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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

 


     
     

World Bank’s Moscow Office

Launches News Web Site—Increases

Access to Information on Local Bank Activities

September 11-15, 2000

September 11, 2000—Seeking to provide Russian residents with information about World Bank Group activities, the World Bank Moscow Country Office has launched its own web site, www.worldbank.org.ru. The site provides comprehensive information about the World Bank’s targets and objectives, its current projects in Russia and future projections, special programs and grants, partners and publications. The regularly updated news section, the publication of the World Bank economic and sectoral research findings as well as Russia-related statistical data make the site an invaluable source of information for many audiences, from economists and government officials to grant applicants and students.

The web site is available in Russian and in English and furnishes links to the World Bank Group site in Washington. This site has been optimized for placing and searching for voluminous batches of data by means of direct search and visitor feedback facilities. The World Bank Moscow Country Office web site will serve to enhance the efficiency of the World Bank activities in Russia, foster its co-operation with its Russian partners and ensure a wide-scale dissemination of its publications and research findings.

The site was designed and implemented by EXTERIA (www.exteria.ru, www.exteria.com), which is the leading designer of corporate Internet resources in the Russian market. Useful links: Click here to go to The World Bank Moscow Countryweb site.

Sinha New DevCom Chairman Indian finance minister replaces Tarrin September 12, 2000—The World Bank/IMF Development Committee announced Monday that Indian Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has been selected as the Committee’s new chairman. Sinha replaces Thailand’s Minister of Finance, Tarrin Nimmanahaeminda, who had served as chairman for the last two years. The Development Committee’s 24 members—mostly ministers of finance—represent the full membership of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The unique multilateral forum, established in 1974, is the only broadly representative group of key policy makers focused specifically on developing country issues. The Committee’s next meeting will take place on September 25, 2000, in Prague, Czech Republic, under the chairmanship of Minister Sinha.

Indian Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, the new chairman of the World

Bank/IMF Development Committee Sinha has had a long and distinguished career in the Indian Administrative Service and in political leadership positions in India. He served as Finance Minister in 1990-91, and was re-appointed to the position in March 1998.

For more than two decades, the Development Committee has been the source and stimulus for a number of new ideas and initiatives, and has become the key political forum for ministers to register views on the work of the Bank and Fund and, more broadly, on multilateral cooperation for development.

The range of issues on which the Committee has deliberated include: resource flows; poverty reduction; the special challenges of Sub-Saharan Africa; debt; private sector development; trade; environment; and the multilateral development system.

Helpful links: For news coverage of the Development Committee’s announcement, see today´s DevNews Press Review. To learn more about the Development Committee, visit wbln0018.worldbank.org/dcs/devcom.nsf. For more on the Prague 2000 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF, go to www.imf.org/. Bank Launches World

 


Development Report 2000/2001 Urges broader approach to reducing poverty:

Opportunity, empowerment, and security are crucial

September 13, 2000—Major reductions in poverty are possible but achieving these will require a more comprehensive approach that directly addresses the needs of poor people in three important areas: opportunity, empowerment, and security, according to the World Bank’s latest World Development

Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty, released Tuesday.

The new study—the Bank’s most detailed-ever investigation of global poverty—adds that economic growth is crucial but often not sufficient to create conditions in which the world's poorest people can improve their lives. "This report seeks to expand the understanding of poverty and its causes and sets out actions to create a world free of poverty in all its dimensions," World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn writes in the report´s foreword. "It both builds on our past thinking and strategy and substantially broadens and deepens what we think is necessary to meet the challenge of reducing poverty."

"Expanding economic opportunities overall—that is, promoting growth that directly benefits the poor—remains central. Market-oriented reforms, institutional development and investments in health, education and infrastructure are crucial to its delivery," says World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Nicholas Stern The World Development Report 2000/2001 recommends mobilization behind the three priority areas of opportunity, empowerment, and security. "Advances in these areas are complementary," says WDR Director Nora Lustig. "Each is important in its own right, and each enhances the others" More than two years in the making, the World Development Report 2000/2001 draws on a large volume of research, including a background study, Voices of the Poor, which systematically sought the personal accounts of more than 60,000 men and women living in poverty in 60 countries. In addition, the report’s authors conducted extensive research and consultation with a wide array of governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, universities, development think-tanks, private business groups, and others around the world. An on-line discussion of an early draft of the report produced hundreds of responses from 44 countries.

