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South Asia

How can Bhutan better prepare for earthquakes?

Dechen Tshering's picture
Seismic station in Thimpu. Photo: World Bank

Bhutan is highly vulnerable to earthquakes, thanks to its location in the seismically active Himalayas.
However, past seismic events across the country were not properly recorded.

Following the earthquake, which claimed 12 lives and caused an estimated loss of BTN 2501 million (or about $54 million), a led by the government with support from the (GFDRR) and the United Nations, made clear that the Kingdom needed to understand its exposure to seismic risks better.

To that end, Bhutan embarked on the $1.29 million Improving Resilience to Seismic Risk project funded by the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD) Technical Assistance Program to Support Disaster Reduction and Recovery. This project started on May 23, 2013 and ended on July 31, 2017.

Why it's never too early to think about getting old

Alena Sakhonchik's picture

This blog is a part of a series using data from the project. The data explores legal and regulatory challenges faced by women through different stages of their working lives. Launched in February 2019, analyses data for eight indicators over the past decade for 187 economies.


Regardless of our gender, sooner or later we will reach an age when we will retire from our jobs. When that time comes, pensions will play a critical role as a source of . Yet in some countries, financing and eligibility criteria can make pensions less favorable for women.

The indicator in the report assesses laws affecting women’s pensions by examining retirement ages and pension credits for periods of interrupted employment due to childcare.

Taking digital banking services to remote villages in north eastern India

Priti Kumar's picture
Ang Dolma Sherpa, an expert carpet weaver in West Sikkim is one of the 200-300 women weavers in the region who are benefiting from the project’s interventions
Ang Dolma Sherpa, an expert carpet weaver in West Sikkim is one of the 200-300 women weavers in the region who are benefiting from the project’s interventions. Photo: World Bank

Until six months ago, people in the remote corners of India’s Himalayan state of Sikkim had to travel long distances over the hillsides to do simple banking transactions.

When they did reach a bank, it was usually overcrowded and understaffed. This made it difficult for rural folk, unfamiliar with formal financial systems to deposit or withdraw money, let alone borrow to meet their needs.
 
Now change is in the air. Ever since the - supported by the World Bank - helped banks in Sikkim’s western and southern districts engage local women self-help group (SHG) members as their business correspondents, people in these distant parts have been able to bank at their doorsteps.
 
While the concept is not new in India, the two correspondents - one for each district - have proved to be nothing short of a miracle for this far-flung region. They have fanned out across mountain villages, equipped with palm-sized micro-ATMs, biometric readers, and internet-connected thermal printers. Villagers can now deposit their money easily, earn interest, and withdraw whenever needed.
 
In the six months since the correspondents were first introduced, business has soared. “,” explained Lila Shilal, business correspondent for the IDBI Bank in West Sikkim’s Jorethang block.
 
Shilal has also benefitted in the process. .
 
The project has introduced another financial service as well, this time at the bank itself. Here, bank sakhis - or female banker friends – help village folk and SHG members fill out forms and apply for loans.
 
This new cadre of women business correspondents and bank sakhis has not only benefitted local communities and given SHG members a new livelihood opportunity, it has also made life simpler for the region’s bankers.

Improving Pakistan’s public and private investment

Muhammad Waheed's picture
Pakistan is not investing enough and its share of investment to GDP is one of the lowest in the world at 15 percent almost half of the South Asian average at 30 percent. This translates into inadequate infrastructure, lack of access to sufficient levels of energy and water, poor quality of schools and hospitals. Photo: World Bank

This blog is part of a series that discusses findings from the  report, which identifies the changes necessary for Pakistan to become a strong upper middle-income country by the time it turns 100 years old in 2047. 

. Every few years, the economy is faced with a balance of payments crisis as it tries to grow fast.

This is unlike many other successful peer countries that are growing at higher rates for a longer time.


 
The fundamental cause for these short-lived growth cycles in Pakistan is that these are propelled by private and government consumption, not by higher investment.

Resultantly, the country’s demand increases at a much higher pace than its supply of goods and services, prompting a need for higher imports which becomes unsustainable.

Successive governments have tried to notch up growth in this way, but all of them have ended with a balance of payments crisis.
 
, almost half of the South Asian average at 30 percent. This translates into inadequate infrastructure, lack of access to sufficient levels of energy and water, poor quality of schools and hospitals.
 
This low investment trap and declining labor productivity have reduced Pakistan’s growth potential.
 
The decline in the economy’s growth potential is particularly concerning because it suggests that the country will not be able to grow at higher rates required for job creation. .
 
The foremost priority is that Pakistan must maintain macroeconomic stability. Persistent macroeconomic instability has discouraged savings and private investment in the country resulting in low-aggregate investment and fluctuating output levels.

