Senegal: Putting Municipalities and Municipal Councils in the Driving Seat of Development

World Bank approves $110 million for the Municipal and Agglomerations Support Program

WASHINGTON, January 30, 2018 – Senegal will take a leap forward in effectively bringing good governance and service delivery closer to the people with a $110 million International Development Association (IDA)* credit approved today by the World Bank.

The Municipal and Agglomerations Support Program-for-Results (MASP) will help improve local government financing by increasing capital grants transferred from the state to local governments, introducing objective and equitable criteria for the allocation of grants, and building the capacity of local governments to generate their own local revenues. It also aims to enhance the performance of participating urban local governments in managing public investments to improve the provision of services to local populations.

The MASP “will enable the World Bank to support the Government in effecting a transformative change, placing municipalities and municipal councils in the driving seat of development,” said Louise Cord, World Bank Country Director in Senegal. “Within five years it should result in a dramatic uptick in municipal public service infrastructure at the local level and an enlivened fiscal and administrative decentralization process at the national level, as envisaged under the Decentralization Act III.”

“By substantially improving the financial resources available to local governments and establishing the incentive and support mechanisms needed to boost local government performance, the program will reinforce the critical role that local governments ought to play in leading local development and responding to the needs of their constituents,” said Salim Rouhana and Bronwyn Grieve, World Bank Task Team Leaders of the Program.

This MASP will also benefit from a Euro 80 million of French Development Agency (AFD) co-financing. 

The financing is approved on the eve of the visit of World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to Senegal who arrives in Dakar on February 1 on a three-day visit in conjunction with the visit of President Emmanuel Macron of France. The visit follows the One Planet Summit which they co-hosted in Paris in December 2017. During his visit, the World Bank Group President will hold bilateral meetings with President Macky Sall of Senegal.

* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.

Award honors Prof. Eugene Parker’s lifetime of physics research

Prof. Emeritus Eugene Parker’s ideas were once widely questioned in the physics world. This week, he will receive one of the field’s highest honors.

Parker will receive the American Physical Society’s Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research at a Feb. 1 ceremony in Washington, D.C. The medal citation notes Parker’s “fundamental contributions to space physics, plasma physics, solar physics and astrophysics for over 60 years.”

“I’ve been a member of the APS since 1952, so this is a nice honor,” said Parker, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics at the University of Chicago. “I’m very pleased, particularly since people were skeptical about these concepts for a long time.”

Early in his career Parker proposed a theory that faced widespread skepticism—notably that a “solar wind” was carrying charged particles from the surface of the sun to the far reaches of the solar system. Beginning with the Mariner II space probe to Venus in 1962, however, measurements from spacecraft began to validate his predictions.

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In addition to the solar wind, he has investigated magnetic fields, including the role played by cosmic rays in Milky Way magnetic fields and how cyclonic turbulence generates magnetic fields.

“Gene Parker has a wonderful and exceptional record of seminal contributions to solar, space and astrophysics over the many years of his distinguished career,” said Roger Falcone, chair of the 2018 APS Medal selection committee. “It is remarkable to see so many effects that bear his name.”

It’s been an eventful year for Parker, whom NASA honored in May 2017 by naming its first mission to send a spacecraft through the sun’s corona after the professor. The Parker Solar Probe, which recently embarked on its thermal testing phase to be frozen and then blasted with heat to simulate conditions on its journey, is scheduled to launch in July 2018. It is the first spacecraft to be named after a living person.

Scientists are eager to explore the surface of the sun, especially as flares, winds and ejections from the sun can affect electronics and infrastructure here on Earth.

Parker said he plans to travel to witness the probe’s launch this summer. He’s looking forward to it; he’s never seen a rocket launch. “I imagine it’s like the Taj Mahal,” he said. “Everyone’s seen a picture of it, but to see it in person is a completely different story.”

A religious scholar’s view on the Buddhist themes behind Groundhog Day

The 1993 film Groundhog Day features egotistical weatherman Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, reliving the same day over and over. While the movie is beloved as a comedy, many religious scholars consider it an “underground Buddhist classic” for its depiction of the cycle of death and rebirth.

