A resident of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk carries a box of humanitarian supplies distributed by UNRWA, in Damascus, Syria. Feb. 24, 2014 (AP Photo by UNRWA).

In mid-July, the U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to allow humanitarian aid delivery to Syrians in rebel-held areas without Syrian government consent, through four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. In an email interview, Dr. Hannah Vaughan-Lee, a humanitarian practitioner and academic, discussed the challenges ahead for the cross-border aid operation. WPR: Besides ongoing fighting, what obstacles do convoys face bringing aid to rebel-held areas in Syria? Hannah Vaughan-Lee: Crossing the border into Syria is only the first in a series of steps for delivering assistance to conflict-affected populations in rebel-held areas. One immediate and ongoing challenge will be […]

Seychelles, March, 2005 (photo by Wikimedia user Simisa, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).

The Tropics will have to deal with increasing numbers of so-called climate refugees as states disappear or become unlivable due to climate change, according to a recent collaborative report prepared by 12 research institutions across the region. Comprising tropical, arid and semi-arid areas, the Tropics will be faced with more droughts, rising sea levels and flooding, which could cause large migrations and destabilize fragile states in the region if the environmental stress leads to food shortages and other crises. The warning signs are already there, yet the international community has failed to respond with urgency. The Tropics are traditionally defined […]

Informal finance is ancient. What is it, and does it still have a place in today’s economies? Throughout the first half of the 19th century and into the 1970s, informal finance was studied by anthropologists under the heading of indigenous or traditional organizations. In the 1970s, technical assistance agencies rediscovered these organizations in the context of self-help based on savings, a concept that had been central to the credit cooperative movement founded in the 19th century by the German mayor Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen. In the 1980s, self-help groups (SHGs) came to be known as informal financial institutions, and their reputation […]

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) have long played an important role in international development finance. Subregional development banks (SRDBs) have had a more limited function, until the emergence of a few dynamic institutions in recent years. This paper explores the origins of MDBs and SRDBs; considers key issues and trends in their purpose, governance and financing; and explores challenges and opportunities that MDBs and SRDBs face in a changing global development environment. Origins of Multilateral and Subregional Development Banks The current international monetary and development architecture has a long history, going back to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and […]