Pushing the World Bank to Prioritize People and Poverty

March 29, 2024

Since 1944, the end of the second World War, the World Bank has been a global convener and leader in catalyzing economic change in low-income countries and has helped countries weather the catastrophic shocks of war, famine, natural disasters, and extreme poverty. Its founding was based on what is possible when governments invest directly in improving the lives of their own people.  

To date, the World Bank remains the world’s biggest source of funding for the goal of ending extreme poverty – and policymakers globally are looking at how it can better address today’s challenges. The mission, priorities, and strategies of the Bank are being re-evaluated, and a new president has taken the helm to shape its trajectory. 

Core human needs like health, education, and nutrition are the foundation for achieving the Bank’s mission against poverty. As the Bank evolves, we need to make sure these priorities stay at the center of its investments. With new global crises, millions of people are facing even bigger barriers to quality education, nutrition, and health.  

This year the Bank is replenishing the funds for its arm focused on the lowest income countries – the International Development Association, or “IDA.” This next round of IDA funding will likely be the largest pool of anti-poverty funding ever made available, through both low-interest loans and grants. Even a modest adjustment in how it gets used would have a significant impact on millions of people’s lives.  

Congress can help strengthen the focus and impact on poverty 

The U.S. is the largest shareholder of the World Bank, which comes with unique privileges and responsibilities. Before shareholders reinvest in IDA later this year, the World Bank and its partners will negotiate a framework for using those resources. The Treasury Department leads U.S. engagement with the World Bank, but Congress has a key role to play to: 

  • Prioritize the lowest-income communities and countries 
  • Put core needs like education, health, and nutrition at the center of its strategy 
  • Set bold, measurable targets and policy commitments for using its funding 
  • Increase transparency 

Right now: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is circulating an easily bipartisan letter that urges the new World Bank president, Anjay Banga, to prioritize people and poverty in the upcoming IDA replenishment. As donor governments are being asked to support the World Bank to resource their new strategy, they must also push the World Bank to do better in reaching the poorest communities and to account for how their funding is having an impact on the lives of marginalized people. The letter pushes the World Bank to: 

  • Prioritize stronger public reporting to improve accountability
  • Increase funding that directly support people and communities in the lowest-income countries 
  • Build an IDA policy framework that includes bold, measurable targets for reaching more people with quality health, nutrition, education, early childhood development, and other core human capital support.

There is, rightly, lots of focus on generating more money to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. But for real impact, we have to also look at how that money is spent – in what places, for what things, and who benefits. Congress can help make sure the World Bank listens to local and country leaders, prioritizes the fight against extreme poverty, and supports the essential building blocks of health, education, and nutrition. Now’s the time for them to act!  

ACT NOW: Reach out to your Senate Foreign Aid Staffer to ask them to sign on to the Booker World Bank Letter 

Senate World Bank Letter to Prioritize People and Poverty

  • Deadline: Tuesday, April 9 COB 
  • Led by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
  • Urges World Bank President to prioritize people and poverty in the next Bank strategy for assistance to low-income countries 
  • Check if your Member has signed on here 

    Learn more about our work with the World Bank:

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