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Poland

#2 from 2017: Doing good against all odds – remembering the forgotten

Leszek J. Sibilski's picture
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2017. This post was originally posted on February 7, 2017.

The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year.
 - Voltaire
 
Every November 1st, Poland observes All Saints Day or as some call it, the Day of the Deceased. In the middle of the Polish Golden Autumn there is a day when all Poles meet each other at the cemetery. Flowers and candles are lit to honor loved ones who are no longer with us. Most Polish cemeteries are very pristine and well cared for. For me this is a day of national truce and solidarity intertwined with the Roman-Catholic tradition. All Saints Day is celebrated in other countries, but the poignancy and mobility in Poland has no match. The day before and the day after, millions of Poles patiently travel for hours in never-ending traffic jams.
 
I am not always able to attend All Saints Day in my native Poland, but there are always flowers, wreaths, and candles, exceeding the number of my living distant relatives at the grave of my parents. And then there are the invisible friendly hands that clean my family's tomb a few weeks later, before the beginning of winter. The culmination of this holiday is an outdoor mass before dusk, which basically occurs at every cemetery. I must admit that for as long as I can remember; I have always tried to skip the mass service saturated with the presence of thousands of worshipers for the sake of long walks in the marvelous fall festival of lights a few hours later where the cemeteries are almost deserted. Imagine, walking in darkness on the fallen and golden dry leaves amongst the orange glow of thousands of lit candles that blend with a scent of burning wax and the array of thousands of flowers. Surrounded by people who act most courteously towards each other, and then there is the humbling moment of realizing again that death is a destiny for each of us. All of this is accompanied by solemn tranquility and feelings of nostalgia.
 

Transitions and Time Lags: Understanding a Dispiriting but Temporary Phenomenon

Antonius Verheijen's picture


Having spent much of my working life working with and in countries in transition, it remains painful to watch the disillusionment that so often strikes people that had the courage to change a bad political situation, but then are forced to live through economic hardship. It is those that chose change that seem always to suffer most. But one source of hope is that, fortunately, this hasn’t stopped people from trying. This was true for Southern Europe in the late 1970s (though I was still in school at the time), Central and East European countries in the 1990s, several African countries in the 2000s and, as history has a knack for repeating itself, Tunisia today. 

The Family 500+: Battling Child Poverty in Poland

Karolina Goraus-Tańska's picture
Facing one of the lowest fertility rates in the European Union (EU), the Government of Poland introduced a new family benefit program that had two objectives: encourage fertility and reduce child poverty.
 
The Family 500+ program, introduced in April, 2016, consists of a monthly payment of PLN 500 (€115) for every child after the first until the age of 18. The benefit was also extended to the first child in families whose income was below a defined threshold.
 

What is so unique about the growth (or decline) of cities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia?

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture


Full infographic

This commentary first appeared on the UHC2030 website. Full list of authors: Craig Burgess, Anna MarriottKhuat Thi Hai Oanh, Bruno Rivalan, James Sale

Despite the international commitment to UHC, half of the world’s 7.3 billion people do not have access to essential health services; the number of people impoverished by health spending remains unchanged; and catastrophic health expenditure is on the rise. Health coverage has been increasing at a rate of just over 1% per year. 

Tunisia: Looking ahead or back to the future?

Antonius Verheijen's picture

I had the privilege recently to spend an unscheduled hour of discussion with a group of young Tunisians who were visiting our offices. As often, on these occasions it is hard not to get captured by the energy and impatience of the young people in this region. It gives hope that entrepreneurial spirit is really alive and well in a country where reliable private sector services remain otherwise hard to come by, let alone public ones. If one combines the energy of youth with the message in a recent (equally energetic) speech by the Minister of Development to a large group of investors, one gets a sense that Tunisia is, indeed, looking ahead and not to the past.

Yet, as always, reality is far more complex, and often we are confronted with a much gloomier picture of a country that is perceived as, economically, turning inward. This is the case even more so now, as Tunisia is coming under immense pressure to get its public finances in order. This has generated some decisions that go right against the message of openness and dynamism that one gets when meeting with young Tunisians. It all begs the question, for a newcomer like myself, which of the parallel universes is the real one, and, as in a movie, which one ultimately will prevail.

What happens if you don’t pay your bill? Lessons from Central and Eastern Europe

Georgia Harley's picture



Many countries around the world are working to ensure that all people can access the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship. Countries have committed to reaching universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030 as part of the global Sustainable Development Goals.

Poland's regions: from lagging to catching up

Anna Wellenstein's picture


Designing programs and policies to eliminate extreme poverty and boost the income of the bottom 40% of the world’s population requires reliable data. The data is gathered through using household surveys that typically collect information on consumption and expenditure on a comprehensive set of 300 to 600 items in the household. A list of items includes anything that a household potentially consumes, for example, typical items like maize, milk, and soap, as well as rare items like mustard.

A mixed report: How Europe and Central Asian Countries performed in PISA

Cristian Aedo's picture
Tim Cordell, Cartoonstock.com

Мы знаем, что система правосудия омрачает деловой климат во многих странах, в которых мы работаем. В докладах Всемирного банка, национальных стратегиях и просто в разговорах мы жалуемся, что неэффективная работа судов сдерживает предпринимательскую активность, отрицательно отражается на прогнозируемости, увеличивает риски и сдерживает рост частного сектора. Кроме того, мы делаем вывод о том, что слабая система правосудия непомерно препятствует развитию микро-, малых и средних предприятий (MSMEs), потому что у них меньше средств для того, чтобы справиться с этой проблемой, что может стать решающим фактором самого существования их предприятий.
 
Итак, «что», а точнее, «как» суды влияют на бизнес?
 

The economic benefits of LGBTI inclusion

Georgia Harley's picture
Civil Rights Defenders/Photo: Vesna Lalic
Civil Rights Defenders/Photo: Vesna Lalic
Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people is an all too familiar story. Members of this community are frequent targets of violence and other human rights abuses, and often face prejudice and hardship at work, in their communities, and at home.

Action is needed to address these problems and ensure that everyone – regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity - has an equal chance to live a healthy and prosperous life
This is not only the right thing to do, it also makes economic sense: a growing body of evidence indicates that discrimination against LGBTI people has a negative economic impact on society.

Education and economic development: Five reforms that have worked

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
I started my assignment in Uzbekistan in 2015, working on social issues such as labor rights, gender mainstreaming, and citizen engagement. This work was certainly not without its challenges, at a time when Uzbekistan ranked among the worst performers on democracy and accountability, and before the process of liberalizing the economy had begun.

I never imagined, therefore, when I temporarily left Uzbekistan in late 2016, that I would return just a half year later to find the country in the midst of a significant transformation.

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