A severe pandemic would harm health, economies, and communities in all countries, but especially in poor and fragile states. Pandemic prevention requires robust public health systems (veterinary and human) that collaborate to stop contagion promptly.
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New GDP Estimates Show International Support Vital to Speed RecoveryWASHINGTON, April 17, 2015–The World Bank Group (WBG) announced today that it would provide at least US$650 million during the next ... Show More +12 to 18 months to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone recover from the devastating social and economic impact of the Ebola crisis and advance their longer-term development needs. The new WBG pledge brings the organization’s total financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts to date to US$1.62 billion.The additional funding announcement comes as the WBG releases new GDP estimates showing that the Ebola epidemic continues to cripple the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Estimated GDP losses for the three countries in 2015 rose to US$2.2 billion: US$240 million for Liberia, US$535 million for Guinea and US$1.4 billion for Sierra Leone. In addition to the severe effects of Ebola, the economic downturn in the three countries is aggravated by the sharp decline in global iron ore prices, as well as the collapse of the mining sector in Sierra Leone, resulting in an unprecedented GDP contraction in that country estimated at 23.5 percent.WBG President Jim Yong Kim announced the new funding from the International Development Association (IDA), the WBG’s fund for the poorest countries, at an Ebola summit during the WBG-IMF Spring Meetings. President Alpha Condé of Guinea, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone presented their Ebola recovery plans to global development leaders at the meeting.The new funding is on top of the nearly US$1 billion that the WBG previously committed for the Ebola emergency response and early recovery efforts from IDA (US$518 million) and IFC (US$450 million), and also comes on top of US$2.17 billion in debt relief from the WBG (Guinea, US$1,098.5 million; Liberia, US$464.7 million; and Sierra Leone, US$ 506.8 million), which during 2015-17 will save the three countries about US$75 million annually in debt paymentsIn line with the countries’ recovery plans, the five priority areas for the additional IDA funds include: strengthening health systems and frontline care; agriculture; education; cash transfers and other social protection programs; and lifesaving infrastructure such as electricity, water, sanitation and roads. The funds also will be used to develop a regional disease surveillance system across West Africa that will help prevent or contain future pandemics. “Even as we work relentlessly to get to zero new Ebola cases, the international community must help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone jumpstart their recovery and build a safer, more prosperous and resilient future for their people,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “Many of us have acknowledged that the international community was slow to react to Ebola. Let’s show that we have learned this lesson by supporting an effective and sustainable recovery that also prepares these countries—and the rest of the world—for the next pandemic.”Since the WBG issued its last economic update on January 20, 2015, important differences among the three countries are emerging. The new report finds that Sierra Leone is now facing a severe recession with the potential for an unprecedented -23.5% growth rate in 2015, resulting from financial issues that led to the closure of iron ore mining. Liberia is gradually returning to normalcy, with a projected GDP growth rate of 3% in 2015, higher than in 2014 though still well below pre-Ebola estimates of 6.8%. Guinea’s economy continues to stagnate, with a projected growth of -0.2% for 2015 compared to pre-Ebola rate of 4.3%.As a result, the WBG says additional international financing is urgently needed to help the three countries recover fully and reclaim the positive development and growth paths that prevailed before the Ebola epidemic struck West Africa. The pace of recovery in these countries will also depend on how effectively their recovery plans can be carried out.According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the week leading up to April 12, there were a total of 37 confirmed cases of Ebola, compared with 30 the previous week. Case incidence in Guinea increased to 28, compared with 21 confirmed cases the previous week; Sierra Leone reported 9 confirmed cases, the same total as in the previous week; and Liberia reported no confirmed cases."The full recovery of Ebola-affected countries is only possible when the outbreak has ended and safeguards have been put in place to prevent re-introduction of the disease,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the World Bank Group Ebola summit. ”Our energy must now focus on effective action to eliminate Ebola, the revival and strengthening of health systems, and ensuring the resilience of communities in the face of future threats: these are a precondition for sustainable and durable recovery." World Bank Group’s Response to Ebola Crisis As of April 2015, the World Bank Group has mobilized US$1.62 billion to date in financing for Ebola response and recovery efforts to support the countries hardest hit by Ebola. This includes US$1.17 billion from IDA, the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries and at least US$450 million from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to enable trade, investment and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Show Less -
