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As in many other East Asian countries, the number of people living in poverty in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam has declined in the past decade. However, persisting poverty in less advantaged geographic areas and ethnic groups is still a challenge. The governments of the three countries were eager to gain practical lessons on innovative Community Driven Development (CDD) models that have been successful in several South Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka.

Like other cities in rapidly industrializing Vietnam, fast-growing Ho Chi Minh City must invest in urban transportation, including new and better roads, a metro network, and a modern bus rapid transit (BRT) system. Lacking the full knowledge and skills needed to plan, build, and maintain such a transport network, Vietnam sought the help of the World Bank.

The governments of Africa want to improve the investment climate and reduce poverty in their countries through modernization and industrialization. Learning from the Asian experience, many governments are developing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to achieve these goals. Chinese knowledge, experience, and investment have been invaluable in developing these zones. However, most African countries still lack the infrastructure to make such SEZs effective and competitive on international markets.

Indian Railways (IR) is Asia’s second largest rail system, moving some 30 million passengers and 2.8 million tons of freight daily.1 Railways are critical to both economic growth and reducing environmental impacts; and Indian officials recognized the need for a long-term strategy to expand and modernize India’s railways to meet the needs of its burgeoning economy.

Countries must license medical professionals to ensure health safety and service quality. Vietnam’s Ministry of Health (MOH) was tasked with developing a medical registration and licensing system for Vietnam that would meet Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) standards. Faced with a legally mandated deadline, the ministry asked the World Bank for assistance. The World Bank’s South-South Facility funded a knowledge exchange to help the Vietnamese officials learn to design, implement, and manage a medical registration and licensing system that would meet ASEAN standards.

Yemen’s 2,250 kilometers of coastline and fisheries provide livelihoods to over 2 million people, but coastal zones have been suffering from lack of management, and fishing production in Yemen has been declining since 2006.

After learning about the success of East Asian countries in developing their economies and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through Special Economic Zones (SEZ), many African governments wanted to use the same strategy to improve their economic performance. However, most African countries lack the capacity to design and implement SEZs, including lack of policy framework clarity, difficulties in physical planning and land administration, and insufficient regulatory and administrative knowledge. They have also not being very successful in involving the private sector in SEZs.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are investing heavily in their transport sectors, which will help stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty. But the planning, construction, and management challenges are substantial---especially in the construction of high-grade expressways and tunnels, and in road maintenance---so countries in the South Caucasus region looked to the World Bank for assistance.

To develop innovative and successful methods to address increasing water scarcity and over-exploitation of fresh and groundwater supplies affecting its agricultural industry, the Government of Morocco participated in an exchange visit to China. The exchange focused on the use of remote sensing technology applied to water management and monitoring of farmers’ consumption to manage scarce water resources.


Regardless of their political side, all stakeholders agree that alleviating Cairo’s traffic congestion is a top priority. Public transport services are far short of what they should be in a city the size of Cairo with 17 million people and growing rapidly. The Cairo Transport Authority (CTA), the main bus operator, has suffered from the traditional inefficiencies as­sociated with state-owned enterprises isolated from competitive pressures.