In Indonesia, chronic malnutrition is widespread with more than one-third of young children being stunted. Despite the reduction of the poverty rate from 16.6% to 11.4% from 2007 to 2013, the rate of stunting amongst children under the age of five has remained alarmingly high, exceeding 37% in 2013, although that figure has declined in the last two years. Stunting has important lifelong consequences for health, as well as for cognitive development, education, human capital accumulation, and ultimately for economic productivity.
However, to reduce stunting it’s not only important to focus on the health sector. It also requires improvements in other sectors such as agriculture, education, social protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). As originally emphasized by the UNICEF conceptual framework, to ensure that a child receives adequate nutrition depends on four critical factors: care, health, environment, and food security, areas that straddle multiple sectors.
On a recent visit to provincial treasury offices to learn about the Financial Management Information Systems, or FMIS, that members of our Governance teams helped introduce, the conversation turned to cows.
Staff compared switching from manual pen-and-paper to an automated state-of-the-art public finance management system as akin to making a cow watch television. Cows, they explained, are as unfamiliar with television as some treasury staff are with computers, the internet, and FMIS.
Fortunately, the relevance of the analogy was short-lived. Treasury staff have overcome the learning curve and the new system has proven to be helpful. I consistently heard praise about the system’s usefulness because it provides useful financial information, reduces the amount of repetitive work, and generates timely reports. That is a big change.
Global benchmarking reports are great conversation starters. Here in Singapore, a nation defined by its drive for excellence, these benchmarking reports are held as evidence of the country’s development success. From topping the global education index PISA, the Global Competitiveness Index, and the Leading Maritime Capitals of the World Report, Singapore takes great pride in being first, in Asia if not globally.
An important global ranking for Singapore is the Doing Business survey, a ranking the island nation topped for many years, indicating the ease with which business can be done in the little red dot.
What do you love about the city you live in?
Your answer may be a combination of the following: ease of travel and access to many jobs using high quality and low cost public transit; livability as measured by the availability of green or community space such as parks, schools, cultural or shopping centers; ease of walking and biking encouraging active living and an engaging community; and an idea of what the city would look like ten years from now.
Tomorrow is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. This year, the global theme for this important day is family. Family is vital for all of us, it is what we care about first and foremost.
Places with cold climates need access to a reliable and efficient heat supply for the health of their population. But in developing countries, the majority of rural and peri-urban households do not have access to centralized heating or gas networks. Instead, they use traditional heating stoves that use solid fuels like coal, wood, and dung for heating. These stoves are often inefficient (with thermal efficiency as low as 25%-40% compared to 70% or above for efficient stoves) and emit large amounts of pollutants (e.g., CO and PM2.5), causing indoor and outdoor air pollution with negative health and environmental impacts.
The conference addressed themes related to improving learning outcomes for all students, including how to support effective teaching and early childhood development, balancing school autonomy and accountability, and how education systems can build the skills needed for the 21st century.
For the host country, Indonesia, the forum provided a valuable chance to look more closely at issues facing its education system.