Other Poverty Study

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    Food Safety in Africa: Past Endeavors and Future Directions
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-04-27) World Bank
    Current donor investment in food safety in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) largely reflects the concerns of previous decades and as a result is substantially focused on access to regional and overseas export markets, with emphasis on national control systems. Relatively little is being done to reduce foodborne illness among consumers in SSA. More investment in food safety (by African governments, donors, and the private sector) is needed to help ensure that Africans have safe food. New understanding of foodborne disease burden and management, along with rapid and broad change within societies and agri-food systems in SSA, has led to food safety emerging as an important public health and development issue. There is need to reconsider donor and national government investment strategies and the role of the private sector. This report is a call for action on food safety. It provides up-to-date information on key food safety actors, presents the first-ever analysis of food safety investments in SSA, captures insights from a wide-ranging expert consultation and makes suggestions for attaining food safety, based on evidence but also consensus principles, successful elsewhere but not yet applied widely in mass domestic markets in SSA.
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    Inequality in Southern Africa: An Assessment of the Southern African Customs Union
    (Washington, DC, 2022) World Bank
    The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is the most unequal region in the world. While there has been some progress in recent years, inequality has remained almost stagnant in the most unequal countries. Using an innovative framework, this report provides a systematic and comprehensive analysis of inequality in the region. The main conclusions are as follows: first, inherited circumstances over which an individual has little or no control (i.e., inequality of opportunity) drive overall inequality, and their contribution has increased in recent years. This is an important concern particularly because this type of inequality is not the result of people’s efforts. Second, lack of access to jobs and means of production (education, skills, land, among others) by disadvantaged populations slows progress towards a more equitable income distribution. In a context where jobs are scarce, having post-secondary or tertiary education is key to both accessing jobs, and obtaining better wages once employed. Third, fiscal policy helps reduce inequality through the use of targeted transfers, social spending, and progressive taxation, but results are below expectation given the level of spending. Fourth, vulnerability to climate risks and economic shocks makes any gains towards a more equal society fragile. Looking ahead, accelerating inequality reduction will require concerted action in three policy areas: (a) expanding coverage and quality of education, health, and basic services across subregions and disadvantaged populations to reduce inequality of opportunity; (b) strengthening access to and availability of private sector jobs. It is important to accompany structural reforms with measures that facilitate entrepreneurship and skills acquisition of disadvantaged populations, and to improve land distribution and productivity in rural areas; and (c) investing in adaptive social protection systems to increase resilience to climate risks and economic vulnerability, while enhancing targeting of safety net programs for more efficient use of fiscal resources.