Officials meeting in Brussels this week agreed to contribute nearly $50 billion over the next three years to the World Bank fund dedicated to the globe’s poorest countries.
The 18% boost marked the arrival of some previous aid recipients as donors. World Bank president Robert Zoellick said he could not provide details on individual donors until the World Bank board approves the funding package early next year.
The US pledged $3.7 billion in the last funding round, negotiated in 2007. Britain, which topped the US last year as the largest single donor, said it had promised $4.2 billion over the next three years. British officials said that represents a nearly 25% increase in local currency at a time when the government is pressing painful spending and benefits cuts on its citizens.
The fund, known as the International Development Association (IDA), supports health, education, food security and building programmes through grants and long-term, interest-free loans to the world’s 79 least-developed countries. The fund is replenished every three years at a donors conference. This year it marked a record for giving, with 51 countries agreeing to contribute.
Zoellick said the funding level signaled a recognition that IDA’s efforts were important to sustain despite the recent recession and the slow growth in many developed countries. He said the $49 billion pledged this week is a “robust” increase over donations negotiated before the onset of the recession.
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