The buzz on ending poverty

People's written answers to World Bank's question, "What Will It Take?" are pinned to a board during an international festival in Tokyo held in advance of the 2012 World Bank-IMF annual meetings. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Sometimes, the simplest questions are the hardest to answer: What will it take to end poverty?

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim asked the question two weeks ago, ahead of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund meetings, which kick off Oct. 9. And thousands of people from all over the world responded, citing equal opportunity, education, more jobs and ending corruption. There are also those who have taken a bolder stance.

“Reduce birth rate,” J.C. Lawrence, a translator for Compassion International in Dhaka, Bangladesh, said via Facebook. This is seconded by Mohit Singhal, a student from India, the second most populous country in the world: “Population is the biggest reason of poverty increasing … so firstly … try to stop increasing population.”

Some, meanwhile, voiced the need for the bank to stop facilitating land grabs, specifically in Africa. Anti-poverty organization Oxfam urged the bank early this month to declare a moratorium on agricultural investments, which exacerbate food insecurity in the region.

“Investment should be good news for developing countries, not lead to greater poverty, hunger and hardship,” Oxfam Chief Executive Barbara Stocking said in a report from The Sydney Morning Herald.

In response, the World Bank said it does not support “speculative land investments or acquisitions which take advantage of weak institutions in developing countries,” but that a moratorium would “do nothing to help reduce the instances of abusive practices and would likely deter responsible investors willing to apply our high standards.”

There are also those who believe poverty can be reduced, but impossible to end.

“I believe it takes all of us together” to end poverty, Kim said in a blog post for the World Bank. “We will take to heart and share the best of your ideas on ending poverty and expanding prosperity.”

It’s a noble move  getting people to join the conversation on a global problem that affects 1.3 billion of them. But how the ideas will translate into action is another question.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.