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The board of the Millennium Challenge Corp. – the Bush administration’s flagship foreign aid initiative – met on Tuesday to decide which countries had been selected for participation in the program. Of the 34 countries that passed the performance indicators, the Board chose to add only 6 new countries to its current list of 17 eligible for MCC funding. Two of the six - El Salvador and Namibia - are lower middle income countries, with average incomes much higher than the countries previously covered by the program.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan declared 2005 the “Year of Microcredit” to raise international awareness of the potential for tiny loans to help the poor. On Monday and Tuesday, I attended one of the final activities pursuant to this declaration, a conference in the basement of the U.N. building called the Forum on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors.
Jenny Lanjouw, a non-resident Fellow of the Center for Global Development, died on Tuesday.
Jenny was an inspiration and a friend. She fought poverty with passion and a brilliant mind. One of her legacies will be her ingenious proposal to increase access to drugs in developing countries.
Andrew Natsios, the Administrator of USAID, put the politics of US food aid back on the agenda when he proposed converting a quarter of the food aid budget to cash instead of directly procuring commodities in the US. For 50 years, the farm bloc, large multinational food processors, the US shipping industry, and charitable organizations engaged in relief and development activities in poor countries have supported generous funding for America’s food aid program.
When I suggested that the World Bank launch a blog on remittances a couple of years ago, friends there asked: “what does blogging have to do with development?” Today the answer might go something like this: “What do telephones, fax machines, e-mail and websites have to do with development?” Answer: “like blogs, they are part of the 21st Century communications tool kit. We decide which to use depending on what we want to achieve.”
This report by Nancy Birdsall, Adeel Malik and Milan Vaishnav was prepared for the World Bank's Operations Evaluation Department. The report focuses on the role of the World Bank in support of poverty reduction during the period beginning in 1990 and concluding in 2003. It reviews and discusses the Bank's analytic work and its efforts to bring change through policy dialogue and lending programs.
Debt relief and African poverty are firmly on this year’s global agenda, most recently from the Tony Blair-sponsored Africa Commission. But little attention is going to the big elephant in the room: Nigeria.
Even with its oil wealth, Nigeria’s debt burden is enormous given its huge population of 130 million and its extreme poverty—average income is just $330 per year. Increasingly vital to Western energy security, Nigeria is also a worrying source of transnational security threats, including Islamic radicalism, disease, drug trafficking, and international crime.