Impact of the Ebola CrisisThe Ebola pandemic has had a profound impact on Guinea’s economy and society, and damaged the social fabric and retarded the country’s growth prospects. Between March 2014, t... Show More +he date of the official declaration of the epidemic, and February 15, 2015, 3,108 people have died of the disease. Besides the effects on mortality, the disease has had a pronounced socio-economic impact and impacted households and investors alike. The disease has translated into lower investment, declining agricultural production, reduced visits to health care facilities, and lower tourism. Commerce and services have been hit by a sharp drop in international travel and regional trade; agricultural and manufacturing exports to neighboring countries have come to a standstill; and projects involving expatriate workers have slowed or stopped. Some mining companies have cut back on operations, and manufactured exports have declined, while cost and insurance for imports has increased significantly. The onset of the epidemic has reduced growth prospects in 2014 from a projected 4.5 percent to 1.3 percent by the end of the year.  The danger of Ebola is that it has threatened not only macroeconomic stability but also food security, human capital development, and private sector growth.Overall Plan Objectives and PillarsThe Guinea Ebola Recovery Plan represents the Government of Guinea’s ambitious and wide-ranging attempt to end Ebola in the country and then relaunch the economy in the aftermath of Ebola. Prepared under the leadership of former Senegalese Prime Minister Loum, the plan has been forged in a participatory approach that involved ministries, private sector operatives, representatives of civil society, and the National Assembly. The plan reflects the government’s assessment of the key challenges emerging in the aftermath of the Ebola pandemic. Essentially, the plan represents a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the immediate aftermath of Ebola and then focusing on the medium-term recovery by jumpstarting the key sectors. It tries to address a range of sectors and areas that have all been directly and indirectly impacted by Ebola. The plan is congruent with the recent PRSP document (2013-2015). It is consistent with the recent discussions with the Bank and the Fund on macroeconomic stabilization, preservation of fiscal stability, and supporting the development of private sector-led growth. It also matches the vision to actively promote sub regional economic integration in the context of the Mano River Union.Main Pillars of the PlanThe plan is based on four fundamental pillars – social sector support, economic recovery, infrastructure development, and governance support. On the social sectors, the authorities envisage the strengthening of the health system (systems, human resources, and medicines) to meet the immediate needs of population post-Ebola. Also, there are plans to improve access to water and sanitation, accelerate literacy, promote gender equality, and ensure child protection. Second, in relation to economic recovery, the Government envisages rehabilitation of the systems of production in all their components as well as recovery and acceleration of the diversification of economic activities. A third pillar of the plan is to improve the availability and quality of infrastructure necessary for economic growth and help promote the recovery of investment in economic infrastructure (roads, ICT, airports, ports etc.), which have been delayed by Ebola. Finally, the plan focuses on building infrastructure and strengthening governance through improved public administration and better service delivery. The plan is focused on both a shorter term interest in reaching 'zero Ebola' and a longer term strategy of full recovery. The timeline of the plan is to have a three year horizon, with an initial Ebola containment followed by a broader based recovery.RisksThe Plan includes six major risks that could affect the implementation: political instability, lack of leadership, fiscal risks, regional spillover risks, climactic risks, and the resurgence of the disease that could jeopardize the recovery effort. The Plan includes risk mitigation strategies to address these factors. In relation to political risk, the Government intends to continue the democratic process and maintain dialogue with civil society. Fiscal risk can be managed through careful fiscal management and sensible revenue and expenditure policies, while regional issues will have to be addressed in collaboration with Liberia and Sierra Leone. Climactic risks can be addressed through investing in early warning systems and emergency preparedness, careful monitoring and adaptation strategies, and investment in education. Strict surveillance could address the epidemiological risk of resurgence. The Government remains optimistic regarding the management of risks.FinancingIn terms of financing, the total estimated cost of this plan over the 2015-2017 period amounts to $2.89 billion over