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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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Lack of safe drinking water threatens Nepal

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Lack of safe drinking water threatens Nepal

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, sanitation is more often than not the most pressing issue. The threat of the outbreak of disease, most commonly contracted from unsafe drinking water, can do as much damage as the actual disaster. Nepal is no exception.

After the recent earthquake, one of the biggest issues has been lack of access to safe drinking water and proper toilets. Even before the earthquake, the World Health Organization reports that only 37% of the population in Nepal has access to adequate sanitation facilities. While much progress has been made in sanitation in the past few years, the fear is that the earthquake has undone even that 37%. “The town water supply is completely broken down,” says Arjen Naafs, the South Asia regional technical adviser for WaterAid. People have abandoned their normal hygiene habits, thus contaminating what clean water there is. As monsoon season approaches, these problems will only worsen due to flooding.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is, a cholera outbreak is almost guaranteed.
 

Read more on this issue on Newsweek.com and the Unicef website.

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Could investing millions in hydro-meteorological services save billions in emerging countries?

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Could investing millions in hydro-meteorological services save billions in emerging countries?

According to a recent article published by Reuters, the World Bank is working with other development finance institutions to raise some $500 million to modernise weather and flood forecasting services in Africa. Why is this such a priority? According to World Meteorological Organization figures, 90% of natural disasters in sub-Saharan Africa in the past decade were climate or weather-related. More recently, flooding has devastated some southern African countries such as Malawi and Mozambique, both of which have suffered severe damage to homes, crops, and infrastructure, not to mention the loss of hundreds of lives.

The aftermath of the floods does not look promising either. Fears of cholera outbreaks along with malaria are very real. Without shelter, or clean water, mosquitoes multiply. And as Mandinda Zungu, Programs Coordinator for Catholic Development Commission in Malawi reports to BBC News, cholera can be described as “a ticking time bomb: ‘Because pipes are blocked or destroyed, clean water supplies are cut off," she explains. ‘People are bathing in streams then drinking the same water further down. They are going to the toilet in fields, which, when it rains, spreads into the rivers.”

Thus the need for more investing in advanced weather forecasting services can be rationalized: “Globally, investment in hydro-meteorological services could lead to a realization of up to $30 billion per year in increased economic productivity and cut losses from disasters by up to $2 billion.” - Disaster risk specialist Daniel Kull, World Bank, Reuters

 

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Can One App Change the World?

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Can One App Change the World?

On Tuesday, Facebook Inc. along with Reliance Communications launched the app Internet.org in India in an initiative to provide basic Internet access for those who can’t yet connect for free. The app, which has already been launched in some African countries as well as Colombia, aims to connect low income and rural clients to the internet for free. Users are able to access up to 38 web services including news, local jobs and education, farming, weather and health websites. Some such sites include Google Search, Dictionary.com, Accuweather, and Facebook. The benefits of Internet.org? Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Chief Executive, stated Tuesday on his Facebook page that since the launch of Internet.org, “More than 6 million people are already connected to the internet who previously weren’t, and we’ve started hearing incredible stories about how the internet is changing lives and communities. But to continue connecting the world, we have to connect India. More than a billion people in India don’t have access to the internet. That means they can’t enjoy the same opportunities many of us take for granted, and the entire world is robbed of their ideas and creativity… One day, we will connect everyone, and the power of the internet will serve every community across India and the world. That day is coming.”

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South Africa Seeks to Expand Broadband Internet Access

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South Africa Seeks to Expand Broadband Internet Access

Can the expansion of broadband internet contribute to a higher quality of life?

South African Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele recently announced it’s plan to push for phone company Telkom to provide funds for a government backed expansion of broadband internet access. The proposal is expected to cost roughly $8.4 billion US, but government expenses are expected to be cut down as it plans to shift many public services online, making it easier for residents of South Africa to access them nationwide. According to Bloomberg Business, South Africa is surprisingly “one of the world’s stragglers in Internet access with just 3.06 fixed-line broadband subscribers per 100 people in 2013 compared with 10.08 in Brazil, 29.25 in the U.S. and 34.56 in Germany, according to figures compiled by the World Bank.” However, the African National Congress, in accordance with the National Infrastructure Plan, has pledged to extend broadband internet access to every household by 2020. There is hope that this expansion along with other reforms will boost economic growth and will contribute to an overall higher quality of life in the nation as a whole. 

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Welcome aboard Care!

Care International's Central and East Africa team joined Navvi.com's closed beta last week. Organizations like Care can leverage Navvi's location and subject filtering technology to better manage communications and put reports on the map such as this one, which makes recommendations for sustainable drought risk management in Kenya. 

Welcome aboard Care!

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BRCK: Internet-in-a-box

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BRCK: Internet-in-a-box

We recently had an impressive demonstration of BRCK from its CTO Reg Orton in Nairobi. A standalone powered “hub for all local devices,” BRCK also serves as an internet-in-a-box connectivity solution. As the BRCK website declares, “If it works in Africa, it’ll work anywhere.” We look forward to testing these for posting to Navvi.com in remote areas. 

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1 Cell Phone Connects Maasai Village to the World

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1 Cell Phone Connects Maasai Village to the World

The people of Lemongo Village in southeastern Kenya live in earthen huts made of branches, sticks, grass and mud. They live off the land as pastoralists in the Rift Valley and create fire by rubbing sticks together. But at least one mobile phone — and persistent 3G data service — connects this Maasai village to the rest of the world. This is how the Lemongo Maasai will bring their perspective to Navvi.com.

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