Sustainable development recognizes that growth must be both inclusive and environmentally sound to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity for today’s population and to continue to meet the needs of future generations. It must be efficient with resources and carefully planned to deliver immediate and long-term benefits for people, planet, and prosperity.
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BAGHDAD, January 28, 2015 – In 2012, one-fifth of Iraq’s population lived below the poverty line, and a significant share of the Iraqi people was vulnerable to falling into poverty, according to a new... Show More + World Bank Group report. Although the country experienced high economic growth, averaging seven percent annually between 2008 and 2012, poverty fell by only 4 percentage points during this time, and the richer segments of the population reaped more of the benefitsIraq has been a nexus of conflict and fragility for decades, and faces yet another crisis today, which will have important implications for the welfare of its people. Addressing this crisis will take time and concerted effort; however, there may be important lessons from the recent period of relative peace, 2007-2012, that can help identify and address the root causes of poverty, exclusion, and continued violence and insecurity.The Unfulfilled Promise of Oil and Growth: Poverty, Inclusion and Welfare in Iraq, 2007-2012, provides the first in-depth analysis of Iraq’s economic and social development since 2006–07, a period marked by recovery in the oil sector, a massive scaling up of oil revenues, and extensive efforts by the government to meet the high expectations of the people.“This report provides incisive analysis on the relationship between past growth and poverty reduction in Iraq,” said Robert Bou Jaoude, World Bank Country Manager for Iraq. “It outlines policy implications for a more inclusive growth process, serves as a guide to ensure social and economic targets are indeed met, and lays out priorities and actions necessary for enhancing the welfare of Iraq’s citizens.”The report, which is based on two rounds of nationwide and comprehensive household surveys from 2007 and 2012, shows that the establishment of a civilian-elected government in 2005-06 was followed by a period of strong economic growth. Poverty, however, declined only modestly, and deep deprivations in non-monetary dimensions persisted. Close to half the population in Iraq has less than primary level education; almost a third of children ages 0 to 5 are stunted; over 90 percent of households in Baghdad, and central and southern governorates receive less than 8 hours of electricity a day; a third of men and 90 percent of women aged 15 to 64 are neither employed nor looking for work; and more than 60 percent of the calories consumed by the poor come from a nationwide food subsidy program. And this was the situation before the current crisis.“The report’s findings also reflect Iraq’s difficult legacy of violence, fragility, and institutional weakness. Iraq faces enormous long term challenges that may take a long time to overcome,” said Nandini Krishnan, World Bank Senior Economist and Lead Author of the Report.The continued internal violence and insecurity in some parts of the country between 2003 and 2012 contributed to deepening economic and social fragmentation: Iraq lost more than 100,000 civilians to violence and the provinces north and west of Baghdad continued to be unstable. As a result, welfare was severely constrained.Between 2007 and 2012, the government tried to redistribute oil revenues through public transfers and public sector employment. The results were mixed. The report’s recommendations, therefore, aim for a more inclusive development strategy that can strengthen the relationship between citizens and the state. While these will bear fruit in the medium and long terms, the seeds must be sown now. Implementing an effective and comprehensive system of safety nets will address the multiple deprivations and vulnerabilities of the population, while redressing the human capital deficit. While an immediate and effective response to the crisis in Iraq today is essential, as Iraq looks forward, it will need to address these fundamental development challenges to build an inclusive economy and society."The in-depth poverty analysis will provide a clear understanding of the development challenges facing Iraq and serve as the basis for preparing new development policies aimed at improving standard of living in a broad and inclusive manner,” said Dr. Mehdi Al-Alaak, Head of the Prime Minister’s Office and Head of Technical Committee of Poverty Reduction Strategy in Iraq. “The World Bank played an active role in providing the Ministry of Planning with technical assistance. We hope this support will continue during the preparations for a new strategy that takes into account the internal displacement that has resulted in an increase in poverty."The World Bank in IraqThe World Bank’s portfolio for Iraq consists of 3 projects valued at US$230 million focusing on infrastructure (water and electricity generation), youth employment, and capacity and institution building. Show Less -
