Updated October 22, 2013
The world has made a lot of progress in the recovery from the global financial crisis. Most developing countries have rebounded, though some are seeing slower growth. High-income economies are gradually strengthening, but recovery is still uneven.
Persistent risks to global economic health include high unemployment, debt and low growth in developed countries, and access to financing for developing countries. Food prices have eased somewhat from their recent peaks, but remain volatile.
Response to Crisis
The 2008 financial crisis, coming on the heels of the food and fuel crises, resulted in sharp reductions in global growth, trade, and access to finance for developing countries.
The World Bank Group responded with record amounts of financing for education, health, nutrition, and infrastructure in developing countries, committing more than $189 billion between 2008 and the end of fiscal year 2011.
The Bank Group’s commitments for social protection for the poorest and most vulnerable — including school feeding and cash transfer programs, such as Mexico’s Oportunidades — reached more than $9 billion in 72 countries during fiscal years 2009-2011. That figure is seven times the pre-crisis level of $1.2 billion.
To boost food security, the Bank has increased annual financing for agriculture to $6 billion to $8 billion a year, up from $4.1 billion in 2008. Agriculture commitments in FY13 reached $8 billion.
The Global Food Crisis Response Program, established in response to the 2008 food crisis, has provided $1.6 billion and helped 66 million people in 49 countries.
The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), launched by the Bank in April 2010 to assist the G20’s support for agriculture and food security, provides pooled donor grant resources to finance country-led investment plans; as of October 2013, some $1.3 billion has been pledged to finance public and private sector projects in 25 countries.
The Bank also increased support to the drought-stricken Horn of Africa in FY11 to $1.88 billion; IDA, the Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, contributed $30 million to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ delivery of emergency services to Somali refugees at camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
In FY13, the World Bank Group committed $52.6 billion in loans, grants, equity investments, and guarantees to help promote economic growth, increase shared prosperity, and fight extreme poverty in developing countries.
Commitments to IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, reached a record $16.3 billion in FY13, up from $14.7 billion in FY12. The largest share of resources was committed to Africa, which received roughly 50% of total IDA lending in FY13, followed by South Asia at around 25% of the total.
To boost employment, the Bank sharply increased lending and grant financing for jobs-related programs, from an annual average of $477 million in 1998–2008 to an annual average of $634 million in 2009–11. In fiscal 2013, the Bank invested more than $3 billion in social protection and labor programs; it manages an $11.9 billion portfolio with 172 operations in 85 countries.
The World Bank is the largest multilateral donor to Aid for Trade, and the active portfolio in trade-related assistance consists of $12.4 billion in fiscal 2013, up from $2.8 billion in 2003.
The World Bank is also helping countries build resilience to external shocks associated with market volatility and natural disasters by facilitating access to market-based risk management tools and capital market solutions.