Devex Newswire: What is the World Bank doing about its shrinking bank account?

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We’re keeping a close (virtual) eye on the World Bank Spring Meetings this week. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the bank to spend money at a record pace. Now the institution is calling on its donors to shore up its accounts.

For the first time in a calendar year, World Bank Group funding commitments topped $100 billion in 2020. Lending and grants from two of the bank’s arms — IBRD and IDA — hit a combined $70.5 billion, which marked a 65% increase from 2019 and the biggest percentage and dollar increase ever for the institution.

• In response, the International Development Association, perhaps the most vital funding source for low-income countries, has compressed its funding cycle from three years to two. In December 2019, IDA’s donors committed $82 billion, which was supposed to last until June 2023. Instead, IDA’s resources will be mostly exhausted by June 2022. IDA’s 20th replenishment, which was not supposed to happen until 2022, has been moved up to December.

• Clemence Landers at the Center for Global Development wants the bank to maintain at least $35 billion in IDA spending per year, which would require a record $105 billion replenishment. Getting there will require donors to step up — particularly since the U.K. government is currently stepping back — as well a more aggressive approach to borrowing from capital markets, she writes.

• World Bank Chief David Malpass told reporters this week he isn’t thinking yet about another general capital increase for the bank. In 2018, just before Malpass took the reins, the bank secured a $13 billion boost from its shareholders, and that required some tough negotiation.

• “There may be room for a selective capital increase that would allow and address the particular challenges that are coming out of the pandemic. But that would be an issue for our shareholders, and that’s not an issue now. The bigger issue is IDA-20 and the full success of the replenishment,” Malpass said.

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WAKE UP CALL

The World Bank, Germany, and others have joined forces in the Sahel to see if “adaptive social protection” can help communities prepare for and respond to disasters and the effects of climate change. Andrew Green reports on how this relatively new approach to collaborating on social protection could serve as a model for other parts of the world.

Devex Pro: How COVID-19 proved the power of 'adaptive social protection' [Pro]

Sponsored by USA for UNHCR

Opinion: 3 ways to ensure refugees get the COVID-19 vaccine

If we are to ensure equitable vaccine access for refugees and other vulnerable populations, USA for UNHCR says we must include refugees in national vaccination plans, fully fund COVAX, and empower local health care workers and systems.

PUSH FACTORS

“Foreign aid can be part of the solution to the root causes problem in these countries, but I don’t think foreign aid the way that it has been deployed in the past has been particularly effective.” — Sarah Bermeo, associate professor of public policy and political science, Duke University.

Teresa Welsh reports on new research into the links between food insecurity and migration.

In related news, on Tuesday USAID announced it is deploying a Disaster Assistance Response Team to the Northern Triangle. The decision was welcomed by Vice President Kamala Harris, whom President Biden has appointed the point person on issues related to immigration at America’s southern border.

“The deployment of a DART team will provide needed humanitarian assistance, helping the people of the region where they are,” said Symone Sanders, Harris’ spokesperson, in a statement.

WORLD HEALTH DAY

We’re featuring voices from our community on two of the biggest challenges facing health workers in the midst of global crises.

An increase in violence against health workers suggests that attacks are becoming normalized. “That matters, not just for Syria, but for all of us.”

Health workers are often left out of the policy discussions that affect them. “While we pause this week to acknowledge health workers’ tremendous contributions and sacrifices, we must also forge a new way forward.”

+ Interested in reading all the latest global health news? Sign up to Devex CheckUp, our must-read weekly newsletter, to receive tomorrow’s edition.

TROUBLE THE WATER

What is the link between fluoride levels in Cameroon’s Mayo Tsanaga River Basin, climate change, and stigmatization of women and girls?

Jack Dutton reports for Devex on how gender disparities and environmental change intertwine — and how a gender transformative approach in the water and climate sector could help reduce discrimination. Part of our Focus on: People and the Planet.

Read: Why a water crisis in Cameroon is disproportionately affecting women

FEASIBILITY REPORT

“Others note that despite Akon’s stated goal of using local craftsmen and materials, he’s tapped an Abu Dhabi-based architect and an American developer to build the city.” — the Washington Post reports on the American R&B artist’s plan to build his second solar-powered “Akon city” in Uganda, despite not yet building his first in Senegal. Both are expected to utilize Akon’s global cryptocurrency, Akoin.

From the Devex archives: Inside Akon Lighting Africa

IN THE NEWS

Tanzania's new President Samia Suluhu Hassan said she plans to form a committee to evaluate the nation’s COVID-19 response. [Devex]

India has hit another new peak with 115,736 coronavirus cases reported in the past 24 hours. The latest rise overtook Sunday’s record of 103,844 infections. [AP]

Teachers in Malawi's public schools have resumed a nationwide strike after the government backed out of a promise to pay bonuses for COVID-19 risk. [VOA]

Levels of hunger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are at a “staggering” record high, estimated at 27.3 million or 1 in 3 people. [United Nations]

An investigation by The New Humanitarian with Al Jazeera found corruption claims amid rising COVID-19 cases in South Sudan, sparking fresh discussions on better ways to do aid in the country. [The New Humanitarian]

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.