Listening to the voices of the poor

The experiences of poor people, described in their own words, underpin the three main themes:

"At first I was afraid of everyone and everything: my husband, the village sarpanch, the police. Today I fear no one. I have my own bank account, I am the leader of my village’s savings group . . . I tell my sisters about our movement. And we have a 40,000-strong union in the district."—From a discussion group of poor men and women, India, 1997

"Poverty is humiliation, the sense of being dependent on them, and of being forced to accept rudeness, insults and indifference when we seek help."—A woman in Latvia, 1998

"We face a calamity when my husband falls ill. Our life comes to a halt until he recovers and goes back to work."—A woman in Egypt, 1999

The report builds on the view that poverty means not only low incomes and low consumption but also lack of education and poor nutrition and health. Based on the testimony of poor people themselves, and changes in thinking about poverty, the report goes further and expands the definition of poverty to include powerlessness, "voicelessness," vulnerability, and fear. "These different dimensions of poverty interact in important ways," says World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Nicholas Stern. "We know that economic growth is crucial to sustained poverty reduction. But we also recognize the fundamental role of institutional and social change to the strength of development processes and the inclusion of poor people."

The report recommends that developing country governments at all levels, donor countries, international agencies, NGO’s, civil society, and local communities, mobilize behind three priority areas: Opportunity: Expanding economic opportunity for poor people by stimulating economic growth, making markets work better for poor people, and working for their inclusion, particularly by building up their assets, such as land and education.

Empowerment: Strengthening the ability of poor people to shape decisions that affect their lives and removing discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, and social status.

Security: Reducing poor people's vulnerability to sickness, economic shocks, crop failure, unemployment, natural disasters, and violence, and helping them cope when such misfortunes occur. "Advances in these areas are complementary. Each is important in its own right, and each enhances the others," says Nora Lustig, director of the World Development Report 2000/2001. "We hope that this framework will be helpful to countries in developing their own poverty-reduction strategies according to their own circumstances. There is no universal blueprint."

According to Lustig, these priorities can allow the poor to have greater independence and security in their day-to-day lives. For example, empowering women and other socially disadvantaged groups expands their range of economic opportunities.

Furthermore, strengthening poor people’s organizations and their involvement in decision-making processes, enables them to press for improved services and for policy choices that respond to their needs. Finally, making poor people less vulnerable makes it easier for them to take advantage of potential market opportunities.

Poverty in a world of plenty

At a time of unprecedented wealth for many countries, 2.8 billion people—almost half the world’s population—live on less than $2 a day. The report says that of these people, 1.2 billion live on the very margins of life, on less than $1 a day. In high-income countries, fewer than one child in 100 dies before reaching five years of age, while in the poorest countries, the number is five times higher. In well-off countries, fewer than five percent of children under the age of five are malnourished; in poorer countries, as many as 50 percent of the children suffer from eating too little food.

"This destitution persists even though human conditions have improved more in the past century than in the rest of history," the report notes. "Global wealth, global connections, and technological capabilities have never been greater."

But the distribution of these gains is extraordinarily unequal. The average income in the richest 20 countries is 37 times the average in the poorest 20—a gap that has doubled in the past 40 years. Progress in poverty reduction has varied widely across regions. In East Asia the number of people living on less than $1 a day fell from around 420 million in 1987 to around 280 million in 1998. But in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, the numbers of poor people have been rising steadily. In the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia in transition to market economies, the number of people living in poverty has risen 20-fold.

 


Within countries, too, poverty rates often vary enormously. In some African countries, infant mortality rates are much lower among politically powerful ethnic groups. In Latin America, indigenous groups have far less schooling than non-indigenous groups. In South Asia, women have only about half as many years of education as men, and middle school enrollment rates for girls are only two-thirds those of boys. The report’s three main sections on opportunity, empowerment, and security include examples of successful initiatives that address these and other problems afflicting poor people. These include such diverse examples as a Moroccan project called the "Virtual Souk" which allows poor traders and artisans to sell their goods around the world on the Internet; a new approach to land reform in Brazil; "affirmative action" against caste-based discrimination in India; a stronger female voice in policymaking through women’s budget initiatives in southern Africa; providing a social safety net and other emergency protections for people at times of crisis in South Korea; and social pensions in Chile and

Namibia.

Global initiatives to reduce poverty

Action at national and local levels will often not be enough for rapid poverty reduction. There are many areas that require international action—especially by high-income countries—to improve the prospects for poor countries and their people. An increased focus on debt relief and making development aid more effective are part of the story. Equally important are actions in other areas, such as expanding the access to developed country markets, promoting the production of public goods that benefit poor people such as vaccines for tropical diseases and agricultural research, combating HIV/AIDS, enhancing global financial stability, closing of the digital and knowledge divides, enabling the participation of poor countries in international discussions, and fostering global peace. "I expect the deeper understanding of poverty in this report will lead to new areas of action and new policies," says Stern. "Expanding economic opportunities overall—that is, promoting growth that directly benefits the poor—remains central. Market-oriented reforms, institutional development, and investments in health, education, and infrastructure are crucial to its delivery. But we must go further and act directly to increase empowerment and security if we are to accelerate the benefits of growth for the poor."