Dan Arnold, associate professor of philosophy of religions at the Divinity School, said although the idea of getting repeated chances at life might sound like a blessing, the Buddhist concept of “Samsara” might be closer to a punishment.

“People often suppose that the idea of rebirth represents a good thing—another chance, for example, at realizing dreams unfulfilled in this life,” said Arnold, PhD’02, a scholar of Indian Buddhist philosophy. “But in the Indian religious imagination, the fact we are continually reborn is thought to be a problem to overcome. The idea of Samsara is that to be continually subjected to rebirth is to be repeatedly subjected to suffering.”

Arnold will discuss the film Feb. 1 as part of “Religion in the Frame,” the Divinity School’s six-day exploration of religious ideas in films. Following the 6:30 p.m. screening at the arts nonprofit Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Arnold will take part in a Q&A, hosted by former WBEZ host Gretchen Helfrich. In particular, he is interested in highlighting areas in which the film diverges from traditional Buddhist thought.

“When Bill Murray breaks the cycle by overcoming his egotism, he ends up happily ever after,” Arnold said. “It’s not clear, though, that the Buddhist tradition imagines release from Samsara as that kind of achievement. Perhaps the film’s depiction of endlessly repeated experience gives us other ways to think about what rebirth might mean—and thus, with different ways to think of what Nirvana could be.”

The film series is part of a larger celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Divinity School’s Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion, and also marks the 90th birthday of its founder, Martin E. Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity. To kick off the film series Jan. 28, Marty discussed the 1960 drama Elmer Gantry, starring Burt Lancaster.

The Marty Center has worked to foster understanding of religion through dialogue with the world beyond the academy, and Willemien Otten, director of the Martin Marty Center and professor of theology and the history of Christianity, said the film series is an ideal addition to the celebration.

“For us it was a very welcome idea that would both add luster to the 20th anniversary of the Marty Center and add weight to the notion of the public understanding of religion,” Otten said. “I am not sure about Marty’s personal taste in film, but it is quite clear that he treats film as an important medium that can help educate the public about American religion, and about religion in general.”  

Learn more about the film series and the Marty Center here.

Mānoa: Study of worst-case pandemic death scenario is led by UH researcher

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa


Posted: Jan 31, 2018
Victoria Fan
Victoria Fan

The worldwide spread of a serious infectious disease could result in pandemic-related deaths of 700,000 and annual economic losses of $500 billion, according to a study in the Bulletin of the World Health OrganizationVictoria Fan, an assistant professor in the Office of Public Health Studies at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is lead author of “Pandemic risk: how large are the expected losses,”(PDF) which applied a theoretical model to calculate the expected number of deaths and economic losses in rare pandemic scenarios.

The study was based on Fan’s work using impact and economic evaluations. The dollar figure of economic losses is much higher than those found in previous studies, which, according to the study, means “there is an unmet need for greater investment in preparedness against major epidemics and pandemics.”

The projection of total pandemic-related costs of $500 billion in U.S. dollars, or 0.6 percent of global income, falls within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s estimates of the costs of global warming. This implies that the losses from pandemic risk would be similar in magnitude to those of climate change.

The model may also be applied to other outbreaks, such as malaria, or catastrophic events, including nuclear attack. “Policymakers may be able to estimate the economic losses that come with rare but potentially devastating events,” said Fan. “We hope this can lead to more appropriate adjustments for national policies and investments, and international collaborations on pandemic preparedness.”

Fan was a visiting assistant professor of global health at Harvard University in fall 2017. The paper’s co-authors are Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. deputy secretary of the treasury and former president of Harvard University, and Dean T. Jamison, emeritus professor of global health at the University of Washington at Seattle.

For more information, visit:

Help Remains After Disaster Recovery Center Closes in Harris County

AUSTIN, Texas – The State of Texas/Federal Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Humble will close today, January 31 at 6 p.m. However, help is just a mouse click, phone call or a tap on the FEMA app away.


