Social Norms & Women’s Access to Financial Services

Credit: Yavuz Sariyildiz, 2012 CGAP Photo Contest

By Yasmin Bin-Humam
WASHINGTON DC, Jul 31 2019 – How do financial services providers (FSPs) shape gender norms that restrict or expand women’s access to financial services? In more ways than you might think, and there are good reasons why FSPs should be aware of this.

From a business standpoint, social norms shape the demand dynamics of a customer base and determine the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and channels. When norms discourage women from using financial services, they close off a huge potential market for FSPs.

The 2017 Findex shows that in Turkey, where CGAP is researching gender norms that affect women’s financial lives, only 53 percent of women over age 15 have an account at a financial institution compared with 82 percent of men.

That’s roughly 14.6 million women who don’t have accounts, and each one is a potential customer.

Our qualitative interviews of over 90 men and women and a host of providers and NGOs have revealed a number of social norms that likely contribute to this gap, along with some interesting examples of FSPs whose work could help open new female client segments.

One belief that both men and women espoused in many of our interviews is the idea that women are not as financially savvy as men and should consult with their husbands and fathers rather than make financial decisions on their own.

It’s not hard to see how this belief discourages women from having their own financial accounts. When women have safe ways to incrementally demonstrate their financial savvy, it can help shift people away from the belief that there is an innate gender difference.

Ininal is a self-described “bank for the unbanked” in Turkey that is doing interesting work in this regard. Through 20,000 distribution points, including postal outlets and grocery chains, it provides a preloaded payment card that allows customers to store value and shop online, where there are discounts that had been off limits to the unbanked.

The platform has 1.0 million active users who transact at least once per month, 98 percent of whom use an associated mobile wallet to check their balances, transfer money between cards and pay bills.

When we spoke with Ininal CEO Omer Suner, he told us that men compose 73 percent of Ininal’s user base but that the company is working to expand women’s access to its services.

According to Suner, part of the reason why young women have so few accounts is that they are more comfortable relying on their fathers’ accounts. However, transaction data show that women are increasingly obtaining their own cards and topping them off with money from their fathers’ accounts, rather than directly using their fathers’ cards.

Suner wants to encourage more women to obtain their own prepaid cards as a way of managing their finances independently. He hopes that upcoming marketing campaigns targeting women’s financial independence and accountability will deepen women’s engagement with Ininal’s platform and shift perceptions, while broadening the company’s reach.

Another social norm CGAP encountered in our interviews is the belief that women should not run large businesses because doing so interferes with their primary responsibility of managing the household.

A common phenomenon in social norms is that people conform to how they perceive (or misperceive) society at large to behave. For example, if there is a perception that nobody is recycling, people are less likely to recycle.

But if people start seeing others recycle, they are more likely to follow suit. The same principle applies with women’s financial inclusion. If FSPs give visibility to women who are breaking the mold and redefining their roles, they can crowd in more women entrepreneurs and generate new customers in the process.

Some providers are running campaigns that could have this effect. TEB Bank’s Women’s Banking Program recently ran a social media campaign around the popular catch phrase, “What will people say,” to inspire more women to pursue their dreams. It featured ambitious business women who sought to grow their businesses and highlighted how they stood fast despite the doubt others had in them.

KAGIDER, the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey, provides another example. When it paired women entrepreneurs with female mentors, the entrepreneurs’ business grew 68 percent and hired more employees, in large part because mentees were inspired by their mentors’ success.

In addition to perception correction, some private-sector players provide products and services that allow workarounds to norms-based barriers. Opening a brick-and-mortar business requires a lot of capital, and women often struggle to come up with the capital because they don’t own property that they can leverage as collateral.

Running a store also requires particular opening hours and engagement with men outside of the family, which pose additional challenges for women. However, starting an online company requires lower startup costs and opens far-flung markets that were previously inaccessible at flexible hours. It also enables women to work from home and engage less directly with male clients.

Iyzico, a company that provides digital payments solutions to corporate and personal sellers, has seen an increasing proportion of female entrepreneurs using its technology.

The number of female merchants using Iyzico has increased more than 10-fold since 2016 and now constitutes 20 percent of the company’s business. The tools provided by Iyzico also positively impact women-owned businesses.

The average revenue generated by businesses owned by women is roughly double that of businesses owned by men. A quick glance at the Turkish fintech ecosystem map reveals that other firms are providing all manner of services that facilitate access to capital and markets and allow new business models to emerge.

Many providers do not actively take into account the constraints and barriers that women face when designing their financial services because they do not see the business case for serving women.

But as these examples show, some providers are helping to increase women’s demand for financial services and are enabling women to seize new opportunities. The more providers that take such approaches, the more we will see the needle move on women’s financial inclusion.

Tanzania Detains Freelancer Kabendera over ‘Citizenship’

Tanzania police say that investigative journalist Erick Kabendera is being investigated over his citizenship status. Courtesy: Amnesty International

By Committee to Protect Journalists
NAIROBI, Jul 31 2019 – The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Tanzanian authorities to immediately release freelance journalist Erick Kabendera, whom police said is being investigated over his citizenship status.

Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa said at a press conference today that Kabendera was in custody and that police arrested him after the journalist failed to obey a summons. Mambosasa said that Kabendera was being questioned about his citizenship and that police were working with immigration officials. Police yesterday denied knowledge of Kabendera’s case after the journalist was taken from his home by a group of men who refused to identify themselves, according to reports and CPJ research.

One of the journalist’s relatives, who spoke with CPJ on condition of anonymity because of safety concerns, said that the citizenship investigation was surprising because authorities had investigated his status before and “cleared him.” In 2013 authorities terminated a similar investigation into the journalist and his parents, calling it “ill-advised” and stating that the family’s citizenship was not questionable, according to a report by the privately-owned publication, The Citizen. In a blog post, Kabendera linked the 2013 investigation to attempts to muzzle him. The Citizen reported last year on several cases of authorities investigating the citizenship of government critics.

The relative said that no summons was issued and told CPJ they believe the arrest is in retaliation for Kabendera’s journalism, which has been unflinching in its assessment of President John Magufuli’s government.

“This rehashing of discredited claims about Erick Kabendera’s citizenship appear to be nothing more than a ploy by the Tanzanian authorities to justify their actions after public outcry over the manner in which the journalist was detained,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. “Kabendera should be released immediately and this sham of an investigation terminated. Tanzanian authorities must stop harassing their critics.”

At the press conference this afternoon, Mambosasa said that Kabendera was being held at Central police station in Dar es Salaam. When family, colleagues, and lawyers tried to visit the journalist this evening, they were told he was not at the station and that they could not see him until tomorrow, Jones Sendodo, a lawyer affiliated with the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition and who went to the station, told CPJ. The coalition today filed a bail application that will be heard on August 1, according to Watetezi TV, which is associated with the coalition.

