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January 2018

The Middle East and North Africa outlook in five charts: Recovery after a weak 2017

Lei Sandy Ye's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
Growth in the Middle East and North Africa region is estimated to have slowed sharply in 2017 and is forecast to recover to 3 percent in 2018. Regional activity is anticipated to strengthen gradually over the medium term in response to policy reforms and easing fiscal adjustments. A number of downside risks continue to cloud the outlook for the region, including geopolitical tensions and conflict, weakness in oil prices, and obstacles to reform progress. These are only partly offset by the possibility of stronger-than-expected Euro Area activity.
Regional growth tumbled last year, led by oil exporters

Growth in the Middle East and North Africa is estimated to have slowed sharply to 1.8 percent in 2017 from 5 percent the year before, driven by decline in growth among oil exporters. Growth declined among Gulf Cooperation Council and non-GCC oil exporters, with oil production cuts and continued geopolitical tensions contributing to the fall-off.

Innovate to irrigate: 19 innovations to increase food production without draining the earth

Brittany Scalise's picture
Also available in: Arabic, Chinese, French
Whenever you bite into a piece of food, do you think about where it comes from? How did it get from the ground to your table? Who are the farmers and entrepreneurs who cultivated and sourced it? It’s strange to think that this doesn’t cross our minds more often.
This issue is one we should be thinking about more and more often. As populations continue to grow, there needs to be new innovations to increase sustainable food production, without draining the earth. With factors such as climate change impacting water supplies and security, business-as-usual just won’t cut it.
For this reason, on January 29th, 2018, the
Water for Food International Forum Innovation Fair: Innovate to Irrigate, gathered together 19 organizations who are leading the way in this challenge, through creative technologies that support farmer-led irrigation practices.

How PPIAF leveraged $17.1 billion for infrastructure by focusing on the critical upstream

François Bergere's picture

Photo: BrilliantEye | iStock

As the only global facility specifically dedicated to reinforcing the legal, institutional and policy underpinnings of private sector participation in infrastructure—which we call the critical upstream—we at the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) realize we have a key responsibility to developing countries.

That responsibility is to help client governments unlock their potential by de-risking investments and creating an enabling environment for private sector participation, itself a condition to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and climate-smart objectives. As such, PPIAF fits neatly into the new Maximizing Financing for Development (MFD) approach to crowd in the private sector, an initiative launched by the World Bank Group and other multilateral development banks last year.

Igniting action for farmer-led irrigation at Water for Food International Forum

Lauren Nicole Core's picture
Water scarcity, lack of access and rights to water for irrigation, and climate shocks are just a few of the challenges that global farmers face. These issues emerged as major themes during the Water for Food International Forum taking place today and tomorrow (January 29-30, 2018) at the World Bank, which brought together farmers, governments, private food and technology companies, financial institutions, and researchers and practitioners from around the world. 

Why investors must take a chance in the world's most fragile countries

Stephanie von Friedeburg's picture
Microfinance in DRC. © Anna Koblanck/IFC
Microfinance in DRC. © Anna Koblanck/IFC

Fragility, conflict and violence affect more than two billion people across the globe. And while poverty on the whole is declining, that's not the case in countries affected by conflict.

It is these countries plagued by near-constant political and economic instability that are often the ones most in need of private investment. Yet they are also the places few private investors are willing to go. The risks seem to outweigh the rewards.

If you build it (roads), will they (financing) come?

Sumit Agarwal's picture

Investments in public infrastructure is a key component of economic growth strategy among emerging economies, and a particular focus of the Modi government. In general, policymakers and financial economist assume that financing will follow once the roads are built, and thus, facilitate the best use of new productive opportunities created by new road connectivity. However, many rural and agrarian economies suffer from chronic problems of financing, characterized by the absence of formal financial institutions and reliance on informal moneylenders who often are unreliable and charge usurious interest rates. Therefore, a key question remains: if you build it (roads), will they (financing) come?

Public-Private Partnerships: Promoting gender equity and preventing gender-based violence in Egypt

Laila El-Zeini's picture

Although employment is usually seen as a resource for women’s empowerment, it does not automatically translate into better status and lower rates of violence for women. In fact, in some settings, if gendered norms that support men’s violence against women are not addressed, the economic empowerment of women can inadvertently propagate gender-based violence (GBV). For example, when work is a major defining factor of masculinity, working women may face a greater risk of domestic violence.

Central America, optimizing the cost of energy through renewables

Mariano González Serrano's picture

Some months ago, during a visit to one of the Central American countries, while we were on a call with the head of the electricity dispatch center, we noticed by the tone of his voice, that he was becoming nervous. Shortly after, background voices could be heard on the line. They were experiencing a crisis and he quickly asked to continue our conversation at another time.

New, Most Comprehensive Global Dataset on Education Quality.

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية

The world is facing a learning crisis, particularly in middle and lower income countries, and though theories abound on how best to address it, one things is clear: policymakers and practitioners alike need more and better information to sufficiently address the challenges ahead.

Several important international standardized achievement tests such as PISA and TIMSS provide critical data, but these tests are limited because they often exclude developing countries and only date back to the mid-1990s.

Our new working paper, A Global Dataset on Education Quality (1965-2015), addresses that information gap. In it, we present the largest and most current globally comparable dataset on education quality, with harmonized learning scores for 163 countries and regions that covers more than 90 percent of the world’s population. This new World Bank dataset offers a longer time horizon and includes more countries, especially lower income, than any other previous attempt to capture educational information on so granular a level.

Countries/areas covered by the dataset

Announcing Funding for 12 Development Data Innovation Projects

World Bank Data Team's picture

We’re pleased to announce support for 12 projects which seek to improve the way development data are produced, managed, and used. They bring together diverse teams of collaborators from around the world, and are focused on solving challenges in low and lower middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, Latin America, and South Asia.

Following the success of the first round of funding in 2016, in August 2017 we announced a $2.5M fund to support Collaborative Data Innovations for Sustainable Development. The World Bank’s Development Data group, together with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, called for ideas to improve the production, management, and use of data in the two thematic areas of “Leave No One Behind” and the environment. To ensure funding went to projects that solved real people’s problems, and built solutions that were context-specific and relevant to its audience, applicants were required to include the user, in most cases a government or public entity, in the project team. We were also looking for projects that have the potential to generate learning and knowledge that can be shared, adapted, and reused in other settings.

From predicting the movements of internally displaced populations in Somalia to speeding up post-disaster damage assessments in Nepal; and from detecting the armyworm invasive species in Malawi to supporting older people in Kenya and India to map and advocate for the better availability of public services; the 12 selected projects summarized below show how new partnerships, new methods, and new data sources can be integrated to really “put data to work” for development.

This initiative is supported by the World Bank’s Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) with financing from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Korea and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland.

2018 Innovation Fund Recipients