World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim delivered two startling facts at his Annual Meetings press briefing today: 400 million of the world’s extreme poor are children; and in 35 low-income countries, 100 million more people are living in extreme poverty — defined as less than $1.25 a day — than 30 years ago.
Both statistics are from a new report, the State of the World’s Poor, and they reveal that critical challenges remain despite historic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries in recent decades. “How can we in good conscience not do all we can to lift these children and their families out of extreme poverty?” asked Kim. “They can’t wait for progress to emerge slowly. They need our help today.”
Nearly three years ago, a large delegation was pulling in front of a newly-renovated kindergarten building in the village of Cucuruzeni, Moldova to unveil a long-awaited addition for its 2,000 inhabitants. Newly planted flowers and the fresh smell of paint constantly reminded me that this was more than just a World Bank-financed project -- it marked the beginning of better education for children of the community.
Two weeks ago, as I was driving north of Moldova’s capital Chisinau, our driver veered off on an unpaved eight kilometer stretch of road. The dusty, bumpy ride would take me back to Cucuruzeni, after three years.
My anticipation did not go unrewarded. The building was spotless. I stopped in front of a dozen smiling, and curious three- and four-year-olds, excited to see visitors. Three years ago, this would have been out of the ordinary for me. Now, as the father of a 2.5-year-old son, I am in a kindergarten five times a week. This visit, however, was special.
The mood was light-hearted and lively as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim traded jokes with CNN’s Richard Quest in an early morning, no-holds-barred interview before a live and online audience from around the world. But Kim soon turned serious about a new target the world must meet on the road to effectively ending extreme poverty by 2030 — cutting it from 18% percent today to half that by 2020.
Can the world cut poverty in half by 2020? In a webcast interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim called for reducing extreme poverty to single digits in just seven years. The Bank Group will work with countries and the international community to reduce the number of people living under $1.25 a day to 9% of the global population, down from 18% today. The 2020 target would be an interim step on the way to cutting extreme poverty to 3% by 2030 — a goal approved last spring by the Bank Group’s 188 shareholders. Read more: Blog, Release.
Imagine you only had $1 in your pocket. What would you spend it on? Food? Electricity? Fuel? Shelter? More than 1 billion people live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has called this a “moral stain on our collective conscience” and has challenged world leaders to commit to ending extreme poverty by 2030.
If you agree that we can end poverty by 2030, add your voice by telling world leaders that ending extreme poverty is a goal shared by everyone, everywhere.
How can you join the fight to end poverty:
Can’t we just grow out of our poverty problems? Truth be told, a large part of the reduction in poverty observed in the last decade is attributed to growth. And the correlation between growth and income growth of poor is very high: According to a recent paper by David Dollar and co-authors, incomes of the poor increase on average at a similar rate as incomes of the whole population. For many years the mantra has been that economies should grow, and with that poverty will fall. Look at China, fast growth and voila – dramatic and sustained poverty reduction. Look at Chile – many years of sustained growth have led to an extreme poverty rate in the single digits.
Can countries tackle climate change and still grow? Yes, say the leaders of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund – and the need to do so is urgent.
Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde weighed in on development and climate change in their first public discourse together on the topic, ahead of Annual Meetings with finance and development leaders this week.
A recent regional study that focused on Roma and non-Roma in nearby communities from five Eastern European countries finds between 28 and 45 percent of Roma children attend preschool in four of the five study countries. However, the Roma preschool rate jumps to 76 percent in Hungary, where targeted policies have been in place; and this is about the average for non-Roma preschool rates across the five countries. Hungary’s experience offers promise because surveys show that preschool matters greatly to completing secondary school and staying off social assistance.
The message draped across the World Bank’s Washington headquarters proclaims a noble goal – End Poverty. But how can the world achieve it? Later this week, finance and development ministers from 188 countries will weigh in on the World Bank Group’s plan to reorganize and modernize in pursuit of the goal. A new strategy paper describes how data, knowledge, financing, and talent will be leveraged to help end extreme poverty by 2030 and to ensure prosperity is more widely shared throughout society. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Chief Economist Kaushik Basu, and many other speakers will have more to say on these topics at events this week. See a schedule.