Tanzanian Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro and Mambosasa were unreachable on their phones today. CPJ’s messages asking for comment, sent this evening, went unanswered.

Kabendera has reported for several regional and international publications, including the British newspaper The Guardian and the website African Arguments. His most recent reporting in the regional weekly The East African covered alleged divisions in Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, amid alleged plots within the party to block Magufuli from running for a second term.

Press freedom has drastically deteriorated in Magufuli’s Tanzania. CPJ has documented the use of suspensions, restrictive legislation, and intimidation to muzzle journalists. The freelance journalist Azory Gwanda went missing in 2017 and the government has yet to provide a credible accounting of his whereabouts. When asked about Gwanda today, Mambosasa told journalists that he could not provide details because it was necessary to keep investigations “secret” to protect evidence before it was brought to a court.

Tackling Inequality: A Focus on Cities can Improve Upward Economic Mobility

By Tarik Gooptu
OXFORD, UK, Jul 31 2019 – Tackling inequality in the 21st century requires us to understand and address barriers to upward mobility that segments of people face within countries. In a world with high and increasing levels of urbanization, the conversation on challenges to mobility must start with cities.

By addressing the drivers of inequality in cities, policymakers can alleviate conditions that perpetuate within-country inequality. Efficiently planning public transportation investments to target metropolitan communities with low connectivity is a crucial step to reducing disparities in upward mobility.

Doing this provides low-income residents with improved access to jobs, schools, hospitals, and other benefits of living in an urban area. A smart urban planning framework, enabled by effective partnership between the public and private sector, would enable citizens to enjoy a more level playing field.

As a result, cities can transform into drivers of global economic convergence in living standards.

In the past three decades, the world has experienced a global convergence between countries, mainly due to increased international trade, advancements in technology, and economic integration.

However, these same factors have led to a relatively new phase of inequality seen in the 21st century. Works by Atkinson, Piketty, and Saez (2011) and Lakner and Milanovic (2016) have depicted a world suffering from inequality within countries, characterized by disparities between “gainers” and “losers” in the globalized economy.

People have proposed multiple explanations for this, including skill-biased technological change, increased automation, and outsourcing of jobs to regions with cheaper labor—to name a few. Perhaps somewhat overlooked are the large disparities between people living within the cities themselves.

Why cities? Rapid urbanization and severe intracity inequality are the two primary reasons policymakers should focus on cities when thinking about how to tackle the broader issue of inequality.

According to the World Urbanization Report, 55 percent of the global population resides in urban areas—an increase from 30 percent in 1950. The global urbanized population is projected to increase even further, to 68 percent, by 2050 (UN 2018).

In addition, the UN Population Division reports that “urbanization has been faster in some less developed regions compared to historical trends in the more developed regions” (UN DESA 2018. The convergence in the growth of urbanization, between developing and advanced economies, also suggests that the problems of cities increasingly affect countries at all income levels.

In addition to rapid urbanization, cities have become a locus of the most severe inequality we see today. A 2014 article by Kristian Behrens summarizes the issue of inequality within cities.

Behrens shows that within-country Gini indexes are highest as population densities increase and that under current conditions, cities tend to disproportionately reward people in the top income percentiles (Behrens 2014). In addition, cities draw people primarily from the top and bottom of the income distribution.

The global economic restructuring, outlined above, is expected to create more polarized income distribution within countries. This, combined with Behrens’s evidence, suggests that inequality within cities is expected to worsen, under current conditions.

The countries of the world are simultaneously experiencing unprecedented urbanization and severe inequality. While cities are currently the nexus of the worst inequality, there are opportunities to convert them into means for economic convergence.

The concept of “agglomeration economies” is summarized well by Edward Glaeser as the benefits realized from people and firms locating close to one another, in cities and industrial clusters, which are primarily gained through reduced transportation costs (Glaeser 2010).

But some areas in cities are not as well connected as others. This drives disparities between people in metropolitan localities. In order to address this, policymakers must address inequality of access to jobs and services between communities of different income status.

Underinvestment in roads, buses, train lines, and subways can cut off districts within large cities from jobs, education, and services. Higher mobility costs, in the form of longer commute times and lack of affordable transportation, are barriers to the upward mobility of lower-income people in cities.

Local governments and the private sector can work together to improve access to jobs and services by building a better public transportation infrastructure within cities. However, misallocation of both land and public resources worsens conditions for marginalized communities, contributing to intracity inequality.

The 2016 Rio Olympics, which have been heavily criticized for putting the city in an adverse fiscal situation, is as an example of how misallocation of public resources can actually perpetuate inequality in a city. Rio de Janeiro’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system is a designated-lane integrated bus system planned and funded via a public-private partnership.

City officials said that Rio’s BRT was needed to help transport Olympic spectators and will provide long-term rapid and affordable travel for city residents. While Rio’s BRT successfully reduced average transportation costs, its routes served to aggravate inequality between high- and low-income citizens.

An urban planning study conducted by the Fluminese Federal University shows how Rio’s major daily traffic flows run from lower-income neighborhoods (in the north and west) to downtown Rio (South Zone and part of the North Zone), where 60 percent of Rio’s formal employment is concentrated (Johnson 2014).

But, instead of providing lower-income residents access to the city center, the BRT allocates routes to an upper-income residential area. Jobs here are predominantly in the informal sector: not registered with the government, with lower salaries, and without health or other benefits.

Furthermore, the city government cut spending on health and police as a result of going over budget on Olympics expenditures, which worsened the health and safety of the poor.

Rio’s BRT system exemplifies how public infrastructure can be misallocated, without proper planning and an understanding of citizens’ demand for jobs and services. However, when policymakers implement well-planned public infrastructure, it can combat inequality within cities.

Curitiba’s BRT is a well-known example of effective urban planning yielding positive outcomes for city expansion. Planning of the bus line construction was orchestrated by the Institute for Research and Urban Planning of Curitiba in the 1970s.

Funding and implementation were conducted via a public-private-partnership between the Urban Development Agency of Curitiba, and private bus companies that operate the routes. The partnership model allows policymakers to develop creative ways to ease the cost burden of providing public infrastructure.

The result of Curitiba’s plan was a low-cost, fast, and efficient means of transportation, running on green energy, that has operated successfully for 35 years. A diagram from a 2010 World Resources Institute report shows that the integrated transit system provides a means for citizens in all areas of the expanding city to access all parts of it.

However, despite its initial success, even Curitiba’s sustainable transit system faces difficulties. A 2012 CityLab article says that in recent years, the city has failed to integrate its growing suburbs into its BRT system (Halais 2012).

As a result, low-income residents are cut off while upper-income residents switch to cars—an inconvenience for everyone that harms the poor more severely. Curitiba’s example shows that policymakers require a constant and proactive awareness of cities’ changing needs.

