[OPE-L] An Internal Report Criticizes World Bank's Efforts on Poverty

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Fri Dec 08 2006 - 12:34:57 EST

The Persistently Poor

An Internal Report Criticizes World Bank's Efforts on Poverty

By Peter S. Goodman

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 8, 2006; Page D01

NEW YORK, Dec. 7 -- Despite an intensified campaign against poverty, World
Bank programs have failed to lift incomes in many poor countries over the
past decade, leaving tens of millions of people suffering stagnating or
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 experienced reductions in poverty from the
mid-1990s to the early 2000s, while 14 had the same or worsening rates over
that term. The group said the sample was representative of the global

"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 programs aimed at the rural poor as
particularly ineffective. Roughly half of such efforts from 2001 to 2005
"did not lead to satisfactory results." During that period, new World Bank
loans and credits aimed directly at rural development totaled $9.6 billion,
or about one-tenth of total bank lending, according to the group.

In a statement distributed with the report, World Bank management rejected
its assessment as "overly bleak," arguing that the overall trend is
improving in every region except Africa. Bank administrators noted that
reducing poverty requires economic growth, something they said the world has
been enjoying: Over the past two years, developing countries collectively
grew by about 5 to 6 percent a year, excluding swiftly developing China and
India. Even sub-Saharan Africa has grown by more than 4 percent annually
over the past five years.

But the study found that growth has rarely been sustained, exposing the most
vulnerable people -- the rural poor -- to volatile shifts in their economic
fortunes. Per capita income rose continuously from 2000 to 2005 in only two
in five of the countries that borrowed from the World Bank, the study
reported, and it increased for the full decade, from 1995 to 2005, in only
one in five.

The study emphasized that economic growth is, by itself, no fix: How the
gains are distributed is just as important.

Complete story:
IEG: http://www.worldbank.org/oed/

Theories of income distribution could be making a comeback, who knows?

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Dec 31 2006 - 00:00:04 EST