Beat the Heat: Inclusive Preparedness for India’s Heat Waves

By Ashwin Chandrasekhar

This summer, India witnessed its second deadliest heat wave on record – over 2,500 people died due to scorching temperatures.

Photo by Subhendu Sarkar via Getty Images.

Photo by Subhendu Sarkar via Getty Images.

India’s heat waves are part of a climate change-driven cycle. Records over the last 10 years show that heat waves are happening in India more frequently than ever before. Globally, land areas affected by heat waves are expected to double by 2020. A heat wave is a period of abnormally hot – and usually humid – weather, where the daily maximum temperature exceeds historical average temperatures for the season in a given area by at least five degrees Celsius. Unlike other disasters, heat kills silently and slowly – the effects of climate change are subtle, unlike other weather events like hurricanes or floods, and often do not jumpstart the necessary measures to save lives.

When temperatures rise, India’s poor are most affected and least able to cope. Between 1979 and 1999, Punjab state withstood 17 heat waves, while Odisha state witnessed 15. However, in the much less developed Odisha State the death toll was five times higher than in Punjab.

Preparedness is Crucial for Resilience in the Next Wave

Now that the monsoons have reached India, albeit late, it is worth considering how India can prepare for the next heat wave. Long-term investment in  preparedness will not only save lives, it will also help minimize the economic costs – for example, reduced income combined with unexpected healthcare costs for vulnerable populations, and crop losses from continued global warming that could amount to US $208 billion by 2050 for wheat, rice, and maize alone.

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Infographic: ICT Tools Enable a More Effective Ebola Response

Since the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa over a year ago, deep vulnerabilities and disparities in the health systems of the hardest-hit countries have been exposed.

But the crisis has also unearthed emergency responses that worked to mitigate Ebola’s spread, including technology-centered tactics that we can learn from to prepare for the future.

Dalberg analyzed how new or repurposed applications and online platforms in West Africa have helped governments and health workers inform communities about Ebola, and track and contain the virus. From contact tracing apps to messaging systems, technology offers new, adaptable possibilities to spread and gather information for an inclusive and empowering crisis response.


This infographic is from the Dalberg report, From Response to Recovery in the Ebola Crisis: Revitalizing Health Systems and Economies, which presents a portfolio of ideas on short- and long-term recovery from the Ebola crisis. Read the full report>>

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Savings Groups Fuel Digital Design for Smallholders in Rwanda

This article originally appeared on CGAP.

By Sebastian Barrera, Montana Cherney, Melanie Kahl, and Ashish Kumar

It’s no secret that savings groups are the lifeblood of the informal financial economy, especially for smallholder households in developing economies such as Rwanda. Savings groups are seen as a social and financial safety net for those who weather seasonal hardships related to the variability of their harvest or unforeseen emergencies.

After seven weeks on the ground in Rwanda taking a human-centered design approach and interviewing over 75 farmers, banking officials, traders, co-ops, and savings groups, it is apparent that a deeper understanding of these groups provides key insights to drive the design of new digital financial services and products. The following is a glimpse into our early insights and their implications for designing mobile financial solutions.

1. Savings groups have the ambition to grow, but often lack the systems or knowledge to translate their financial goals into reality.

Many savings groups who gain momentum in size, both in membership and finances, see a parallel rise in their collective aspirations. Savings groups on the cusp have ambitious goals – they seek larger loans, more profitable investments, and community revitalization. However, they often lack the knowledge, leadership, and formal tools to take actionable steps towards these ambitions. This is complicated by the cumbersome nature of manual management and the lack of reinvestment into the collective.

A mobile-based financial channel for savings groups can equip them with a more usable management platform and translate their implicit rules, disciplines, and processes into better mechanisms for understanding their own potential – such as better tracking of payments and contributions and assessment of member creditworthiness.

Fulgence has been part of a 70-member savings and loan association for six years and as the deputy president she has witnessed the group grow over time. She feels confident that being in an SLA is just the first step in becoming a co-op, but she mentions, “I don’t quite know how to make the transformation happen.”

Fulgence has been part of a 70-member savings and loan association (SLA) for six years and as the Deputy President she has witnessed the group grow over time. She feels confident that being in an SLA is just the first step in becoming a co-op, but she mentions, “I don’t quite know how to make the transformation happen.”

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Infographic: How to Respond to an Outbreak – Success Factors for Fighting Off Ebola

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post Impact.

Over a year has passed since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began. In that narrow window of time, the disease has claimed more than 10,000 lives, stalled economic growth, and hampered – if not reversed – gains the region had made in strengthening public health infrastructure and service delivery.

And yet, as dire as the crisis has been, hope is emerging. The pace of new cases is slowing. The fear of a truly global pandemic has subsided. We are transitioning from emergency response to longer-term recovery – a very welcome sign.

