involving errant contractors. As the World Bank marks Anti-corruption Day on December 9, that’s about to change.Under new procedures promoting greater transparency and accountability, the Sanctions Board will begin publishing the full text of new legal opinions in cases concerning contractor corruption, fraud and collusion. The opinions will be posted on the World Bank website at www.worldbank.org/sanctions.The Sanctions Board has also released a new Law Digest that describes all cases appealed to the Sanctions Board since its inception in 2007, and the legal principles that have guided the Board’s decision-making."The Bank Group has taken a major step toward greater transparency and accountability by authorizing the publication of decisions in new sanctions cases," says World Bank President Robert Zoellick. "The release of the Sanctions Board's inaugural Law Digest is another milestone demonstrating the Bank Group's commitment to a fair and accountable sanctions process."By opening up more information, the Board hopes to build a body of knowledge about fraud and corruption cases and show that all parties are treated equally under the process. "To be transparent, you need to publish decisions – good legal material showing we take each case on its merits and decide based on the evidence presented and our impartial application of relevant legal principles," says Sanctions Board Chair Dr. Fathi Kemicha, a Tunisian attorney and international arbitrator who has served as chair since 2009. "Each party is treated equally, whether from the Bank or outside the Bank. This is what our decisions reflect. This makes the system credible."Part of Broader Transparency EffortThe move contributes to the World Bank’s efforts to open data and increase access to information. The Bank was recently ranked first among donors on transparency. Publishing Sanctions Board cases will allow the public to "hold us accountable in terms of whether we apply the same yardstick in an objective, transparent and fair way," says Sanctions Board member Hartwig Schafer, director of strategy and operations in the Bank’s Sustainable Development Network."Clarity and transparency about these cases are a huge plus, not only for the World Bank and the development community, but for the taxpayer, in the final analysis," says Sanctions Board Member Hassane Cissé, deputy general counsel for knowledge and research at the Bank.The Sanctions Board—an independent body comprising four internationally recognized legal experts from outside the World Bank and three Bank officials—hears appeals on corruption and fraud cases that have been investigated by the Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) and undergone a first level of review by the Bank’s Evaluation Officer (EO).To date, the Bank has sanctioned some 456 firms and individuals, and temporarily suspended another 150 contractors. Of all contractors who have appealed to the Sanctions Board for a second, final tier of review, about 70% have received sanctions up to indefinite debarment. About 30% ultimately received no sanction, usually due to insufficient evidence in the record.Under a 2010 cross-debarment agreement, contractors debarred by the World Bank may also be debarred by other multilateral development banks.The seven-member Board is meeting in Washington this week to review new cases alleging fraud and corruption; the decisions will be among the first to be made public."We hope the publication of both the Law Digest and Sanctions Board decisions will make a significant contribution to the development of public international law and bolster antifraud and anticorruption efforts," says Kemicha, the Sanctions Board Chair.Law Digest, Decisions to Show Full Range of Legal AnalysisPreviously, the Bank published only the identity of the firm or individual, category of offense, and sanction applied in cases where the contractor was found to have engaged in fraud, corruption, or collusion. Cases in which contractors received no sanctions were not disclosed at all.Now, decisions will provide factual background and legal analysis, give everyone the same access to the body of case law, and explain what offenders did wrong – a change that may particularly benefit companies and individuals operating in a culture where corruption is pervasive, says Kemicha."We hope opening up this information will help educate the public about our fraud and corruption standards, enhance our credibility and accountability by showing how we approach each case on its merits, and add an extra level of deterrence against wrongdoing," says Sanctions Board Secretary Elizabeth Lin Forder.The increased transparency of Bank Group corruption-case rulings is also expected to influence other multilateral development banks seeking to strengthen their administrative-sanctions systems, she adds."Openness creates opportunities for the public to know more, for journalists to dig deeper because they have more information, for academicians who are looking at longer-term issues regarding fraud and corruption to also look into these matters, and for civil society groups to do the same," says Cissé. "So I think it’s going to make a difference." Show Less -
