Agriculture and Food Global Practice, West and Central Africa
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Agriculture and Natural Resource Economics, Microeconomics, Poverty
Agriculture and Food Global Practice
West and Central Africa
West and Central Africa
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated January 31, 2023
Ashwini Rekha Sebastian is a Senior Agricultural Economist at the World Bank currently based in Accra Ghana, where she works on the sustainable development agenda. She has previously work in the West Africa and Latin America regions. She joined the World Bank in 2016 as a Young Professional (YP). She holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park with a focus on agricultural, environmental, and development economics. Prior to joining the World Bank, Ashwini worked as an Economist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO), based in Rome. She has also previously worked with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington DC.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
A Proxy Means Test for Sri Lanka: A Proxy Means Test for Sri Lanka(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-06) Sebastian, Ashwini ; Shivakumaran, Shivapragasam ; Silwal, Ani Rudra ; Newhouse, David ; Walker, Thomas ; Yoshida, NobuoThis paper intends to inform the effort of the Sri Lankan government to reform the targeting efficacy of its social protection programs, in particular, Samurdhi, which currently distributes benefits based on self-reported income. We develop a Proxy Means Test (PMT) for Sri Lanka based on the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016 and evaluate its performance for targeting benefits of Samurdhi. The paper considers a range of models and policy parameters that could be applied depending on data availability and country preferences. The results indicate that switching to a PMT could considerably improve the targeting performance of Samurdhi and would significantly improve the poverty impact of the program. We find that the performance of the proposed PMT model suffers when the coefficients are estimated from samples smaller than 1,000 households. However, we do not find a similar loss of model performance when the model is estimated from seasonal data, provided the sample size is sufficiently large. The model we propose could be applied to the targeting of a variety of safety net programs after validating and refining our model by conducting a pilot survey.
A Proxy Means Test for Sri Lanka(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-10) Sebastian, Ashwini ; Shivakumaran, Shivapragasam ; Silwal, Ani Rudra ; Newhouse, David ; Walker, Thomas ; Yoshida, NobuoThis paper intends to inform the effort of the Sri Lankan government to reform the targeting efficacy of its social protection programs, in particular, Samurdhi, which currently distributes benefits based on self-reported income. The paper develops a proxy means test for Sri Lanka based on the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016 and evaluates its performance for targeting benefits of Samurdhi. The paper considers a range of models and policy parameters that could be applied depending on data availability and country preferences. The results indicate that switching to a proxy means test could considerably improve the targeting performance of Samurdhi and would significantly improve the poverty impact of the program. The analysis finds that the performance of the proposed proxy means test model suffers when the coefficients are estimated from samples smaller than 1,000 households. However, the analysis does not find a similar loss of model performance when the model is estimated from seasonal data, provided the sample size is sufficiently large. The proposed model could be applied to targeting a variety of safety net programs after validating and refining the model by conducting a pilot survey.
Going Viral: COVID-19 and the Accelerated Transformation of Jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-09-28) Beylis, Guillermo ; Fattal-Jaef, Roberto ; Sinha, Rishabh ; Morris, Michael ; Sebastian, Ashwini RekhaThe economic impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented in size and scope. It has quickly evolved from a health emergency into an employment crisis. It also has far-reaching implications for workers beyond the immediate employment effects, as it most likely has accelerated the transformation process of jobs that had already started in the region and the world. This book focuses on three important pre-pandemic trends observed in the region—namely, premature deindustrialization, servicification of the economy, and task automation—that were significantly changing the labor market landscape in the region and that have been accelerated by the crisis. While there is still uncertainty about the economic impacts of Covid-19, policymakers need to start planning for a rapidly evolving future that will come sooner than expected. A strong focus on productivity, technology development and adoption, and training in relevant skills will be key to adapting and taking advantage of the new opportunities in the post-pandemic world. Importantly, the accelerated transformation of jobs calls for a rethinking of labor regulations and social protection policies geared towards wage earners employed in the formal sector of the economy. The three trends identified in Going Viral, the effects of the pandemic itself, and the growing reliance on electronic platforms raise doubts that wage employment will increase substantially in the coming years. At the same time, earnings and transactions processed through electronic platforms are more visible to the authorities, bringing an opportunity to increase tax revenue and social security contributions. The flexible regulation of the emerging forms of work in a way that encourages employment, supports formalization, and expands the coverage of social protection to larger segments of the population will be of utmost importance for policymakers preparing for a new and changed world.
Future Foodscapes: Re-imagining Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-11) Morris, Michael ; Sebastian, Ashwini Rekha ; Perego, Viviana Maria EugeniaAgriculture and food systems in Latin America and the Caribbean Region (LAC) are rightfully recognized as among the most successful on the planet: they have fed a fast-growing population, facilitated economic development, enabled urbanization, generated substantial exports, and helped drive down global hunger and poverty. Yet despite these significant contributions, the public image of the region’s agriculture and food systems as dynamic, productive, and efficient reflectsonly part of a more complicated reality. The impressive achievements have come at the expense of significant environmental and health costs. LAC agriculture uses over one-third of the region’s land area, consumes nearly three-quarters of the region’s fresh water resources, and generates almost one-half of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions. And despite the consistent food production surpluses, millions of people in LAC regularly go hungry or suffer from malnutrition and related diseases. In short, the region’s successes in feeding the population and exporting food to the rest of the world are exacting high costs on people and on the environment.
Integrating Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia’s Agri-Food Sector(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-12-11) Sebastian, Ashwini Rekha ; Perego, Viviana Maria Eugenia ; Munoz Mora, Juan CarlosBy the end of August 2020, five years since the intensification of the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis, 5.2 million Venezuelans had fled their country, in an exodus whose scale and pace closely mirror those of the Syrian refugee crisis - where by 2015, four years into the forced displacement crisis, 4.8 million people had escaped Syria. In the immediate aftermath of the surge in the number of Venezuelan migrants, the focus of the Colombian government was to register all migrants and provide relief through health and welfare systems. This report is intended to reach a broad audience of policy makers, program administrators, development professionals, and academics in Colombia and in the broader development community, and aims to assesses the integration of Venezuelan migrants into Colombian agri-food labor markets through a combination of original micro-level data analysis and in-depth semi-structured field interviews with Venezuelan migrants, producers’ associations, and Colombian institutions. The main contributions of the study are three-fold. First, the report offers a detailed overview of Venezuelan migration into Colombia, spatially and over time, enriching with new, and more detailed, insights the currently available information on migrants’ employment outcomes and on their comparison to those of the local Colombian population. A second contribution of the report is to provide evidence that the agri-food sector in Colombia has a yet unfulfilled potential to support a smoother inclusion of Venezuelan migrants in the labor force. The third and final contribution of the report is to identify lessons learned for the inclusion of Venezuelan migrants in the agri-food sector in Colombia. The report concludes with a look at the path ahead, through practical ideas and operationalization principles for delivering a strategy that includes both supply and demand driven integration of migrants in labor markets, featuring agriculture and food systems more prominently.