World Bank Scales Up Support for MDGs

The World Bank will increase its grant and zero-interest investment in basic education to help developing countries achieve education-related MDGs. Photo by: Eric Miller / World Bank

Ahead of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals summit in New York, the World Bank announced it will increase its spending for agriculture, health and education to boost developing countries’ progress toward achieving the goals by 2015.

The Washington-based lender will mobilize up to USD8.3 billion annually for agricultural development in poor countries, up from its average spending of USD4.1 billion per year for agriculture, according to a news release. Under the bank’s Agricultural Action Plan, this increased support will focus on helping partner countries raise agricultural productivity, enhance environment sustainability and services, and link farmers to markets, among other goals.

To help developing countries achieve education-related MDGs, the bank will increase its grant and zero-interest investment in basic education by an additional USD750 million. This additional financing will be spent primarily on countries that are lagging behind the MDGs on education, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

The World Bank said it will also increase its results-based health programs in 35 target countries by more than USD600 million. The money will be used to scale up the delivery of nutrition and health services and strengthen the health systems of the 35 countries, which are primarily located in South Asia, East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

These new financing commitments were outlined in a new World Bank report prepared for the gathering of world leaders at the U.N. headquarters in New York Sept. 20-22.

The report states that several developing countries have made significant strides toward achieving the goals until the recent global economic crisis, which significantly set back progress on all MDGs, the report explains. However, it notes that progress on the MDGs on maternal health, primary school completion, reducing child mortality, hunger and sanitation were behind schedule even before the global crisis.

New lending instrument

In addition to new funding, the World Bank report outlines plans to develop a new results-based financing instrument that will disburse money against results, finance specific government programs at the sectoral and subsectoral level and focus on capacity building and institutional development.

Support from developed countries

Active support from the world’s largest economies and emerging donors is necessary to achieving the MDGs by 2015, the World Bank report says.

The G-20 reaffirmed during their most recent summit in Canada their commitment to help poor countries achieve the MDGs by establishing a working group on development.

The group is tasked to draft a development plan as well as action plans that are expected to be adopted during the G-20’s November summit in South Korea.

In its report, the World Bank also urged the G-20 to “demonstrate leadership in sustaining a financial commitment to the MDGs.” Supporting the upcoming replenishment rounds of the World Bank’s fund for poor countries and its partner multilateral organizations is essential, especially in the face of tighter market conditions, the bank explains in the report.

The World Bank’s lending arm for poor countries, the International Development Association, is on its 16th replenishment round. Donors are expected to announce their pledges in a final meeting in December, which covers the period 2011-2014. According to the World Bank report, funding acquired through this round will be used primarily to enhance the bank’s efforts on four issues, namely gender, fragile states, climate change and crisis response.

Devex News – live breaking news coverage of the Millennium Development Goals and the Sept. 20-22 U.N. MDG summit in New York.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.