Adds World Bank Climate Change Envoy Andrew Steer: "This Climate Change Knowledge Portal enables ministers, development institutions, and non-governmental organizations in developing countries to... Show More + see within minutes what’s going to happen 30 or 40 years from now, based on the best scientific modeling that exists in the world. It’s a great tool for opening up discussion on the issues."Opening Climate Data ‘Increasingly Critical’In the past, a wealth of raw data on climate has been under-used, often ending up as static PDFs or on specialists’ hard drives. The new Climate Portal aims to make it easier to access and use climate information from various sources, including the Bank’s open data catalogue."Opening climate data will encourage experts and innovators, wherever they may be, to come up with new tools for analyzing and managing the effects of climate change,” says Shaida Badiee, director of the Bank’s Development Data Group. “The combination of open data and innovative tools will be an excellent resource for countries as they develop plans for adapting to climate change."The portal allows users to query, map, compare, chart and summarize climate and climate-related information, as well as to visualize the effects of changing patterns of rainfall and temperature. It aids government ministries and World Bank teams in 130 countries where adapting to climate change is a development priority.Modeling Risk in MozambiqueThe Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a partner of the Climate Portal, is supporting this effort through its Open Data for Resilience Initiative in 31 countries. GFDRR and government ministries are conducting disaster risk analyses, creating climate data websites, and developing applications to model risk."Making data available is one of the crucial steps toward building resilience to climate change," says GFDRR Manager Saroj Jha. "Open data enables countries to develop the kinds of counter measures needed to deal with extreme events and which must be at the core of every country’s policy and planning."GFDRR expects 15 countries will have climate open data websites by May, and possibly 31 will have them by the end of 2012. Mozambique is likely to be first. The country already suffers from droughts, cyclones and coastal flooding, and is worried about projections that rainfall will decrease during the primary growing season.Mozambique is one of many countries in the world facing such challenges. Mozambique’s disaster management agency and GFDRR are in the midst of building “climate decision” tools targeted to Mozambique’s needs, but which could be made freely available to other countries once they are developed, says Robert Soden of GFDRR’s technical Labs group.One beneficiary could be the Horn of Africa, where the World Bank has committed $1.88 billion to help the region cope with severe drought and build drought resilience. The Bank, with GFDRR and other partners in the effort, including Google, the World Food Program, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), met earlier this month to discuss sharing data. A new Horn of Africa data website will be accessible through the Climate Change Knowledge Portal and the Open Data site."Because there is so much unknown and there is so much data out there, it’s going to be really important that the data is accessible," said Jason Kessler of NASA. "To be able to really meaningfully study and understand what’s going on, it’s going to require as much information as people can get their hands on.""The Climate Change Knowledge Portal is a one-stop shop and will be an invaluable tool both for the Bank team and developing countries alike," says Marianne Fay, chief economist in the Bank’s Sustainable Development Network. "The portal provides an ideal web-based platform to assist in knowledge development, planning and knowledge sharing for green development and resilience to climate change." Show Less -
February 12, 2009—In a small village in the Philippines, Marciel Tuayon proudly shows off her children’s new schoolbags to visitors from the World Bank. With money coming in from a government cash tra... Show More +nsfer program, she is able, for the first time, to send all five of her young children to school.“I am thankful for the money,” said this 34-year-old mother, who was happy to accept a number of conditions—including regular schooling for her children—in order to receive the cash. “I am now able to buy school supplies. ”Maria Elena Saga, principal of the nearby Esperanza Elementary School where Marciel sends her children, has seen change come to the village with help from the program. “There was a big drop-out rate before because of child labor and children having to take care of other children,” she said, “Now there is a big increase in attendance.”A new World Bank report, “Conditional Cash Transfers: Reducing Present and Future Poverty,” takes stock of programs that give poor families cash to keep children in school or take them to health clinics, noting that they work well to help reduce poverty and invest in tomorrow’s adults.“We are increasing support to conditional cash transfer programs because they stand out as an example of how to use resources effectively—especially during this period of multiple crises and uncertain foreign aid,” said Justin Lin, World Bank chief economist.Cash or Tortillas?By providing steady cash, “CCT” programs shield poor families from the worst effects of unemployment, catastrophic illness, and other shocks to household income. There is less risk of children going hungry or being pulled out of school, while human capital is built for the future.