Disasters hit the poorest the hardest. Poor people are not only more vulnerable to climate-related shocks, but they also have fewer resources to prevent, cope with, and adapt to disasters. The poor tend to receive less support from family, community and financial systems, and even have less access to social safety nets, as a recent World Bank report explains.
Disasters tend to discriminate along generational and gender lines, as well. Several studies analyzing the impact of disasters have revealed that women and children have greater risks to their survival and recovery in the aftermath of natural disasters.
During the 2017 Hurricane Harvey in the U.S., many women—especially women of color—decided to not evacuate risk areas despite all the warnings. Why? All over the world, women and girls are overwhelmingly tasked, personally and professionally, with caring for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. So, simple life-saving decisions, like discerning whether to evacuate a disaster area, can become a difficult choice.
Poverty and gender norms shape basic survival capabilities as well. For example, according to an Oxfam survey, four times as many women than men were killed in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India during the 2004 tsunami, because men were taught how to swim and climb trees at young ages, while women were not.
Mercy Corps reports that women and men tend to adopt different resilience strategies during droughts in the Sahel region of Africa—and reducing food intake is one of them. In South and Southeast Asia, 45% to 60% of women of reproductive age are below their normal weight, and 80% of pregnant women have iron deficiencies. During food shortages, women are more likely to suffer from malnutrition because they have specific nutritional needs while pregnant or breast feeding. Women also sometimes consume fewer calories to give priority to men and children.
Photo: Gustave Deghilage | Flickr Creative Commons
Does experience in implementing Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) reduce a country's chances of contract failure?
In a recent study entitled Do Countries Learn from Experience in Infrastructure PPPs, we set out to empirically test whether general PPP experience impacts the success of projects—in this case, captured by a project's ability to forego the most extreme forms of failure that lead to cancellation.
Can the ability to sustain rural water systems be captured by a simple score? A new multipurpose four-page tool seeks to measure the likelihood of sustainability by assessing the capacity of a village water committee. Previously, such tools were often either too lengthy and academic or the assessment was left to the discretion of local officials with the risk of omitting critical components. Now a more practical model has been developed that aims to be user-friendly but detailed enough to detect gaps and prioritize interventions for village water committees.
This journey started in a rural village in the district of Karatu, Tanzania where a new water system had just been commissioned. The district water engineer was about to inaugurate the water scheme after a five-day training of the village water committee, giving them full ownership of their water scheme. During the opening ceremony, one question kept puzzling her: “Was the village water committee fully equipped to manage, operate and maintain their newly installed water scheme?”
In previous blogs on Fecal Sludge Management (FSM), we outlined the lack of appropriate attention given to FSM as a formal urban sanitation solution and we presented new tools for diagnosing fecal sludge challenges. In this blog, we provide illustrations from Indonesia and Mozambique of the challenges and opportunities of using FSM.
The World Bank at World Water Week 2015
Sewage is wastewater which contains human excreta (feces and urine), laundry waste, and often kitchen, bathing and other forms of waste water too. It is highly pathogenic, meaning that it contains many disease causing organisms.
Globally around two-thirds of the World’s urban dwellers rely on on-site (on-plot) sanitation. At the same time there is an increasing trend towards replacing on-site sanitation with traditional sewerage systems. Millions of dollars are spent on building sewers and sewage treatment plants while the complementary investments in household sewer connections and toilets are often neglected. What will those municipal investments in sewage treatment achieve without house connections?
Yet, 121 million children today remain out of school. These young people are the hardest to reach—due to poverty, gender barriers, remoteness, and disability. We must make a new concerted push to bring all children into the classroom.
In addition to this challenge of improving attendance and access, we face an even tougher problem ahead: ensuring that children are learning while they’re in school. The sad truth is that most education systems are not serving the poorest children well. This is a tragic failure of our educational aspirations for the world’s youth.
