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Bjorn Lomborg

Get the facts straight

6 Apr2016

Linking economies through transportation infrastructure

Published by The Daily Star

More than six kilometres of water separate the southwest region from the rest of Bangladesh. The longstanding Padma Bridge project holds potential to span that gap both physically and economically, linking the region with Dhaka, Chittagong, and the rest of the country to the east. After significant delays and cost overruns, however, the relevant question today is whether the project still makes overall social and economic sense. There is limited funding for infrastructure, and there are alternative transportation projects and many other proposals that could also produce benefits for...

4 Apr2016

How education and stimulation in early years can help children thrive for a lifetime

Published by The Daily Star

Today, 99 percent of Bangladesh's girls and 97 percent of boys are enrolled in primary school. The great progress in primary education over recent years is the reason that the country has met the two Millennium Development Goals related to primary schooling: universal enrollment and gender equality. The rest of the education story, however, is not so good. Concerns remain over poor education quality, and enrollment rates beyond the primary level remain low. And one important concern for education is something that appears rather separate: stunting, or the condition of being shorter than...

30 Mar2016

Streamlining opportunities to migrate

Published by The Daily Star

In Bangladesh, remittances from people living and working abroad added up to nearly Tk. 1.2 trillion last year—more than four times the nearly Tk. 250 billion that foreign aid agencies spent in the country. Almost 5 percent of the total working age population is now migrant workers, and every year, roughly half a million more people leave the country to work overseas. Bangladesh Bank estimates that they send the equivalent of 7.4 percent of GDP back to family and friends, from 2001-2015; this totalled to Tk. 9.6 trillion. Despite these remittances from overseas migrants, Bangladeshis...

28 Mar2016

Helping farmers in the lean season

Published by The Daily Star

In northern rural Bangladesh, the autumn lean season is the most difficult time of year, especially in Rangpur, where close to half of the 15.8 million residents live below the poverty line. The landless poor in Rangpur primarily work as day laborers on neighboring farms. But in September, while waiting for crops to mature in the fields, there is no farm work to be done. Wages fall, and at the same time, food becomes scarce because harvest is still months away, so the price of rice goes up. The double blow of low wages and high food prices means that households are forced to miss meals and...

23 Mar2016

How smart solutions to tax reform can help develop infrastructure

Published by The Daily Star

Bangladesh's public sector faces serious challenges. Poor infrastructure is one of the main factors that hold back economic growth. Government-funded health clinics struggle to provide the population with quality, specialised services. And beyond primary school, quality public education opportunities are extremely limited. These are just a handful of the challenges, and they are partly due to a stark fact: the country has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world. Government tax revenue is equal to just 11 percent of the size of the entire economy. So despite the fact that...

21 Mar2016

How better technology can make city air cleaner and help save lives

Published by The Daily Star

During the dry season, Dhaka is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Air pollution levels during this period of the year reach 13-16 times higher than the international quality standard, and that outdoor air pollution kills 14,000of the city's residents annually. The need to reduce air pollution in the capital may seem obvious. But using scarce resources to fight outdoor air pollution means less funding will be available from the national budget, international donors, or private citizens for other proposals that can do good. Bangladesh Priorities, a cooperation with BRAC and...

17 Mar2016

The Right Targets for Global Health Investment

Published by Project Syndicate

If the global media were your only source of information, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world’s biggest health concern right now is the Zika virus, or that last year it was Ebola – or SARS and the Avian Flu before that. Panic about these contagions has spread far more rapidly than the diseases. In reality, the global death toll from all of them, combined, is tiny compared to that from major infectious diseases that we hear much less about: diarrhea, tuberculosis, AIDS, malaria, tetanus, or measles. The death toll from non-communicable diseases like strokes and heart...

16 Mar2016

Using smarter stoves to combat household air pollution

Published by The Daily Star

When it comes to cooking indoors over open fires, the harmful health effects can be equal to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. This indoor air pollution plagues nearly nine out of every 10 Bangladeshi households, which use wood and other biofuels to cook inside. Over time, exposure to smoke from indoor cooking leads to deadly diseases such as lung cancer, stroke, and heart disease. This is why it's the most deadly environmental problem in the world. In Bangladesh, such indoor air pollution is responsible for 10-15 percent of all deaths. It may seem obvious to say that we need to...

14 Mar2016

Fighting Poverty

Published by The Daily Star

When it comes to the biggest challenges facing Bangladesh, surely poverty is one of the most crucial. And there is still much work to be done. Despite cutting the rate of extreme poverty from 34 percent in 2000 to just 13 percent today, 20 million Bangladeshis still live in conditions considered to be ultra poor. Living on less than Tk. 43 per day can be immensely difficult, and for some, it can create a trap that's almost impossible to escape. The ultra poor generally do not own land and are caught in the low-wage activities of day labourers. They are on the brink of subsistence. And...

11 Mar2016

Bangladesh needs clear priorities for the future

Published by Daily Star

Bangladesh has big plans for the next five years. By the time the 50th anniversary of independence arrives, and as part of its Vision 2021 plan, the nation aspires to achieve middle-income status. Along with the economic aim, other ambitious goals include slashing poverty drastically, safeguarding basic rights for all citizens, ensuring ubiquitous access to adequate nutrition, clothing, housing, and health care - and doing it all while protecting the environment. The country has made spectacular progress over recent years, halving poverty and growing the economy by about6 percent each year...

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