Accelerating Pakistan’s structural transformation

Siddharth Sharma's picture
Pakistanat100 Shaping the Future report
Photo: World Bank

This blog is part of a series that discusses findings from the  report, which identifies the changes necessary for Pakistan to become a strong upper middle-income country by the time it turns 100 years old in 2047. 

Structural transformation is central to how countries grow rich.

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Then, within industries, a process of creative destruction helps weed out unproductive firms and gives rise to more efficient and innovative ones.

Of course, no two countries have the same growth path. But those that succeed at sustaining growth do so by moving resources to more productive areas and building firm capabilities.

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Relative to the historical norm for countries at similar levels of per capita GDP, while Pakistan’s agricultural sector is of typical size, its manufacturing sector is small, and the services sector large.

How digital remittances can help drive sustainable development

Marco Nicoli's picture
 Sarah Farhat/The World Bank
The Plateau area, business and administrative center of Dakar.
Photo: Sarah Farhat/The World Bank

More people in the world have access to financial accounts and tools than ever before. With this access, new products and services are being developed to facilitate convenient usage of these accounts. Taking this a step further, healthy financial inclusion incorporates customers’ ability to balance income and expenses, build and maintain reserves, and to manage and recover from financial shocks using a range of financial tools. The most useful financial services are those that provide customers with convenience, and support resilience through enhanced ability to weather shocks and pursue financial goals; effectively supporting the financial health of the user.

Remittances are an essential source of income for millions of families, many of whom are low income. Global migration is increasing - over 258 million people currently live outside their country of birth, up from 173 million in the year 2000 – and is trailed by a steady stream of transactions. . As the first financial product used by many lower income people, remittances often act as a stepping stone to accessing a menu of financial services; as such, they are a cornerstone of financial health.

Making Pakistan more equitable for all

Silvia Redaelli's picture
Between 2001 and 2015, approximately 32 million people were lifted out of poverty
Photo: World Bank

This blog is part of a series that discusses findings from the  report, which identifies the changes necessary for Pakistan to become a strong upper middle-income country by the time it turns 100 years old in 2047. 

. Estimates based on the national poverty line, which was set at Rs3,030.3 per adult equivalent per month based on 2013-14 prices, show a consistent decline over the past two decades.
 
. However, a lot is yet to be done.

Not only because 2015 estimates show that approximately one in four Pakistani still does not have enough money to satisfy basic needs, but – even more alarming – progress has been far from equal when looking across the provinces, districts, cities, and rural areas.
 
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Within provinces, poverty has remained stubbornly high in Southern Punjab and Northern Sindh. Similarly, the pace of poverty reduction has been slower in rural areas compared to cities, where the risk of poverty is less than half compared to rural areas.

Inequalities in poverty levels and poverty reduction performance are compounded by substantial inequalities in access to and quality of basic services such as health, education, electricity, water, and sanitation.
 
Being born in one of the country’s lagging areas and/or in a poor family largely predetermines a child’s chances of escaping deprivation and realizing his or her full human capital potential in life.

The dos and don’ts of boosting Pakistan’s human capital

Tazeen Fasih's picture
Photo: World Bank

This blog is part of a series that discusses findings from the  report, which identifies the changes necessary for Pakistan to become a strong upper middle-income country by the time it turns 100 years old in 2047. 

My parents’ gardener has six children – all aged 8 or younger. While his wife is busy taking care of the youngest ones, barely 15 months and 2 months old, he brings the other kids along with him so they don’t wander in the streets.

As I look at the supposedly 8-year-old girl with a dupatta wrapped around her head, looking tiny, probably stunted, suddenly .

The 38 percent stunting rate for the population, the fertility rate of 3.6 births per woman, the 22.6 million children out of school, the dismal learning outcomes for students, these are all here manifested in this family and its future.

What kind of future is awaiting these children? Will they be able to reach their full productive potential? , Pakistan’s children born today can achieve only 39 percent of their full potential – productivity they could have achieved if they were able to enjoy complete education and full health.

With over 60 percent of Pakistan’s national wealth (measured as the sum of produced capital such as factories and infrastructure; 19 types of natural capital such as oil, minerals, land, and forests; human capital; and net foreign assets) estimated to be coming from Human Capital Wealth, a failure to nurture and utilize this wealth to its full potential can be fatal.

Nonetheless, successive governments have failed to address the human capital challenge. A careful review of policies in Pakistan on human development reveals a myriad of policies over the 70 years of the country – many strategies appearing sound and well-intentioned, some, of course, appearing to be prompted by geopolitical situations of specific eras of the country.

In this context, we highlight some principles in human capital policies.


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