As we take stock of the crisis and the toll it has taken, it’s also worth noting what went right in our collective responses. How can we make sure the next health crisis is not so deadly? Examining the success factors for an effective emergency response may be a good start.

Dalberg studied how Senegal and Nigeria eliminated Ebola within their borders to put together the below infographic. See what worked and why:


This infographic is from a new Dalberg report, From Response to Recovery in the Ebola Crisis: Revitalizing Health Systems and Economies. The report presents a portfolio of ideas on where to go from here, including how we might develop creative incentives to support emerging leaders and design innovative financing products. We hope to seed a broader conversation with these ideas, and to spark collective action by governments, civil society, foundations, and international agencies in service of the Ebola-affected region of West Africa.

Join the conversation with us – reach out to us in the comments below or on social media: @DalbergTweet on Twitter and on Facebook.

Infographic research by Kabura Ciugu of Dalberg.

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Curbing Transfer Mispricing: A Regional Approach

By Modou Fall

Every year, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) loses billions of US dollars because some subsidiaries of multinational corporations based in the region pay less tax than they should. This lost tax revenue from Nigeria’s crude oil exports or Liberia’s timber sales, for example, represents a crucial but missing source for development financing to meet the region’s economic growth targets and human development goals.

Transfer Pricing By The Numbers

A recent study by Dalberg, commissioned by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, estimates that West African states lost roughly US $3 billion in tax revenues in 2011 due to transfer mispricing. Dalberg projects these losses will reach US $14 billion in 2018 if current trends continue.

So what exactly is transfer mispricing? About 60 percent of trade between West African states and the rest of the world occurs within branches or subsidiaries of the same single corporation. In such transactions, some multinational corporations can artificially lower or increase their prices in order to shift taxable profits from West African states to another country with lower tax rates, enabling them to hold on to a larger portion of their profits.

MagnitudeIllicitFinFlowsMost concerning is how transfer mispricing deprives West Africa from badly needed domestic resources that could be put toward potentially transformative social and economic projects. For instance, if measures had been taken to effectively curb transfer mispricing, West African states would have collected an additional US $15 billion between 2012 and 2014. These funds are more than enough to cover the US $11.3 billion financing gap outlined in the ECOWAS Regional Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, which aims to ensure poverty eradication in the region.

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Lutte contre la manipulation des prix de transfert : une approche régionale

Par Modou Fall

Chaque année, la Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO) perd des milliards de dollars du fait que des filiales certaines sociétés multinationales implantées dans la région paient moins que leur juste part d’impôts. Cette perte de recettes fiscales découlant, par exemple, des exportations de pétrole brut du Nigeria ou des ventes de bois d’œuvre du Libéria, représente une ressource primordiale de financement pour atteindre les objectifs de croissance économique et de développement humain de la région.

Manipulation des prix de transfert en chiffres

Une étude récemment conduite par Dalberg à la demande de l’Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) estime que les pays de l’Afrique de l’Ouest ont perdu environ trois milliards de dollars en recettes fiscales en 2011 en raison de manipulation des prix de transfert. Dalberg prévoit que ces pertes pourront atteindre 14 milliards de dollars en 2018 si les tendances actuelles se poursuivent.

Qu’est-ce que la manipulation des prix de transfert ? Environ 60 pour cent des échanges commerciaux entre les pays de l’Afrique de l’Ouest et le reste du monde s’effectuent entre entreprises succursales ou filiales d’un même groupe. Dans de telles transactions, certaines sociétés multinationales peuvent artificiellement réduire ou augmenter leurs prix afin de transférer une partie du bénéfice imposable des États d’Afrique de l’Ouest vers d’autres pays dont les taux d’imposition sont plus faibles. Ce mécanisme leur permet de conserver une plus grande partie de leurs bénéfices.


La manipulation des prix de transfert est préoccupante car elle prive l’Afrique de l’Ouest de ressources intérieures qui pourraient être mises à contribution pour la réalisation des projets à fort potentiel d’impact socioéconomique. Sans manipulation des prix de transfert, les États d’Afrique de l’Ouest auraient par exemple perçu 15 milliards de dollars supplémentaires de recettes fiscales entre 2012 et 2014. Ces fonds sont nettement suffisants pour couvrir le déficit de 11,3 milliards de dollars pour financer le Document de Stratégie de Réduction de la Pauvreté de la CEDEAO, qui vise à accélérer la croissance et réduire la pauvreté dans la région.

