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World Bank Report 1999 & World Development Report 2000/2001

Oct 08, 1999 2350 Words
Starting from the year 1990, the international community has set up plans to eliminate poverty in the world by the year 2015 with a set of specific goals to be achieved by that date. These goals were set up according to the studies done beforehand, that showed where and what the major poverty areas and problems in the world were. These studies explained that although the poverty problem was extensive, there were several factors of which the crisis was mainly constituted. <br>

<br>The first problem was extreme income poverty, with almost half the world's population living on less than $2 a day, and a fifth living on less than $1 daily. Another major problem was education, which encompassed many aspects. Not only wasn't primary education compulsory in many regions, but there were also problems regarding women getting equal education to men, due to cultural, social and economic barriers. The third main problem area was health, where child mortality rates, for example, were alarming; 'in rich countries fewer than 1 child in 100 does not reach its fifth birthday, while in the poorest countries as many as a fifth of the children do not'. <br>

<br>After getting these goals in focus and setting these plans in motion, it was discovered that they weren't going as well as planned. It was found that the goals were pretty unrealistic compared to the conditions and the time period. For example, one of the goals was 'cutting income poverty by half'. This could only be achieved, if income poverty decreased by 2.7% annually between 1990 and 2015, which didn't happen, because studies showed that between 1990 and 1998, it decreased by only 1.7% annually. This failure to achieve the objectives was mainly because of the inequality of the world; inequality in distribution of income, inequality in cultural and religious conditions, inequality in practically too many facets of life to be able to control or conform to a generalized plan. <br>

<br>So, from the outcome of this attempt and from going back to the reports of previous decades, a new strategy to eliminate poverty was laid out, based on three fundamental interrelated concepts that could be adapted to each community differently according to its individual conditions. These concepts are promoting opportunity, facilitating empowerment, and enhancing security. <br>

<br>In promoting opportunity, the government plays an important role, in making it easy for poor people to start their own small businesses by making the market investor-friendly. It also has to put controls over the expanding of international trade, so as not to harm people, only to benefit them. For poor people to have equal opportunities in education, health and other services, the government has to improve the quality and scope of these services and increase the active participation of the poor in them, keeping in mind social, ethnic racial and gender equality. <br>

<br>Also in facilitating empowerment, the government has the important role of making all the state institutions available both physically and mentally to everybody equally. It also needs to make all its actions and plans available for everybody's scrutiny; aboveboard, so to speak, so as to make the poor people feel like state monitors and more involved with their daily aspects of life. A special emphasis needs to be made here to gender inequality; since women have less rights than men, then poor women are 'doubly disadvantaged' and face many perils in life, so a special effort needs to be made to eliminate this discrimination by, for example, allowing women to hold representative positions in state institutions. In the same vein, discrimination against all minorities should be abolished in all state organizations and public posts should include members from disadvantaged ethnic and racial groups, which could only be achieved by the interested help of the government. <br>

<br>Enhancing security for poor people is very vital, if any semblance of order is to be achieved in their lives, whether from national crises or in individual cases. This could be accomplished by two things; social organizations for individual cases, like shelters for poor women, or homes for the homeless, etc., and the other thing is organizations for national crises, like earthquakes, and taking measures against economic phenomena, like a recession, and social ones, like a civil war or violent conflicts because the poor always get hit the hardest by these events. <br>

<br>The program goes even further than that and applies its three concepts, opportunity, empowerment and security to the international level, since the national level isn't going to offer a quick solution to poverty. So, the proposed plan is that all countries apply all the previous aspects internationally as well as nationally. <br>

<br>The World Development Report 2000/2001 ends on the note that if this strategy goes as planned, with the help of all the different parties, with the poor people as the most active, then the world has a really good chance of eliminating poverty. <br>

<br><b>The World Bank Annual Report 1999</b>
<br>The highlights of the World Bank activities in fiscal year 1999 were the financial crisis in East Asia, which after it subsided, a lot of reorganization was needed to fix the damage and Russia and Brazil falling victim to failing investor confidence, which in the long run affected Africa negatively. The Kosovo (Yugoslavia) conflict was also a very appalling occurrence, where many people died and many refugees resulted from the incident. There were also natural disasters in Asia, Central America and the Caribbean. <br>

<br>During FY99 the World Bank faced great global challenges, to which it adapted itself and the level of its service to suit these new hurdles, with its usual motto of 'change, flexibility and partnership'. It launched its new project Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF), which is a framework directed at global development , where each country decides the best plan for its individual development, according to its conditions, with the help of the Bank and the other interested partners. The program will be between the different countries and partners, with the Bank only getting involved if the program faces any problems. The Bank is also involved with development from another angle, where it works with NGOs, religious groups and trade unions, which are a big part in the development of any country. <br>

<br>In FY99 the Bank decided that they will serve their client better, and that this is achieved through four points: focusing more on poverty, increasing responsiveness to client needs, improving development effectiveness and becoming a more open, transparent organization. <br>