With available economic data and the implementation of origin-destination surveys, we can better understand where populations need to be connected and their demands for particular services.

An efficient way to tackle inequality is to address lack of mobility in cities, which drives unequal access to jobs, education, and services. Improving access to public infrastructure allows people of all income levels to benefit from the agglomeration effects of living in an urban area.

Well-planned public transportation systems bring cities closer to this goal through better access for low-income populations to jobs, schools, and hospitals in the city center. Thus, growing cities can serve as sources of economic convergence rather than divergence.

Public transportation not only helps lower inequality, it also helps reduce cities’ carbon footprint. As many megacities begin to suffer the ill effects of heavy pollution, policy that addresses both inequality and sustainability would be welcome.

*Following a global essay competition for graduate students on how best to tackle inequality, Tarik Gooptu’s submission was selected as the runner-up. To learn of future Finance & Development ( F&D) essay competitions, sign up for the newsletter here. F&D is a publication of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Groundbreaking Hyperloop Pod Hits the Road Across America

National Roadshow Will Stop in Columbus, Arlington, Kansas City, and Other Cities Over the Next Few Months

LOS ANGELES, July 30, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), today launched a first–of–its kind U.S. roadshow to bring its XP–1 hyperloop pod to communities across the United States and start a dialogue about the power of this new form of mass transportation.

"When government and investor delegations come to our test site, seeing the technology makes it real for them. Not everyone can come to the Nevada desert, so we're bringing our technology to the people "" the American people who will be riding this new form of transportation within a decade," said Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One.

On May 11, 2017, XP–1 completed the world's first full–system hyperloop test "" what VHO calls its "Kitty Hawk" moment. This was the first time any company had integrated all of the components of a hyperloop including a highly efficient motor, power electronics, magnetic levitation, vacuum pumping systems, and an aerodynamic vehicle as a single unified system. During testing, XP–1 set the full–scale hyperloop speed record of 240 miles per hour on just 550 yards of track.

The national roadshow kicks off as states and cities across the world are competing to be the first to implement hyperloop technology, realizing the significant socio–economic benefits of early adoption. Nine states are exploring the technology and the federal government has created the Non–Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council to advance safety and regulatory certification.

The roadshow will give local communities the chance to see first–hand the historic test pod and learn more about their states' progress in bringing hyperloop to fruition in a matter of years. Below are the scheduled stops along the national roadshow route:

COLUMBUS, OHIO: August 4, 2019

The first stop will be in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, August 4th. VHO has partnered with The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and the Mid–Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to host a STEM outreach day "" featuring the XP–1 vehicle and hyperloop–related, hands–on activities for all ages. The event is free and open to the public from 10:00 AM "" 5:00 PM at COSI (333 West Broad St. Columbus, OH 43215).

As part of the Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative, the Mid–Ohio Regional Planning Commission is conducting a feasibility study of hyperloop technology along a Chicago–Columbus–Pittsburgh corridor, followed by components of an environmental impact statement along the same route.

"We're thrilled to welcome Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder and his team to Columbus. Since being named a winner of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge in 2017, we've been proud to work with VHO in advancing our "Midwest Connect' corridor," said William Murdock, executive director of the Mid–Ohio Regional Planning Commission. "Showcasing VHO and the XP–1 pod in Columbus as the first stop on the U.S. roadshow offers the opportunity for our businesses, community leaders, and residents to see the impact this emerging technology could have on the future success of Central Ohio "" and the entire Midwest."

ARLINGTON, TEXAS: August 8 –10, 2019

From Columbus, VHO will head to Arlington, Texas, where they've partnered with the Dallas Cowboys and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to unveil XP–1 at AT&T Stadium, the 4th largest in the NFL. The vehicle will be viewable during the scheduled stadium tours at AT&T Stadium (1 AT&T Way, Arlington, TX 76011). Make sure to get your tickets here.

The Dallas–Fort Worth region has focused its program on students of all ages interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The stadium will be open on August 9th from 2:30 to 4:00 PM for an invitation–only event featuring students from area school districts and other campuses for demonstrations of technologies related to the hyperloop project.

The Dallas–Fort Worth Regional Transportation Council announced their intent to evaluate hyperloop technology in Texas. The agency has begun a hyperloop feasibility study of a Fort Worth to Laredo route and an environmental impact study along a Dallas to Fort Worth corridor, which would include an Arlington station with access to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

"Our region is going to gain 3 million new residents within 25 years. In order to handle this mass influx of people, we need to explore projects that will modernize our transportation infrastructure," said Michael Morris, P.E., Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. "We are exploring hyperloop as a potential project that would connect millions of Texans faster, safer, and more efficiently."

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS: September 14, 2019

After a short hiatus, XP–1 will be back on the road. Thanks to the KC Tech Council and Am Law 100 firm Polsinelli, XP–1 will be speeding into the Kansas Speedway during the famed American Royal World Series of Barbecue "" the world's largest barbecue and Kansas City's biggest party! On September 14th, better known as "Smokin' Saturday," XP–1 will be on display alongside other family–friendly programming like live music, BBQ demos, food trucks, a classic car show, and the Cowtown Family Fun Fest. The vehicle will be viewable from starting at 11:00 AM at the Kansas Speedway (400 Speedway Blvd, Kansas City, KS 66111). Tickets can be found here.

Following completion of the first hyperloop feasibility study in the U.S., House Speaker Elijah Haahr announced the formation of the Blue Ribbon Panel headed by Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, which will explore next steps and funding mechanisms for the Missouri Hyperloop project. The panel will report back with recommendations by September 2019.

"On behalf of Greg Kratofil, Jr. of Polsinelli and the KC Tech Council, we are thrilled to welcome the Virgin Hyperloop One XP–1 hyperloop vehicle to our great city of Kansas City," said Ryan Weber, President of the KC Tech Council. "There has been so much excitement and interest in this technology, and we know the Kansas City tech community and general public will be receptive to the demonstration and learning more details. We encourage the community's attendance at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue to view this cutting–edge vehicle in person, as we are confident it will play a key role in the future of our transportation."

Beyond these cities, XP–1 also will be stopping throughout the heartland – at diners, hotels, museums, parks, state houses, and stadiums – to share the progress and promise of hyperloop technology.

This 4,000 mile route across the United States will today take 70 hours driving. With hyperloop, it would take about six.

About Virgin Hyperloop One
Virgin Hyperloop One is the leading hyperloop company launching the first new mode of mass transportation in over 100 years. The company successfully operated a full–scale hyperloop vehicle using electric propulsion and electromagnetic levitation under near–vacuum conditions, realizing a fundamentally new form of transportation that is faster, safer, cheaper, and more sustainable than existing modes. The company is now working with governments, partners, and investors around the world to make hyperloop a reality in years, not decades. They currently have projects underway in Missouri, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, the Midwest, India, KSA, and the UAE. Learn more about Virgin Hyperloop One's technology, vision, and ongoing projects here.

