Just over 100 years ago, Henry Ford and other industrialists revolutionised manufacturing by introducing the assembly line. They built consumer goods at unprecedented scale and cost, creating millions of jobs and bringing down the price of goods to levels that workers could afford. It was so productive that Ford could double the minimum wage and shorten the working day for his workers.
This year’s World Health Day theme is Universal Health Coverage. It’s an apt rallying cry, particularly for those working in our Women for Health (W4H) programme in Northern Nigeria, where a 2013 study showed that 94 percent of live births lacked any medical personnel presence, resulting in one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
Malawi has suffered from poor food production for decades—its 17 million people are mostly smallholder or subsistence farmers who have struggled to overcome drought, pests, and outdated farming practices. Even successful harvests are diminished because they have few options to process and store their crops for sale, resulting in post-harvest losses that cut deeply into already small profits. But development assistance from the United States and European Union is helping Malawi address its shortage of warehousing.
Nigeria is well known for its glaring inequalities, particularly the disparity between the impoverished northern states and its oil-rich south. This disparity covers more than just wealth and economic growth, as large segments of the country’s 185 million people want for simple stability and basic public services. But just as Nigeria’s economy is powered by more than oil, so the country’s inequities stem from more than just the so-called “resource curse.”
Launched in 1992, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) was based more on ideals than economics. Born of the anti-Apartheid movement, the SADC aimed to help Southern Africa countries build economic ties and reduce dependence on the Republic of South Africa. As the region changed, the SADC’s membership grew and the organization adopted lofty goals. But the SADC’s outmoded inner workings did not meet the needs of its escalating staff and ambitions.
Small-scale farmers in Rwanda struggle to capture the full value of their maize harvests. Farmers typically process their maize manually or using basic tools. With limited infrastructure available for threshing, cleaning, and drying, the full harvest and post-harvest process takes six weeks, on average. Apart from being burdensome for farm families, the lengthy process exposes their maize to rotting, pest infestation, and mould. As a result, the farmers lose an estimated 30 percent of their yields, and traders capture much of the profit generated.
In a citizen assessment of government services in nine Afghan municipalities, the four that ranked the highest—Chaharikar, Hirat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Jalalabad—are all partners with a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project working to improve the capacity of Afghan municipal officials to meet citizen priorities and service delivery needs.
It has been more than 15 years since the Government of the Philippines undertook its last comprehensive tax policy reform. Over that period, tax revenues have seen a steady decline, from a high of nearly 17 percent of GDP in 1997 to only 13.6 percent in 2016. This decline can be attributed to both domestic and external factors. On the international front, the Asian financial crisis of 1997–1998 and the global recession of 2008–2009 certainly contributed to sharp drop-offs. But the Government of the Philippines’ limited ability to enforce fiscal discipline also was a factor, allowing special interests to introduce loopholes, weaken tax laws, and chip away at previous reforms. These factors were compounded by lower import duties (motivated by the prospect of improving trade) and flaws in the 1997 excise tax reform.
More than 23 million children in Pakistan do not attend school. More than half of children who start at government schools drop out before completing primary school. These stark facts are harming a rising generation of Pakistanis already vulnerable to unemployment, instability, and extremism. And while upper-class Pakistanis enjoy excellent private schools and universities, much of the rest of the country has become resigned to derelict classrooms and substandard government-provided education.