The center is at the following location:

Harris County
Humble Senior Activity Center
1401 S. Houston Ave.
Humble, TX 77338Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Individuals and businesses in counties included in the Texas federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent floods can still get help by:


  • Logging into their account at
  • Calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS-Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).
  • Downloading the FEMA app, available for Apple and Android mobile devices. To download visit:
  • Visiting any of the disaster recovery centers still open. The location of the recovery center closet to the Humble DRC is:

    Harris County

    Greenspoint Mall
    12300 IH-45 North Freeway
    Houston, TX 77060
    Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Locations of other recovery centers can be found online at

Even though the deadline to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan for property damage has passed, small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size still have until
May 25 to apply for an economic injury disaster loan to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage. Business owners may apply online using SBA’s secure website at

For more information on Hurricane Harvey and Texas recovery, visit the Hurricane Harvey disaster web page at, Facebook at, the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at, or the Texas Division of Emergency Management website at

Black History Month: Recognizing diversity in technology

Black History Month is the annual time in February observed by the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands to recognize African and African-American events and people. Inclusion is crucial across industries to promote diversity of thought.

The Root, Coding Dojo, and Information Week are just some publications to recognize important black leaders in technology. Some include Granville T. Woods, the 19th-century man who held more than 50 patents like the steam boiler furnace and the synchronous multiplex railway telegraph. Shirley Jackson received the position of chairwoman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1985, making the theoretical physics expert the first African American to hold the position. Computer engineer Mark Dean helped design IBM’s personal computer in 1981, creating the hardware to allow computers to connect to other devices.

In the present, organizations like Black Girls Code help promote inclusion with a program that introduces young girls from underprivileged communities to coding classes. In 2016, The Network spoke with Black Girls Code’s Program Manager Calena Jamieson, who says that “Women make up 25% of the workers in computer science. For women of color, that number drops to 3%, and it’s even lower for Latina women and Native Americans. So, there is a very distinct crisis in that area in terms of women of color getting into the technology space.”

Part of the offerings include workshops, introductions to building apps and websites, hackathons, and robot expos.

Jamieson says “Girls of color are smart, creative and innovative; they can and will change the face of technology!” It’s a sentiment that Cisco believes as well.

The company’s plans for inclusion means that everyone fits into Cisco’s core values. Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Officer Shari Slate writes that in 2017, Cisco made significant improvements in diversity. Some include the global Executive Leadership Team growing to 38.5% women, advancements in pay parity, attracting diverse talent, and advocating fairness and inclusion. Cisco’s 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility report states the company received a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index.

Learn more about this and Cisco’s work in Corporate Social Responsibility by clicking here.


Iraq: 5 Million Residents in Baghdad to Benefit from Improved Water Supply and Wastewater Services

Washington, January 31, 2018 – A US$210 million World Bank project will improve the quality of drinking water supply and wastewater services to 5 million residents in Baghdad who suffer from water shortages and the outbreak of waterborne diseases due to inadequate infrastructure, rapid population growth, and the inflow of internally displaced people. 

The Baghdad Water Supply and Sewerage Improvement Project, approved today by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors will support the Mayoralty of Baghdad and the Baghdad Water and Sewerage Authorities through improvement in utility management, and generate employment during the construction, operation and maintenance stages of implementation. The project will also help reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases and improve the quality of life, health, and sanitation.

The recently completed National Water and Land Strategy (2015-2035) indicates that Baghdad will need substantial investments in its water supply and wastewater treatment systems over the next 20 years. Given limited availability of public funding, attracting commercial finance will be critical for implementing this ambitious strategy”, said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. “In close coordination with the International Finance Corporation, this project will focus on creating a more favorable business environment, and on supporting the preparation of feasibility studies and transactions to enable private sector participation in the water sector.

The residents of Baghdad deal with daily water service interruptions, especially during the hot summer months. Baghdad is one of the governorates impacted by outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Leakage from sewer pipes contaminates potable water networks and groundwater aquifers, which aggravates health and environmental problems. Contaminated water supply and improper disposal of sewage force families to spend a significant fraction of their income on medical treatment and to purchase bottled water. 

Water supply and sanitation have immediate and major impacts on the quality of life of citizens”, said Thikra Alwash, Mayor of Baghdad. “We are committed to improving public services for the residents of Baghdad and to alleviating the burden households face on a daily basis in getting clean and reliable water supply. We are confident that improved access to these services can significantly strengthen people’s trust and confidence in the state and contribute to building social cohesion when it is most needed”.  

