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World Bank Vows To Invest More Resources to Help African Countries Meet Millennium Development Goals

The World Bank says African countries are having mixed results in attempts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The bank released a report on worldwide efforts in advance of next week’s UN summit on progress in achieving the goals.

The report highlights the positives and the negatives of efforts by developing countries to meet their targets, says Phil Hay, the communications adviser to the Human Development Network of the World Bank.

“What we are going to see is that tragically…(before) the food, fuel and financial crisis, developing countries were making pretty significant progress in overcoming poverty, finding enough food for people to eat, trying to get more kids into school, trying to bring women into the work force, into the main stream of the economy.”

The challenge between now and 2015, says Hay, is to re-double the effort to help as many countries as possible to achieve these MDGs.”

He adds that the bank is optimistic that new commitments will be made by governments and organizations to assist needy countries.

“What we at the World Bank are doing and obviously we hope very much at the MDG’s summit next week other countries and agencies will follow suit, is to give more resources,” says Hay. “We certainly realize that we have to be accountable at the World Bank (in) helping countries achieve their MDGs.”

The bank already has plans to increase aid in certain critical sectors in the affected countries, he says.

“We at the World Bank are going to boost our support to agriculture to about $8.3 billion a year under our agriculture action plan. In terms of education, which is so important for youngsters being able to get a job and join the main stream of their society later…we are also going to increase our zero interest grant investment in basic education by extra $750 million.”

The bank will target 35 countries, says Hay, particularly in east and south Asia and Africa, which have problems meeting their health goals because of poor child and maternal nutrition and disease.