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Scaling up World Bank guarantees to move the needle on infrastructure finance

Pankaj Gupta's picture

It’s not always easy to convince the private sector to participate in public infrastructure projects—especially in developing countries and emerging economies. Why is this a problem? Because there simply is not enough public money to meet the growing demand for infrastructure, which is a key element of development and poverty alleviation. The need is great, numbering in the trillions of dollars.
But there is good news—the market has both the trillions and the expertise to use it, if the conditions are right. And the World Bank Group has a number of instruments that can help create an environment that meets the needs of the private sector in financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable ways. Guarantees are one of those instruments, a tool that is highly effective in leveraging limited resources for mobilizing commercial financing for critical infrastructure projects.

When cyclones strike: Using mangroves to protect coastal areas

Susmita Dasgupta's picture

Massive flooding from storm surges is a major threat to lives and property in low-lying coastal areas during cyclones. Recent examples of devastating cyclone-induced storm surges include Haiyan 2013 (5.2m or 17 feet), Aila 2009 (4m/13ft), Ike 2008 (4.5m-6m/15-20 feet), Nargis 2008 (more than 3m/10ft), Sidr 2007 (4m /13ft), Katrina 2005 (7.6m-8.5m/25-28 feet). The impacts are particularly disastrous when storm surges strike densely populated coastal areas.

Jobs for Votes: RDD Evidence on Patronage in Brazilian Public Sector Hiring: Guest post by Edoardo Teso

This is the fourth in this year’s series of job market posts.
As the quality of a country's public sector workforce is an essential factor in its effectiveness in providing services, governments should try to hire qualified individuals in the public sector (Finan et al. 2017). However, there may be an important obstacle to the quality of this recruitment process, especially in developing countries: politicians could engage in patronage - the use of public sector jobs to reward their political supporters.

Virtually all modern bureaucracies are characterized by a civil service system, where the introduction of meritocratic hiring criteria was meant to shield public sector jobs from patronage practices. However, politicians typically retain some discretion in the selection of public workers, for instance through the use of temporary contracts (Grindle 2012). As a consequence, patronage could still play an important role in public sector hiring.  Despite the potentially significant impact of this phenomenon on the quality of the public workforce, no study has systematically documented its presence in a modern bureaucracy, limiting our understanding of its consequences for the public sector.

In my job market paper "Patronage in the Allocation of Public Sector Jobs" (joint work with Emanuele Colonnelli and Mounu Prem), I study patronage in the context of Brazilian local governments during the 1997-2014 period.

Taming the Tides of High Inflation in South Sudan

Utz Pape's picture

Six years after independence, South Sudan remains one of the world’s most fragile states, unable to emerge from cycles of violence. About half the population—that is, about 6 million of 12 million people—are food insecure. A famine was declared in February 2017. And though the famine was contained (thanks to massive humanitarian support), food insecurity remains at extremely high levels.

About 2 million South Sudanese have fled the country and another 1.9 million are internally displaced. The economy is estimated to have contracted by 11 percent in the past fiscal year, due to conflict, low oil production, and disruptions to agriculture. The fiscal deficit, inflation, and parallel market premium have all soared.

This macroeconomic collapse has crushed the livelihoods of many South Sudanese.

The principal makes the difference

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. (Photo: Sarah Farhat​ / World Bank)

All schools are different. I’m not referring to the building, the number of students or teaching practices. I’m talking about the school’s spirit. When you walk into a good school, the building is often well-organized and clean. The students look busy and happy. You don’t see strict discipline; ideally, you see organized chaos.

When you see a well-functioning school, most likely, there is a good principal behind it. A leader who sets a vision for the school and sets clear objectives. Someone who creates the space that fosters teachers’ professional and personal development, and encourages students’ personal growth, creativity, and their own journey of discovery.

Running a school efficiently is a very difficult challenge. A principal must be a pedagogical leader to dozens of teachers: observing them in the classroom, evaluating institutional performance, and helping them get the professional development opportunities they need. Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. They need to respond to parents, each with their own expectations for the school. And principals also need to contend with the administrative and financial burdens imposed by the bureaucracy.  

State of Haryana’s Initiatives for Development of Horticulture in India

Abhilaksh Likhi's picture
Birmingham University, United Kingdom was the venue for a workshop from 16 to 17th November 2017 on “Post-Harvest Losses in Horticulture Crops and the Importance of Clean Cold Chain Development in India”. The UK workshop followed the study tour and conference in India, earlier this year, organized by Birmingham University's Energy Institute in collaboration with India’s National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD) and UK'S Science and Innovation Network.

The objective of the workshop was to co-design the implementation of frameworks for the provision of clean and sustainable post-harvest food cold chain. The latter is defined in the report "India's Third Agricultural Revolution- Doubling Farmers' Income through Clean Cold Chains" as an integrated and seamless network of refrigerated and temperature controlled pack houses, distribution hubs and vehicles used to maintain the safety, quality and quantity of food while moving it swiftly from farm gate to consumption centre. Such facilities, the report highlights, ought to be attractive to end users, civil society, government, policy makers and industry to ensure impact, legacy, and scalability.

