Ali, Daniel Ayalew

Development Research Group, World Bank
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Agriculture and Rural Development, Land Economics
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Development Research Group, World Bank
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Last updated: October 24, 2023
Daniel Ayalew Ali is a Senior Economist in the Sustainability and Infrastructure Team of the Development Research Group. His main research area is applied microeconomics with a focus on Africa and rural issues: property rights, contracts in land and investment incentives, impact evaluation, risk coping and management. He has done extensive research on the impact evaluation of land related projects in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana. He received his PhD in Economics from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
Citations 128 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 40
  • Publication
    Impacts of Transparent Online Auctions on Public Land Lease Revenue: Evidence from Legal and Administrative Changes in Ukraine
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-10) Deniniger, Klaus; Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Neyter, Roman
    Although millions of hectares of public land are transferred to private parties each year, often with unsatisfactory results, evidence on mechanisms to achieve better outcomes is scant. This paper analyzes the impact of a 2021 reform in Ukraine that -after earlier digitization efforts did not produce desired results- mandated use of transparent online auctions by local government to transfer rights to public agricultural land. The shift to a collusion-proof electronic auction system led to a near-instantaneous doubling of lease revenue. Had all public land Ukraine transferred since 2015 auctioned using post-reform mechanisms, local governments would have received incremental lease revenue of US$500 million per year. In countries with large public land endowments, legal and regulatory reform to ensure rights to public land are allocated competitively and in a decentralized way could possibly improve social, economic, and environmental outcomes.
  • Publication
    Quantifying War-Induced Crop Losses in Ukraine in Near Real Time to Strengthen Local and Global Food Security
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2022-07) Deininger, Klaus; Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Lemoine, Guido; Yailimova, Hanna
    This paper uses a 4-year panel (2019–2022) of 10,125 village councils in Ukraine to estimate direct and indirect effects of the war started by Russia on area and expected yield of winter crops. Satellite imagery is used to provide information on direct damage to agricultural fields; classify crop cover using machine learning; and compute the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for winter cereal fields as a proxy for yield. Without conflict, winter crop area would have been 9.14 rather than 8.38 mn. ha, a 0.75 mn. ha reduction, 86% of which is due to economy-wide effects. The estimated conflict-induced drop in NDVI for winter cereal, which is particularly pronounced for small farms, translates into a 15% yield reduction or an output loss of 4.2 million tons. Taking area and yield reduction together suggests a war-induced loss of winter crop output of 20% if the current winter crop can be harvested fully.
  • Publication
    How Urban Land Titling and Registry Reform Affect Land and Credit Markets: Evidence from Lesotho
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-05) Deininger, Klaus; Ali, Daniel Ayalew
    Using spatial fixed effects and time-varying controls, this paper draws on complete registry data for 1981–2019, supplemented by satellite imagery, to analyze impacts of urban land titling for some 40,000 grid cells in Lesotho. Beyond confirming the short-term impacts on female co-ownership and investment, previously reported, the paper documents medium-term impacts on land sale and mortgage market activity and women’s participation in these markets. Although titling was instrumental in ensuring the effectiveness of an earlier legal reform that allowed women to be co-owners of land, the credit and land market effects are due not to titling but to changes in policy to reduce the transaction cost of registering land that took effect just before titling started. Downward shifts in the time required to register transactions support this interpretation. The paper concludes by discussing what the evidence implies for design and evaluation of property registration programs.
  • Publication
    Does Title Increase Large Farm Productivity? Institutional Determinants of Large Land-Based Investments’ Performance in Zambia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Deininger, Klaus
    The importance of well-functioning land markets for structural transformation via labor movements to the non-agricultural sector, growth in farm size, and the ability to use land as collateral for credit and has long motivated Government efforts at reducing the transaction costs of registering and transferring land and supporting large farm formation. Rigorous evidence on the effect of such measures has, however, been scant. This paper explores the impact of institutional arrangements on productivity for a representative sample of 3,000 large farms in Zambia, one of the earliest African adopters of such policies to close this gap. Instrumental-variable (IV) regressions suggest title has no effect on productivity, investment, or credit access and reduces rather than improves rental market participation. Measures to harness Zambia’s potential include improving title quality through exclusive use of digital registries; imposition of a land tax on state land to incentivize productive rather than speculative land use and cancel outdated legacy documents; and greater involvement of traditional authorities in record maintenance and land management, possibly via land tax revenue sharing.
