Miscellaneous Knowledge Notes

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    The West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion (WURI) Program: Unique Identifiers to Enable Access to Human Development Services
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-07-31) World Bank
    Access to basic human development programs in West Africa is particularly low. Individually, the sub-region’s countries perform poorly on the Human Capital Index (HCI). It is the second-lowest African region in rank for social safety net coverage. By contrast, the subregion has the second highest transaction value of mobile money on the continent. This case study examines the West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion (WURI) Program, which aims to confront this challenge head-on. In 2022, the program was working in six countries across two phases in partnership with the governments, and with the ECOWAS Commission.
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    Protecting Human Capital from the Impact of Early Life Shocks : Key Interventions for Lower-Middle-Income Countries
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-07-06) Lufumpa, Nakawala ; Hilger, Anne ; Ng, Odyssia ; De la Brière, Bénédicte Leroy
    This policy note presents strong evidence of the impacts of early childhood exposure to shocks on later life human capital outcomes in lower-middle-income countries, particularly in the Sahel region. It recommends key, evidence-based social protection interventions to mitigate these impacts and protect human capital as follows : cash transfers to improve child nutritional outcomes, particularly when combined with behavior change communication on water, sanitation and hygiene and hygiene practices; conditional cash transfers to increase educational outcomes, especially when monitored and reinforced; contributory schemes to mitigate the impact of shocks on asset loss and household expenditure, particularly health, livestock, and climate insurance schemes; food distribution interventions to mitigate the impact of shocks on nutritional and educational outcomes, particularly for children under–five, which is a critical period for growth and development; behavioral interventions to positively influence health and educational behavior and spending, especially nutrition education, academic nudges, and maternal psychotherapy interventions; and the success of these interventions requires context- and population-appropriate program design and implementation to maximize their effects on protecting human capital.
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    Predicting Urban Employment Distributions: A Toolkit for More Targeted Urban Investment and Planning Decisions
    (Washington, DC, 2022-06) Avner, Paolo ; Maruyama Rentschler, Jun Erik ; Barzin, Samira ; O’Clery, Neave ; Avner, Paolo
    Cities are intricately interconnected socioeconomic systems, with transport networks connecting people to their jobs, health, and education facilities, and ensuring the smooth functioning of supply chains. When floods happen, they isolate people and firms from these vital networks, causing cascading disruptions and losses. Such floods are not limited to rare and extreme events. Especially in developing country cities, the lack of resilient infrastructure systems means that even regular rainfall events, for example, during rainy seasons, can cause havoc. Attention is often biased towards direct asset losses from floods, rather than the wider economic costs of disrupted networks. This is due primarily to the complex dynamics of economic and infrastructure networks. But public transport and road usage data are also often limited, especially when the predominant modes of transport are informal and walking. So how can we identify and prioritize cost-effective measures for urban resilience This note describes an analytical approach that can help prioritize investments in urban transport resilience and public transport, while also strengthening the economic case for such investments.
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    COVID-19 in South Asia: An Unequal Shock, An Uncertain Recovery - Findings on Labor Market Impacts from Round 1 of the SAR COVID Phone Monitoring Surveys
    (Washington, DC, 2022-04) World Bank
    All countries across South Asia, faced with the rising risks of COVID-19 infection rates, implemented severe economic lockdowns in early 2020 with varying frequencies and time periods. While the exact nature and duration of these lockdowns varied across countries in the South Asia Region (SAR), almost all SAR countries imposed their first economic lockdown in late March 2020 in response to the growing health threat of COVID-19 infections. In India, for instance, the national lockdown was first introduced in late March 2020, which coincided with the imposition of similar lockdowns in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, followed by a national lockdown in Pakistan on April 1, 2020. By April 17, 2020, the population of all SAR countries was under severe lockdown with varying rules and conditions based on national or local directives. The introduction of these lockdowns led to a drastic, abrupt disruption in all forms of physical mobility and economic activities. Trends from the Google COVID-19 Community Mobility data reveal this sharp drop in day-to-day mobility related to four different types of economic activity across 6 out of 8 SAR countries for which this data was available. Figure 1 plots the daily change in the Google Mobility index, which is constructed by taking an equally weighted mean across the four dimensions of economic activity for the five weeks before March 2020. In the six SAR countries, the average mobility remained approximately, on average, 58 percent below their respective pre-COVID levels during the first week of the lockdown. For example, in Nepal, where the lockdown was first introduced on March 24, 2020, mobility (as measured by the Google Mobility index) was 66 percent below pre-COVID levels on the first day of the lockdown; and it remained, on average, 71.5 percent below per-COVID levels between March 24, 2020, and March 30, 2020. We observe a similar pattern of immediate and large disruptions in mobility in all SAR countries, except in Afghanistan (22.5 percent below pre-COVID levels), where restrictions were more localized. The Google Mobility index closely follows these changes in rules and conditions in SAR countries, which varied over time within each country as well as across countries. In countries like Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka, with an extended period of restrictions imposed through national or local directives at different points in time, mobility had not returned to pre-COVID levels even as late as April 2021. In Nepal and Sri Lanka, where the second lockdown was introduced in August and November 2020, respectively, we observe a sharp drop again in mobility after a gradual recovery following the easing of the first lockdown. In other SAR countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, mobility only returned to pre-COVID levels between September and October 2020. These results underscore the dramatic and prolonged impact that COVID-19 induced lockdowns have had on mobility and economic activity, which is perhaps unprecedented in the region, at least in recent history4. These lockdowns are likely to have important implications on various socio-economic dimensions of welfare, including labor market outcomes, both immediately and in the medium, to long-term. More importantly, the long-term impacts will also be determined by the nature and the pace of recovery observed in these countries in the months and years after the initial phase of lockdown. Moreover, the emergence of new mutants leaves open the possibility of future lockdowns as a policy response to mitigate the health effects of the virus, which could impact economic activity and reverse observed recoveries.
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    How Did the COVID-19 Crisis Affect Different Types of Workers in the Developing World?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-08) Kugler, Maurice ; Viollaz, Mariana ; Duque, Daniel ; Gaddis, Isis ; Newhouse, David ; Palacios-Lopez, Amparo ; Weber, Michael
    The COVID-19 pandemic is the worst global macroeconomic shock since the Great Depression. This brief reports which groups of workers have been hit hardest by the economic fallout of COVID-19 in developing countries. Larger shares of female, young, less educated, and urban workers stopped working, with gender differences being particularly pronounced. Gender gaps in work stoppage stemmed mainly from differences within sectors rather than differential employment patterns across sectors. Among those that remained employed, changes in sector of employment and employment type were similar for all groups except for age, where young workers saw a slightly larger decline in industrial employment. Employment increased between April and October, with larger gains for the groups with larger initial job losses, but for most groups these gains fell far short of pre pandemic employment levels. Finally, evidence from five countries suggests that phone surveys give a generally accurate picture of group disparities in employment rates following the onset of the crisis and are proving to be a valuable tool for monitoring differential impacts of the crisis on workers