Media Assets
To download high–resolution route maps and visuals of VHO technology, please click here.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at–191c–47a1–9bae–174a5171d944

A Rural Sanitation Model That Works

A woman collects the drinking water from the third tap in Simlipadar village in Thuamul Rampur, Kalahandi | Picture courtesy: Ajaya Behera

Raibari Bewa standing near the toilet, bathroom unit and collecting water from the third tap in Dudukaguda village, in Thuamul Rampur block, Kalahandi district of Odisha. On the walls, details of Swachh Bharat Mission benefits availed by her in Odia | Picture courtesy: Ajaya Behera

By Liby Johnson
BHUBANESWAR, Odisha, India, Jul 30 2019 – Research and experience across more than two decades in rural Odisha, India, show that an effective rural sanitation model requires both financial assistance and an integrated water supply.

There are studies and field reports that have analysed the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in terms of coverage and use of toilets in rural India. The official government survey, the NARSS 2018-19, shows that 93 percent of rural households have access to a toilet and 96 percent of those having a toilet use them. Critiques of the survey point out the contradictions between NARSS and micro-level assessments in different parts of India. Other studies point out issues related to how comprehensive the approach to sanitation needs to be, if SBM is to truly address the large scale problems of ill-health, malnutrition, and poor quality of life caused by poor sanitation practices.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has already issued guidelines for follow-up components, such as the ‘Advisory on ODF Sustainability interventions‘. It is quite likely that with the Prime Minister and his government taking charge for the second term, the sustainability of the first generation SBM efforts will be given high priority. In this context, it is pertinent to throw light on some micro–level issues, based on more than two decades of experience in rural Odisha.


A rural sanitation model that works

Gram Vikas, the organisation I lead, started its work in rural sanitation in the year 1994. Our model of 100 percent coverage of all households in a village, all of them building and using household level toilets and a bathing room with piped water supply, has been recognised as a best practice nationally and globally.

Infrastructure alone is insufficient to sustain health benefits. Additional efforts are needed to motivate people to adopt safe sanitation practices…There are other aspects of personal hygiene and sanitation, including personal habits, disposal of child faeces, and menstrual hygiene; these need to be addressed by demonstrating workable models, accompanied by education

The integrated water, sanitation, and hygiene (WSH) intervention that we support rural communities with, is built on the following principles:

  • Participation of 100 percent of the habitation’s households; it is all, or none.
  • Cost sharing by the household, partially towards construction of the facilities, and fully for operations and maintenance.
  • Ownership and management by a village water and sanitation committee, consisting of representatives of all sections in the village.
  • A sanitation corpus fund built from a one-time contribution by all, towards providing cash incentives for future families in the village to build toilets and bathing rooms (ensuring 100 percent coverage at all times).
  • A maintenance fund through regular household fee collection, for maintenance of the piped water supply system.

In 25 years (up to March 2019), the Gram Vikas WSH model has been implemented in more than 1,400 villages, covering close to 90,000 households. The villages are financed primarily through the sanitation and rural drinking water schemes of the government, and Gram Vikas has mobilised private resources to fill in gaps.


What we learnt

Over the past two decades, working with rural communities of different types, we have realised that bringing about attitudinal and behaviour changes towards safe sanitation is not easy. When we began in the mid-1990s, saying that every house in the village will have toilets, bathing rooms, and piped water, most people laughed.

Between 1994 and 1999, we could cover only 30 villages—this resulted from our own efforts at motivating people, and not any felt desire on their part. Then started the gradual process of change—fathers of unmarried girls motivating future sons-in-laws’ village elders to take up the sanitation project; women taking the lead to convince their men to build toilets, and even stopping cooking for a day or two to make their husbands see reason; migrants who worked outside Odisha coming back to their own villages and motivating their parents, and so on.


When it comes to rural sanitation, government financial assistance matters  

Between 1999 and 2007, the government’s support to sanitation, as part of the then newly launched Total Sanitation Campaign, was INR 300 per household, for below poverty line families. Support for community-led, piped water supply projects came much later, in the form of Swajaldhara in 2003.

The prevalent thinking among policy makers in the early 2000s was that financial incentives were not necessary to promote rural sanitation. This was based on the limited success of the subsidy-led Central Rural Sanitation Programme, that ran between 1986 and 1998.

Financial incentives to rural households for building toilets is more than a subsidy, it’s about society meeting part of the costs of helping rural communities build a better life. To compare, urban dwellers who may have built their own household toilets, do not pay anything for removing the human waste from their premises; municipal governments ensure sewage lines and treatment plants. The cost of this (which is borne by the government) is not seen as a subsidy. And yet, the upfront payment made to rural households to help build toilets is looked down upon as wasteful expenditure.

In 2011, the policy moved to a higher level of financial incentives to rural households for constructing individual household latrines, mostly likely in recognition of the fact that rural households needed the financial incentive as motivation to change sanitation behaviours. But today, with statistics showing 93 percent or more coverage of toilets, the policy prescription is likely to move to the pre-2011 phase–big financial incentives are not needed for building rural household toilets.

Our experience has taught us that nothing can be further from the truth. First, actual coverage of usable toilets is likely much less than what the numbers show. Second, households will need support for repairs and upgradation of the already built latrines. In addition, there are two categories for whom the financial assistance must continue: those who, for various reasons, have not constructed latrines so far; and new households that have come up in villages that have already been declared open defecation free (ODF).


Availability of water in the toilet is critical to encouraging use and maintenance of the facility 

In most cases, where water is not available in proximity, the load on women to carry water has increased. A pour-flush latrine, the type mostly preferred, requires at least 12 litres of water per use. With 4-5 members in the household, the minimum daily requirement becomes about 60 litres, forcing women to collect at least three times the water they would otherwise collect. We have observed that without water in the household premises, women’s water carrying load increases to more than twice the pre-latrine times.

The addition of a bathing room, affords women more privacy, and a better way to keep themselves clean and hygienic. In most villages we have worked with, women especially, equate this part of their physical quality of life to what people in the city enjoy.

During the last few years, financial allocation for rural water supply has decreased. While the allocation to drinking water has reduced from 87 percent (2009-10) to 31 percent (2018-19), the allocation to rural sanitation has increased from 13 percent to 69 percent in the same period. This is definitely not a desirable situation, as noted by many.


Mainstreaming the community-owned and managed method of rural water supply will ensure equitable distribution 

Doing this, rather than pushing for large water supply projects across many villages, will give rural communities and local governments greater control over managing their resources and meeting the needs of every household in an equitable manner. The Swajal programme of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, which talks about village level, community-based water projects, is a step in the right direction. Much greater push is needed by the central government to ensure that the state-level apparatus moves to a more enabling and empowering approach in addressing rural drinking water needs.


