The World Bank Group announced Dec. 9 the creation of a USD 2 billion fast-track facility to speed up grants and long-term, interest-free loans to help the world's poorest countries cope with the impact of the global financial crisis. The International Development Association (IDA) Financial Crisis Response Fast-Track Facility, approved on Tuesday by the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors, will allow the Bank Group to provide rapid funding for social safety nets, infrastructure, education, and health."The poorest people will be hit the hardest by the crisis that is likely to get worse next year. Our Global Economic Prospects report projects developing country growth will be 4.5 percent next year, down from 7.9 percent in 2007," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. "We want to help countries manage this downturn with rapid financing to help minimize its impacts and by assisting them in designing supportive policies"