In the above context, intensive brainstorming was facilitated in the workshop by academics, experts, and industry leaders with senior officials fromthe government of Haryana, Punjab, and Andhra Pradesh. The aim was understanding the barriers in the cold value chain from the first mile (farm) to the last mile (consumer) in accessing markets by small and marginal farmers. The aim was also to explore how improved and clean cooling technologies can be appropriately designed to enable such small and marginal farmers to avail opportunities for reaching markets with their horticultural produce, without loss of time so that their income is enhanced. Lastly, the workshop focused on the need for and role of area clusters and farmer producer organizations to drive such a supply chain with skilled manpower and innovative financing/ business models.

Tracing the roots of TCdata360 datasets: an interactive network graph

Reg Onglao's picture

When doing data analysis, it's common for indicators to take the spotlight whereas datasets usually take the backseat as an attribution footnote or as a metadata popup.

However, we often forget how intertwined dataset sources are and how this affects data analysis. For instance, we can never assume that indicators from different datasets are mutually exclusive – it's possible for them to be the same indicator or to have an influence on the other as a component weight in an index, if the other dataset were used as a source for the other.

In this blog, we're interested to see if this applies to TCdata360 by taking a deeper look at its "dataset genealogy" and answer questions such as – Is it safe to do cross-dataset analysis using TCdata360 datasets? Are there interesting patterns in the relationships between TCdata360 datasets?

Quick introduction to network graphs

We call a dataset which serves as a data source for another dataset as "source", and a dataset which pulls indicator data from another as "target". Collectively, all of these are called "nodes".

To see the relationships between TCdata360 datasets, we mapped these in a directed network graph wherein each dataset is a node. By directed, we mean that source nodes are connected to their target nodes through an arrow, since direction is important to identify source from target nodes. For the purposes of this blog, we restricted the network graph to contain datasets within TCdata360 only; thus, all data sources and targets external to TCdata360 will not be included in our analysis.

Here's how the network graph looks like.

Each dataset is represented by a circle (aka "node") and is grouped and color-coded by data owner or institution. The direction from any source to target node is clearer in the interactive version, wherein there's a small arrow on the connecting line which shows the direction from target to source.

Stronger together? Reflections on an 11-year journey through water reform

David Michaud's picture
The year is 2006, the scene is Honduras. As an enthusiastic new team member of a World Bank water sector reform project, I am trying to participate in the high-level discussions around decentralization and local government empowerment in the provision of water and sanitation services in my (then) broken Spanish. Coming from Switzerland, a small country with thousands of local service providers, I am convinced a bottom-up approach to service delivery is THE solution. Hasn’t the hugely influential 2004 World Development Report argued for exactly that – shortening the accountability route between customers and service providers? We are the champions of local, elected mayors, who want nothing more than to prove they could deliver better than the central government’s utility.

It’s now 2010 and I’m still in Honduras, now amid the reform implementation when reality kicks in. Three new municipal utilities have been established, with catchy logos and new staff and management. Operating costs, salaries in particular, have been slashed, and there’s a sense of opportunity – but also challenges. Those elected mayors are thinking about the next election and not very keen on adjusting tariffs to where they need to be. Installing water meters, a cornerstone of the modernization strategy, is facing a huge backlash from those very customers who are making direct use of the shorter accountability route to make their concerns heard. And services aren’t really getting better as fast as we would want…

Forward to 2014 – I’m now in Croatia. I’m sitting in a non-descript conference hall in Zagreb, Croatia, trying to inform a diverse set of local and central government stakeholders about the pros and cons of merging municipal water utilities into regional operators, as everyone else seems to be doing in the region. In fact, since my transition to Europe & Central Asia the year before, I observe what appears to be a serious case of reformitis: consultants and policy advisors are dutifully preaching the regionalization of just recently decentralized service providers to help implement the European Union’s stringent and costly environmental regulations.

Information-driven voter disagreement over more authoritarianism: Experimental evidence from Turkey: Guest post by Ceren Baysan

This is the third in this year’s series of posts by PhD students on the job market.

Globally, civil liberties and political rights have been declining for eleven consecutive years (Freedom House, 2017). The erosion of these measures runs counter to a priori expectations that circumstances would improve: the number of democracies had doubled within the past five decades and information is increasingly available to voters due to a growing and diverse set of media sources. The presence of more accessible information has been linked to improved political accountability, a fundamental factor of development (Drèze and Sen, 1989; Besley and Burgess, 2002). On the other hand, increased access to information is also believed to polarize voters, offering a possible explanation for the backsliding of democratic norms (Downs, 1957; Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2011). In my job market paper, I show that experimentally varied exposure to the same information in a partisan campaign polarized vote choice on weakening the system of checks and balances in Turkey.