Research and experience across more than two decades in rural Odisha, India, show that an effective rural sanitation model requires both financial assistance and an integrated water supply.

A woman collects the drinking water from the third tap in Simlipadar village in Thuamul Rampur, Kalahandi | Picture courtesy: Ajaya Behera


Second generation challenges

The water and sanitation infrastructure, when first built, contributes to a substantial decrease in water-borne diseases in villages. These are borne out of several studies conducted in villages in Odisha.

After the initial round of benefits, we find that the infrastructure alone is insufficient to sustain health benefits. Additional efforts are needed to motivate people to adopt safe sanitation practices. The ensuing issues have been highlighted by many. For instance, changing long-standing beliefs and attitudes related to toilet use requires intensive hand holding, particularly for older people. There are other aspects of personal hygiene and sanitation, including personal habits, disposal of child faeces, and menstrual hygiene; these need to be addressed by demonstrating workable models, accompanied by education.

From Gram Vikas’ experience in Odisha, we have been able to enumerate several challenges that need to be addressed. Even when piped drinking water exists, households prefer to store drinking water. We have found that handling of stored drinking water is an area that needs better education.

Disposal of child faeces, especially by mothers who do not think the child’s faecal matter is harmful, is another area of concern. We are also coming across new forms of discrimination in households, where menstruating women are not allowed to use the toilets and bathrooms.

While issues related to personal hygiene and washing hands with soap are already quite widely discussed, the next set of challenges relate to safe disposal and/or managing liquid and solid waste at the household and community level.


A charter of demands

We hope that the next iteration of Swachh Bharat Mission will truly lead to a Swachh Bharat. Based on our experience, we would like to draw the following charter of demands:

1. Strengthen the ways of providing household sanitation infrastructure
  • Add a bathing room component to the design and costing provided in the national guidelines; increase financial support per household to INR 18,000 for new entrants; allow additional funding of INR 6,000 per household for those wanting to add a bathroom to their existing toilets. 
  • Create provisions for repair or upgradation of toilets built, till 2018; provide for additional assistance to households whose toilets were built by contractors without involvement of the household. 
  • Provide financial assistance for new households in villages already declared ODF. 
  • Correct errors in the baseline of deserving households. 
2. Integrate piped water supply with sanitation at the household level, and facilitate greater community control over rural drinking water projects
  • Enlarge the scope for Swajal scheme by allocating more funds. 
  • Where ground water availability challenges dictate building of larger projects, it will make sense to separate the pumping and supply, from household distribution of water. The former could be done centrally for a large number of villages, while the latter could be managed by the communities at their level.
  • Make individual householdlevel piped water supply the standard design principle for rural water supply projects. 
  • Build community capacities to manage groundwater resources and undertake watershed and springshed interventions. 
  • Integrate water quality management as a communitylevel initiative, by demystifying testing technologies, and creating wider network of testing laboratories. 
3. Deepen and integrate WSH interventions for better health and nutrition outcomes at the community-level
  • Incentivise states to achieve stronger schematic and financial convergence between National Health Mission and the Integrated Child Development Services at the intermediate and gram panchayat level.  
4. Create a multi-stakeholder institutional platform to deepen and sustain SBM across rural India
  • Incentivise states to enablPanchayati Raj Institutions to play a greater role in the SBM process.
  • Allow for more active participation of civil society organisations as facilitators and implementors, to support rural communitybased institutions to adopt sustainable sanitation interventions. Provide financial incentives to such organisations based on outputs and outcomes.


Liby Johnson is the executive director of Gram Vikas, Odisha


This story was originally published by India Development Review (IDR)

Free Speech and the Hong Kong Protests

By Jan Lundius
STOCKHOLM / ROME, Jul 30 2019 – Sometime in the summer of 1974, I was leaning against the gunwale of the ferry between Calais and Dover, watching the moonlight streaming dark waters. When I turned to the left I found that a Chinese lady also looked out over the calm sea. What she told me changed my world view.

In 1950, Sweden became the first “Western” nation to acknowledge the People´s Republic of China (PRC) and during the following decades this small country came to enjoy a ”favoured status” among PRC leaders. As a young man, after reading Swedish translations of Tales from the Swamps and The journey to the West, I had become fascinated by Chinese culture. At the time, the Swedish press and many of my teachers spoke enthusiastically about the Cultural Revolution, but I did not as so many of my fellow students join the Swedish-Chinese Friendship Association with the hope of visiting China.

By the gunwale, the Chinese lady now told me: ”Most of you Europeans have a rosy view of China.” I wondered: ”How come? I don´t know much about your country.” She smiled and answered: ”The People´s Republic is not my country. I´m from Hong Kong where we are cosmopolitans, citizens of the world, not like Mainland Chinese who are isolated and indoctrinated. Their Cultural Revolution, which you seem to admire so much, is a complete disaster.” She continued:

      We live in a different world, though far too close to Mainland China. My father is in charge of the police´s dog handlers. One of their tasks is to find corpses that have been washed ashore. Hundreds of trussed and mutilated bodies are by the Pearl River brought down to Hong Kong. It was worse in 1968 and 1969, but they still appear. I´ve heard that mainland Chinese are paid 15 Yuan [USD 2.50] or more for each corpse they fish up from the river. People are killed en masse. Education is neglected, cultural heritage smashed to pieces, they burn thousand-years old manuscripts and mock the elderly.

That short meeting made me suspicious of acclaims and condemnations of entire nations. After returning to Sweden I read Simon Ley´s Chinese Shadows and understood that unreserved tributes to the ”Chinese system” offered by most members of the Swedish press and authors like Snow, Myrdal, and Suyin had to be read with caution. Later on, I met Chinese dissidents at Lund University and came to realize that the Chinese lady had told me the truth. It is estimated that between 750,000 and 1.5 million people were killed during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1974).1 Millions more had been persecuted and forcibly displaced, while cultural and religious sites and artifacts were deliberately destroyed.

