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Bank Pledges New Spending to Help Countries Achieve MDGs

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2010—As world leaders gather at UN headquarters next week to review MDGs progress to date, the World Bank Group has announced that it will mobilize significant new funding for health, education, and agriculture to help countries achieve their MDGs by 2015.

According to Unfinished Business: Mobilizing New Efforts to Achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals?a new Bank report prepared for the MDGs review summit?developing countries were making significant progress in overcoming poverty until the recent food, fuel, and financial crises. In 1981, 52 percent of people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty; by 2005, that share had fallen to 25 percent, with poverty falling sharply in East Asia, Latin America, and Eastern and Central Europe. But this progress has not been shared by all. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to lag in overcoming poverty. Hunger and malnutrition rates have been falling, but progress on meeting the MDG of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger was almost completely reversed in 2008 with the spike in food prices. 

The World Bank now estimates that as a result of the food, fuel and financial crises, 64 million more people are living in extreme poverty in 2010, and some 40 million more people went hungry last year. By 2015, 1.2 million more children under five may die, and about 100 million more people may remain without access to safe water.

“As we take stock of the MDGs so far, we see the crises only made things worse, with too many of the world’s people hungry, poor, or vulnerable to poverty, with too few jobs and too little access to services and economic opportunity,” said World Bank Group President, Robert B. Zoellick.“We must therefore redouble efforts to target support to the poor and vulnerable. We need to invest in what works and fix what doesn’t. And as we do, we always need to keep in mind that this work is ultimately about empowering people. The human spirit can accomplish amazing things. We need to give everyone that opportunity.”

Getting back on track with more growth and jobs

In a rapidly evolving world economy, Zoellick said that developing country growth is not only fundamental to overcoming poverty and hunger, and achieving the rest of the MDGs, but it also now an engine of global growth. This potential is not limited to only a few emerging markets.

The Bank Group’s President added that better policies have improved growth performance and opportunities in many low-income countries, including in Sub-Saharan Africa, which recorded annual growth of six percent in the five years preceding the crisis.

“These countries offer attractive investment opportunities, not just destinations for aid. Their growth can contribute to overcoming poverty and hunger by creating a virtuous circle of increasing opportunity, jobs, incomes, skill development – and then greater growth. In creating opportunities for growth, we need policies that support investment where it matters most: in people,” Zoellick said.

New Bank MDGs financing for 2015 countdown? to help countries achieve their MDGs by 2015, the World Bank Group commits to new financing in:

Agriculture?Given rising food prices and the possible return of the food crisis, the World Bank Group will boost support to agriculture to some $8.3 billion a year, up from $4.1 billion annually before 2008, under its Agriculture Action Plan.

Education?to help countries achieve the education MDGs, the World Bank will increase its zero-interest and grant investment in basic education by an additional $750 million, with a focus on the countries that are not on track to reach the education MDGs by 2015, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Health?the Bank will focus on 35 countries, particularly in East Asia, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, which face challenges in achieving their MDGs because of high fertility and poor child and maternal nutrition and disease. This will expand the reach of the Bank’s results-based programs by more than $600 million to scale up essential health and nutrition services and strengthen the underlying health systems which are essential to sustain better health results over the years.

MDGs regional progress uneven

Before the crisis, the Bank’s new MDGs report says that good progress was being made in a number of regions, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, with less poverty, more gender parity in primary and secondary education, and more reliable access to safe water. Progress was less encouraging on other targets for the empowerment of women. Of greatest concern were the MDGs on human development —especially child and maternal mortality, primary school completion, hunger, and sanitation.

Of the 84 developing countries with available data, 45 have already achieved or are on schedule to meet the poverty reduction target; compounded by the impact of recent crises, the rest are off-track. Sub-Saharan African countries continue to lag the farthest behind on the poverty reduction MDG, despite very rapid growth and impressive reductions in poverty in a number of countries since the mid-1990s.

South Asia, which is on track to achieve the MDGs on poverty, universal primary education and eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, is off track on most other MDGs. Reflecting the predominance of middle-income countries, East Asia, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa, as a group, are on track to achieve the target for poverty reduction.  But despite this progress, there are still concentrations of poverty in some countries and MICs remain home to a majority of the world’s poor people. Many middle income countries continue to face major challenges in achieving the other human development goals, such as those related to health and education.

World Bank MDG Results since 2000 

The World Bank Group is fully committed to assisting countries to meet and reach the MDGs, including through a more than doubling of International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA) zero-interest lending, from $50 billion in FY07-08 to $106 billion in FY09-10.

IDA, the World Bank's Fund for the Poorest, has helped make significant progress on ensuring access to essential needs:

Education – more than 3 million teachers recruited and/or trained; more than 2 million classrooms built or rehabilitated, benefitting more than 105 million children per year; and about 300 million textbooks purchased and/or distributed.

Health – more than 47 million people provided with access to basic health, nutrition, or population services; 2.5 million pregnant women given antenatal care during health provider visits; 310 million children immunized; 98 million children with improved nutrition; about 2 million adults and children with HIV received antiretroviral therapies; 813 million condoms purchased and/or distributed; 23,000 health facilities constructed, renovated, and/or equipped, and 1.8 million health personnel trained to improve health services quality; and about 33 million mosquito nets purchased and/or distributed to prevent malaria.

Water supply and sanitation – more than 113 million people given access to an improved water source; almost 500,000 improved community water points constructed or rehabilitated; 5.8 million people provided with access to almost 600,000 improved sanitation facilities; and support of 164 water utilities.

 To read the new World Bank’s new MDGs report?Unfinished Business: Mobilizing New Efforts to Achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, click here:


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