1. High-frequency Monitoring of COVID-19 Impacts: First Results from Malawi

The Malawi National Statistical Office (NSO), in collaboration with the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) program and the Poverty and Equity Global Practice, disseminated the data and survey report tied to the first round of the High-Frequency Phone Survey on COVID-19 (HFPS COVID-19) on August 7, 2020. The financing for data collection and technical assistance in support of the Malawi HFPS COVID-19 is provided by the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Read More

2. Impact of Grain Trade Policies on Prices and Welfare: Evidence from Malawi

Restricting cross-border trade through export bans in an attempt to stabilize domestic prices has been a particularly popular policy tool used by many sub-Saharan countries in recent years. However, little is known about how the variability in harvests and seasonality — two critical dimensions of smallholder agriculture in Africa — mediate the effects of export bans on household welfare. This study assesses the short-term impact of export bans on prices and welfare of households in Malawi, accounting for these heterogeneities. It uses monthly panel data on maize prices from 152 markets in Malawi and neighboring countries. Read More

3. Vulnerability to Poverty Following Extreme Weather Events in Malawi

Severe weather shocks recurrently hit Malawi, and they adversely affect the incomes of many farm households as well as small businesses. With climate change, the frequency of extreme weather events is expected to increase further. A clear understanding of households’ vulnerability to shock-induced poverty is critical for disaster risk management and the design of scalable social safety net programs. Standard poverty measures rely on static snapshots that are suitable for quantifying structural poverty but not for assessing the vulnerability of non-poor households to fall below the poverty line when they experience shocks. This study uses a nationally representative household survey and exogenously measured weather shocks to assess households’ vulnerability to poverty in Malawi. Read More

4. Malawi Economic Monitor: From Crisis Response to a Strong Recovery

Malawi’s new Government has inherited a difficult situation: the global COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the country’s trajectory for a third straight year of faster growth, and tackling its impacts will present a considerable challenge. Growth improved to an estimated 4.4 percent in 2019, up from 3.5 percent in 2018, reflecting a rebound in agriculture. Improved agricultural production supported stronger performance in the industrial and service sectors. The uptick in growth also indicated resilience in Malawi’s economy in light of the impact of Cyclone Idai and considerable political uncertainty. The economy was on a trajectory for its third consecutive year of faster growth in 2020 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More

5. What Is the Impact of Weather Shocks on Prices? Evidence from Ethiopia

The impact of drought on household welfare is the cumulative effect of crop losses and price changes in a local economy that are triggered by these initial losses. This paper combines data on monthly grain prices and wages in 82 retail markets over 17 years with data on district-level weather shocks to quantify the impact of drought on local prices and how this impact varies by month after harvest. The results show that price increases occur immediately after the completion of harvest and then dissipate so that inflationary effects are quite low during the lean season, contrary to commonly held views. The impact of shocks on prices is quite low now in Ethiopia — 4 percent at its peak post-2005 compared with 12 percent before 2005. Read More

6. Cultivating Opportunities for Faster Rural Income Growth and Poverty Reduction: Mozambique Rural Income Diagnostic

Mozambique’s economy has experienced strong growth over the last two decades, with GDP expanding at an annual average rate of 7.2 percent. However, this growth has been unequally shared and rural areas still lag far behind urban centers in both monetary and non-monetary dimensions of wellbeing. As most poor households live in rural areas, increasing rural incomes is essential to reducing poverty and ensuring the benefits of growth are distributed more equally. Read More

7. Agricultural Productivity and Poverty in Rural Sudan

The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section two describes the state of the rural population in Sudan, by first discussing the spatial distribution of poverty across the states as well as changes in poverty levels between 2009 and 2014-15. It also describes the profile of poor rural households using characteristics such as their incomes, consumption, and assets. Section three focuses on the practice of agriculture in Sudan. It documents the agriculture-specific characteristics of households, such as choice of crops, use of inputs, irrigation, plot size, and credit access. Read More

