Live Chat: Roads, Toilets or Electricity – What’s Most Important for South Asia’s Growth?
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Live Chat: Roads, Toilets or Electricity – What’s Most Important for South Asia’s Growth?

Date: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET (15:00 – 16:00 GMT or convert time)
Location: Online

The Live Chat has concluded. View the replay below!

A staggering number people in South Asia lack access to roads, toilets, reliable electricity, clean water and telecoms -- also known as an infrastructure gap. Today, 41% of South Asia's population defecates in the open and 75% does not have access to piped water. Some of these figures are comparable only to Sub-Saharan Africa.

For the past twenty years, South Asia's growth rates have been comparable to that of East Asia. Yet a new report reveals that South Asia needs to invest as much as $2.5 trillion on infrastructure to bring its power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard needed to serve its growing population.

Where will this money come from? And where do you think it should be invested first?

Luis Andres, Dan Biller and Matias Herrera Dappe, co-authors of the new report, “Reducing Poverty by Closing South Asia’s Infrastructure Gap,” took your questions and comments in a live chat.


Related Links:

Feature Story
Press Release
Blog: What if you and I were born on the same day?
Video: The Costs of Unequal Access to Infrastructure in South Asia

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Lead Economist, South Asia Region, World Bank
Lead Economist for the Operations and Policy Unit
Senior Economist, South Asia Social Development
Read what others are asking
DAVO Coffi Stéphane
One of the main factors of the poor social and economic situation in south Asia and sub-saharan Africa is the corruption that is ''legalised'' within the society. Do you think that only financial support without mental social change can adress the issue?
Jyoti dubey
Is it not Education which foremost important?
Dr. Ashish Manohar Urkude
Since decades, building roads, providing electricity, and construction of toilets for every household are part of every year's Budget of every country, but, it could not be achieved, is also a fact. Thus, according to Governments these things are interlinked and are equally important. Now, the question is, can the World Bank take responsibility of keeping track on budgets and helping countries to keep record of every dollar/ taka/ cent / rupee / money spent on these activities? If not then after 2200 A. D. i.e. after 100 years, same question and same discussion would take place and my great grand children will be asking the same question to your counter parts. Hope you don't laugh at this question. However, it's horrible reality of our lives, and hope you'll touch this point in your all important discussion.
It need to be balance of all thee. and more important is method of investment for this cause. best example is building toile and without community awareness has not been resulted significant open air deification. lack of any these three can have direct or indirect impact on health and wellness. Among them electricity should needs less investment from government as it is preferably produce by private sector.
All three are important. But the situation demands to invest in toilet. Why all the efforts have failed to increase toilet use?? Should we blame policy makers or lack of behavioral research to understand the attitude? Innovation works but behavior change is required most.
Ishan Tiwari
This is too simplistic way of thinking about the problems of infrastructure, both physical and social, as they exist in South Asia: there is some infrastructural lag and it needs this much amount to be bridged. With due regard to authors of the report, I must say the problem is not simply of money or resources, it goes much further down on to include largely unrecognised aspects of caste, religion, mindset, regional behaviour and much more. Success stories in the region have first of all been able to largely address these issues. For example, polio eradication programme in India has been successful because it took help of local imams in spreading awareness. Similarly rural sanitation is a big problem owing largely to mindset of our rural people (especially in northern India) that defamation in open is beneficial to health. I don't know what you experts or the World Bank thinks about all this. I am waiting for your response. May the Bank succeed in its holy venture. Good luck!
Dr. Ganesh p. Gautam
Electricity and infrastructure, especially "road touch to the rural program" should launch. BY people's participatory method.
Khurram Mustafa Satti
Only improvement in tax collection and minimize the corruption. 1= Law&Order (Police station) 2= Education (Schools) 3= Health (Hospitals) 4= Roads (road links) 4=
K Thapa
Hurrah to all the work that is been done by the World Bank but I still believe in the saying that you should teach our people to catch a fish rather than to give a fish.No matter how many trillions you spend in these matters it will never suffice for example the toilets built in the far western part of our country where people do not use it as toilet but as store rooms or bedrooms as the toilets being built by the donors are much better than the thatched houses they live in (most probably true for other parts of our world as well).Raise the income generating capacity of these people and all these things will kick in of course with good governance.
Malot Tapnio
Prepare a comprehensive study on the existing conditions of each item in the countries where you want to help. Identify and quantify the impact of each item on the growth of each country. Analyze how to allocate your funds to each development to maximize the benefit to the beneficiaries and thereby improve their lives. What you do affects the lives of millions of people. Make it matter. Make it work. Make your experts give calculations that people will appreciate. Let us actually feel the help you give. Thank you.
Laxman Neupane
Well, money remain prime input for overall development? Without effective, efficient an capability, this investment remain no role. Is there right initiative on these issues?
Mr. Hom Nath Gaire
Nepal, as a landlocked country has been facing problems in transport and transits in its international trade, which is considered as the engine of economic growth. IN the mean time, only one third population of Nepal have access to formal financial services. Therefore, the proposed investment should be made to strengthen the regional road network with preferential treatment to the least developed countries like Nepal. Similarly, some of the portion of this fund should go to make financial services accessable
Is there any mechanism to calculate ROI on different factors like infrastructure, education or health? Can any econometrics model or software available to indicate right combination for a country like India?
United Kingdom
What about birth control and education?
Kumar V Pratap
India has recently approved a new set of Standard Bidding Documents for power generation projects. In these documents, fuel costs are a pass-through with some safeguards. In an environment where retail tariffs are politically capped, making fuel costs a pass through would only be reflected in increased losses of public sector power distribution companies. So, the resource augmentation on power generation side would be matched by a commensurate deterioration on the power distribution side. Do you agree?
Joeun Kim
Korea, Rep.
In my opinion, road is the most important. Cause it truly help the South Asia government build infrastructure.However i also agree that electricity also helps it. But what does toilet mean in develop south asia?
Subh Brata Roy
First Safe Potable Water followed by toilet, electricity and roads. Above all for any sustainable growth - there needs a willing and proactive political governance with transparency. Do you think anything can happen without the political governance being the first to be convinced of action on that land?
Bhuwan Thapaliya
What about education, job creation and rural development?
Mustaf Abdul
When Is A New Live Coming To South Asia This may not be a difficult to be so0lved and hence it has been found,then solutions are always there to be done and even more to be done,I knew the WBG will just do that,A New Life Coming To The People Of South Asia,Period!