The Open Cities community mapping team in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon prepares ground control points for a drone flight over an area known by residents for landslides. The images captured are now used to improve local urban planning activities and international machine learning methods via the Open Cities AI Challenge. Credit: Michel Tchotsoua, ACAGER

Disaster risk specialists have an oft-repeated phrase: There is nothing “natural” in natural disasters. That is, the hazards are natural, but disasters can be reduced or averted with planning and investment. Disaster risk starts when people — and the things they use and own — are in situations that expose them to hazards. For example, the location and construction material of someone’s home can tell us how likely it would be damaged by a flood or landslide.

We need detailed geographic data about populations and their built environment to understand this exposure and to inform disaster reduction investments like early…

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Uruguay produces enough milk to supply about seven times its own population. Photo: Flore de Preneuf/ World Bank

In the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when hardship and uncertainty have hit many economic sectors around the world, including meat and dairy production, Uruguay’s management of a previous crisis lends hope for a sustainable recovery. Uruguay, a country of 3.5 million people, produces enough milk to supply about 20 million people and is a major milk exporter. …

A view of Beira, Mozambique after the impact from Cyclone Idai, May 3, 2019. Under the Cities and Climate Change Project, World Bank-financed drainage investments helped limit the impact of Idai flooding. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

If you were asked to name the fastest urbanizing region on the planet, you should answer “Sub-Saharan Africa.” Currently, the region has 31 large cities, each with over 2 million people. By 2035, the number of such cities will be 49. The top 10 fastest growing large cities of the world are in the region, with Kampala and Dar es Salaam expected to double their populations by 2035.¹

Largest cities in Sub-Saharan Africa with the fastest growing populations (estimates for 2019–2035)

Sorted by population size, the chart includes cities with 2 million+ people in 2019, which are estimated to have…

The Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) is helping collect Expenditure Consumption Survey data in West Bank and Gaza to enable regular monitoring of socioeconomic conditions. © Natalia Cieslik / World Bank

Over the last decade, the number of people living in proximity to conflict, defined as within 60 kilometers of at least 25 conflict-related deaths, has nearly doubled.¹ During this period, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide has also doubled, exceeding 74 million in 2018. Today, approximately 2 billion people — including half of the world’s poor — live in economies affected by fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS).²

Poverty trends for economies in FCS and other economies (2000–30)

Source: Corral, Paul, Alexander Irwin, Nandini Krishnan, Daniel Gerszon Mahler, and Tara Vishwanath. 2020. Fragility and Conflict: On the Front Lines of…

By Hannah McDonald-Moniz and Emily Olivia Bartels Bland

Drone footage of coral reef. Credit: Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association

Natasha Gibson is a licensed scuba diver, tour guide, and more recently, coral reef conservationist. She and her colleagues at the Belizean non-profit Fragments of Hope are now researching and practicing various methods to replant more resilient types of coral that can be used to restore some of Belize’s reefs, which are suffering from rising sea temperatures, pollution, and habitat destruction.

“It’s like propagating a regular plant,” explains Natasha, lighting up as she describes her work. “We take starts of old coral and use them like seedlings. It blew my mind. …

In Ethiopia, TFSCB built capacity to analyze economy-wide data for policy advice. © Binyam Teshome / World Bank

“Data and statistics are to policymaking what instruments are to an airplane. Without them, we are flying in the dark,” the Bern Network on Financing Data for Development stated recently, describing a key challenge that needs to be met to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).¹ With its Statistical Capacity and Open Data Inventory scores lagging behind most other regions², the SDG data challenge for Africa is increasingly urgent.

Overall Statistical Capacity scores across countries in Africa (2018)

Data: World Bank

To tackle the challenge, the Africa region has received the largest allocation of international support to statistics in recent…

By Lizardo Narvaez, Rodrigo Donoso and Ankur Nagar

Rescue workers observe the ‘’El Fuego” volcano in Guatemala after its eruption in June, 2018. © Joaquin Toro / World Bank

How close would you like to live to an active volcano — say one that’s called El Fuego (Spanish for “The Fire”)? The answer may depend on how you perceive risk, and more importantly, time.

In many parts of the world, living near an active volcano is not unusual. There are 1,500+ volcanoes across 86 countries, and more people live within 100 kilometers of these than the number of people living in Europe.¹ Because of the Earth’s plate tectonics, 75% of active volcanoes are located in a string around the edge of the Pacific Ocean called the Ring of Fire

Volcanoes and eruptions along the Ring of Fire (December 2018)

Students in a classroom in Honduras. Photo © Jessica Belmont/World Bank

It seems that all we like to talk these days is about the implications of disruptive technology in our lives. Digitalization, robotization, and many other concepts are being added to our lexicon almost daily. In fact, it’s not only very cool to think about a highly sophisticated technological future but it’s also key for policy makers concerned with the development path of their countries.

Even if it is difficult to anticipate how the future will look in a few decades, we know that it will be very different from where we are today and that it will have broad based…

By Andrew Raven

Rooftop solar arrays on nearly 500 schools will help the West Bank address crippling electricity shortages. Photo: © Issam Al-Rimawi/IFC

Fifteen-year-old Abdullah Yasser was at his desk one December morning in 2018 when the power suddenly went out at his West Bank school.

Blackouts are common in his hometown, Beit Hanina, a cluster of limestone buildings in the rugged hills north of Jerusalem. But this would be different. Power would not be fully restored at Yasser’s school for a week, leaving the 10th grader — and 120 schoolmates — without lights or heat in the dead of winter.

“It was terrible,” he recalled recently.

But those blackouts may soon be a thing of the past. An array of solar panels…

By Sheila Kulubya

The Class of special needs children fitted with hearing devices at Seeta Church of Uganda Primary School in Uganda. Photo: © Rachel Mabaala/World Bank

When Tracy Nafula was born eight years ago, her family was delighted to have a beautiful, healthy baby girl with sky blue eyes. But as she grew, her parents noticed that she was having trouble hearing.

“They realized the baby had a hearing impairment and all of a sudden there was stigma from people who were claiming that the baby had been cursed,” said Flavia Anyango, Tracy’s aunt.

Anyango never believed in the curse, and as the years went by and communication grew more difficult for Tracy, she convinced her parents to let her go to school. She joined 1,000…

World Bank

The World Bank has two ambitious goals: End extreme poverty within a generation and boost shared prosperity.

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