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The INCLUDE team’s reading list: September 2021

One of INCLUDE’s core beliefs is that so much knowledge already exists, it just needs guiding to the right places and the right people in order to reach its full impact for policy and, ultimately, for development. Whether you are seeking information to guide policy, embarking upon a piece of research, or simply interested in broadening your knowledge and staying updated on inclusive development in Africa, we hope this source can be a good starting point.

In previous reading lists, we shared evidence on digitalisation and COVID-19 as separate categories. However, we notice that the evidence on these increasingly overlaps with other areas of development cooperation. Digitalisation and COVID-19 have made their way into debates and research on education, social protection, governance, employment and structural transformation, to name a few. We therefore decided to include evidence on digitalisation and COVID-19 as part of the other thematic lists.

  • Global education summit: financing GPE 2021-2025 – The Global Education Summit was a key moment for the global community to come together and support quality education for all children. At the summit, world leaders made 5-year pledges to support GPE’s work and help transform education systems in up to 90 countries and territories. Watch the replays, thematic stages and side events on the GPE website.
  • The State of Global Education Finance in Seven Charts: An Update – A couple of years ago, the Centre for Global Development examined aid data from the OECD and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, analysing how much aid is going to education, where it is allocated, by who, and through what channels. Two years on, they provide an update to see what’s changed. (n.b. the latest available data is from 2019, and so any impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education finance is not captured in this retrospective analysis)
  • 32 New Findings from the Global Education RISE Conference 2021: Parents, Politics, and the Pandemic—Plus the Education Interventions People Would Trash – Last week was the annual conference for the Research on Improving Systems of Education (or RISE) program, a large scale, multi-country research program developed to answer the question: “How can education systems be reformed to deliver better learning for all?” David Evans from the Centre for global development has broken down the key findings and takeaways from each presentation. He also includes links to the full conference program and videos of all the sessions.
  • Take part in the online consultation for the 2023 GEM Report on technology – The 2023 GEM Report will examine education challenges to which appropriate use of technology can offer solutions, while recognizing that many of the solutions proposed may also be detrimental. It will examine issues of access, equity and inclusion, quality, system management and technological development. Join UNESCO’s consultation online to provide feedback on the concept note, suggest relevant evidence for the theme or new areas of research to be explored.
  • Promoting Social Cohesion and Peaceful Coexistence in Fragile Contexts through TVET – A facilitator handbook has been developed by the ILO to help trainers and facilitators integrate participatory/experiential learning approaches during the planning and delivery of the training of trainers programme. Part one focuses on key skills and frameworks for trainers and facilitators, including how to maximise participation and experiential learning, working with different learning styles, creating an enabling learning environment and a basic introduction to competency frameworks. Part two is the outline of a 4-day workshop, including all materials and handouts, set out on a day-by-day basis, that aims to increase participants’ skills, knowledge and confidence in facilitating core skills in social cohesion so that they can include social cohesion elements into their curricula in skills development.
  • Financing and incentives for skills development: making lifelong learning a reality? – Despite the many documented benefits of lifelong learning for individuals, enterprises and societies, its levels still remain lower than needed, due to significant funding gaps. Ensuring stable funding and establishing appropriate incentives for training providers, individuals and enterprises is a pressing need. This policy brief discusses options for funding and incentivising LLL, analysing the benefits and challenges of available options. Continuing vocational training (CVET) and adult learning are particularly in focus, due to their lower and inconsistent funding and frequent lack of policy attention.
  • The Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth Launches Its First Impact ReportOn the occasion of International Youth Day, 2021, the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth has just launched its first-ever Impact report highlighting the progress and achievements of the partnership since its launch till the end of 2020. They report progress across all four of their strategic pillars, and note the important role the initiative has played in curating and developing knowledge to guide evidence-informed action on youth employment, particularly in Africa. Moreover, the YouthForesight knowledge facility was recently launched by partners, as a one-stop-shop providing curated tools, publications, databases, and resources to support action on education and skilling, employment, entrepreneurship, and engagement for and with youth.
  • Potential for youth and female employment in industries without smokestacks – People under the age of 25 are set to comprise 50 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa by 2050. Such growth has created now-urgent demand for employment that must be met for Africa to reduce poverty. To examine new strategies for job creation for the region’s youth, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) and its partner think tanks on the continent have been conducting research on how to support promising industries to grow and absorb low-skilled labour.
  • Rural youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa: Moving away from urban myths and towards structural policy solutions – Common misperceptions about rural African youth need to be exposed by juxtaposing them with evidence on the actual realities that many rural youths live with. The aim of this ILO report is to clarify and ideally arrive at a slightly more realistic description of their livelihoods and employment realities and ultimately to derive implications for policy solutions and technical support models to improve their employment outlooks.
  • An update on the youth labour market impact of the COVID-19 crisis This statistical brief provides an update on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on youth in terms of employment, unemployment, NEET and inactivity trends, highlighting the differences between youth and adults (aged 25 and above), along with gender disparities. The brief also underscores the need for an integrated and multi-dimensional employment policy, which is based on continuing broader support to the economy and labour market, along with specific measures targeting the most vulnerable youth.
  • Towards decent work for young refugees and host communities in the digital platform economy in Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Egypt – This report by the ILO explores job creation in the gig economy from the unique experiences and perspectives of youth and refugees, as well as from the viewpoint of digital labour and e-commerce platforms, digital training providers, start-up incubators, social partners, and policymakers. The current state of refugees and youth in the digital platform economy raises some serious concern about the lack of inclusion and the absence of adequate social protection, rights at work and decent working conditions.