What are the main challenges the Caribbean region faces in its energy production?With the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean region is largely dependent on imported fossil fuels for the g... Show More +eneration of electricity and for its transportation services. Even with the relatively lower cost of petroleum these days, electricity produced from oil products - whether diesel or heavy fuel oil - remains expensive given their relative inefficiencies in terms of their electricity productivity. Many of the countries have electricity tariffs between US $0.20 and US $0.50 per kWh, which is around 3 to 4 times what we pay in the US or in some other developed countries. So, first I'd say is a high cost associated with this type of electricity generation of.Another challenge would be social costs. In recent years the oil imports have drained hard currency resources and have cost the countries as much as 10% of their GDPs in expenditures and outlays for importing oil.Finally we have the environmental impact of using oil products. There is a high carbon footprint associated with petroleum products for power generation and the Caribbean countries themselves are very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The Caribbean countries are certainly not responsible for the effects of climate change that we are seeing given their very low carbon emissions, but they do have an opportunity to set an example for the rest of the world of using carbon-friendly resources for power generation.What are the alternatives for the region?The Caribbean countries are blessed with an abundance of renewable domestic natural resources, which can be used to produce electricity, such as:Geothermal; Solar; Wind; Biomass Ocean or marine resources. The costs associated with these alternative energy systems have fallen dramatically over the past decade, to the point at which they are, in many cases, the most cost effective options for power generation.How are these being used in the Caribbean?Multiple renewable energy solutions are increasingly being deployed throughout the Caribbean. We are seeing numerous examples of wind farms, solar photovoltaics, solar hot water heating and other renewables. For example, nearly half of the households in Barbados already make use of solar hot-water heating systems, which use the sun to heat water for household and commercial applications. Additionally, these are cheaper to produce - cheaper than electric water heaters today- so companies originating in Barbados are now doing business around the region, creating jobs and of replicating opportunities throughout the Caribbean.Solar photovoltaics (SPV) - which produce electricity directly from the sun, as opposed to solar hot water which uses the thermal energy to heat water – have dramatically dropped in price over the last decade, to the point where the electricity produced is very competitive with the existing grid-network supply. Likewise, prices have fallen dramatically for wind technology and we are seeing more wind-farms in the region. With over 50 MW of installed wind power in Aruba by the end of this year, combined with solar photovoltaics, waste to energy and aggressive energy efficiency measures, Aruba hopes to be generating half of its electricity from renewables by the end of this year, increasing to 100% by 2020. It’s a very aggressive target.Finally, numerous countries in the region have significant geothermal potential. The only active geothermal power plant online today in the region is in Guadeloupe, but islands of volcanic origin, such as St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada are aggressively pursuing geothermal as a clean, renewable, baseload power option. In addition to renewables, what other sustainable energy solutions may be critical for the Caribbean’s energy future?There are other fossil resources which may contribute to the energy security and sustainability in the Caribbean, including the use of natural gas, which may be increasingly available for the Caribbean to import and use in its power systems. Natural gas is an excellent transitional fuel. Its carbon output is more than 25% less than diesel and heavy-fuel oil - which they are using today - and is potentially a more cost-effective solution. Secondly, energy efficient solutions should certainly be combined with other sustainable power generation solutions. That means using less energy for the activities that we use electricity for, for example: higher efficiency air conditioners or other appliances; high-efficiency light bulbs; conservation by customers and higher-efficiency in generation services. What is the potential for mass adoption across the region?There’s tremendous interest in adopting renewables across the region, but we still see a number of obstacles limiting uptake. For example:Policy and regulatory frameworks which aren’t necessarily attractive to investing in these technologies. Limited access to financing and the resources necessary