Week 3: World Bank, IMF, Sub-Saharan Africa, Oxfam

The World Bank is committed to helping achieve the MDGs because, simply put, these goals are our goals. They achieve this goal by providing low-interest loans, credits, and grants to countries that are developing. The World bank works to back up investments in health, infrastructure, education, agriculture, environmental, etc. The world bank also cofinances some “goals” with commercial banks, private sector investments, governments, and what they call multilateral institutions.

Logo of the World Bank (source: worldbank.org)

Logo of the World Bank (source: worldbank.org)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) plays a role in the world’s economy. The IMF oversees the international monetary system as well as economic/financial policies of those it oversees. According to the website, the IMF “keeps track of economic developments on a national, regional, and global basis” by providing financial policy advice. Other functions of the IMF are lending. They provide loans to countries who cannot finance their payments. The goal of the IMF (according to the website) is “To help countries restore macroeconomic stability by rebuilding their international reserves, stabilizing their currencies, and paying for imports.”

(Source: Wikipedia)

The major criticism of the World Bank and the IMF are concerned about the ‘conditionalities’ imposed on borrower countries. According to Brettonwoods Project, “the conditionalities are attached without due regard for the borrower countries’ individual circumstances and the prescriptive recommendations by the World Bank and IMF fail to resolve the economic problems within the countries.” Another major criticism by Brettonwoods is that there are also concerns that the World Bank working in partnership with the private sector “may undermine the role of the state as the primary provider of essential goods and services, such as healthcare and education, resulting in the shortfall of such services in countries badly in need of them.”

Source: UN.org

Since the goals of MDGs are so broad, individual countries can’t be targeted, and since individual countries are at different levels of need compared to countries, carrying out all 8 MDGs is not realistic. For a more effective way to carry out the 8 goals, countries must evaluate their largest problems, and tackle them according to their individual needs, that way, the 8 goals will be eventually met with time, focusing on primary needs and then moving onto the less urgent issues.

Sub-Saharan Africa is defined as a region by Princeton as a primarily black region. According to Princeton, “a political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are located south of the Sahara. It contrasts with North Africa, which is considered a part of the Arab world.”

In terms of progress led by the MDGs, Sub-Saharan Africa is very underdeveloped, and in one of the worst conditions compared to other countries. Not only does Sub-Saharan Africa suffer from illness (ranging from Malaria to AIDS), there are food and environmental issues as well. Compared to other areas needing aid/ assistance, Sub-Saharan Africa has the hardest time achieving any of the 8 goals. In this case, social spending is important. According to the WiseGeek

Source: capacity4dev.ec.europa.eu

website, “Social spending usually refers to funds governments set aside for social programs.” Moreso,“the ultimate goal of most government social spending programs is the eventual elimination of poverty.” Since Sub-Saharan Africa is so underdeveloped and poor, the need for social spending is quite apparent for certain issues, such as curing Malaria and helping with AIDS.

Source: Flikr

A country in Sub-Saharan Africa such as South Sudan has endured almost 50 years of war in its country. In 2011, South Sudan became independent. According to the UNDP website:

-27% of adults are literate (16% of women are literate)

-The poverty rate is 50.6%

-The Under-Five Infant Mortality Rate= 135 out of 1,000 births

-In 2011, Maternal mortality ranked highest in the world. 2,053 out of 100,000 births.

-In 2011, the UNDP also reported that 90% of the population makes less than a dollar a day.

Source: Southsudanesebc.com

In order to keep MDGs on the right path despite economic and financial crises is “developing countries require policy reforms, increased aid and trade access, and sustainable support from international financial institutions”– according to the article, Road to 2015. Although there’s a lack in aid, he article said, “International financial institutions and the international community…need[s] to do more to help developing countries regain their momentum in achieving the MDG.” In the Road to 2015, Sub-Saharan Africa has been pretty successful, in spite of the crisis: “…low-income countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, have done relatively well during the crisis thanks to strong economic and policy positions, and developing countries as a whole are recovering better than expected.”

mdgs

In order to keep MDGs on the right path despite economic and financial crises is “developing countries require policy reforms, increased aid and trade access, and sustainable support from international financial institutions,” according to the article, Road to 2015. Although there’s a lack in aid, he article said, “International financial institutions and the international community…need[s] to do more to help developing countries regain their momentum in achieving the MDG.” In the Road to 2015, Sub-Saharan Africa has been pretty successful, in spite of the crisis: “…low-income countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, have done relatively well during the crisis thanks to strong economic and policy positions, and developing countries as a whole are recovering better than expected.”

The reasoning behind Sub-Saharan success, depends on the human development indicators used by the World Bank:

  • Size of economy
  • Population dynamics
  • Labor force structures
  • Employment by economic activity
  • Decent work and productive employment
  • Children at work
  • Unemployment
  • Poverty rates at National poverty lines
  • Poverty rates at international poverty lines
  • Distribution of income or consumption
  • Assessing vulnerability and security
  • Participation in education
  • Education completion and outcomes

Source: Oxfam.org

The main points that Oxfam raises against the MDGs is that there are still 75 million children who are uneducated, illiterate, or who do not have a chance to go to school. Oxfam is an NGO, or better known as a non-profit organization. Another problem Oxfam criticizes is the amount of people still contracting HIV/AIDS and malaria. According to Oxfam’s website, half of the world’s population is still at risk of contracting malaria mainly because there are hardly any funds in malaria prevention—and furthermore, there is no money to buy supplies to contain/treat the disease.

Oxfam hopes to combat HIV/AIDS—their biggest challenge is swaying countries’ governments as well as the drug industry in having more accessible, cheaper, and more developed medicines in developing countries struggling with diseases.

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