the period 2015-2017, with $857 million for 2015, $1.174 billion for 2016, and $864 million for 2017. This includes $ 1.81 billion of additional investment to recover from the consequences of the crisis, revive the economic and social development and build resilience, $ 150 million for the Emergency Fund in support of the private sector, $50 million for auditing a portion of domestic debt, $75 million for an ambitious program of social transfers, $ 200 million to offset the loss of fiscal revenue in order to face unexpected expenses or for sectors not covered in the plan. It is important to note that the Plan will be financed from a combination of domestic and foreign resources. The Government has programmed $189 million as counterpart financing in the public investment budget for 2015-2017. The methodology of the costing was based on aggregating the ministry-specific resource needs to support the Ebola recovery and use the existing project portfolio as a base, using current Guinea prices as the base. The time horizon is for an immediate use (July – December 2015) and a medium-term use (2016 and 2017). The Government is envisioning an active resource mobilization strategy to identify and involve partners who share the vision of this plan, including the cancellation of the debt, an increase in aid projects, and budget support in the form of grants. The Government has set up a formal framework of consultation and coordination with development partners in February 2015, through a coordination council.  Bank-Fund estimates project real GDP growth in 2014 even lower at 0.4 percent. Show Less -
By Melanie Mayhew, Communications OfficerApril 16, 2015—Since late 2013, Ebola has gripped West Africa, devastating communities and destroying economies in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and erasin... Show More +g many of the health, education, and social and economic gains these countries have achieved in recent years.For months, hospitals were like war zones. Schools were empty. Farmers fled their fields. Businesses collapsed, their workers crumbling with them. Parents skipped lifesaving vaccines for their infants, women died in childbirth, hundreds of health workers lost their lives, and families went without food and water.This week, schools reopened in Sierra Leone, more than 9 months after Ebola closed their doors. Health facilities are beginning to again provide essential health services. Some people are returning to work in cities and in fields. Yet, despite these positive signs, the fight to end Ebola is far from over.Getting to—and Staying at—ZeroGuinea and Sierra Leone continue to report new Ebola cases. Liberia is holding its breath until early May when it may be declared Ebola-free if no new cases are reported. When the countries get to zero new cases, their challenge will be avoiding new flare-ups of Ebola.Ebola has killed more than 10,500 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and has infected more than 25,500, including Mariatu, 45, and her daughter Adama, 12, of Rokupa, Sierra Leone. Ebola infected 13 of the 14 people who lived in their household. Ten family members succumbed to Ebola, including seven of Mariatu’s children and her husband. Ebola soon spread across their entire hillside community.“I am broken,” she said, as she clutched her Ebola-free medical certificate.Getting to—and staying at—zero cases in communities like Mariatu’s requires door-to-door communication campaigns to educate families, as well as contact tracing to track everyone who has had contact with confirmed Ebola cases. These efforts by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNFPA, and powered by community volunteers, are breaking the chains of transmission in neighborhoods. The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing food and other essential supplies to households quarantined as a result of contact tracing,The World Bank Group is financing some of UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and WFP’s social mobilization and contact tracing efforts and food deliveries in the three countries. Since the crisis began, the World Bank has been one of the leading financiers of the Ebola response, providing treatment and care, containing and preventing the spread of infections, helping communities cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and improving public health systems.For health workers—a special focus of the World Bank Group’s financing—this has meant making sure that there are enough local and international health workers available to respond to the surge of Ebola infections, and that they have the essential supplies, drugs, personal protective equipment and infection prevention control materials, hazard pay and death benefits, and training they need to do their jobs.Road to RecoveryAs the countries work to extinguish the virus, they face a longer-term challenge that they are tackling simultaneously: Recovering from the social, economic and health consequences of the largest Ebola outbreak in history.High-frequency mobile phone surveys released this week by the World Bank Group and partners show that there are signs of improvement in Sierra Leone, but the economic situation remains uneven.In Sierra Leone, there have been overall improvements in employment since November, but youth employment in Freetown has continuously declined, and the percentage of non-farm