“We could instead transfer income to the poor by subsidizing tortillas, but that would just promote consumption of tortillas,” said Santiago Levy, Vice President, Inter-American Development Bank and main architect of Mexico’s Progresa/Oportunidades, a pioneering CCT program in Latin America. “If you are going to transfer income, do it in a smart way, so that one day poverty is reduced to the extent that you won’t have to do it anymore.”Indeed, CCTs can be an efficient part of 21st-century social protection strategies, as governments try to replace less effective income transfers such as badly targeted, market-distorting subsidies.The CCTs explosionIn 1997, three developing countries had CCT programs: Bangladesh, Brazil, and Mexico. Over the next decade, these programs spread across the world to cover over two dozen countries by 2008. There are now CCT programs on every continent, in both rich and poor countries, from Mexico’s Oportunidades to New York City’s Opportunity NYC.CCTs have also grown tremendously within countries. Mexico’s Progresa began in 1997 with 300,000 households; its successor Oportunidades now reaches 5 million households.“A part of the reason these programs are getting popular is support from institutions like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank,” said Tina Rosenberg, a Pulitzer-winning writer for the New York Times, during a discussion at the World Bank. “But there’s also been an ideological shift in how people think about social welfare.”Rosenberg, who has written extensively on Latin America, also noted that CCTs are relatively easy to do well, and that the basics of these programs are much easier to export to low-capacity countries than any other social program.Breaking the poverty cycle“The opportunity that CCTs offer—to break the poverty cycle from parents to children—is very compelling,” said Norbert Schady, co-author of the report and senior economist at the World Bank. “There’s solid evidence that CCTs boost consumption and reduce poverty.”As might be expected, the effect on poverty reduction is greatest when the size of the cash transfer is generous. In Mexico, the poverty gap—or shortfall from the poverty line—among CCT beneficiaries in rural areas was reduced by 19 percent.Household consumption patterns have changed among CCT beneficiary households, in part because cash transfers are made to women. The evidence shows that women spend more than men do on food, high-quality nutrition, and other things that benefit children.CCTs have been so successful against poverty because they largely target poor households. Also, they have not, as some feared, led to adults reducing their work outputs in response to the steady income supplement.“The old thinking was that if you gave poor people cash, they might spend it on alcohol,” commented Levy, “But if you treat people from poor households like adults, they behave like adults, and I think that’s good news.”More children in schoolCCTs have clearly increased the use of education services in country after country. In Pakistan, for instance, a CCT program increased the school enrollment of 10-14 year-old girls by 11 percentage points. And in Mexico, the Oportunidades program decreased dropout rates between the 6th and 7th grade by 9 percentage points.“I've met kids from the poorest families in Mexico who have finished secondary school and are aspiring to go to university,” said Axel van Trotsenberg, World Bank country director for Colombia and Mexico. “That you didn't see 20 years ago—but now, it’s a real possibility.”In Latin America, CCTs have also increased the use of preventive health services. In Honduras, a CCT program increased the proportion of children who had at least one preventive health visit by 20 percentage points.Are CCTs a silver bullet?The new World Bank report on CCTs cautions that they are not a panacea for all ills. In fact, these programs need plenty of complementary services and support.“The use of services doesn't automatically translate into improved outcomes,” said Ariel Fiszbein, co-author of the report and Chief Economist for Human Development at the World Bank. “We find that when children go to school more, it doesn't necessarily mean they are learning more.”To actually reduce child mortality or improve learning, CCTs need to be complemented by higher-quality education and health services and a strong focus on giving children a head start, such as via better nutrition or preschool programs.Fiszbein noted that CCTs need to be complemented by actions to improve the coverage and quality of public services. He saw this as “the other side of the CCT coin,” where service providers like nurses and teachers are given incentives to influence their behavior.Notably, CCTs are not the only means of social protection. They are intended to support poor households with children, and should be supplemented by other transfer programs such as social pensions or workfare to reach all vulnerable groups.A focus on resultsOne of the important features of CCT programs is that many have advanced monitoring components that allow an objective evaluation of their results. For example, Colombia’s Familias en Acción systematically monitors the program’s impact on its beneficiaries.“We have been strongly supporting the Colombia program financially, with a big loan approved in December 2008,” said Trotsenberg, “But most importantly, we are involved in the program’s design, monitoring and evaluation; this helps the program work better.”“CCT programs have helped modernize social sector management since they require coordination across many agencies,” concluded Fiszbein. “Their careful monitoring and evaluation is invaluable in assessing results objectively and helping design better programs going forward.” Show Less -