<br>Finding that the International Development Goals for 2015 weren't going as planned, the World Bank decided to intensify its fight against poverty, "fight poverty with passion and professionalism, for lasting results". This is shown from the Bank's Country Assistance Strategies, which go a great way in fighting poverty in needy countries, giving funds according to each country's economic performance. For example, in Africa, because of the high poverty, the Bank helped by funding the private sector, to achieve economic growth. It also helped with the AIDS problem, which is one of the most serious problems facing Africa today. Another example is South Asia, where the Bank's help was needed in rural and urban necessities, like Infrastructure, health and education, because of the high percentage of the poor. It also helped in many other regions, like East Asia, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa. Also in FY99 the Bank's lending and nonlending services were focused mainly on adjustment lending, which was to help the poor in social projects, like education and health and natural disasters like the Hurricane Mitch and the floods in Bangladesh and getting further away from investment lending. There is also a new funding plan IDA-12, which focuses on financing people-related issues, fighting corruption and having open and exposed government dealings, promoting labor-intensive, dynamic growth of the private sector and protecting the environment. The Bank also laid out several plans to relief poor countries that are heavily indebted to the Bank from their debts, and already several countries were found entitled to such a program and several more were lined up for FY00. The last step taken by the Bank in FY99 in terms of poverty reduction, was aid coordination, which takes individual cases and offers assistance through things like seminars and conferences. <br>

<br>Secondly, the Bank focused on increasing responsiveness to client needs, through being much more flexible and trying to get closer to the client. This year the Bank had much more representatives around the world in far-away areas, to deal with crises right away, should they arise. Consultative group meetings and client surveys are also part of the flexibility plan, so that the Bank can act according to the feedback from its clients. Flexibility also shows in the Bank tapping new areas that it hadn't explored before to help its clients, like Vulnerability Assessments, Institutional Reviews, social safeguard policies and also the Post-Conflict Fund. The Bank also showed its flexibility in several individual cases, where it used different lending methods to suit the different cases, for example, the new Partial Credit Guarantee to help clients with strong economic and social programs to improve their access to private foreign financing. <br>

<br>The third point in serving the client better, the Bank wanted to improve development effectiveness. In FY99 the Bank did this by improving the efficiency of its work, so to speak. In latest estimates of the Operations Evaluations Department, 77% of Bank projects had satisfactory outcomes, as well as, an improvements in anticipating problems in existing projects, thus avoiding taking many risks. Moreover, 'projects in FY99 were prepared in half the time and at two thirds the cost of five years ago', which is a remarkable improvement. In addition to this, the Bank improved development effectiveness, by relying more heavily on evaluation of every project by the country involved, and not only that, these reports are analyzed together in order to build patterns for several countries or a theme for a certain project. Also in FY99 the Bank paid more attention to allocation of funds, and instead of doing it equally, it discovered that giving more to efficiently managed countries, results in an effective decrease in poverty. <br>

<br>Finally, the Bank focused on becoming a more open, transparent organization; and that's exactly what it did. It started sharing information about itself and its development plan, CASs, after it being confidential. Its magazine Development News in on-line, and it launched several other publications, to educate people about its many activities. It also launched and corroborated with several organizations in different parts of the world in order to offer people education about World Bank activities. <br>

<br>The World Bank Annual Report 1999 ends on a somewhat optimistic note that all the countries with crises have passed the worst, and that in the new millennium the Bank will do its best to continue in poverty reduction, in improving its performance and in ensuring development. <br>

<br><b>Analysis</b>
<br>Both reports focus mainly on the efforts done in the previous period to reduce poverty, and that eliminating poverty is one of the most important and dangerous problems facing the world today, thus, in essence, both reports have the same message. Both recognized the futility of the International Development Goals for 2015, and that it's not working, and a more practical solution needs to be prepared. <br>

<br>In the World Development Report (WDR) a strategy is laid out for the countries to go by, and how to implement this strategy is also thoroughly explained. It is also stressed that each country will implement this strategy according to its own individual conditions. In the World Bank Report (WBR), the same point is raised, when introducing the CDF; it stresses that "it is not a blueprint to be applied to all countries in a uniform manner", which basically makes the same point as the WDR. It also brings up the point that the Bank won't be involved in this scheme, unless problems arise, so the countries have to deal with it on their own. <br>

<br>Both reports mentioned specifically a few types of phenomena that occur due to poverty and stresses on the fact that these were really major problems, for example the HIV/AIDS problem in Africa and child mortality. Both have also agreed that if their plans were carried out, poverty will greatly diminish in the not-so-distant future. <br>

<br>The major difference between each report comes from the fact that in the WDR it is all theoretical, for example, it says that the governments have to improve their facilities and services, like health, education and infrastructure, so as to give the poor equal opportunities. In the WBR, on the other hand, it says that in needy countries, the World Bank actually finances and funds their infrastructure and educational programs. In the WBR it mentions many different things of this sort, while in the WDR it only clarifies the plan that should be adopted by the countries. <br>

<br>Another difference is that in the WBR it is sort of dealing with clients that it wants to please and to better its performance for, and that its plan for reducing poverty, is only part of what it does, in order to reach this goal. The WDR was dealing with the poverty problem only, so I think it sounded more involved in it and more giving in attention to this problem only, using greater detail. <br>

<br>I think that for the general public, the WDR is much easier laid out and written, with sufficient background information, plenty of detail and a more humanitarian side of the issue. The WBR is much more disordered, financially oriented, with much greater monetary detail and not much emphasis on the compassionate side of the problem.

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