8. Malawi Systematic Country Diagnostic: Breaking the Cycle of Low Growth and Slow Poverty Reduction

The Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) for Malawi provides the analytical foundation for country-level actions and investments to foster progress towards the World Bank Group (WBG) Twin Goals as well as the country’s national goals. The main purpose of the SCD is to identify the key challenges and opportunities that Malawi faces as it works towards eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity in a sustainable manner. The systematic and evidence-based analysis from the SCD will serve to inform a new Country Partnership Framework and help the WBG, Government and external partners to prioritize and align their strategies towards achieving the twin goals.
Read More

9. Kenya Gender and Poverty Assessment 2015-2016: Reflecting on a Decade of Progress and the Road Ahead

Following ten years of relatively robust economic growth, Kenya achieved lower-middle-income country status in 2014. The remarkable expansion of telecommunications and mobile financial services shifted Kenya’s economic paradigm to an extent rarely seen in developing countries. Poverty rates declined over the period but remain high by the standards of lower-middle-income countries. Due to the agricultural sector’s heavy dependence on rainfall, poverty reduction accelerated during years of good weather and slowed during years of drought. Read More

10. Malawi Economic Monitor: Investing in Girls’ Education

The Malawi Economic Monitor (MEM) provides an analysis of economic and structural development issues in Malawi. This edition was published in November 2018. It follows seven previous editions of the MEM and is part of an ongoing series, with future editions to follow twice each year. The aim of the publication is to foster better-informed policy analysis and debate regarding the key challenges that Malawi faces in its endeavor to achieve high rates of stable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Read More

11. Poverty maps of Uganda: Poverty Maps of Uganda

Over the past two decades, Uganda has achieved remarkable economic growth and substantial poverty reduction. Uganda’s substantial geographic disparities in patterns of growth and poverty reduction underscore the importance of mapping the distribution of poverty to ensure that policy interventions and external aid effectively target poor households. This technical report applies the small-area estimation (SAE) methodology developed by Elbers to create poverty maps that reflect the findings of the 2012-13 Uganda national household survey (UNHS) and the 2014 national population and housing census (NPHS). Read More

12. When Do In‐Service Teacher Training and Books Improve Student Achievement? Experimental Evidence from Mongolia

This study presents evidence from a randomized control trial (RCT) in Mongolia on the impact of in-service teacher training and books, both as separate educational inputs and as a package. The study tests for the complementarity of inputs and non-linearity of returns from investment in education as measured by students test scores in five subjects. It takes advantage of a national-scale RCT conducted under the Rural Education and Development project. The results suggest that the provision of books, in addition to teacher training, raises student achievement substantially. Read More

13. Welfare Dynamics and Drought in Ethiopia

This study analyzes the recent change in welfare, and its link with droughts using a panel data. Between 2012 and 2016, real consumption of households has decreased both in rural areas and small towns. The adverse welfare trend is more pronounced among the poor and those residing in some regions. We apply fixed effects and difference-in-difference techniques to study the impacts of droughts on welfare of the affected households. The results show that drought affected households have experienced 11.4% decrease in their consumption. The impact of drought has been much stronger on poor households. Access to safetynet appears to attenuate the impacts of drought on beneficiaries.Read More

14. Ethiopia Employment and Jobs Study

As many developing countries around the world, Ethiopia is faced with the challenge of generating employment for a rapidly-growing and youthful population. Ethiopia’s working age population, currently estimated at 54.7 million, is projected to grow by two million per year over the coming decade and this growth is unlikely to slow any time soon given persistently high fertility rates. The fast-growing labor force, combined with improving education levels, the drive for industrialization, and the increased scarcity of agricultural land, will have far-reaching consequences for the social and economic structure of the country, the nature of work, and labor mobility and the growth of town and cities. Read More

15. The Uganda Poverty Assessment Report 2016: Farms, Cities and Good Fortune: Assessing Poverty Reduction in Uganda from 2006 to 2013

Uganda’s progress in reducing poverty from 1993 to 2006 is a remarkable story of success that has been well told. The narrative of Uganda’s continued, albeit it slightly slower, progress in reducing poverty since 2006 is less familiar. This was a period in which growth slowed as the gains from reforms years earlier had been fully realized, and weak infrastructure and increasing corruption increasingly constrained private sector competitiveness (World Bank 2015). This report examines Uganda’s progress in reducing poverty, with a specific focus on the period 2006 to 2013. The report shows that high growth from 2006 to 2010 benefited poverty reduction.  Read More

