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#AfricaCAN: Retired nurse reinvents her career as an entrepreneur

Sarah Farhat's picture



"I grew up raised by two parents who were farmers, but as I grew up, I hated farming." That's one of the first things I heard as I met with Ntuba Masena, the owner of a fruit and vegetable drying business in Lesotho. Ntuba remembered spending long days plowing the fields with her parents, and as a result, agriculture was the last thing on her mind. It's safe to say that it has been an unusual journey for the 61-year-old retired nurse who had reinvented herself as an entrepreneur and small business owner.

Informing rapid emergency response by phone surveys

Utz Pape's picture

In 2017, a severe and prolonged drought had hit countries in Africa and the Middle East, bringing crop shortage, livestock death, water scarcity and disease. Food shortages escalated into near-famine conditions in countries with low resilience against shocks, such as Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. In such a context, rapid quantitative data is required to respond to urgent developmental needs of the affected populations. Therefore, we designed and implemented the Rapid Emergency Response Survey (RERS).

Three criteria to better classify PPPs in Africa

Stéphane July's picture



It is broadly understood that public-private partnerships (PPP) are a procurement tool that encompass design, financing, construction and long-term operation of a public infrastructure by the private sector. They can be cost-effective thanks to adequate risk transfer and performance criteria, and help bridge Africa’s large infrastructure gap in many sectors.

However, the understanding of PPPs often gets blurry, in Africa in particular, when different structures are considered that vary according to risk allocation and payment mechanism.

An Accidental Health Economist Talks Education, Bill Gates, and why Impact Evaluation isn’t Enough

Daphna Berman's picture

Dean Jamison is one of the world’s leading global health economists, but the way he tells it, it was something of an accident. He started as an education economist at the World Bank in 1976, and he was a pioneer in using impact evaluations to study the effectiveness of distributing textbooks in Nicaragua and the Philippines.  Later on, Jamison received an invitation to join the World Bank’s first economic mission to China, where he was tasked with analyzing health issues. “I was eager to see the country and didn’t want to tell anyone how little I knew about health,” he admitted recently.  “But from that point on, I was a health economist.”

Sustainable development requires a higher domestic revenue effort

Christina Malmberg Calvo's picture

Uganda Revenue authority officials tend to taxpayers during customer appreciation week in Kampala. Photo: Morgan Mbabazi/World Bank.

Less than one million people and about 40,000 firms are registered as tax payers in Uganda. That’s less than 7% of the total working age population, and less than 10% of firms with a fixed location, respectively.  

“Notes from a small island”*: reflections on Mauritius and Seychelles

Alex Sienaert's picture



For the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to be the World Bank’s resident economist for Mauritius and Seychelles. With this now coming to an end, here are some especially striking impressions of these countries’ successes and challenges that I hope can provide food for thought more widely.

Promoting better nutrition in Bhutan

Izabela Leao's picture
 Izabela Leao / World Bank
School children singing and dancing in Samtse Dzongkhag. Photo Credit: Izabela Leao / World Bank

Bhutan is no ordinary place.

A landlocked Himalayan kingdom tucked in a mostly rugged mountainous terrain between India and China, it measures prosperity by assessing its citizens’ level of happiness by way of a Gross National Happiness index.

Equally striking, Bhutan’s constitution mandates that 60 percent of its national land be preserved under forest cover, making Bhutan the world’s only carbon-negative country.

Bhutan’s geography – with land rises ranging from 200 meters in the southern foothills to 7,000 meters in the high northern mountains – consists of three major agro-ecological zones that allow for a rich biodiversity and seasonal foods.

This natural wealth, however, comes with its caveats as Bhutanese living in isolated rural areas can’t access a reliable diverse diet throughout the year.

"Many families in rural Bhutan practice two meals rather than three meals a day," reports Ms. Kinley Bidha, Tarayana Foundation Field Officer in Samtse Dzongkhag. "Some for cultural reasons, others due to a shortage of food, others due to a shortage of land too farm," she adds.

Overall socio-economic development in the last three decades has led to a rapid improvement in health and nutrition outcomes in Bhutan – the country’s infant mortality rate declined to 30 per 1,000 live births in 2012 down from 90 per 1,000 in 1990; while the rate of stunting in children under 5 years declined 24 percent from 1986 levels.

Nonetheless, the lack of variety of foods in diet remains a key concern, especially for pregnant and nursing women as well as young children. And while most families feed their children complementary food, fewer than a quarter of parents provide them nutritious meals essential to their health.

In addition, 67 percent of Bhutanese adults consume less than the recommended five servings (or 400 grams) of fruits and/or vegetables per person a day [National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2015].

When consumed, vegetables consist for the most part of two national staples, potatoes and chilies, which hardly provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Keeping regional variations in mind, between 16 and 34 percent of children under 5 are stunted—or too short for their age—seven percent of children are underweight, 35 percent of children of age 6-59 months and 44 percent of women of reproductive age are either anemic or iron deficient. Exclusive breastfeeding rates for six-month-old children remain at a low 50 percent (NNS, 2015).  

Damages caused by malnutrition during pregnancy and the first years of a child’s life are irreversible and contribute to stunting and lower immunological and cognitive development, and predispose to adult-onset diseases (including metabolic syndrome).

Thankfully, the negative impact of malnutrition on Bhutan’s economy is now better understood and has become a priority to promote its national development.

An incomplete transition: Overcoming the legacy of exclusion in South Africa

Marek Hanusch's picture


Sandton Bridge separates two South African communities that are worlds apart; Sandton, an affluent area believed to be the richest square mile in Africa, and Alexandra Township, one of the poorest urban areas in the country. Credit: World Bank

Oil exporters after the 2014-16 price collapse: In need of deeper reforms

Marc Stocker's picture
The 70 percent drop in oil prices between mid-2014 and early 2016 was one of the three largest oil-price declines in recent history, and despite a recent recovery, oil prices are still around 30 percent below their 2011-14 average. This created substantial obstacles for many oil exporters as they faced a combination of deteriorating growth prospects, exchange rate pressures, and weakened fiscal positions.

How have oil exporters coped with these challenges, and what further trials will they face in coming years? This article provides some answers, with the benefit of insights.

The “accounting view” of money: money as equity (Part I)

Biagio Bossone's picture

Coins circulating as legal tender in national jurisdictions worldwide are treated as debt liabilities of the issuing states and reported as a component of public debt under national accounting statistics (ESA 2010). Similarly, banknotes issued by central banks and central bank reserves are accounted for as central bank debt to their holders.

Although the law says that money is “debt,” a correct application of the general principles of accounting raises doubts about such a conception of money. Debt involves an obligation between lender and borrower as contracting parties. Yet, for the state, which obligation derives from the rights entertained by the holders of coins? Or, for a central bank, which obligation derives from the rights entertained by the holders of banknotes or the banks holding reserves?


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