Development Knowledge and Learning

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The Development Knowledge and Learning series is geared toward making specialized World Bank knowledge rapidly available to policy makers and the development community. Studies in the series comprise the knowledge outputs of the Bank's operational work, tend to be focused on narrowly defined topics, and can include works in progress that are disseminated for discussion purposes.

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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
  • Publication
    Revising Public Agricultural Support to Mitigate Climate Change
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-05-04) Searchinger, Timothy D.; Dumas, Patrice; Baldock, David; Glauber, Joe; Jayne, Thomas; Huang, Jikun; Marenya, Paswell
    Agriculture generates roughly one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, without major mitigation efforts, agricultural emissions are likely to reach levels that would make meeting global climate targets practically unachievable. Meanwhile, countries that produce two-thirds of the world's agricultural output provided US$600 billion per year in agricultural financial support on average from 2014 to 2016. By evaluating these support programs, both overall and with six case studies, this report finds that many governments have moved to make their farm support less likely to distort what farmers produce, but only a modest portion of programs support environmental objectives, and even fewer support the mitigation of climate change. Out of US$300 billion in direct spending, only 9 percent explicitly supports conservation, while another 12 percent supports research and technical assistance. Instances in which receiving government funding is contingent upon supporting environmental objectives provide models on which to build but so far have produced only modest environmental benefits. Because crop and pasture yields need to grow dramatically to avoid more deforestation and other conversion of native habitats, mitigation priorities include help for farmers to boost yields and livestock productivity. Yet to avoid inadvertently encouraging more conversion, this aid must be conditioned on the protection of forests and other native areas. Overall, climate-oriented support for agriculture should have as a guiding principle increasing the efficient use of land and other natural resources. Incentive programs should be structured so that they offer graduated payments for higher climate performance. Governments should also prioritize coordinated projects across multiple producers to explore critically needed innovations in farm management, and should support those projects with research and technical assistance.
  • Publication
    Central Bank Reserve Management Practices: Insights into Public Asset Management from the Second RAMP Survey
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-04-27) World Bank
    In the summer of 2019, the World Bank Treasury’s Reserve Advisory and Management Partnership (RAMP) conducted its second survey on central banks’ reserve management practices, with a particular focus on governance, accounting, and other operational practices. Understanding these practices is particularly relevant during the COVID-19 crisis, as central banks use their foreign currency reserves to help their countries deal with capital outflows and sharp decreases in exports, tourism, and remittances. On governance, the survey finds that the most common practice is that boards set the investment policy and guidelines, investment committees review the proposals to the board and monitor implementation, and operational units make day-to-day decisions and develop proposals for the board. Central banks have different organizational arrangements for their operational units. The survey results also show that most central banks are well-positioned to provide foreign currency liquidity during the coronavirus pandemic, as they continue to invest their reserves in high-quality fixed-income assets. At the same time, the gradual diversification to nontraditional asset classes continues. The allocation to emerging market bonds, corporate bonds, and mortgage-backed securities of central banks reserves increased slightly since the previous survey. The data show considerable cross-country differences in the way central banks manage their reserves, and in some circumstances, the analysis suggests these differences correlate with respondents’ country income groups and levels of reserve adequacy. Regarding accounting practices, two-thirds of central banks report some degree of implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The survey also reveals multiple practices to distribute central bank net income to governments. However, data suggest that the transfers of profits between central banks and ministries of finance are not symmetrical—central banks are more likely to distribute profits than to receive financial support in case of losses.
  • Publication
    Combating Noncommunicable Diseases in Kenya: An Investment Case
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-03-24) Mensah, Julia; Korir, Julius; Nugent, Rachel; Hutchinson, Brian; Mensah, Julia
    Noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, chronic lung diseases, and heart diseases are the leading cause of death and disability. In Kenya, the growing prevalence of these diseases is a major public health concern and a hindrance to long-term economic growth. This is because these conditions reduce human capital and divert societal resources. The high cost of managing the growing caseload of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) also afflicts Kenyan families, businesses, and the government, and increasingly leads to impoverishment. Developing an appropriate policy response to the threat of NCDs requires a clear understanding of the economic impacts as well as the benefits of potential interventions, both from a health and an economic perspective. Such information allows policy makers to evaluate the trade-offs between different investment decisions, with the goal of ensuring that any interventions maximize the rewards to individuals and to society at large. Combating Noncommunicable Diseases in Kenya is one of a few published studies on the economic burden of NCDs in Kenya. It focuses on a limited set of conditions, aligned with the burden of NCDs in Kenya, and demonstrates both the long-term costs of these diseases and the strong health and economic benefits of scaling up interventions. It contributes to a growing body of analysis on NCDs in Kenya—and in Africa—and provides muchneeded evidence to facilitate advocacy and foster dialogue to confront this serious challenge.