to take on these technologies.A continued need for knowledge sharing and capacity building to help us understand better how these technologies can be deployed in the region.Being relatively small countries, the costs are sometimes higher than they would be in a larger country. There may be some added benefits to demand between multiple countries in the region, so that orders are larger or that projects developed are on a larger scale.What is the Bank doing in this context?Ultimately, the Bank's primary interest is in providing technical assistance and financing to countries in the region to enable the development and use of sustainable energy solutions. Recognizing the many barriers that are still there, we're offering to work with the countries, with other multi-laterals, bi-laterals and with the non-governmental community to identify solutions to the obstacles which currently inhibit the use of these solutions. The World Bank Group is already active throughout the region providing support to countries, such as the regional project for energy regulation in the Eastern Caribbean (ECERA), work on energy efficiency and alternative energy in Jamaica, support for improved electricity distribution in the Dominican Republic, and assistance for geothermal power generation in St. Lucia and DominicaHow does energy security in the Caribbean impact the wider American community?The Caribbean is in a unique situation given their heavy dependence on imported fossil fuels. Many of the other countries - from Canada down to Argentina & Chile - have the benefit of fossil fuel resources and/or cross-border interconnections where they can share electricity and resources easily across land. Not only do the island nations not have access to abundant fossil fuels, they are also isolated in terms of their lack of interconnectedness.Secondly, through sea-level rise, increased frequency, propensity and strength of hurricanes and other natural disasters, island nations are potentially the most vulnerable to the effects brought on through climate change. I think we have a moral obligation to support the Caribbean, as with SIDS around the world in both addressing their energy needs, and adapting to the challenges that they are facing due to the increasing threat of climate change.The Americas are interconnected. Not just in terms of people, but also economically and as a trade partner, all of the Americas stand to benefit from stronger economies in our region, including in the Caribbean. Show Less -
Zalmai Azimi, owner of a store located towards the end of Jalwarcha road, close to Herat City, agrees that the double bituminous surface treatment (DBST) road has been good for everyone. His business ... Show More +has been thriving since the road was constructed: “Back in those dusty days customers would not even come close to my shop saying my goods were dusty!”“Of the 80 to 100 kg of goods we used to bring to the store everyday, some 30 to 40 kg would be wasted due to the dust,” he recalls. “As a result, we had to increase the prices to avoid loss and the people also were obliged to shop from us. As you can see, road construction has even lowered the prices here.The 13-kilometer Jalwarcha road connects 20 villages and their 40,000 residents in Enjil district, west of Herat City. It was constructed by the National Emergency Rural Access Project (NERAP) under the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, with funding from the World Bank and Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). The construction work for the road began in 2009 and was completed in 2010 at the cost of $798,868.Closed in December 2013, NERAP aimed to enable rural communities across Afghanistan to benefit from improved access to basic services and facilities through all-weather roads. Under NERAP, construction of 1,349 kilometers of tertiary roads and 1,602 linear meters of tertiary bridges was completed in rural areas throughout Afghanistan.Asphalted road saves lives and timeShopkeepers and farmers are not alone in enjoying the DBST road. Completion of Jalwarcha road has also brought about some remarkable changes in the lives of the neighboring villagers.Amanullah, an old man living by this road, recalls the times when they had to travel for hours to take a patient to the nearest healthcare center: “Though motor vehicle transportation was available, the road was too rough to allow a quick and smooth delivery to a hospital. As a result, the patient would die on the way to hospital.”Tenth grade student Abdurrazaq Haidari, 16, is riding his new bicycle to school, located by the side of Jalwarcha road. He remembers the time when he had to walk to school. “I did not have a bicycle; I would walk. Due to the bad road condition, only 1 out of 100 of us had a bicycle,” he says.In those days they would go to school at the cost of dusty faces and clothes, and even illness, while that is no longer the case now. Having said that, he gets on his bike storming away to get to school in less than 10 minutes through the same route that used to take him half an hour to traverse. Show Less -