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Report: World Bank Fails to Address Poverty

Posted on Dec 10, 2006
child sweeping

A new report by the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group criticizes the international lending organization for failing to alleviate global poverty with programs that focus too single-mindedly on growth. The bank estimates that 1.1 billion people subsisted on less than $1 per day in 2001.

(h/t: Common Dreams)

San Francisco Chronicle:

Despite an intensified campaign against poverty, World Bank programs have failed to lift incomes in many poor countries during the past decade, leaving tens of millions of people with stagnating and even declining living standards, according to a report released Thursday by the bank’s autonomous assessment arm.

Among 25 poor countries probed in detail by the bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, only 11 saw reductions in poverty between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, while the other 14 suffered the same or worse rates over that term. The group said the sample is representative of the global picture.

“Achievement of sustained increases in per capita income, essential for poverty reduction, continues to elude a considerable number of countries,” the report declared, singling out as particularly ineffective programs aimed at the rural poor. Roughly half of such efforts from 2001 to 2005 “did not lead to satisfactory results.”

During that period, new loans and credits aimed directly at rural development totaled $9.6 billion, or about one-tenth of total World Bank lending, according to the group.

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By Aditya Adhikari, December 11, 2006 at 6:25 am Link to this comment
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The problem it seems to me is that the bank needs to see results and fast. In the pursuit of growth, the pursuit of equity takes a back seat.

I blogged about this new report here:

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By rae2, December 10, 2006 at 8:11 pm Link to this comment
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The only times “poor” people/nations will receive any meaningful assistance from the World Bank and other such agencies will be WHEN THOSE AGENCIES CAN BE CERTAIN OF MAKING A PROFIT DOING SO.

Any organization with “bank” in their title is interested in ONE THING - PROFIT. Better yet… BIG PROFIT with LITTLE OR NO RISK. Even better… CONSISTENTLY OBSCENE LEVELS OF HUGE PROFITS, year after year after year WITHOUT FAIL.

Guess where all this money comes from? (If you guessed it comes from the RICH, you need your head examined.) Of course… it’s scammed from the POOREST. One way or another, the powerless guy at the bottom of the financial totem pole WILL GET SCREWED. Bet on it.

But you gotta admit. These “world banks” and similar institutions are MASTERS at camoflaging their REAL OBJECTIVES. They nearly always present themselves as philanthropic do-gooders whose only objective is help “little” people to join them in the financial stratosphere.

Strange… you’d think that with all that money they’d be able to actually ACHIEVE their stated goals… but nope… in spite of all their efforts, the POOR JUST GET POORER. Guess there must be something fundamentally wrong with the poor. Very strange.

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By Quy Tran, December 10, 2006 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment
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The World Bank failed to address the poverty because it reserved money for big borrower : China.

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By Stephen Smoliar, December 10, 2006 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
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I just wrote a personal blog entry about this:

It was a reaction to the temporal proximity of this story to the report of Yunis accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.  My argument is that Grameen has succeeded where the World Bank has failed because the former knows how to operate on an individual-to-individual basis while the latter can only operate on an institution-to-institution basis.  The blog entry includes a pointer to my previous writing about this problem.

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By Bluestocking, December 10, 2006 at 9:04 am Link to this comment
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Is anybody really surprised? Let’s remember who the President of the World Bank currently is and has been for nearly two year now—one Paul Wolfowitz, formerly the Deputy Secretary of Defense for the current Bush administration and known member of PNAC (Project for the New American Century). Given that Wolfowitz played an influential role in the buildup leading to the War In Iraq, especially with regard to the number of troops that would be required and the suggestion that Iraqi oil would help pay for the war—and we all know how successful THAT turned out to be, or rather not to be—should we really expect Wolfowitz to be any more effective at combating global poverty?  For that matter, why should anyone believe that a fervent neoconservative like Wolfowitz really gives a damn about poor people?

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