Much has changed since then, though when I now read about Hong Kong and hundreds of thousands of protesters crowding its streets I am reminded of the meeting at the Calais-Dover ferry. Protests were triggered by a proposed bill allowing for extradition of lawbreakers from Hong Kong to Mainland China, though they are now increasingly addressing concerns about Hong Kong´s independent staus. Hong Kong´s importance within the enormous PRC is shrinking. When Great Britain in 1997 handed over Hong Kong to China it´s GDP constituted around 20 percent of PRC´s economy, while it now is less than 3 percent.2 The economic growth of PRC has been extraordinary and it is now the world´s second-largest economy with a GDP at USD13.6 trillion, after the United States at USD20.4 trillion.3 Such power and wealth inspire PRC´s increasing efforts to make its mark as a sovereign superpower – economically, politically and culturally. When Xi Jinping in 2012 became Secretary-General of China’s Communist Party he launched a vision called The Chinese Dream. During the Party´s 19th Congress in 2017, Xi Jinping declared:

      The mindset of the Chinese people has changed, from passivity to taking the initiative.
      […] We should pursue the Belt and Road Initiative as a priority [making] new ground by opening China further through links running eastward and westward, across land and over sea.4

The Belt and Road Initiative has, alongside ecological awareness and anti-corruption, become Xi Jinping’s signature project. Newly constructed, or improved, roads, ports, and railways will benefit China financially and connect it more closely with the rest of the world. A new Silk Road across Asia will be complemented with sea connections via the Malacca Strait, the coasts of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and East Africa and across the Red Sea, as well as the Arctic Sea.

Hong Kong remains a key hub for investment in and out of China, though it is gradually losing its unique position, both financially and ideologically. Hong Kong has its own legal system and its civil rights include freedom of assembly and free speech. However, not all the 70 members of the territory’s Legislative Council are directly chosen by Hong Kong’s voters, most seats are occupied by pro-Beijing lawmakers.5

When Hong Kong was returned to China it was done under a principle called “one country, two systems”, meaning that it would enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defense affairs. Most people in Hong Kong are ethnic Chinese, though a majority of them do not identify themselves as such, at least not in the manner of the Government of PRC, which proclaims that all people of Chinese lineage are Chinese citizens, even after renouncing their Chinese citizenship. In his 2017 speech Xi Jinping declared:

      Blood is thicker than water. […]Any separatist activity is certain to meet with the resolute opposition of the Chinese people. […] We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China! China will never pursue development at the expense of others’ interests, but nor will China ever give up its legitimate rights and interests. No one should expect us to swallow anything that undermines our interests. […] We must rigorously protect against and take resolute measures to combat all acts of infiltration, subversion, and sabotage, as well as violent and terrorist activities, ethnic separatist activities, and religious extremist activities.6

In spite of Bejing´s insistence that it honours “one country, two systems” most Hong Kong citizens now fear that they might lose much of their autonomy. A fear fuelled by, among other concerns, the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers/publishers, who eventually re-emerged in custody in China. This affair also affected the hitherto friendly relationship between Sweden and China. One of the booksellers was namely the Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, who in 1988 came to Sweden as a twenty-five-year-old exchange student. After the massacre in Tiananmen Square, he applied for political asylum and eventually became a Swedish citizen. In 2012, Gui Minhai was one of the founders of Mighty Current, which in Hong Kong published serious sociological studies, as well as sensational stories about the debauched private lives of influential Chinese Communist leaders. In 2014, Mighty Current bought a bookstore and began to sell regime-critical literature, attracting customers from mainland China.

17 October 2015, Chinese agents broke into Gui Minhai´s summer residence in Bangkok and brought him to PRC, where he was imprisoned. Gui Minhais´s family alerted Swedish authorities but it took more than four months before Swedish representatives were allowed to visit Gui Minhai in prison. He then declared that he out of his own free will had severed his ties with Sweden and did not need any Swedish support, a statement he repeated four days later on the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television. Seven months later, Swedish representatives were again allowed to visit Gui Minhai and he once more declined their help. However, after being transferred to house-arrest in his original hometown, Ningbo, Minhai apparently maintained contacts with Swedish authorities and when he by two Swedish diplomats in January 2018 was brought to a medical exam in Beijing (he suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Minhai was forcibly abducted from the train by plain-clothes police officers.

It has been assumed that Chinese reluctance to release Gui Minhai, even after public confessions and the fact that he suffers from a deadly disease, might be the sensitive content of a book he was writing and planned to publish, The Collapse of Xi Jinping in 2017, which is said to contain damaging information about Xi Jinping´s private life.

Swedish activists accuse their government of a disgraceful submission under PRC´s economic power. In February this year, Sweden´s ambassador to China, Anna Lindstedt, invited Minhai´s daughter Angela Gui – who was born in Sweden, is a Swedish citizen and studies in the U.K. – to Stockholm. Lindstedt told Angela that she was going to meet with Chinese businessmen who had ”a new approach” to her father´s case. At a hotel in Stockholm Angela was offered a Chinese visa and an excellent job opportunty in PRC, apparently a means to silence her advocacy for her father´s release. Angela refused to co-operate7 and when the meeting was exposed in the press it was revealed that Lindstedt had acted without approval from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and she was eventually replaced as ambassador.

The employment of approximately 60,000 Swedes is currently, directly or indirectly, dependent on Chinese companies. During the first half of 2018, Chinese companies invested USD 3.5 billion in Sweden – the highest foreign investment in a European nation. For obvious reasons, the Swedish Government is cautious when it comes to upsetting the feelings of the rulers in Bejing and it is a pity that such concerns make it reluctant to criticize PRC´s abuse of human rights.8 However, let us hope that PRC´s recent openness to the world, it´s massive investments in the development of poor nations and great interest in ecological issues eventually will be accompanied by an acceptance of free speech and support of human rights, not only globally, but also within PRC and Hong Kong.

1 MacFarquhar, Roderick and Michael Schoenhals (2006) Mao´s Last Revolution. Harvard University Press, p. 262.
4 Xi Jinping (2017) Report delivered at the 19th CPC National Congress, October 18.
5 35 representatives are chosen by direct votation in Hong Kong´s five territories, while 35 members are designated by ”trade-based funcional consituencies”, special interest groups who generally have commercial ties with Mainland China.
6 Xi Jinping (2017)
8 Much of the information in this article derives from a publication from Swedish PEN: Alfredsson Malmros, Elin (2019) Dygnet runt, årets alla dagar: Gui Minhai i det ofria Kina. Stockholm: Svenska PEN.

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

**UPDATE**Investigative Journalist Erick Kabendera Arrested

The enforcement of the online content regulations has scared people from stating their opinions online in Tanzania. Credit: Erick Kabendera/IPS

By IPS Correspondents
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 30 2019 – Freelancer Erick Kabendera was reportedly arrested from his home in Mbweni, Dar es Salaam, Tanziana yesterday afternoon by unknown men.

Kabendera who has been a correspondent reporting mostly on development issues for IPS since 2012, freelances as a journalist for local and international media, including The Guardian.

This morning, another colleague, who spoke to IPS on the condition of anonymity stated that while rumours had circulated yesterday that Kabendera had been abducted, this was not the case.

“He is being held by the police for interrogation. It was rumoured on Monday that he had been abducted by unknown people. Police in Dar es Salaam have confirmed that he is being held at the Central Police station. No details so far. Updates will follow.”