In conclusion, Stern says if the developing world and the international community work together to combine these insights with real resources—both financial and those embodied in people and institutions—the 21st century will see rapid progress in the fight to end poverty.

Helpful links: Read the World Development Report online at

http://www.worldbank.org/poverty/wdrpoverty.

World Bank Steps Up Fight Against

AIDS in Africa—Board approves $500 million in flexible, rapid funding

September 14, 2000—The Board of Directors of the World Bank Tuesday night approved a Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program (MAP) for Africa, representing a region-wide commitment by the institution to strengthen the response to the epidemic. The Board agreed to commit an initial amount of US$500 million in flexible and rapid funding over the next three years, which will consist of several projects to fight the epidemic in Sub-Saharan African countries. The funds will be committed to individual HIV/AIDS projects developed by countries, using standard IDA credit agreements.

The MAP will support efforts to scale up national prevention, care, support, and treatment programs, and to prepare countries to cope with the unprecedented burdens they will face as the millions living with HIV today develop AIDS over the next decade.

"Last April we promised that no sensible AIDS program in Africa would want for funding," said World Bank President James Wolfensohn in a statement Tuesday. "Today, we deliver on that promise. We hope this program will help break the silence and inspire every country that needs help to ask for it." The first two countries to benefit from the program are Ethiopia and

Kenya, whose projects were approved today as part of the MAP. These countries will receive US$59.7 million and US$50 million, respectively, in soft loans from the International Development Association (IDA). The Bank expects many other countries to seek support under the MAP in the near future. "The ultimate impact of the MAP," said Wolfensohn, "will be to avert millions of HIV infections, alleviate suffering for tens of millions, and help preserve the development prospects of entire nations." Provided they meet simple eligibility criteria—including eligibility for IDA credits—countries in Sub-Saharan Africa should be able to draw resources quickly under the MAP to broaden the scope of their prevention, care, support and treatment programs to reduce the rate of HIV infection. The criteria will include:

Satisfactory evidence of a strategic approach to HIV/AIDS, developed in a participatory way; Establishment of a high-level HIV/AIDS coordinating body, with broad representation of key stakeholders from all sectors, including people living with HIV/AIDS; Government commitment to quick implementation arrangements, including channeling grant funds for HIV/AIDS activities directly to communities, civil society, and the private sector;

Agreement by the government to use multiple implementation agencies, especially community-based and non-governmental organizations (CBOs/NGOs). One of the most important features of the MAP is the participation of communities and of associations of people affected by HIV/AIDS in the design and implementation of activities at the village level. The program will channel resources directly to them and help finance their own local initiatives in response to the epidemic.

The program is part of the World Bank’s commitment to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and to the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa (IPAA), of which the institution is a founding member. The IPAA includes African governments; NGOs and other civil society organizations, including those established by people living with HIV/AIDS; bilateral and multilateral agencies; and the private sector. The overarching goal of the IPAA is to assist nations and civil society to redirect national and international policies and resources to address the evolving HIV/AIDS epidemic and its many compelling implications.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic now poses the paramount threat to development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly 25 million Africans are living with HIV/AIDS, the vast majority of them adults in the prime of their working and parenting lives. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 70 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases globally, and is the only region where women living with HIV/AIDS outnumber men.

Some 15 million people in Africa have already died of AIDS, with devastating social and economic impact. The epidemic is costing the region close to one percent of economic growth each year, while imposing an unsustainable and mounting burden on households, firms, and the public sector.

The Africa Region of the World Bank adopted a new strategy in 1999—Intensifying Action Against HIV/AIDS in Africa: Responding to a Development Crisis. The region established the AIDS Campaign Team for Africa (ACTafrica) to implement the strategy. ACTafrica, in collaboration with country teams within the Bank and

IPAA, developed the MAP and is responsible for coordinating its implementation. Apart from the countries approved today, work has already begun in several other countries. The new approach in Africa is part of the World Bank’s expanding global effort on HIV/AIDS. Over the past five years, the Bank has intensified its work in all regions. From FY1996-FY2000, the Bank committed approximately US$493 million for new HIV/AIDS components and stand-alone projects in 39 countries. For FY2001-2003, an additional US$345 million has already been earmarked for global HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Stand-alone HIV/AIDS projects funded by the Bank include the Second AIDS and STD Project in Brazil (US$165 million, approved in FY1999), the AIDS Prevention II Project in India (US$191 million, approved in 1999), and the Russia AIDS and TB Project (US$150 million, approved in FY2001).

