Development that Works
  • About

    This blog highlights effective ideas in the fight against poverty and exclusion, and analyzes the impact of development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Protecting the Mesoamerican Lung



    by Joseph Milewski*

    After decades of abuse in Guatemalan jungle, the IDB launched a program compatible with the conservation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. It develops alternative activities for the inhabitants  in the fields of agriculture, tourism, environment and culture.

    Ancient city of Tikal -Maya Biosphere Reserve

    Ancient city of Tikal -Maya Biosphere Reserve

    In Guatemala, the deafening chatter of macaws and guttural shrieks of monkeys are but two of the many sounds to be enjoyed in the heart of Mesoamerica’s most extensive tropical jungle, which was declared the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) in 1990.

    This wilderness of lowlands and high temperatures is the ancient home of the Maya and hosts nearly 4,000 species of plants, birds, mammals and reptiles. The Reserve occupies the northern half of the department of Petén and extends more than 21,000 square kilometers.

    For decades, this Mesoamerican “lung” has confronted threats such as illegal forest cutting, the looting of archeological sites, fires and commercial hunting. More recently, organized crime and explosive population growth have emerged as new dangers to the ecological and archeological treasure.

    In response, six institutions of the Guatemalan government are working together to preserve the nature reserve and confront the threats. A key contribution to that effort has been an IDB-financed loan and donation from the Global Environment Facility, which has resulted in the creation of the Petén Development Program for the Conservation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve (PDPCMBR). Read more…

    Could more women in power promote development?



    by Patricia Yanez-Pagans

    A study shows that female mayors attract twice as much in discretionary transfers from the federal government as their male counterparts and they are less likely to engage in corrupt activities. 

    mujer en el poder

    Only 22 per cent of all national parliamentarians worldwide were female as of August 2015, and only 11 women served as head of state The numbers have been increasing slowly, with the number of parliamentarians’  rising from 11.3 percent in 1995.

    Latin America stands as one of the regions that has made more progress in reducing gender gaps in political participation, but the reality is that women are also underrepresented in our region. In 2013, only about 25 percent of members of parliament and 7 percent of mayors at the local level were women.

    Beyond the importance of promoting equal opportunities for all, why should we also care about gender parity in political representation? Read more…

    How effective are land property rights interventions on improving investments and agricultural productivity?



    by Mario González Flores and Leonardo Corral

    Recent studies show that de jure recognition of tenure through the provision of a registered title or certificate boosts productivity by 40%; and increases consumption or income of beneficiary households by 15%.

    land property rights interventions

    Access to land and the ability to make productive use of that land is critical to poor people worldwide (Deininger, 2004): it can provide a foundation for economic and social development and help the rural poor cope with unexpected challenges.

    Yet, even if households have access to land, a significant percentage of farmers have no access to a land title that can provide tenure security. Read more…

    A homemade recipe for a completely sustainable sewage treatment process



    by Gastón Gertner

    How to treat wastewater in an environmentally friendly and cost effective manner.

    tratamiento aguas grises ok


    This summer, I got to know Violeta Reynal and Ezequiel Bella in Villa La Angostura, on the shores of Nahuel Huapí Lake in Argentina. Thirty-something, married, and fed up with the chaos of Buenos Aires, they decided on a change of lifestyle after a year of living in India.

    So they built their home in the middle of Patagonia, using clay for the floor and walls and cypress trunks for the beams. Despite the seemingly basic nature of these materials, the design of the house takes even the smallest detail into account, from the natural way the temperature is controlled to measuring energy consumption.

    But what left me speechless was the fact they had implemented an individual waste water treatment system that was completly sustainable . With their own hands! This home is undoubtedly the dream of supporters of sustainable development eager to find ways to mitigate the effects of climate change. Do you want to know more about how a house like this works? Read more…

    Are we effective at saving lives on the roads?



    by Patricia Yañez-Pagans

    Ninety percent of deaths and injuries from road accidents happen in low- and middle-income countries, where direct and indirect costs are close to $100 billion  a year.

    seguridad vial paises en desarrollo

    Friday evening, Juan was driving home. It was raining and he was tired. That week was rough: too much work, few free hours, and little sleep.

    But finally, it was Friday. He wanted to get home to hug his wife and his children. They were waiting for him, gathered smiling around the table to celebrate Carlitos’ third birthday.

    Carlitos never blew out those candles.

    Juan never got home.  He never saw his family  again. He  met his death on the road.

    Poor lighting on that rainy night, the lack of signage on the curvy road, and not wearing his seat belt were a fatal combination.

    Read more…

    Sign me up for the newsletter!