Speaking this morning at the Spring Meetings opening press conference, Bank President Robert Zoellick said high and volatile food prices continue to threaten the world's poor.
Already, 44 million people have fallen into poverty since June last year. “If the Food Price Index rises by just another 10%, we estimate that another 10 million people will fall into extreme poverty where people live on less than $1.25 a day,” Zoellick said. “The world can do something about this.”
Food prices have soared due to severe weather events in key grain exporting countries, export restrictions, the increasing use for biofuel production, and low global stocks. The food price hike is also linked to surging fuel prices—crude oil increased 21 percent in the first quarter of 2011as a result of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
The World Bank has a multi-pronged approach to boost agriculture and food security, Zoellick said, including support through the Global Food Crisis Response Program, which is helping some 40 million people in need through $1.5 billion in support. For the longer-term, the World Bank Group is boosting its spending on agriculture to some $7 billion a year from $4.1 billion in 2008.
For more, see President Zoellick’s press statement.
In other news, the World Bank and the African Development Bank issued a statement today saying they welcomed the end of hostilities in Cȏte d'Ivoire following the last four months of crisis after elections in the country last November.
Zoellick noted that the Bank “will provide prompt support, drawing practical lessons from the just released World Development Report, to help get people back to work, and to integrate improved security with advances in justice and governance.
For more, see the statement.