Bjorn Lomborg

Get the facts straight

18 Apr2016

The smartest ways to fight non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh

Published by The Daily Star

Infectious diseases get all the attention. And for a long time, these diseases were what most people around the world died from. But as we are increasingly beating back infections and live to grow older, we start dying from what doctors call non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like heart disease, strokes, cancer, and diabetes. Bangladesh has seen the same pattern. A study of the rural area Matlab showed that from 1986 to 2006, the share of deaths caused by communicable diseases fell from 52 percent to 11 percent. During the same period, deaths from NCDs increased from 8 percent to 68 percent...

13 Apr2016

How e-GP save taxpayers tens of billions each year

Published by The Daily Star

Each year, Bangladesh spends more than Tk. 72,000 crore on government procurement. That includes paying for anything from Padma Bridge to pencils for government offices and everything in-between. Imagine if this process could be done just 1 percent more efficiently - that would save Tk. 720 crore. As it turns out, it can likely be improved by closer to 10 percent, saving billions of takas that could pay for other projects or services. Government procurement is fraught with inefficiency. Companies and contractors that want to provide goods and services to the government must currently apply...

11 Apr2016

Flexible microfinance models - For more economic opportunities

Published by The Daily Star

Bangladesh is ground zero for microfinance. Over the decades, since Sir Fazle Abed founded BRAC and Muhammad Yunus started Grameen Bank, the strategy of providing micro-sized loans to borrowers has helped increase income and consumption for the poor, ensured food security for many, created employment opportunities, and empowered women. According to the Credit and Development Forum, nearly 700 microfinance institutions operate in the country today, disbursing approximately Tk. 647 billion (Tk. 64,700 crore) to 3.4 crore active borrowers. The microfinance sector now contributes about 10 percent...

6 Apr2016

Smart ways to fight poverty and provide economic opportunity

Published by Financial Express

Bangladesh has made spectacular progress over the recent years. The country has halved poverty and the economy has grown by about 6.0 per cent a year. But many challenges continue to frustrate its development efforts. According to the World Bank, one-third of children under age five are underweight, and two out of every five adults cannot read. A quarter of the population still lives in poverty. And other obstacles, from failing road infrastructure to limited electricity access, still plague many citizens. Stakeholders from the government to international donors to everyday citizens want to...

6 Apr2016

Don't be fooled - Elon Musk's electric cars aren't about to save the planet

Published by The Telegraph

As Elon Musk presented the new Tesla 3, a fawning press announced that the “world-changing car” could “dominate” the market. Within days, 276,000 people had put down $1,000 to pre-order the car. But the Model 3 doesn’t exist yet. There is no final production version, much less any production. Musk is “fairly confident” that deliveries could start by the end of 2017. But running on schedule isn’t Tesla’s strong suit. Meanwhile, Tesla’s current best-seller has been plagued by quality problems...

6 Apr2016

An Overheated Climate Alarm

Published by Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration released a new report this week that paints a stark picture of how climate change will affect human health. Higher temperatures, we’re told, will be deadly—killing “thousands to tens of thousands” of Americans. The report is subtitled “A Scientific Assessment,” presumably to underscore its reliability. But the report reads as a political sledgehammer that hypes the bad and skips over the good...

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...