Useful links: Click here for a DevNews story on confronting HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. Click here for a briefing on the World Bank and the fight against HIV/AIDS. For information about theWorld Bank and AIDS,

World Bank Strengthens

Commitment to Confronting

HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean

Proposes $85-$100 million in loans for new programs

September 14, 2000—The World Bank pledged to significantly increase its support for HIV/AIDS activities in Caribbean countries and announced its intention to request the Board's approval of $85 million-$100 million in loans and credits for HIV/AIDS programs in the region. The plan was announced yesterday in Barbados at the Caribbean Conference on HIV/AIDS, a high-level meeting of country delegations and international organizations, co-sponsored by the government of Barbados, CARICOM, PAHO/WHO, UNAIDS and the World Bank.

The Bank's intervention would build upon existing programs in the Caribbean and support the Caribbean Regional Strategic Plan of Action for HIV/AIDS, put forth by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

"Caribbean countries must take the lead, and the international community must work together to support the region in this effort," said World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, David de Ferranti, speaking at the opening session of the meeting. De Ferranti also stressed that prevention efforts are critical and must be complemented by treatment and care for those affected by HIV/AIDS.

"Because there is no cure and because treatment is out of reach for many, we must be serious about prevention. We also must remember that treatment is a critical part of a comprehensive approach. It is just as important to prolong and care for the lives of those who are already HIV positive or dying of AIDS, as it is to protect those without it."

The Caribbean region now has the highest HIV prevalence rate of any in the world outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Recent evidence suggests that there are more than 360,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean today, although the number may be as high as 500,000 due to underreporting. At the end of 1999, more than 80,000 children had been orphaned by AIDS.

In the most affected parts of the region, HIV/AIDS estimates reach as high as 12 percent in urban areas and 5 percent in rural. In many countries, the pandemic has spread beyond the high-risk population to the general population. Once the prevalence rate in the general population reaches around 5 percent, the virus spreads rapidly. When and if that happens, the pandemic reverses the hard-won gains in development and causes turmoil more devastating than any natural disaster.

The University of the West Indies, in a study with UNAIDS and the World Bank, estimates that effective HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, plus basic care and treatment for patients suffering from AIDS, would be on the order of $260 million per year for the region. The cost of retroviral treatment for each new case of HIV/AIDS would be significantly higher. At current prices, each case prevented eliminates $7,000 to $8,000 per year in treatment costs and significantly reduces the spread of the virus, and future suffering. Meanwhile, UNAIDS and its joint co-sponsors are working with the pharmaceutical industry to see if those costs can be reduced. "Caribbean leaders have recognized the gravity of the AIDS epidemic and are prepared to fight it," said World Bank Director for the Caribbean, Orsalia Kalantzopoulos in Barbados. "The participation of Prime Ministers from Barbados, Bahamas, St. Kitts & Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines shows that this is now accepted as a critical development priority, one that encompasses much more than health issues, but also social and economic ones."

If approved by the Bank's Board of Directors, support would be available as soon as a country were ready to use it effectively, covering a period of four to five years. "We believe that the Bank's assistance would be most useful when applied to financing a share of a well planned and coherent national HIV/AIDS program," said Christopher Lovelace, Director of Health, Nutrition, and Population at the World Bank. "By this we mean a program that aims, over a period of between three to four years, to address the priorities set in the regional strategic plan of action, and sets realistic targets for reducing the rate of new infections, raises the quality and coverage of care, and builds institutional strength to sustain gains over the longer term." He added that the Bank's assistance would need to be well coordinated with that of other donors and the NGO community to cover the range of various costs of the national programs. To date, the World Bank has dedicated more than $1 billion for 99 HIV/AIDS-related projects in 56 countries. The Bank has three projects in the Latin America and Caribbean region that support HIV/AIDS programs. A $160 million project in Brazil is devoted entirely to prevention and treatment for AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases; and two other projects, one in Haiti and one in Argentina, have HIV/AIDS components, bringing the total regional commitment to just over $200 million.

The Bank has pledged to substantially expand the financial resources it makes available to programs specifically to combat HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. Toward this end, it will initially make $1 billion in concessional resources available worldwide, and it is prepared to move well beyond that level in the future, as national and regional programs are developed.

Helpful links: For copies of papers presented at the conference, go to www.worldbank.org/lachealth.