enterprises that are no longer operating has increased four-fold. Nearly 70% of households are taking at least one action to cope with food shortages.In Liberia, agricultural households are reporting that their 2014 harvest was smaller than the previous year. The World Bank Group has provided 10,500 tons of maize and rice seed to more than 200,000 farmers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help them deal with the impact of Ebola on their crops.As schools have reopened in Liberia, more than 75% of people with primary school-aged children reported that at least some have returned to school. The World Bank Group funds have been providing support to more than 18,000 schools as they have reopened, including through ensuring cleaning and sanitizing of schools, building or repairing handwashing stations and water points in schools, and training teachers to use thermometers.In the survey, parents cited a lack of money as the main barrier to sending children back to school.“The epidemic traumatized students,” said Ousmane Sacko, who teaches 11th and 12th grade philosophy classes at Groupe Scolaire Woodia Berete Primaire Lycée near Conakry, Guinea. “By staying home so long, they forgot what they’ve learned.” Dorris, 6, a kindergartener at Billytown Public School in Liberia, is one of these students who has returned to school.“I’m happy to be at school because Ebola has gone,” she said.Without the family breadwinner, Mariatu, the Ebola survivor from Rokupa, Sierra Leone, said she did not know how she was going to buy food for her children, or pay for Adama’s school fees.Adama has a goal for the future now that she has survived Ebola. “In the end, I’ll be a lawyer and be in a better position to take care of my mother,” she said.Delivery of social services in Sierra Leone—which offers free health care for pregnant women, new mothers and children under age 5—has started to improve since November, according to the surveys. The percentage of women who gave birth in a clinic is up from 28% to 64%, and the percentage who received at least one prenatal visit was up from 56% to 71%.Continued investments in recovery will need to focus on strengthening health systems, agriculture, education, cash transfers and other social protection programs, and lifesaving infrastructure such as electricity, water and sanitation, and roads.Recovery PlansOn April 17, the presidents of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will share their Ebola recovery plans with finance and development ministers and international partners during the World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, with the aim of building global support to get to and sustain zero cases, jumpstart recovery, and build more resilient health systems and economies.The funds will also be used to develop a regional disease surveillance system across West Africa that will help prevent or contain future pandemics.“The Ebola crisis has shown the world that our health system is vulnerable,” said Dr. Diallo Thierno Sadou, a maternity doctor in Matam, Guinea, who was infected with Ebola while operating on a pregnant woman.Investments in strong and resilient health systems, preventative health care, and public health systems are critical to ensure better care and prevention, faster detection, disease surveillance, and build the capacity to treat and contain future outbreaks.With partners, the World Bank Group is developing a plan for a global Pandemic Emergency Facility with new finance mechanisms to enable resources to flow quickly when future outbreaks occur. 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Good morning. Thank you, John, for that kind introduction. Thank all of you for coming, or watching on the Webcast. And thank you to CSIS for hosting us at your beautiful building. Before I begin, I w... Show More +ant to pause to remember the 147 students at Garissa University College in Kenya who were senselessly murdered just a few days ago. Schools are sacred grounds, and all who study there should be safe. Let us reflect for a moment.Just 15 years into the new millennium, economic development in poor countries and emerging markets is at a critical crossroads. Much of the attention has been on the near horizon – concerns about the slow-moving global economy, uncertainties over the price of oil, and conflicts from the Ukraine to the Middle East to parts of Africa. But when we look at the longer term picture, we see that the decisions made this year will have an enormous impact on the lives of billions of people across the world for generations to come.2015 is the most important year for global development in recent memory. In July, world leaders will gather in Addis Ababa to discuss how we’ll finance our development priorities in the years ahead. In September, world leaders will come together at the United Nations to establish the Sustainable Development Goals – a group of targets and goals set for 2030. And in December, world leaders again will gather in Paris to work out an agreement based on government commitments to lessen the severe short- and long-term risks of climate change.At the same time, we have witnessed the emergence of a major new player in development – the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank led by China, with more than 50 countries and regions signing on as members. With the right environment, labor and procurement