Back in 2009, Ratih Purwindah, a 25-year-old newly appointed sanitation district facilitator, was not invited to sit in the car to travel with delegates from Indonesia’s Ngawi District to participate in the East Java province rural sanitation review meeting. Instead, Ratih was asked to take a bus the 180 km to Surabaya, even though there were vacant seats in the delegation’s car. She also did not get a desk at the district’s office. Five years onwards, this has changed and Ratih is now the provincial coordinator for the government’s sanitation program in Central Java. District sanitation facilitators working with her are recognized and empowered within District Health offices. Ratih’s personal journey is a testament to the systemic changes that have taken place in Indonesia. With a focus on district-wide sanitation service delivery, Indonesia is accelerating access from below 1% to 2-3% a year and catching up to achieve the sanitation MDG.
What I remember most of the first hours after learning about the tsunami was radio silence. Aceh, it seemed, had ceased to exist. The limited infrastructure in Indonesia’s northernmost province was decimated and none of the survivors was able to update the outside world.
To understand the scope of what had happened I flew to Aceh the following day. Since then I have carried with me indelible images of survivors who had nothing left but the clothes on their bodies. There were remnants of lives swept away, of loved ones who disappeared, and a desert of mud and debris beyond repair.
The death toll kept on rising for weeks. In the end, of the over 230,000 people who died in 14 countries, 220,000 were from Aceh. We estimated the disaster had caused damage worth $4.45 billion.
Ten years after the tsunami, I remember the loss of lives not only as the tragedy it was, but as a moment that changed the way the world manages disasters. I take some consolation from the fact that people survive disasters more often today because of the lessons we learned from the tsunami that affected so many of my fellow Indonesians.
There are three conclusions that are critical to our experience.
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2014.
This post was originally posted on January 08, 2014
Inspired by Jeremy Adelman’s wonderful biography of Albert Hirschman (Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman, Princeton University Press, 2013), I’ve read and reread Hirschman’s masterpiece, Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States, (Harvard University Press, 1970) and his follow up essay “Exit, Voice, and State” (reprinted in The Essential Hirschman, Princeton University Press, 2013). Although Hirschman produced these works over 40 years ago, his simple model of flight (“exit”) or resistance (“voice”) in the face of unsatisfactory economic, political or social conditions remains highly relevant for policymakers and development practitioners concerned with eliminating extreme poverty, reducing inequality, and improving basic services accessible to the poor.
Hirschman’s ideas provide much cause for reflection within the context of present-day Indonesia. Indonesia has enjoyed over a decade of macroeconomic stability and economic growth. From 2000 to 2011 GDP expanded by 5.3 percent per year, and the official poverty count halved from 24 percent in 1999 to 12 percent in 2012. This period also saw notable improvements in health and education. Access to education has become more widespread and equitable. Girls are now as likely as boys to graduate from secondary school. In health, Indonesia is on track to meet Millennium Development Goals for reducing both the prevalence of underweight children under five years old, and the under-five mortality rate.
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It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. – Sherlock Holmes.
It's a game changer for those working on Indonesia's sub-national development issues. Comprehensive data at the sub-national level is now available to the public through INDO-DAPOER (Indonesia Data for Policy and Economics Research) at data.worldbank.org. DAPOER, which means ‘kitchen’ in Indonesian, is intended to be a ‘place’ where various data are blended, like spices, and cooked to produce analytical works, research papers, and policy notes.
INDO-DAPOER is the first World Bank sub-national database consisting of both province and district level data to be publicly accessible from anywhere in the world. The database provides access to around 200 indicators from almost 500 districts and 34 provinces in Indonesia, which in general go back to the early 1990s and even 1980s for some. The indicators are grouped into four main categories: fiscal, economic, social demographic, and infrastructure. Indicators range from sub-national government revenue and expenditure, sub-national GDP, to specific education, health, and infrastructure indicators such as net enrollment rate for junior secondary, immunization rate, and household access to safe sanitation.