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FAO's New (and Lower) Estimates of Hunger

This post is joint with Casey Friedman

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s flagship hunger report came out Monday, featuring a new and improved methodology for estimating the number of undernourished people in the world, and it has two big, good surprises, though there are still hundreds of millions of consistently underfed people.

A Wake-Up Call on Contraceptive Rates in Africa

Between 1970 and 2010, most emerging countries achieved impressive gains in contraceptive coverage. As a result, their fertility has declined, their population growth rate has slowed down, and many of these countries have been able to capture the economic benefits of the demographic dividend, which occurs when the labor force becomes relatively larger in the total population thanks to lower fertility levels. In addition, the fertility decline improves the dependency ratios and reduces the burden of youth on working adults.

In Tokyo, Kim Should Signal Why IDA Needs to Be Better, Not Bigger

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz

World Bank presidents have often defined their success in part via ever-larger replenishments for IDA, the Bank’s soft loan window. But at his first ever Bank-Fund annual meetings this weekend in Tokyo, Jim Yong Kim should explain to the gathered illuminati why this is no longer an appropriate metric.

Related Podcast

The Future of IDA

After 52 years, IDA is facing a watershed moment. Drastic changes in both the supply and demand for the World Bank’s cheap long-term loans to governments of poor countries requires rethinking IDA’s purpose, tools, and broad role. In Tokyo, Kim should be sure that shareholders understand that the future of IDA depends, not on its size, but on adapting its mandate and business model to certain new realities:

Technology in the Tropics: a Visit to Bangalore

Bangalore in September. Beautiful weather, luscious gardens, and the din of metro construction. But most importantly (for our purposes, at least), Bangalore is headquarters to the world’s largest biometric identification project. Every 24 hours, the Unique Identification Authority of India’s data center performs 100 trillion matches to ensure that each of the day’s 1 million new enrollees is distinct from the 200 million people already identified. This number crunching will only increase as the program scales to cover India’s 1.2 billion people.

The Future of IDA – Todd Moss

Todd MossThe World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) was created more than 50 years ago to provide low-cost financing to the world’s poorest countries. Economic growth is lifting many of these countries into middle-income status. What happens when most of IDA’s borrowing countries are no longer classified as poor?

A Banking System Is More Than a Bunch of Banks

For so long I was focused on the important but narrow question of what microfinance does to human beings. It was a good question to probe because a lot of people are interested in it, and various researchers and practitioners have contended over the answer.

Post-2015: Zero Is the Comely-est Number

One thing we emphasized in the Karver/Kenny/Sumner paper on MDGs 2.0 was that the MDGs are far better remembered, and have been far more influential, than the rest of the Millennium Declaration from which they were drawn.  We suggested that was because the MDGs were easy to understand, self-evidently important, numerical and time bound, and we called for any follow up goals to keep those vital features.  That point seems to be widely agreed, and dis

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