A call to Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa by IPS was cut off this morning and subsequent calls did not connect.

Originally news of his arrest was unclear, with The Citizen newspaper reporting that 6 men claiming to be police officers who the paper reported refused to identify themselves, entered his home wanting to search it. 

Another colleague of Kabendera confirmed to IPS last night that the investigative journalist had been arrested.

“Police confirmed that he is in police custody for interrogation,” the source who did not want to be named stated.

According to @millardayo Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Mussa Taibu confirmed this also. 

However, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, “CPJ could not confirm that the journalist was detained by police. A call late today to the police inspector general Simon Sirro went unanswered.”

Meanwhile Kabendera’s colleague stated he had no knowledge of the charges against Kabendera but said that police have said they would release him after the interrogation and after Kabendera’s residence was searched.

The source said that he was unable to reach Kabendera’s family by phone but had been told by others who had gone to the family home after hearing the news that his family was safe. It was reported by The Citizen that Kabendera’s and his wife’s cell phones were confiscated by the men and that the house line had reportedly been severed.

When asked what he thought the charges against Kabendera are, the source stated, “No one knows. Though it is well known that he is an investigative journalist working as a freelancer both locally and internationally.”

CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo said: “Authorities must immediately disclose if they are holding Erick Kabendera, and for what reason, and ensure the journalist is returned safely to his family.”

On Kabendera’s Twitter feed he reposted a tweet where the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet explained that “journalism is a profession which depends on kindness. The kindness of strangers who open their hearts and their homes to us.”


In May, he told IPS editor Nalisha Adams that he had returned to school and was completing his MA in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics.

IPS has registered a strong protest against the abduction of one of its journalists. We are expecting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and human rights organisations worldwide to join us in a joint appeal for Kabendera’s safe return. Meanwhile, the IPS family extends its support for his family in this hour of need.

In solidarity Kabendera’s colleagues at IPS from across Africa and the globe have called for his release and transparency in the process. 

** This story has been updated to include information that Kabendera was arrested by police and not abducted.

Businesses Crucial to the Success of SDGs

By Peter Paul van de Wijs
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Jul 30 2019 – We all know that the UN Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious and will take huge collaborative and international effort to achieve. Government action alone is not enough. So how can the private sector actively contribute – and what can be done to ramp up the participation of businesses around the world?

Finding answers to these questions is at the heart of a new initiative, launched this month by GRI, the sustainability reporting standard setter, and global power company Enel. Titled ‘Driving corporate action towards accomplishing the SDGs’, it will seek solutions by engaging businesses, policy makers and NGOs.

The project links two of the requirements that apply to all member states under the SDGs. These are to encourage companies to adopt sustainable practices and report sustainability information (set out within goal 12); and strengthening global partnerships between the private sector, government and civil society (goal 17).

From the inception of the SDGs, GRI has championed the participation of the private sector in measuring and achieving progress. In fact, we believe this is a crucial contributing factor to the overall success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

That’s because, through engaging in reporting on the SDGs and embedding this within corporate disclosures, businesses are encouraged to adopt more sustainable ways of working. Yet we need to encourage more companies to get on board. While there are good examples from around the world, a complete picture is lacking. So, more needs to be done to strengthen collaboration and translate these partnerships into measurable impact.

Agreement on the pressing need to address these issues led to the partnership between GRI and Enel, with phase one now underway. At the center of this work are online collaboration forums where anyone can sign up to participate, free of charge. Each of these 90-minute sessions will be led by a diverse panel of experts, convened by GRI and Enel.

The forums will get under the skin of what is already happening to support business engagement in the SDGs – and where more help is needed. Taking place at times that accommodate those in different time zones, we are seeking widespread and international participation.

The online sessions will take place in October and November and are hosted by insights and strategy consultancy GlobeScan. The findings will feed into a series of regional events in 2020.

#ActNow for a better future for all

Participants in the forums will be asked to share their perspectives on the current state of affairs and help develop a vision on how companies and governments should work together.
Questions to be addressed will include:

      1. • How has reporting by the private sector enhanced the implementation of the SDGs?


      1. • What’s the role of the SDGs in contributing to business strategy?


      1. • Has reporting increased the understanding of the opportunities and threats related to the topics covered by the SDGs?


    1. • How has involvement by businesses in the SDGs led to new partnerships or different ways of working?

Following each of the forums, a report covering the main outputs will be published so that a wider audience can engage in the trends, initiatives and challenges that have been discussed – with the aim of inspiring others to get involved.

Based on these reports, phase two of the project will see four regional events taking place around the world next year, where key findings from the research will be shared. These will focus on practical learning and action that encourage companies to engage in SDG reporting and make the transition to more sustainable business models by engaging in partnerships and collaboration.

All of this activity builds up to the pivotal 2020 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which will mark the five-year milestone for the SDGs when the world will take stock of progress made.

What is clear is that without the involvement of an engaged private sector, the SDGs will fall short. There is therefore both an urgent opportunity and necessity to increase the momentum and stimulate greater business engagement in the SDGs. That is why we need as many organizations as possible to get involved in the project.

At its heart, this work is about understanding how businesses, governments and other organizations each can play their part in contributing towards the success of the SDGs. Ultimately, this can help us navigate the route to a more sustainable future, which will benefit companies, communities and the planet.

Bretton Woods Institutions: From Solution to Problem

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Jul 30 2019 – July 2019 saw the 75th anniversary of the historic conference of 44 countries held at the Bretton Woods (BW) resort in New Hampshire during July 1-22, 1944.

At BW, John Maynard Keynes, representing the UK, and Harry Dexter White, for the USA, both sought a new international monetary system following the Great Depression, which many attributed to the functioning of the gold standard before World War II.

Anis Chowdhury

Keynes wanted a powerful global central bank, to be called the Clearing Union, and a new international reserve currency, ‘bancor’, while White favoured a more modest lending fund and a greater role for the US dollar, instead of a new currency. The new BW arrangements were built around White’s plan, but he went into oblivion following accusations within the US administration of being a Soviet agent.

The Soviet Union, which had participated in the creation of the BW institutions (BWIs), was invited to be one of the ‘big five’ in the post-war governance system, mirroring the United Nations Security Council, but decided not to join.

The principal goals of the two BWIs were to create conditions for a lasting peace by promoting international economic growth and stability for all by fashioning a new international monetary system with stable currencies, an efficient foreign exchange system and without competitive currency devaluations.

The BW conference created the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Hence, the IMF and the World Bank (WB) Group, including the IBRD, its largest part, are referred to as the BWIs.

The IMF would monitor exchange rates and lend reserve currencies, typically US dollars, to countries facing temporary balance of payments difficulties, while the IBRD would provide credit and other assistance to rebuild economies devastated by World War II, and to develop poor countries in the post-colonial world economy.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Keynes also wanted a third body, the International Trade Organisation (ITO), to enable, regulate and promote trade, to ensure post-war world economic growth, transformation and stability. But this was later opposed by the US Congress, preferring to continue US protectionism from the 19th century.