16. Building Resilience and Expanding Opportunities for All: Niger Poverty Assessment

This report is a Poverty Assessment for Niger. It seeks to inform ongoing efforts by the Government of Niger in the context of its Renaissance Program to achieve rapid poverty reduction by 2035. It is meant to be complementary to the SCD and should be read in that context. Read More

17. Reaping Richer Returns: Public Spending Priorities for African Agriculture Productivity Growth

Enhancing the productivity of agriculture is vital for Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic future and is one of the most important tools to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity in the region. How governments elect to spend public resources has significant development impact in this regard. Choosing to catalyze a shift toward more effective, efficient, and climate-resilient public spending in agriculture can accelerate change and unleash growth. Not only does agricultural public spending in Sub-Saharan Africa lag behind other developing regions but its impact is vitiated by subsidy programs and transfers that tend to benefit elites to the detriment of poor people and the agricultural sector itself. Shortcomings in the budgeting processes also reduce spending effectiveness. Read More

18. How Do Women Fare in Rural Non-Farm Economy?

This paper studies the gender-based differences in access to and return from economic activities in the rural non-farm economy (RNFE) using panel datasets from Uganda and Ethiopia. The results show that female-headed households have limited access to paid employment and self-employment in the sector, particularly in some industries. These households also earn lower returns from RNFE than male-headed households, and the gross return gap is much higher in Uganda than in Ethiopia. Furthermore, endowment differences do not explain the return gap in Ethiopia, and only partially explain the gap in Uganda. Read More

19. Bangladesh Social Protection and Labor Review: Towards Smart Social Protection and Jobs for the Poor

Over the past decade, Bangladesh has achieved strong economic growth and impressive poverty reduction. The country’s great strides in human development, reflected in the lowered fertility rate, improved health and epidemiological outcomes, and progress in education, among others, are paving the way for its continued development and economic growth. Despite much progress, however, poverty and vulnerability remains a great challenge. In particular, persistent gaps across different populations exist often due to the labor market conditions experienced by marginalized workers (including unskilled laborers, females, youth, and migrants). In light of such dynamic changes in Bangladesh, the role of comprehensive Social Protection and Labor (SPL) policy to facilitate poor and vulnerable households to adequately respond to and manage various risks, is greater than ever. Read More

20. Priorities for Ending Extreme Poverty and Promoting Shared Prosperity: Systematic Country Diagnostic

This Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) identifies the binding constraints to reducing extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity in Ethiopia. Achieving those goals requires a two pronged strategy of building on the strengths of past performance as well as introducing new elements. Progress in rural livelihoods drove poverty reduction in the past and will likely do so in the future. In addition, faster, and more inclusive, private sector-led structural change and ‘getting urbanization right’ are essential going forward. The report identifies two key challenges to sustainable progress: Read More

21. Educating the Next Generation: Improving Teacher Quality in Cambodia

This book diagnoses Cambodian teaching quality and presents policy options for reform. Through classroom observation, assessments of mathematics and pedagogical content knowledge, and surveys of teachers and school directors, it sheds light on content and instruction, interactions with school directors, instructional support systems, and the implementation of teacher standards. The book investigates the competencies and skills of those attracted to teaching; it assesses the extent to which preservice education in Cambodia is delivering graduates with high content mastery and exposure to a student-centered learning environment; and it examines how teacher performance has been impacted by national incentives, an evaluation system that is disconnected from classroom realities, and the extent to which opportunities to learn and share best-practice lessons with peers exists. Read More

22. Interviewer Design Effects in Household Surveys : Evidence from Sudan

Interviewer design effects occur when data collected by the same interviewer is more similar than data collected by different interviewers. Design effects inflate survey variance and reduce the precision of estimates. Using household survey data collected via computer assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) in Sudan this paper employs a two-level mixed effects regression model to identify interviewer design effects for key variables. The study finds mean interviewer design effect values of 7 with a maximum of 16, implying a significant loss of precision. Read More