  • Publication
    Using Registry Data to Assess Gender-Differentiated Land and Credit Market Effects of Urban Land Policy Reform: Evidence from Lesotho
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Deininger, Klaus
    Since 2010, Lesotho has implemented legal and institutional changes to allow female land ownership, established a new land agency, reduced the cost of registering land, and carried out systematic urban land titling. Analysis using administrative data shows that these reforms triggered discontinuous and sustained changes in quality of service delivery, female land ownership, and registered land sales and mortgage volume. Land and credit market activation is, however, exclusively due to policy reforms. While (subsidized) systematic land registration allows women to access documented land rights, these effects may not be sustained without further regulatory change, highlighting the importance of reducing fees and streamlining processes to improve urban land and financial market functioning as a key precondition for Africa’s expected wave of urbanization translating into productive cities and jobs.
  • Publication
    Using Machine Learning to Assess Yield Impacts of Crop Rotation: Combining Satellite and Statistical Data for Ukraine
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-06) Kussul, Nataliia; Deininger, Klaus; Lavreniuk, Mykola; Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Nivievskyi, Oleg
    To overcome the constraints for policy and practice posed by limited availability of data on crop rotation, this paper applies machine learning to freely available satellite imagery to identify the rotational practices of more than 7,000 villages in Ukraine. Rotation effects estimated based on combining these data with survey-based yield information point toward statistically significant and economically meaningful effects that differ from what has been reported in the literature, highlighting the value of this approach. Independently derived indices of vegetative development and soil water content produce similar results, not only supporting the robustness of the results, but also suggesting that the opportunities for spatial and temporal disaggregation inherent in such data offer tremendous unexploited opportunities for policy-relevant analysis.
  • Publication
    Using Satellite Imagery to Create Tax Maps and Enhance Local Revenue Collection
    (Taylor and Francis, 2020) Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Deininger, Klaus
    Although taxes on land and property have many desirable attributes, the challenge of ensuring completeness of tax rolls and currency of valuations preclude their effective use to support urbanization and service provision in many developing countries. The example of Kigali shows how building footprints and heights generated from high-resolution satellite imagery, together with sales prices and routine statistical data, allow to assess and improve coverage and design of property tax systems. We show that only 40% of potential land lease fee revenue (of US$ 4.9 million) was collected and that moving to 1% value-based tax would increase revenue almost 10 times while being less regressive than the current system. While this could allow reducing the tax burden for low-income groups, exemptions should be applied with caution based on careful empirical analysis.
  • Publication
    Personality Traits, Technology Adoption, and Technical Efficiency: Evidence from Smallholder Rice Farms in Ghana
    (Taylor and Francis, 2019-09) Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Deininger, Klaus
    Although a large literature highlights the impact of personality traits on key labor market outcomes, evidence of their impact on agricultural production decisions remains limited. Data from 1,200 Ghanaian rice farmers suggest that noncognitive skills (polychronicity, work centrality, and optimism) significantly affect simple adoption decisions, returns from adoption, and technical efficiency in rice production, and that the size of the estimated impacts exceeds that of traditional human capital measures. Greater focus on personality traits relative to cognitive skills may help accelerate innovation diffusion in the short term, and help farmers to respond flexibly to new opportunities and risks in the longer term.
  • Publication
    Making Secure Land Tenure Count for Global Development Goals and National Policy: Evidence from Zambia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-06) Hilhorst, Thea; Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Kakungu, Frank; Deininger, Klaus; Yi, Yuanyuan
    Adding a module designed to measure land tenure-related Sustainable Development Goals indicators to the 2018 round of Zambia's labor force survey shows low transferability and high levels of tenure insecurity. Having a title is associated with greater transferability and reduced insecurity. Although demand for titles, including willingness to pay, is high, current policies limit the scope for tenure regularization and reinforce rather than reduce gender discrimination. Efforts in this direction need to be preceded by (i) procedural reform to reduce costs, streamline procedures, and make them gender-sensitive; (ii) institutional change to increase the efficiency of service delivery and ensure record maintenance; and (iii) legal change to recognize customary tenure and improve land management and transferability. Adding the Sustainable Development Goals land tenure module to ongoing surveys has the potential to provide the evidence base needed to design results-based approaches for the land sector and reliably track progress.
  • Publication
    Using Satellite Imagery to Revolutionize the Creation of Tax Maps
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-08) Ali, Daniel Ayalew; Deininger, Klaus
    Globally, cities rely on property taxes as a key source of revenues to finance the services that enhance its long-term competitiveness and counter the negative aspects of density. In developing countries, the technical complexity of ensuring that tax rolls are complete and valuations current is often perceived as a major barrier to bringing in more property tax revenues. This policy paper shows how high-resolution satellite imagery makes it possible to assess the completeness of existing tax maps by estimating built-up areas based on building heights and footprints. Together with information on sales prices from the land registry, targeted surveys, and routine statistical data, this makes it possible to use mass valuation procedures to generate tax maps. The example of Kigali illustrates the reliability of the method and the potentially far-reaching revenue impacts. Estimates based on modelling show that heightened tax compliance and a move to a one percent ad valorem tax would yield a tenfold increase in revenue from public land.