standards, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank, established by the BRICS countries, can become great new forces in the economic development of poor countries and emerging markets. The World Bank Group sees these development banks as potentially strong allies in tackling the enormous challenge of bringing much needed infrastructure to Asia. Our mission at the World Bank Group is defined by two goals – to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to boost prosperity among the poorest 40 percent in low- and middle-income countries. These goals are ambitious and there’s more than enough work to go around. By 2030, we will most likely need 40 percent more energy and face a 40 percent shortfall of fresh water – pressures that may well be further accelerated by climate change. We estimate that the developing world will need an additional $1 to 1.5 trillion dollars every year to be invested in infrastructure – roads, bridges, railways, airports, energy plants and desalination facilities. If the world’s multilateral banks, including the new ones, can form alliances, work together, and support development that addresses these challenges, we all benefit – especially the poor and most vulnerable. It is our hope – indeed, our expectation – that these new institutions will join the world’s multilateral development banks and our private sector partners on a shared mission to promote economic growth that helps the poorest. I will do everything in my power to find innovative ways to work with these banks. Next week, during the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund here in Washington, I plan to continue my discussions with Chinese and other officials about these potential collaborations.Our ambitions for economic development couldn’t be higher. We’re no longer talking about billions of dollars for economic development. We’re talking about trillions of dollars – which means that we must be creative and use all of our resources to leverage much-needed private sector investment to build infrastructure and create jobs.The decisions we make this year, and the alliances we form in the years ahead, will help determine whether we have a chance to reach our goal of ending extreme poverty in just 15 years.The good news is that the world has made substantial progress already. In 1990, when the world population was 5.2 billion, 36 percent of people lived in extreme poverty. Today – with 7.3 billion people – an estimated 12 percent live in extreme poverty. Over 25 years, we’ve gone from nearly 2 billion people living in extreme poverty to fewer than 1 billion.But we still have nearly 1 billion people living on less than US$1.25 a day. Few of us can even imagine what this is like. Let’s remember what poverty is. Poverty is 2.5 billion people not having access to financial services like bank accounts. Poverty is 1.4 billion people without access to electricity. Poverty is having to put your children to bed without food. And poverty is not going to school because, in order to survive, everyone in the family needs to earn a few cents each day.Some say it’s impossible to end extreme poverty – especially in just 15 years. But we know it’s possible. We know in part because of our past success, and because we have learned from years of experience about what has worked in particular contexts and what has not.Later in the year, I’ll talk in depth about our strategies to boost prosperity for the bottom 40 percent, especially in middle income countries. But today, I want to talk about our broad strategy to lift nearly a billion people out of extreme poverty and into the modern world.Inside the World Bank, for the past 50 years, we’ve continuously distilled and analyzed our global experience in fighting poverty. As a result, our advice to governments has evolved over time. We now known that our strategic advice must evolve even more. Our strategy to end extreme poverty, based on the best global knowledge now available, can be summed up in just three words:Grow. Invest. And insure.Let me talk about each one.First, grow.The world economy needs to grow faster, and grow more sustainably. It needs to grow in a way that ensures that the poor receive a greater share of the benefits of that growth. We can reach the end of extreme poverty only if we mark a path toward a more robust and inclusive growth that is unparalleled in modern times.Decades of experience have taught us that economic growth is the primary driver of increased personal income and poverty reduction. Sustained growth requires macroeconomic stability in the form of low inflation, manageable debt levels and reliable exchange rates. Government policies also must prioritize growth in sectors that increase the incomes of the poor.The World Bank Group will continue to support governments and make investments in a broad variety of areas in the fight against extreme poverty. For instance, in countries with great amounts of mineral wealth, governments can encourage pro-poor growth with improved education systems and the development of more diversified economies. In most of the developing world, though, efforts to end extreme poverty will require us to focus on boosting agricultural productivity.Despite the massive global migration to urban areas, 70 percent of the world’s extreme poor still live in rural villages. They are mostly farmers or work in informal jobs – providing services to rural populations. Our experience in China shows that, in poorer economies, growth in agriculture is four times more powerful in lifting people out of poverty than growth in manufacturing and services.But how can countries follow China’s example? It depends on the local circumstances. Sometimes it is just a matter of giving farmers more control over how and what they produce. This is what Vietnam did during the Doi Moi economic “renovation” in the late 1980s. Over the next three decades, Vietnam became a top exporter of rice, coffee and tea, and its poverty rate fell from 57 percent to 5 percent.Helping farmers improve yields requires increasing access to better seeds, water, electricity and markets. According to one study in Bangladesh, six years after constructing 3,000 kilometers of roads to connect communities to markets, household incomes increased by an average of 74 percent.Promoting growth in agriculture also depends in part on the integrity of the global food system. At next week’s Spring Meetings, we’ll be releasing a new discussion paper to develop a strong food system – one that raises the incomes of the poorest, provides adequate nutrition, and combats climate change.That’s the growth part of the strategy. The second part of the strategy is to invest – and by that, I mean investing in people, especially through education and health.The opportunity to get children off to the right start happens just once. Investments made in children early in life bring far greater returns than those made later on. Poor nutrition and disease can have life-long implications for mental and physical health, educational achievement, and adult earnings. Clean water and sanitation facilities, both at home and in school, also have a substantial impact on future professional opportunities. They help children avoid infections that cause developmental disabilities and ensure girls’ consistent school attendance, even after the beginning of menstruation.Investments in girls and women are particularly important because they have a multiplier effect on the well-being of the extreme poor. When empowered through education, mothers have healthier children; and, when they have financial resources, they’re more likely to invest in the next generation.We must also set clear learning standards in schools. The level of learning among young people today in many countries is alarming. Over 50 percent of young people in Kenya who have completed six years of schooling cannot read a simple sentence. Over 70 percent of children completing primary school in Mozambique do not have basic numeracy skills. These low achievement levels have devastating implications for when people look for jobs. We know that using new technology can help transform educational outcomes. For example, Bridge International Academies uses software and tablets in schools that teach over 100,000 students in Kenya and Uganda. After about two years, students’ average scores for reading and math have risen high above their public school peers. The cost per student at Bridge Academies is just $6 dollars a month.One of the most effective ways to encourage investment in the extreme poor and improve health and educational service delivery is accountability. One study in Tanzania found that doctors in public clinics spend an average of only 29 minutes in any day seeing patients. According to other research, in India, primary teachers in public schools are absent 25 percent of the time, and primary care doctors 40 percent of the time. Governments can help poor people monitor and discipline service providers for these failures, and also create incentives for public employees to do better. Those that do will reap far greater returns on their human capital investments.The final part of the strategy is to insure. This means that governments must provide social safety nets as well as build systems to protect against disasters and the rapid spread of disease.National social assistance and insurance schemes protect against setbacks like illness and unemployment and can promote growth and human capital development. For instance, cash transfer programs can be substantial and cost-effective: Brazil’s Bolsa Familia has cut extreme poverty by 28 percent in a decade, for a cost of just 0.5 percent of GDP. Despite successes like this, 870 million people living in poverty still do not have access to any kind of social assistance.Another critical element of insurance is protecting people against catastrophic risks. Examples include universal healthcare schemes, better quality healthcare services, disaster risk management, and financing tools like catastrophic bonds or draw-down facilities. This may sound technical, but the so-called cat bonds are very effective. They make funding immediately available to countries responding to natural disasters.Similar approaches should be used to protect against pandemics. Ebola revealed the shortcomings of international and national systems to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. Ebola also taught us that the poor are likely to suffer the most from pandemics.The World Bank Group has been working with partners on a new concept that would provide much needed rapid response financing in the face of an outbreak. The idea behind a pandemic emergency facility is to mobilize and leverage public and private sector resources through