  • Digital technology and African smallholder agriculture: Implications for public policy -Emerging evidence from Asia and Africa suggests that digital technology holds promise to dramatically enhance smallholder productivity and incomes by increasing on-farm and off-farm efficiency, enhancing traceability, reducing vulnerability to counterfeit products, and improving farmers’ access to output, input, and financial markets. The change is driven by the introduction of new forms of intermediation and the collection, use, and analysis of massive amounts of agriculture data to disrupt existing business models.
  • COVID-19 Social protection and economic policy responses of governments – lessons for social protection readiness and building forward better – The UN has gathered all social protection and economic policy support measures of member state governments in one digital platform, the COVID-19 Stimulus Tracker. This tool aims to facilitate analysis of (a) equity and adequacy of social protection and economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic; (b) coverage to identify beneficiaries and those left behind; and (c) innovative measures of fiscal support and other policy support extended by governments across countries and regions. This policy brief provides key insights from the tool to inform peer learning for policy actions, strengthen policymaking capacity, and improve government readiness to formulate effective policy responses to
    future shocks.
  • Togo’s Novissi Cash Transfer: Designing and Implementing a Fully Digital Social Assistance Program during COVID-19 – Between April 2020 and March 2021, the Novissi cash transfer scheme reached around 820,000 beneficiaries (informal workers) using a fully digital approach. This case study by International Poverty Action details the design process for the program, and its implementation during the coronavirus pandemic, which can interest leaders of social assistance programs in other contexts. It also highlights lessons learned on the use of mobile money to support fully digital social assistance.
  • The Impact of a Nutrition-Focused Livelihoods Program on Child Nutrition in Burkina Faso – In Burkina Faso, researchers evaluated whether a nutrition-focused livelihoods program consisting of a cash transfer, productive asset, and nutrition intervention can impact child nutrition, household income, and assets. After two years, the program successfully reduced chronic malnutrition by about a third and increased the productive assets of participants. When components of the program were implemented individually, no statistically significant impacts were observed.
  • Cash and the city: Digital COVID-19 social response in Kinshasa – This Brookings blog examines the cash transfer programme which was set up in the DRC in response to COVID-19 with no prerequisites (like administration, social registry or financial ecosystem) in place, but has now reached over 250,000 people and achieved its objectives of helping people meet food, shelter and basic service needs and reinvest in their livelihoods. It highlights ten key steps in setting up the programme, from identification to self-registration and digital payments.
  • Addressing youth unemployment in Africa through industries without smokestacks: A synthesis on prospects, constraints, and policies – By some estimates, 20 million new jobs need to be created every year to meet the increasing demand for jobs (Fox and Gandhi, 2021). Yet the job creation capacity of African economies is only half of what it should be, and the lack of adequate employment opportunities has slowed the continent’s structural transformation and progress on poverty reduction. There is an opportunity for other industries—notably subsectors of agribusiness and service-oriented industry—that share firm characteristics with manufacturing to offer productive jobs for African youth. Do these sectors have the potential to solve Africa’s youth employment problem and create large-scale formal productive jobs?
  • The role of fiscal decentralization in promoting effective domestic resource mobilization in Africa – The fragility of Africa’s external financial inflows to shocks in the global economy suggests African nations should focus on securing more consistent domestic revenue streams. According to evidence from the Brookings Institute, fiscal decentralization has the potential to improve the collection and spending of domestic tax and non-tax sources of government revenue and, in addition, improve government accountability.
  • New World Bank country classifications by income level: 2021-2022 – The World Bank assigns the world’s economies to four income groups—low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-income countries. The classifications are updated each year on July 1 and are based on GNI per capita in current USD from the previous year. Factors such as economic growth, inflation, exchange rates, and population growth influence GNI per capita. The data shows not much change in classification for the African region (few countries moved up a category, but also few countries moved down).
  • Digital Africa: Levelling Up through Governance and Trade – Sub-Saharan Africa is sprinting toward digitization and has the potential to reach new heights as long as it addresses shortfalls in physical and human capital, as well as weaknesses and gaps in digital governance and regional trade agreements. This article by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies looks at three of the most digitally advanced countries in the region – Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa – examining what progress has been made and what needs to change to facilitate this transformation.
  • Machine learning and mobile phone data can improve the targeting of humanitarian assistance – This NBER working paper examines how ‘big data’ from satellites and mobile phone networks can rapidly identify households with the greatest needs, using the case of the Novissi cash transfer programme in Togo. The analysis compares outcomes – including exclusion errors, total social welfare, and measures of fairness – under different targeting regimes. The machine learning approach reduces errors of exclusion by 4-21% relative to the geographic targeting options, and by 9-35% relative to methods that require a comprehensive social registry
  • The commitment to development index (CDI) 2021  – The Centre for Global Development launched this year’s CDI, which scores countries relative to their size and economic weight on their potential to help in areas such as development finance, exchange (investment, migration and trade) and global public goods (technology, environment, health and social security). (it doesn’t score African countries but is useful for suggestion donors / partners for specific development goals).
  • Putting evidence to use (the research-policy cycle)– According to a 2014 study by the World Bank, nearly a third of the reports available as PDFs on their website had never been downloaded, even once. International research organizations have made some progress in ensuring that evidence generation goes beyond mere publication and instead reaches and informs decision makers. Strategies have evolved from a narrow focus on evidence generation, to a linear understanding from evidence generation to dissemination, ultimately to a grounded and iterative approach of co-creation between researchers and end users of research. This article documents the Innovations for Poverty Action’s integrated framework of the what, who, and how of evidence use.

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