  • Publication
    A Benchmark for the Performance of State-Owned Water Utilities in the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-01-29) Burdescu, Ruxandra; van den Berg, Caroline; Janson, Nils; Alvarado, Oscar
    Improving the management and governance of state-owned enterprises in the water supply and sanitation sector in the Caribbean is critical. State-owned enterprises play a significant role in the economy through their impact on fiscal accounts and service delivery to citizens. This benchmark analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of 14 water utilities, with focus on Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, and St. Lucia. It is a tool for policy makers and practitioners seeking to improve service delivery in the sector, restore or maintain fiscal discipline, and pursue sector goals in a sustainable manner. In the Caribbean region and beyond, building smart and resilient water utilities for the future is a priority. The challenges are complex and multidimensional. Political problems, weak institutions, low capacity, and inefficient practices exacerbate less-than-satisfactory performance. These challenges cannot be met by applying a cookie-cutter approach or by focusing only on standard technical and managerial techniques. Improving corporate governance will increase operational and managerial efficiency. Evidence shows that water supply and sanitation utilities with access to commercial finance are more likely to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This benchmark finds that many of the analyzed state-owned water utilities are underperforming in terms of coverage, quality of service, operating efficiency, and financial performance. Overcoming these challenges will require long-term measures, with implementation that is likely to be ambitious and challenging. Shorter-term measures targeted at strengthening financial sustainability would involve establishing reliable cash flows that allow utilities to cover their costs. Benchmarking governance in state-owned enterprises varies across the region. Some countries have a strong governance framework with well-developed policies and legal and regulatory frameworks, while others have unclear sector policies and underdeveloped legal and regulatory frameworks. Water supply and sanitation utilities with better-developed governance frameworks usually perform better than those with underdeveloped frameworks.
  • Publication
    Strengthening Cross-Border Value Chains: Opportunities for India and Bangladesh
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020) Kathuria, Sanjay; Kathuria, Sanjay; Mathur, Priya; Gitau, Ciliaka Millicent W.; Khanna, Aman; Manghnani, Ruchita
    It is widely agreed that, over the past decade, accelerating infrastructure investments in India's North Eastern Region (NER) and neighboring countries, along with connectivity agreements with Bangladesh, hold immense promise for unlocking NER's economic potential. Other global trends, such as the growing incomes and consumer awareness in India and neighboring countries; a rising preference for fresh, healthy, safe, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible products; the growing role of services in manufacturing; and increasing demand for skilled resources are also very favorable for NER. Together, these developments can help NER showcase its strengths in agriculture and services, thereby developing value chains in these sectors, which will lead to sustainable, better-paying, job opportunities for the people of NER. In this context, the World Bank, in consultation with stakeholders--government, private sector, and academia--analyzed two cross-cutting constraints that are encountered across all value chains and sectors in NER: connectivity and logistics, and product standards and quality infrastructure. These are discussed in Playing to Strengths: A Policy Framework for Mainstreaming Northeast India (Kathuria, S., and P. Mathur, eds., 2019, World Bank). This volume is a companion piece to that report; it analyzes four value chains--fruits and vegetables, spices, bamboo and related products, and medical tourism--and provides an assessment of how Bangladesh can benefit from NER’s increasing connectivity and growth prospects. The sector studies emphasize the need to reorient the supply base in NER toward serving the changing global demand and puts an explicit focus on women as well as the bottom 40 percent of the workforce. In light of the mutual benefit offered by economic exchange, improvements in connectivity offer a win-win opportunity for NER and Bangladesh.
  • Publication
    Pastoral Development in Ethiopia: Trends and the Way Forward
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-06-11) Gebremeskel, Esayas Nigatu; Kassa, Girma K.
    Despite half a century of development efforts, multidimensional deprivation and vulnerability to shocks remain a serious problem in Ethiopia’s pastoral areas. A review of past and ongoing pastoral and agro-pastoral (PAP) development efforts in Ethiopia, analysis of the current socioeconomic situation in relation to PAPs, and an extensive literature review of emerging knowledge on the topic point to the need for future PAP development to focus on resilience, transformation, and sustainability. This study, which was commissioned by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), proposes six strategic pillars: livelihood support for improved pastoral and agro-pastoral production; livelihood diversification and improved agro-pastoral extension; integrated rangeland and water development, and secure access to key resources; transformation and commercialization of the livestock industry; enhanced access and use of basic social and economic services; enhanced social protection and disaster risk management; and institutional and human capacity development. In addition, intervention-planning needs to be sensitive to conflict, should mainstream gender issues and nutrition, and should emphasize women and youth employment, climate change and adaptation, information technology, action-oriented research, and knowledge management and documentation.
  • Publication
    Inaugural RAMP Survey on the Reserve Management Practices of Central Banks: Results and Observations
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-04-15) World Bank
    In the spring of 2018, the World Bank Treasury's Reserves Advisory and Management Program (RAMP) concluded its inaugural survey on central banks' reserve management practices. RAMP sought to assess whether there had been a significant evolution in this activity over the past two decades given: 1. The substantial increase in global foreign exchange reserves over that time period; and 2. The extraordinary policy responses to the unprecedented macroeconomic and investment environment during and after the global financial crisis. The survey results show that most central banks continue to employ a traditional approach: their reserve holdings are concentrated in high-quality fixed-income assets, and the minimum credit rating for their investments remains conservative. At the same time, the data suggest important changes are under way as a material number of central banks reported more diversified portfolios with exposure to nontraditional asset classes: a third of respondents hold corporate credit, most of which are investment grade, and almost one in five own mortgage-backed securities or equities, although mostly in limited allocations. Our analysis of this information did not find a relationship between respondents' measures of reserve adequacy and the size of their exposure to nontraditional asset classes. The data do show considerable cross-country differences in the way central banks manage their reserves and, in some circumstances, our analysis suggests these differences correlate with respondents' country income groups.