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About the Author

Ahmed ElAmin
Journalist (Brussels, Belgium)

I started my life as a hack covering development projects for street children in Brazil; ended up teaching at a high school in Botswana; barged around the Kalahari reporting on local development projects for a magazine and also covered business stories for AFP; wandered around Southern Africa, Europe, and India; worked for a newspaper on the health and Native Canadian beat in Canada before heading off to Bermuda to cover finance and the reinsurance market; co-founded an online publication on offshore finance while living in a village of 700 people in Languedoc; drank a lot of wine; moved to Montpellier to cover the food and drink industry when the dot.com boom and the publication collapsed; drank a lot more wine covering that sector in France and Spain; and somehow ended up in Brussels working for a private communications company. At least the beer is good.

Post

Name and shame:  a new World Bank-IMF report on development

Published 23rd April 2010 - 2 comments - 4843 views -

Brussels - The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are the latest to post a report as a means of goading into action recalcitrant governments who are falling behind their promised commitments to the Millennium Development Goals.

Earlier this month the OECD and the European Commission posted their reports on their members.

The latest name-and-shame report is by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

This global report on whether those who give and those who receive are meeting their MDG commitments gives an out to many of the governments by blaming the global economic crisis for much of the slowdown in the pace of poverty reduction in developing countries and progress to the MDGs.

“The crisis is having an impact in several key areas of the MDGs,  including those related to hunger, child and maternal health, gender equality, access to clean water, and disease control and will continue to affect long-term development prospects well beyond 2015,”says the Global Monitoring Report 2010: The MDGs after the Crisis.

Child Mortality

Does this give the rich and the poor an excuse?  Perhaps. But both the Commission’s action plan and the World Bank-IMF’s more global one also serve as a late-term report card. But while the Commission proposes a way for EU members to get back on track (and a good number are close to meeting the goals or exceeding them), the World Bank-IMF takes a more jaundiced view of the situation.

The good news

The shame part is the Global Monitoring Report’s estimate that as a result of the crisis, “53 million more people will remain in extreme poverty by 2015 than otherwise would have”, adding that number of extreme poor would decline to about 920 million five years from now, compared to the 1.8 billion people living in extreme poverty in 1990. 

“Based on these estimates, the developing world as a whole is still on track to achieve the first MDG of halving extreme income poverty from its 1990 level of 42% by 2015.”

Even though the numbers boggle (The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic, to quote a mass murderer), such an achievement indicates that development aid works, despite the naysayers. We just have to get it right.

Mostly bad news

But then, there are more hungry people in the world now. The 2008 food price crisis and the financial crisis that hit that year will mean that the MDG target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger from 1990 to 2015 “appears very unlikely to be met as over a billion people struggle to meet basic food needs”.

There is much more in this 153-page report but the key message is that progress was being made before the crisis, but now a pause, and perhaps even a step backward in some cases, is apparent due to the crisis.

The other predicted fallouts from the report are (and I have just picked a few out after madly skimming the report (released publicly a couple hours ago):

  • An estimated 1.2 million additional deaths may occur among children under five due to crisis-related causes, but this would have been far worse “without sound pre-crisis policy reforms by developing countries, as well as strong actions by countries and by international financial institutions”.
  • Aid from countries in the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) rose by 0.7% in real terms in 2009 to $119.6 billion, it still falls well short of earlier commitments, especially for Sub Saharan Africa.
  • Assistance from non-DAC donors as well as from private sources is rising fast.  And progress continues in reducing poor countries debt burden through World Bank and IMF initiatives.
  • Unlike many previous crises, the current crisis was not caused by domestic policy failure.
  • Despite widespread fears, developing countries’ market access was not significantly reduced. At the end of 2009, 350 trade-restrictive measures had been put in place around the world, some 20% of them nontariff measures, such as quantitative restrictions, import licenses, standards requirements, and subsidies. Trade remedies were also on the rise. But in the aggregate, protectionism has been contained.
  • The effects of the crisis might have been much more serious without sound pre-crisis policy reforms by developing countries, as well as strong actions by countries and by international financial institutions to counter the effects of the crisis.
  • Government spending on social safety nets appears to have remained relatively steady, at least through 2009 and massive efforts by the international community to limit economic contraction and contagion have paid off.
  • GDP growth in developing countries is projected to accelerate to 6.3% in 2010, up from 2.4% in 2009.
  • Progress on the individual MDGs was also mixed even before the crisis. The share of children under five who are underweight declined from 33% in developing countries in 1990 to 26% in 2006, a much slower pace than needed to halve it by 2015. Progress has been slowest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with severe to moderate stunting affecting up to 35% of children under five.
  • Universal primary education is within reach. In more than 60 developing countries, over 90% of primary-school-age children are in school; the number of children out of school fell from 115 million in 2002 to 72 million in 2007.
  • Access to safe drinking water is on track globally and in most regions.
  • New findings suggest a significant drop worldwide in the maternal mortality.
  • The recent food crisis has complicated progress on fighting malnutrition and hunger. The developing world is not on track to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. In some countries food prices almost doubled with no adjustment in earnings.
  • Progress on full and productive employment, especially for women, was lacking even before the crisis.
  • Countries can achieve better development outcomes through improved policies, most notably shifts in expenditures, increases in domestic revenue, and better service delivery. However, stronger policies are unlikely to compensate fully for the deterioration in human development indicators that result from slower growth. Better development outcomes will depend on the speed at which the global economic recovery supports increases in developing countries’ export revenues and external finance.

The graph below from the report puts the situation on reaching the MDG goals neatly into perspective.               

Falling behind

More information

Global Monitoring Report 2010: The MDGs after the Crisis

Press release

 


Category: Aid | Tags:


Comments

  • Maria Kuecken on 24th April 2010:

    Thanks for summarizing the report!  Child mortality is quite off track, it seems.  With respect to child mortality, did the report suggest specific “crisis-related causes?”


  • Robert Stefanicki on 26th April 2010:

    “No data” for such - I guess - easily recordable field as primary education in roughly 30 % of the countries is astounding.


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