What the World Bank Is Doing
Updated June 28, 2012
Recovery from the global financial crisis remains fragile. Persistent risks to economic health include high unemployment, debt and low growth in developed countries, and access to financing for developing countries. In addition, food prices in 2012 remain volatile and near their 2008 peak, and millions of people in the Horn of Africa and Sahel regions face food shortages as a result of drought.
Since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, the World Bank Group has committed more than $280 billion to developing countries, including record commitments in education, health, nutrition, population, and infrastructure, providing much-needed investments in crisis-hit economies:
Throughout the crisis, the Bank Group has helped keep children in school, health clinics open, and microfinance loans flowing to women. 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 (FY09-11). 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 to $8 billion a year, up from $4.1 billion in 2008. Agriculture commitments in FY12 are expected to reach $9.1 billion, the highest in 20 years. The Bank’s $2 billion Global Food Crisis Response Program, established in response to the 2008 food crisis, has provided $1.5 billion and helped 40 million people in 47 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 June 2012, some $1.1 billion has been pledged to finance public and private sector projects in 18 countries.
On September 24, 2011, the Bank increased support to drought-stricken Horn of Africa to $1.88 billion. A $30 million grant to fight malnutrition and disease in refugee camps will come from a new “Crisis Response Window” established to respond quickly to emerging crises in low-income countries. Some $250 million from that fund is earmarked for the Horn of Africa.
The World Bank Group committed $52.6 billion in fiscal year 2012, including $14.7 billion for the poorest countries, down from $16.3 billion in FY11. IBRD commitments, at $20.6 billion, are still well above the FY08, pre-crisis level of $13.5 billion, and follows record commitments of $44.2 billion in FY10 and $32.9 billion in FY09, as the crisis peaked in developing countries.