Developed country domination
At the outset, the ‘basic vote’, of ‘one country, one vote’, accounted for almost half the total voting rights in the IMF. Over the decades, the ‘basic vote’ share has dropped to an eighth. Remaining voting rights have been determined by a complex formula perpetuating European dominance, thanks to greater intra-European trade over the decades.

As the largest single shareholder, the US dominates the BWIs, with the collective clout of Western Europe. The two agreed that the WB President should be an American, while the IMF would be led by a European, with an American second-in-command.

Despite some modest reforms, BWI governance remains biased towards this North Atlantic alliance, not even reflecting changing realities and emerging economic powers. While Europeans still have a third of IMF votes, China now has 6.09 per cent, Brazil 2.2 per cent and India 2.64 per cent — less than Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg.

Unsurprisingly, regardless of changing rhetoric and claims, policies that serve the interests of developed countries are still promoted by the BWIs, with poorer countries forced to adopt such policies to qualify for credit and other support.

Harmful conditionalities
Both the IMF and the WB have abused their conditionalities to stabilize, liberalize and privatize, resulting in the ‘lost decades’ of the 1980s and 1990s. While reforms were forced on developing countries, ostensibly to accelerate growth, their median per capita income growth was 0.0 per cent during 1980-1998, after 2.5 per cent in 1960-1979.

Developing countries experienced multiple crises due to “deficiencies in the design and execution of the reform strategies”, according to the World Bank’s own evaluation. Without China’s growth, global poverty would have increased significantly after two decades of IMF-WB reforms, while economic inequality has grown in many countries.

IMF mishandling of the 1997-1998 Asian crises is now well documented. The IMF response exacerbated the crisis, especially in Indonesia. Not surprisingly, policymakers in the crisis countries privately claim they will never seek IMF assistance again.

At the height of the Asian crisis, Japan called for an Asian Monetary Fund because the IMF “didn’t know Asia” and “its remedies were likely to do great damage to the Asian economy”, but the proposal was killed due to strong US opposition.

Political interference
The strategic interests of the major powers have influenced the disbursement of BWI financial resources, while regimes seen as hostile to the major powers have been deprived of loans on the pretext that they failed to meet the BWIs’ criteria.

Since their creation, the IMF and the WB have violated international pacts on human and labour rights, and have had few qualms about supporting dictatorships, e.g., in Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua, Congo-Kinshasa, Philippines, Indonesia and Romania, even though these regimes did not meet official criteria and violated human rights.

The WB’s 2018 Doing Business report manipulated Chile’s ranking to discredit the left-leaning government of Michelle Bachelet, in support of conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera’s successful bid for a second presidency.

When the WB’s then chief economist, Paul Romer, apologized for this blatant political bias, he had to resign. Previously, Joseph Stiglitz had to resign the same post following his criticism of the IMF’s handling of the 1997-1998 Asian crisis. Both received Nobel prizes (Stiglitz in 2001 and Romer in 2018) after their resignations

IPS Investigative Journalist Erick Kabendera Arrested

IPS correspondent Busani Bafana from Zimbabwe stands in solidarity for fellow correspondent Erick Kabendera, calling for his release.

By IPS Correspondent
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 29 2019 – IPS correspondent Erick Kabendera was reportedly arrested from his home in Mbweni, Dar es Salaam this afternoon by unknown men.

Kabendera who has been a correspondent reporting mostly on development issues for IPS since 2012, freelances as a journalist for local and international media.

Originally news of his arrest was unclear, with The Citizen newspaper reporting that 6 men claiming to be police officers who the paper reported refused to identify themselves, entered his home wanted to search it. 

A colleague of Kabendera confirmed to IPS that the investigative journalist had been arrested.

“Police confirmed that he is in police custody for interrogation,” the source who did not want to be named stated.

According to @millardayo Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Mussa Taibu confirmed this: 

 However, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that, “CPJ could not confirm that the journalist was detained by police. A call late today to the police inspector general Simon Sirro went unanswered.”

Meanwhile Kabendera’s colleague stated he had no knowledge of the charges against Kabendera but said that police have said they would release him after the interrogation and after Kabendera’s residence was searched.

The source said that he was unable to reach Kabendera’s family by phone but had been told by others who had gone to the family home after hearing the news that his family were safe. It was reported by The Citizen that Kabendera’s and his wife’s cell phones were confiscated by the men and that the house line had reportedly been severed.

When asked what he thought the charges against Kabendera are, the source stated, “No one knows. Though it is well known that he is an investigative journalist working as a freelancer both locally and internationally. It’s also of my view that it may be connected to the relationship he has with some politicians who are not in good standing with the government.”

CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo said: ”Authorities must immediately disclose if they are holding Erick Kabendera, and for what reason, and ensure the journalist is returned safely to his family.”

Kabendera wasn’t afraid to include his byline on controversial stories, including one outlining the clampdown of the press in Tanzania.

On his Twitter feed he reposted a tweet where the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet explained that “journalism is a profession which depends on kindness. The kindness of strangers who open their hearts and their homes to us.”


In May, he told IPS editor Nalisha Adams that he had returned to school and was completing his MA in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics.

IPS has registered a strong protest against the abduction of one of its journalists. We are expecting the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and human rights organisations worldwide to join us in a joint appeal for Kabendera’s safe return. Meanwhile, the IPS family extends its support for his family in this hour of need.

IPS correspondent Albert Oppong-Ansah from Accra, Ghana, called for a fair hearing for Erick Kabendera.

In solidarity Kabendera’s colleagues at IPS from across Africa and the globe have said this:

Nalisha Adams, JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: We are concerned and would like details to be made public about the reasons for Erick Kabendera’s arrest. We call for transparency in the process.

Albert Oppong-Ansah, ACCRA, Ghana: I join my friends around the world to urge authorities to release Erick Kabendera. Please give him a fair hearing. Journalism is not a crime!

Isaiah Esipisu, NAIROBI, Kenya: I join colleagues around Africa and the world to call for the release of Erick Kabendera.

Aimable Twahirwa, KIGALI, Rwanda: The arrest of Erick Kabendera, an award-winning international journalist in Dar es Salaam raises concerns about the security of journalists questioning rights abuse. #standwitherickkabendera

Desmond Brown, KINGSTON, Jamaica: This act of cowardice is yet another effort to stifle the free press and to silence journalists as they do their job. Erick has been a standard bearer in Tanzania, digging into murky depths in search of truth and fulfilling his role as a guardian of democracy, honesty and integrity. I join with the rest of my colleagues in calling for his immediate release.