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Can Technology Push Microinsurance Further? 4 Reasons to Say Yes

By Rasesh Mohan and Wameek Noor

Those who most need insurance, and the stability that it provides, are often the least likely to have it. In developing countries, insurance coverage is exceedingly low – often below 5%of the country’s population. Few products are designed taking into account the risk and affordability levels of the poor. However, progress is being made: significant business model improvements over the years are helping drive the expansion of mobile insurance in multiple markets today, with 17 million policies issued since June 2014 and five deployments having more than one million mobile insurance policies since operations lauched within the last three years.

recent study by CGAP suggests that despite this progress, four key opportunities across the insurance value chain are underexplored. There is great potential to better design and market insurance products for poor customers, if insurers and their intermediaries pay greater attention and are bold enough to experiment. Grasping these opportunities and harnessing the power of mobile technology will increase both the access to, as well as use of, health and life insurance among low income populations:

  1. Marketing: Targeting marketing efforts through customer segmentation using mobile data, leading to increased customization of service provision
  2. Product Design: Leveraging social media links for collective insurance to reduce costs for customers and increase efficiencies for providers
  3. Distribution: Taking advantage of mobile phone features to enable faster and cheaper insurance signup for customers
  4. Pricing: Tracking customer behavior through remote sensing for increased accuracy in premium calibration


The extensive use of mobile phones in developing countries has created data on customers’ finances and spending patterns for sections of the population that did not previously have a financial track record. Using such data, microinsurance companies can tailor marketing to customers’ willingness and ability to pay, and therefore may result in an increase in profitable uptake.

For example, Cignifi, a mobile data analytics firm, is taking a big step forward by pioneering the use of mobile data for insurance provision. In a pilot with a microinsurance specialist in Sub-Saharan Africa, the firm is developing an algorithm to analyze numerous mobile data variables, such as volume and duration of voice calls, mobile money transactions, mobile savings, social networks and demographics to determine a premium appropriate for different customer segments.  Such data will allow its microinsurance partner to tailor its SMS/text message-based marketing efforts to specific customer segments in order to increase likelihood of uptake.

For example, a customer who has mobile money transactions below a certain threshold and makes short calls to a limited number of people could have behaviors suggesting he could be marketed a microinsurance product with a low premium and limited coverage. On the other hand, customers  who are more advanced in their mobile use may be marketed a product with higher premium and coverage levels. As mobile data analytics get more sophisticated over the coming years, we will likely witness insurance providers offering far more customized marketing to sections of the population that were previously thought to be off-limits.


Photo Credit: Mukesh Dewatwal, 2013 CGAP Photo Contest

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Which Technological Breakthroughs Will Help the Poor the Most? A Q&A with Shashi Buluswar

By Sara Wallace

The polio vaccine…anti-retroviral drugs…M-PESA mobile payments…

These are just a few breakthroughs that have created transformative impact for the world’s poor. Breakthroughs of this caliber are rare – they require significant collaboration around information, analysis, and technology to reach fruition.

Yet we need many more for countless development challenges. How can we ensure donors, impact investors, NGO practitioners, and government officials can facilitate these breakthroughs?

Shashi Buluswar, Director of the LBNL Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies

Shashi Buluswar, Director of the LBNL Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies

In his role as Director of the LBNL Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies (LIGTT), former Dalberg Partner Shashi Buluswar has been working to answer this question. LIGTT recently released “50 Breakthroughs: Critical scientific and technological advances needed for sustainable global development,” a report that identifies where game-changing technological breakthroughs are essential to improve the lives of the world’s poor.

We spoke to Shashi to learn more about how the report came to be, who can use it, and what impact he hopes it will create:

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Four Pillars of Rebuilding: Looking to Nepal and West Africa

By Scott Strand

Another powerful earthquake struck Nepal this week, amplifying damage from the 7.8 magnitude jolt last month that killed over 8,000 people and stranded the injured in villages remote from cities and help.

As intrepid recovery efforts are underway, attention is also starting to turn to long-term rebuilding: How can we ensure Nepal will build back stronger? Journalists say it will be expensive, geographically complex, and most difficult for the region’s poorest. And this long road of social, economic, and environmental recovery will rely heavily on international aid.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.02.21 AM

As the world mobilizes for Nepal, it’s helpful to see what we can glean from past and ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts. West Africa’s response to the Ebola crisis is showing promise – Liberia is now Ebola-free. However, the crisis is by no means over and progress has stalled in Guinea and Sierra Leone where transmission rates are still high.

With Nepal fresh in mind and the Ebola epidemic in need of continued attention, we have pulled insights from past rebuilding initiatives into what we believe are four critical pillars of successful reconstruction efforts:

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Infographic: How Much Does Meat Really Cost?

By Sonila Cook, Thabo Matse, and Julia Rohrer

Consumption of animal protein is expected to grow 73 percent from current levels by the year 2050. While people in developed countries eat almost three times as much meat as those in developing countries at present, much of the projected growth will come from developing countries such as China and India whose burgeoning middle classes aspire to, and can increasingly afford, western diets.

To meet this growing demand, meat will likely continue to be produced in ways that require vast amounts of natural resources, placing great strain on the environment. With the world’s population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, there is a critical need to source food – and protein in particular – more sustainably.

Learn more about our meat production problem and how your actions can make a difference in this infographic from Dalberg, based on research funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Animal protein infografic vf (2)

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