Major cities like Baghdad face a growing population but have inadequate water infrastructure and service delivery capacity”, said Abdulhamid Azad, Lead Water Resources Specialist and Project Team Leader. This project will improve the city’s water and sanitations services as well as support the Baghdad Water and Sewerage Authorities in improving their institutional knowledge and preparedness in relation to water security and urban water management. Also, the project will finance capacity-building activities targeted to female technical and managerial staff to increase their professional skills and allow for career advancement within the Water and Sewerage Authorities.”  

The project will finance the construction of a service reservoir with a total capacity of 135,000 cubic meters, which will help the city manage its water supply better in case of climate-induced droughts. The project will also rehabilitate existing sewerage pumping stations thus reducing the public health effects of untreated wastewater discharged into the Tigris. The project will contribute to the reduction of physical losses by replacing about 130 km of water supply distribution network and the creation of district metering areas. 

خمسة ملايين عراقي سيستفيدون من تحسين خدمات إمدادات المياه والصرف الصحي في بغداد

واشنطن 31 يناير / كانون الثاني 2018 – سيساعد مشروع جديد للبنك الدولي بقيمة 210 ملايين دولار على تحسين نوعية مياه الشرب وخدمات الصرف الصحي لنحو 5 ملايين شخص من سكان بغداد يعانون حالياً من نقص المياه وتفشي الأمراض المنقولة عن طريق المياه بسبب عدم كفاية البنى التحتية والزيادة السريعة في عدد السكان وتدفق النازحين داخل البلاد.

وسيدعم مشروع تحسين مياه الشرب والصرف الصحي في بغداد، الذي أقرَه مجلس المديرين التنفيذيين لمجموعة البنك الدولي اليوم، بلدية بغداد ودائرة ماء بغداد ودائرة مجاري بغداد من خلال تحسين إدارة المرافق، كما سيساهم في خلق فرص عمل خلال مراحل التشييد والتشغيل والصيانة. وسيساعد المشروع أيضاً في الحد من انتشار الأمراض المنقولة بالمياه وتحسين نوعية الحياة وصحة المواطنين ومستوى الصحة العامة.

وتعقيباً على المشروع، قال ساروج كومار جها، المدير الإقليمي لدائرة المشرق في البنك الدولي :”تشير الإستراتيجية الوطنية للمياه والأراضي التي أنجزت مؤخراً (2015 – 2035) إلى أن بغداد ستحتاج إلى استثمارات ضخمة في شبكات مياه الشرب ومعالجة مياه الصرف الصحي على مدى السنوات العشرين المقبلة… وبالنظر إلى محدودية الموارد التمويلية العامة، فإن جذب التمويل التجاري سيكون أساسياً لتنفيذ هذه الإستراتيجية الطموحة. وبالتنسيق الوثيق مع مؤسسة التمويل الدولية، سيركز هذا المشروع على خلق بيئة أعمال أكثر ملاءمة، وعلى دعم إعداد دراسات الجدوى والعمليات التجارية لتمكين القطاع الخاص من المشاركة في قطاع المياه”.

ويعاني سكان بغداد من انقطاع مياه الشرب يومياً، لا سيما خلال أشهر الصيف الحارة. كما أن بغداد هي إحدى المحافظات المتضررة من تفشي الأمراض المنقولة عن طريق المياه، إذ يؤدي التسرب من أنابيب الصرف الصحي إلى تلويث شبكات مياه الشرب ومكامن المياه الجوفية، مما يزيد من حدة المشاكل الصحية والبيئية. وتضطر الأسر إلى إنفاق جزء كبير من دخلها على العلاج الطبي وشراء المياه المعبأة بسبب مياه الشرب الملوثة والتخلص غير السليم من الصرف الصحي.

