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Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS): A Trust-based Network.

January 25, 2017

The Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS) network was formally established in 2001 through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by six Ministers of Health of the countries in the Greater Mekong sub-region: Cambodia, China (Yunnan and Guangxi), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The main areas of focus of the network are to: i) improve cross-border infectious disease outbreak investigation and response by sharing surveillance data and best practices in disease recognition and reporting, and by jointly responding to outbreaks; ii) develop expertise in epidemiological surveillance across the countries; and iii) enhance communication between the countries. Comprised of senior health officials, epidemiologists, health practitioners, and other professionals, the MBDS has grown and matured over the years into an entity based on mutual trust that can be sustained into the future. Other regions have started emulating the network's pioneering work. In this paper, we describe the development of MBDS, the way in which it operates today, and some of its achievements. We present key challenges the network has faced and lessons its members have learned about how to develop sufficient trust for health and other professionals to alert each other to disease threats across national borders and thereby more effectively combat these threats.

Education, Skills and Labor Market Outcomes: Results from Large-Scale Adult Skills Surveys in Urban Areas in 12 Countries

May 5, 2016

In recent years, skills development has become a priority among developed and developing countries alike. The World Bank Group, in its quest to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity, has joined efforts with countries and multilateral development partners to ensure that individuals have access to quality education and training opportunities and that employers can find the skills they need to operate. The skills towards employability and productivity (STEP) skills measurement program is part of the World Bank's portfolio of analytical products on skills. The STEP program consists of two survey instruments that collect information on the supply and demand for skills in urban areas: a household survey and an employer survey. STEP has been implemented in waves, the first surveys being implemented in seven countries in 2012 (Bolivia, Colombia, Ghana, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (PDR), Ukraine, Vietnam, and the Yunnan Province in China), and the second in five countries in 2013 (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kenya, and Macedonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of (FYR)). The data presented in this publication correspond to these countries. It illustrates the similarities and differences among groups that have completed different education levels on a wide range of issues and outcomes. Section one analyzes the trajectory of skills acquisition: participation in early childhood education programs, educational attainment by gender, and participation in training and apprenticeship programs. Section two explores background conditions associated with educational attainment, including the socioeconomic status of survey respondents at age 15, the educational attainment of their parents, their households' asset levels, their health (as expressed by the presence of chronic illness), and their overall satisfaction with life. Section three covers cognitive skills: writing, numeracy, and reading (which is also evaluated through a direct reading assessment). Section four covers job-relevant skills, which are task-specific and which respondents possess or use on the job; and section five covers socio-emotional skills, using established metrics to measure personality and behavior. Section six covers the status of survey respondents in the labor market: whether they are employed, unemployed, or inactive.

Planning for an Uncertain Future: Promoting adaptation to climate change through flexible and forward-looking decision making

May 8, 2014

The need for decision making that is flexible, forward-looking and able to adapt to the unexpected is clear. One approach for achieving this is 'Flexible and Forward-Looking Decision Making' (FFDM). But what is it, and how can it be operationalised in practice? This report documents the activities of the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA) in seeking to strengthen FFDM among district development actors. It describes research carried out while trialling an innovative and interactive tool to promote FFDM - a 'game-enabled reflection approach' - accompanied by capacity-building activities. ACCRA undertook case studies at the district level in three countries; Uganda, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. Building on these three case studies, this report outlines key findings and makes recommendations on how to better support decision making processes for an uncertain future. It does so in view of helping to understand the use of FFDM as well as the effectiveness and limitations of a game-enabled reflection approach. 

Close to Home : UK poverty and the economic downturn

October 29, 2010

The UK is in recession, and things stand to get much worse for the fifth of the population already living in poverty, and for the millions more whose livelihoods will become more vulnerable as a result. The UK government has recognised its responsibility to help people through the recession, but needs to do more to help the poorest, and to provide security for all. As importantly, policy makers need to take the opportunity that the recession provides to rethink many of the policies of the past decades. This paper sets out a pro-poor policy response to the recession that lays down the foundations for a more equitable, sustainable society. It argues that government action should be based upon a long-term vision of moving to a society based on sustainability, with good quality jobs that allow people to have a more secure livelihood, but also backed up by a welfare state safety net which neither traps people nor leaves them living in poverty.

Potential and Limitations of Payments for Environmental Services (PES) As A Means to Manage Watershed Services in Mainland Southeast Asia

April 2, 2009

Based on two case studies conducted at local sites in Northern Thailand and Lao PDR, the objectives of this paper are (i) to assess whether conditions for the establishment of PES at the watershed level exist in the uplands of mainland SE Asia and (ii) to examine and discuss limitations that are likely to impinge on direct transfer of the PES concept as well as the institutional adaptations and support that are required for the successful implementation of PES markets in this regional context. The study's main findings are that: (i) acceptance of PES principles and constraints are directly related to stakeholders' perception of their land rights irrespective of their actual rights; (ii) willingness to pay (WTP) is very low among local stakeholders, making any PES market unlikely to emerge without external support; (iii) the classical scheme for watershed services hardly applies in its original form because environmental service (ES) providers and buyers are generally the same people; (iv) where potential ES buyers feel that ES providers are better-off or wealthier than them, they do not have any WTP for ES; (v) good governance, including a strong liaising at various levels between people and the authorities is a strong prerequisite for the successful establishment of PES markets, even without direct government funding