Ending poverty is a seemingly endless topic of discussion for the development community, and even more so when the World Bank itself claims it will be able to do away with extreme poverty by 2030.
But with poverty being such a multifaceted issue, many wonder: is the objective even possible, and more importantly, are we using the right tools to achieve it?
World Bank President Jim Kim highlighted the importance of inclusiveness in battling extreme poverty at the recent World Bank spring meetings, and identified conditional cash transfers, better education, an expanded health coverage and making sustainable energy sources available to all as key to meeting his bold agenda.
We opened an animated LinkedIn discussion to ask our readers what they think of Kim’s lofty goal and what can be done to achieve it.
Some Devex members were a bit cynical about the World Bank chief’s goal. First, some of them argued, we can't eradicate poverty, but only reduce or mitigate its effects. Another reader meanwhile wrote the focus shouldn't be so much on poverty alleviation, but on wealth creation by building people's capacity to provide for their needs and ensuring sustainability in every development project.
An independent consultant noted: "Sure you could eliminate the worst kind of poverty by giving an extra dollar a day to those only earning that much, but that is neither development nor sustainable."
The World Bank is spearheading several initiatives — many of them not without criticisms and pitfalls — and is embarking on Kim’s ambitious reform agenda, including the establishment of the “global practices” model to better harness its technical expertise in all of its development work.
Will this supposedly new setup help the institution identify ways to make better use of technology in development work, stamp out corruption in developing countries without harming the poor, and assist the bank in creating effective strategies to fight poverty in conflict-affected and fragile states?
As one Devex member suggested: will the World Bank even consider establishing a special currency for poor communities, and is that plan viable?
That remains to be seen, but the bank — as an official working in the same sector implied on our discussion — shouldn't forget the importance of understanding and including the very people it is trying to help in the discussions.
"Poverty alleviation has been a buzzword for the last few decades. Till 80s the core business of development was trying to build and develop while abstaining from politics of development. While taking the turn of century the political dimensions started to creep in as transparency, good governance, inclusion, and the list goes on and on,” the reader wrote. “This literally took away the limelight from what we were good in doing i.e. physical development. Suddenly, all of us became self-proclaimed Messiahs trying to save the poor without knowing who they are, how they live, what their actual needs were, and the local political environment they live in and survive."
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