وفي هذا السياق، قالت ذكرى علوش، أمينة بغداد: “تؤثر مياه الشرب والصرف الصحي تأثيراً فورياً ومباشراً على نوعية حياة المواطنين… إننا ملتزمون بتحسين الخدمات العامة لسكان مدينة بغداد والتخفيف من العبء الذي يقع على كاهل الأسر يومياً في الحصول على مياه الشرب النظيفة بانتظام.  ونحن واثقون من أن تحسين فرص الحصول على هذه الخدمات يمكن أن يعزز ثقة المواطنين في الدولة بشكل كبير وأن يسهم في بناء التماسك الاجتماعي، في وقت نحن في أشد الحاجة إليه.”

وبدوره، قال عبد الحميد آزاد، كبير خبراء الموارد المائية ورئيس فريق المشروع في البنك الدولي: “تواجه المدن الكبرى مثل بغداد تزايداً في عدد السكان، ولكنها تعاني من نقصٍ في البنية التحتية للمياه وفي القدرة اللازمة لتوفير الخدمات. سيحسّن هذا المشروع من خدمات مياه الشرب والصرف الصحي في المدينة، فضلاً عن دعم دائرتي الماء والمجاري في بغداد في تحسين معرفتها المؤسّسية وجهوزيتها فيما يتعلق بأمن وإدارة المياه في المدن. كما سيموّل المشروع أنشطة مخصصة لبناء قدرات الموظفات الفنيات والإداريات لزيادة مهاراتهن المهنية وتسهيل أمكانية تقدمهن الوظيفي داخل دائرتي الماء والصرف الصحي “.

وسيموّل المشروع بناء خزان خدمة بسعة إجمالية تبلغ 135 ألف متر مكعب، مما يساعد المدينة على إدارة إمدادات المياه بشكلٍ أفضل في حالة الجفاف الناجم عن تغير المناخ. وسيقوم المشروع أيضاً بتأهيل محطات قائمة لضخ مياه الصرف الصحي ممّا يسهم في الحد من الآثار الصحية العامة الناجمة عن مياه الصرف الصحي غير المعالجة التي يتم تصريفها في نهر دجلة. كما سيساهم المشروع في الحد من الخسائر المادية عن طريق استبدال حوالي 130 كيلومتراً من أنابيب شبكة توزيع مياه الشرب وإنشاء عدادات قياس تدفق المياه في كل مناطق بغداد.

World Bank Helps Bangladesh Modernize Cash Transfer Programs for Its Most Vulnerable Citizens

DHAKA, January 31, 2018 – The World Bank today approved a $300 million financing to improve the transparency and efficiency of major cash transfer programs in Bangladesh. This will benefit about 5 million of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The Cash Transfer Modernization Project will help the Department of Social Services under the Ministry of Social Welfare modernize some of the country’s largest cash transfer programs targeted at the poor elderly persons, widows and people with disabilities. The project aims to shift the operating processes of these programs from a manual, paper-based system to an automated, integrated, and electronically managed system. This will ensure greater effectiveness in the overall cash transfer service delivery process.

 “Bangladesh has cut by half the number of people living in extreme poverty. This is a remarkable achievement. Yet many people remain poor and vulnerable,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.The World Bank is helping the government modernize its safety net programs by improving pro-poor targeting, streamlining administrative systems, and addressing program fragmentations. This will help reach people in need and use public resources more effectively.

The project will help upgrade the Department’s management information systems as well as build human resource capacity and improve citizen engagement. To identify potential recipients of cash transfers, it will integrate the Department’s management information system with the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics’ National Household Database. For more secure and accessible payments to beneficiaries, the system will be linked to payment service providers. Using existing digital systems, it will further develop an integrated social protection service delivery system in the country.

“Since 2016, the Department of Social Services has been digitizing program records and piloting digital payments to program beneficiaries. The project will scale up these efforts,” said Yoonyoung Cho, Task Team Leader, World Bank.These actions are in line with the institutional enhancements outlined in the National Social Security Strategy, 2015. This will help place the Ministry of Social Welfare at the forefront of social protection service delivery, with priority to the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.

With this project, the World Bank’s total commitment in the social protection sector stands at over $1.3 billion. The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm. The credit is interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 percent. 

The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed close to $27 billion interest-free credits to Bangladesh. In recent years, Bangladesh has been among the largest recipient of the World Bank’s interest-free credits.