Speaking today ahead of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, Bank President Robert Zoellick said the crisis engulfing the Middle East and North Africa shows that greater citizen participation and better governance are crucial for economic development. The World Bank will do more to emphasize both, he said.
Hunger is something I knew all too well as a teenager living through the terrible years of conflict of the Nigerian-Biafran war.
My family then – as many families do when war happens – lost everything. Eating each day became a question mark. I saw many children die of kwashiorkor and other diseases because they didn’t have enough to eat.
Now – many years later and secure in the knowledge I do have food on the table each night - when I read about rising and volatile food prices I can recall the desperation and the emptiness that was hunger when I was a teenager.
Today we begin blog coverage of the 2011 World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, set for April 15-17. Though we’re two weeks out, activities around the meetings’ key themes—food insecurity and food price volatility, conflict, anti-corruption and open development—are already ramping up.
Among the events and announcements we’ll report on here:
Our villages are bread baskets – the primary region where most of the world's food is grown. Ironically, they are also home to many of the 1 billion who live in chronic hunger.
In a World Water Day ceremony, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and World Bank President Robert Zoellick signed an agreement to leverage World Bank and U.S. government agency expertise and technology to promote greater water security in an increasingly water-insecure world.
This has been a very busy time for the global anti-corruption community as they geared up to the discussions of actions and priorities at the first meeting of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance (ICHA). For the the 234 Corruption Hunters who participated in the meeting last week, the experience was very rewarding. Many of them had never met before; a challenge that this World Bank-supported Alliance will help them overcome. But it is not the only challenge that these Corruption Hunters face. Your blog comments and their experiences reveal many more. The good news, this meeting acknowledged all and defined the priorities for action. So now is the time to thank you for sending your comments. I would also like to invite you to learn more about what went on during the ICHA meeting.
Recently, many in the community concerned about international corruption have begun to discuss the need to hold individuals responsible criminally for their actions. While people have long discussed the failure to hold high-profile bribe recipients responsible, now the discussion has mutated to the bribe payer side. Lower-level targets are certainly more easily prosecuted than the rich and powerful. After all, corruption, like most crimes, is committed by people, not by companies, machines or cultures. Some countries, most notable the U.S., have brought an increasing number of cases against individuals directly involved in paying or authorizing bribes.
We have received a few comments to the blog we posted last week and we want to take this opportunity to thank our contributors. The examples provided and issues raised highlight both the on-going efforts that are happening at the country level and the need to learn from these efforts. The on-going discussion also raises some additional questions:
It is a fact that many of the countries which suffer the most from corruption are the countries which have the fewest resources to combat the problem. Poor countries may be faced with a dilemma of using resources to prosecute the corruption which degrades the quality and quantity of public goods that reach their citizens, or using resources to provide those basic goods, such as food aid and roads.
At the same time, larger bribes are not infrequently paid by outsiders, such as foreign corporations. Casual observation shows that funds must be coming from outside some of the poorest countries. In short, the bribe money is flowing from the developed world into the developing world.