The Interim President of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, has been challenged by the BBC over the institution’s support for poverty-targeted social protection.
Stephen Sackur of BBC HARDtalk today raises the issue of schemes that set out to reduce poverty but fail to reach many of those that they identify as in poverty and eligible for support. He refers to evidence obtained by Development Pathways’ Stephen Kidd that the Bank’s support for targeting is motivated by a desire to save money. He also highlights that the International Trade Union Confederation and Oxfam have criticised the Bank’s support for targeting despite the fact this is not adequately tackling poverty.
Kristalina Georgieva responds by saying that the Bank continually reviews the impact it is making and learns from its experiences. “I am not saying we are always right… it is possible that perhaps we had a targeted programme that did not do a good enough job.”
The interview comes after newly published findings from a global review of the evidence on poverty targeting undertaken by Development Pathways which finds that between 44 and 97% of those 38 programmes identify as eligible for support are excluded from the programmes.
The BBC interviewer refers to an unpublished paper in which World Bank staff admitted: “The historical … evidence suggests that the forces pushing for better targeting are more regularly motivated by cutting entitlement bills and ensuring financial sustainability than by helping the poor.” This paper was referenced by Stephen Kidd in a Bretton Woods publication.
Stephen Sackur was conducting the interview after the U.S Government nominated David Malpass to become the Bank’s new president. He also raised the issue of uneven development progress worldwide with efforts to reduce extreme poverty stalling in sub-Saharan Africa.