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Mapping Natural Resources & Poverty

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Mapping Natural Resources & Poverty

World Bank Article: How Can Poverty Mapping Support Development in Bhutan?

As my plane glides over the lush, green forest on the side of the mountains and descends into the narrow valley where the airport is located, I start to feel ...happy? Yes, happiness is the motto of the country of Bhutan—which is actually a kingdom. Interestingly, Bhutan is known for its development philosophy of Gross National Happiness.

While working to finalize the poverty mapping work that our World Bank team has been collaborating on with Bhutan’s National Statistics Bureau (NSB) and the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), I realized that I am happy not just because I have had the opportunity to be in such a beautiful place, but also as I have had the chance to work with some highly dedicated, capable (and yes, happy!) civil servants.

The poverty-mapping exercise in Bhutan was carried out by a joint team of staff members from the NSB and the World Bank. The team uses a “Small Area Estimation” method developed by Elbers et al. (2003) . This method uses both the 2005 Population Census and the 2007 household living standard survey (BLSS) to produce reliable poverty estimates at lower levels of disaggregation than existing survey data permits. In the case of Bhutan, the team managed to come up with reliable poverty estimates at the sub-district (known as Gewog in Bhutan) level .This work was also supported in part by AusAID through the South Asia Policy Facility for Decentralization and Service Delivery. 

The Bhutanese team has worked hard to master this new technique. Here’s how Mr. Faizuddin Ahmed, a poverty consultant based in Dhaka Office, described the effort in training the team from Bhutan. “... I want to mention three names of NSB staff ... Mr. Phub, Ms Neema and Ms. Tshering. They participated in a training workshop on poverty mapping. In that training workshop, they were imparted hands-on training starting from data preparation to simulation work of poverty mapping applying the Small Area Estimation (SAE) technique. I should admit that after the training, they were fully capable of doing poverty mapping works themselves. I am very happy about their performances in the training course.” 

Learning about spatial aspect of poverty 

We can learn more from the poverty map by compare it with other maps such as maps of transport networks, locations of public service centers, and market access. Using the poverty map may also help identify the investments necessary to lift such areas out of poverty. For example, we can put the poverty map side by side with a map of market accessibility indicator and learn about the pattern.

 

Looking at the two maps, one can see a correlation between poverty and accessibility. In general, poor areas tend to have low access to markets and poor connection to road networks. For example, the poorest dzongkhags in the South have very little access to road networks and markets. On the other hand, areas in western Bhutan that are highly connected to markets also have the lowest poverty levels. It is also worth noting that the maps only show correlations, and not causal relationships.

Remote areas are not necessarily always poor. For example, the remote sub-district of Lunana in the far north appears to be quite well off. This seems to defy conventional wisdom given that the area is high up in the mountains and can only be reached after 9 days of intense trekking from the district headquarter. And that district headquarter is not even connected to any roads!

It turns out that the local yak herders in Luana supplement their income by collecting a type of fungus called Cordyceps. In English, it is commonly known as caterpillar fungus. Its Chinese name easily translates to “winter worm summer grass,” and it is considered a medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese medicine. Cordyceps commands top dollars in China; a kilogram of the fungus can fetch as much as $15,000! The fact that there is a sparse population where Cordyceps is found is of great benefit to the local residents, especially because a special permit ensures that only the local population is allowed to collect Cordyceps in the national park and that the harvest is sustainable.

What’s next? 

Poverty mapping can be used to improve the targeting of resources. A more disaggregated picture can help reveal pockets of poverty that might otherwise be overlooked, thereby potentially improving the design of targeted interventions. As of now, the GNHC has been using the poverty estimates at the Gewog level to allocate annual block grants. In the future, performance monitoring can also be improved with the availability of poverty maps that permit the tracking of poverty at the local level over multiple time periods.

The Bhutanese team is planning to apply the technique they recently learned to other indicators. What may be next for them could very well be… gross national happiness mapping.

Source: http://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/how-can-poverty-mapping-support-development-bhutan

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How can nations hit by Ebola avoid food security crises?

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How can nations hit by Ebola avoid food security crises?