public funding, and through market and private insurance mechanisms. In the event of an outbreak, countries would receive rapid disbursements of funding, which would, in turn, help contain outbreaks, save lives, and protect economies.There is no single blueprint for countries in their efforts to end extreme poverty. But our strategy suggests priorities for the future. First, agricultural productivity must increase. Second, we must build infrastructure that provides access to energy, irrigation, and markets. Third, we must promote freer trade that provides greater access to markets for the poor and enables entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries to grow their businesses and create new jobs. Fourth, we must invest in health and education, especially for women and children. And finally, we must implement social safety nets and provide social insurance, including initiatives that protect against the impact of natural disasters and pandemics.Nine months ago, the World Bank Group started one of the most ambitious re-organizations in its history. We knew we needed to restructure in order to meet the evolving needs of low- and middle-income countries. In a world where capital is more easily available, we needed to emphasize our greatest strengths – the marriage of our vast knowledge to innovative financing to deliver programs that have the greatest impact on the poorest. Our new global practices, cross-cutting solutions areas, and regional units are working closely with governments to develop customized poverty reduction programs. These are based on analyses of a wide range of local factors, including the demography and location of people living in extreme poverty. Our aim is to help countries translate global experience into practical know-how to solve their most difficult problems.We know that ending extreme poverty will be extraordinarily difficult – in fact, the closer we get to our goal, the more difficult it will be. The most persistent poverty will be in fragile environments. In five years, we expect that more than half the world’s extreme poor will live in conflict affected countries. Conflict, as we know, can have devastating effects on our fight against poverty. Poverty itself can also create a fertile landscape for conflict. For example, where people feel excluded from progress due to joblessness, discrimination or corruption, they may take up arms. These factors, for example, have made it easier for extremists in the Middle East and Africa to recruit for their cause. More violence destroys buildings, bridges, schools, clinics – and most importantly, lives. This destruction, of course, causes even more poverty.We can help break this vicious cycle and promote security if we implement development policies and programs that promote growth – invest in human capital – and insure people against risks that can plunge them into poverty. Initiatives to strengthen institutions are also important. Governments must be more accountable to citizens, and work to reduce arbitrary treatment at the hands of security forces and the demand for bribes from poor people. This will help to minimize the likelihood of violent conflict and eliminate a driver of poverty. When conflict persists, the hard truth is that poverty reduction is extremely difficult. When the fighting stops, though, progress is possible.Over the last two years, I’ve made three trips with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to Africa – to the Great Lakes region, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa. Our purpose was to take advantage of these opportunities when fighting stops. In these three regions, we’ve worked with partners to collectively move billions of dollars to promote regional development. We’ve taken steps to increase cross-border political and economic cooperation, which we hope will make conflict less likely. We’ve also increased investments that will benefit the poor and most vulnerable, reducing the drivers of fragility. Our partners have included the European Union, the African Development Bank, the African Union, and the Islamic Development Bank. This kind of collaboration will give us a fighting chance to end extreme poverty.Still, it won’t be easy. Development has never been easy. We find encouragement, though, in the record of the past 25 years. We’ve reduced extreme poverty by two-thirds and shown that great gains can be made through the strategy of grow, invest, and insure. In the fight to end extreme poverty, many countries have succeeded in taking something that seemed impossible and making it possible. The end of extreme poverty is no longer just a dream. The opportunity is before us.Governments of the world must seize this moment. Our private sector partners must step up. The World Bank Group, our multilateral development bank partners, and our new partners on the horizon, must all seize this moment. We must now collaborate with real conviction and distinguish our generation as the one that ended poverty. We are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty. This is our great challenge, and our great opportunity. We will be guided by a half-century of evidence and practice. It is doable … it is in our sights … and it will be, I believe, humankind’s most significant and memorable achievement. We can end extreme poverty. The final push must begin right now.Thank you very much. Show Less -