The Food and Agriculture Organization has devised a plan to attempt to fend off this looming disaster

Food security has been a pressing issue in many parts of Africa for decades. But the recent outbreak of Ebola in northern Africa along with the changing climate and increased subsidies from the EU have stretched many countries to their limits. As the countries hardest hit by Ebola, namely Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea are some of the poorest in the world, this has stretched their already tight budgets and put them in an even greater bind. While the Green Morocco Plan in conjunction with the later developed National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development provide an ideal example of what countries struggling with food security and climate change can do in the long term, the fragile state of the countries still battling Ebola require an immediate emergency response to food shortage, especially as this season’s crop harvest has just begun. With expected major labor shortages and a severely threatened cash crop production, what is being done in response to this desperate need for help? 

The Food and Agriculture Organization recently published a strategy to combat the potential crisis through their Regional Response Program with an estimated 12 month time span based on four main pillars:

1. Save lives by stopping the spread of disease.

2. Boost incomes and agricultural production to safeguard livelihoods.

3. Build resilience of communities to disease threats.

4. Strengthen coordination for improved response.

With an expected budget of $30 million, the FAO expects to help nearly 90,000 of the most affected farming households. Click here to read more on the Regional Response Program. The issue of food security in the countries most affected by Ebola provides proof that the effects of this disease leaves almost no one and nothing untouched. From labor shortages, to migration and movement restrictions, it seems that everything that could go awry, has. To read more on the widespread effects of this dangerous virus and the likely vicious poverty cycle it has caused, click here.

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What is the link between emerging countries, disease, and the changing environment?

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What is the link between emerging countries, disease, and the changing environment?

 

Disease, namely Ebola, and extreme weather send food prices soaring in parts of Africa. What is the link between emerging countries and disease and climate change? What is the emerging world doing doing to protect their agriculture sectors? Morocco may have an answer….

Of the many consequences of the Ebola outbreak, one is an exacerbated food crisis. Border closures in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have stopped the flow of food. This, in addition to labor shortages, have sent food prices through the roof. To read more about Ebola and food security see the Orange African Social Venture Prize article here.

Morocco is leading the way to more sustainable and cooperative agricultural practices. They don’t have a choice. Eighteen percent of Morocco’s GDP comes from agriculture and 75 percent of the rural population depends on agriculture for employment. With a future that will be defined by unpredictable climate changes, Morocco’s agricultural sector is at risk. Only 16 percent of Morocco’s arable land can be irrigated, meaning there is little standing between Morocco’s food supply and climate change. A recent article by Al-Monitor explains “any shortage or excess rainfall has an immediate effect on the economy as a whole.”

In 2008 Morocco developed the “Green Morocco Plan” to increase agricultural productivity and food security, minimize agricultural inefficiencies, and provide a buffer against extreme weather. The first pillar of the strategy focuses on high-yield agriculture. Large projects include expanding irrigation and building dams. The second pillar supports small farmers, promotes local food production, and replaces unsustainable crops with more climate and terrain appropriate crops. Morocco’s visionary leadership could produce profits and spur a shift towards more environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture.

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How can we better measure food security?

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How can we better measure food security?

How can we better measure food security? What factors effect security? What are available solutions that can ensure food security, especially with a changing climate? 

A new study was released by The Economist Intelligence Unit for the IFAMA (International Food and Agribusiness Management Association) Workshop last month on a project working to find a new way to measure food security: The Global Food Security Index, which uses 28 indicators and shows how a multitude of factors contribute to levels of food security, and goes so far as to study the effectiveness of different food systems.

Take a look at the full report here

The CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) Research Program on CCAFS (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) has written an article on the use of hybrid crops and animals and the success of their use in Kenya, focusing research on small scale (mostly subsistence) farmers. These crops and animals need less water than the norm and have seen great success. This could be the next big thing in East Africa!

The same program CGIAR has an article delving into the progress made with the creation of a Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture and what it will entail. The ACSA has a goal of creating one language that can be used by anyone and everyone in order to bring ideas, policies, and the like under one roof. Governments should be responsible for creating awareness of climate change agriculture and all countries should integrate Climate Smart Agriculture into their policies and frameworks from a regional and grassroots level all the way to a national and even international level.

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