World Bank Releases Report ‘Defending’ Its Programs But ‘Acknowledging’ Failures in Fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa
The World Bank yesterday released a report stating that its aid programs have helped reduce poverty and boost health in developing nations, thus "answer[ing] complaints" made by U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill that the financial institution's lending system has "heaped debt" on poorer nations without producing effective results, the New York Times reports. The report, titled, "The Role and Effectiveness of Development Assistance," states that World Bank programs have allowed people in developing nations to "live longer, healthier and more productive lives." However, the report "acknowledges some serious mistakes," including the bank's failure to achieve greater progress in fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa (Kahn, New York Times, 3/12). Noting that HIV/AIDS has reduced life expectancy by three years in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s, the report states that development assistance has not always been "fully effective" (World Bank release, 3/11).
Bank vs. Bush
The Times states that the World Bank report "clearly" aims to answer charges by the Bush administration that the lending institution's assistance programs have been "ineffective." O'Neill has said that the World Bank could produce better results by giving money to health, education and sanitation projects in developing countries instead of lending money to governments that "sometimes waste the resources" (New York Times, 3/12). O'Neill and the Bush administration have recommended that 50% of World Bank aid to developing countries be given in the form of grants instead of low-interest loans so that the countries could "alleviate the debt that burdens" their economies. European officials have suggested converting 10% of World Bank loans into grants, but O'Neill has said that this figure is too low (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/21). The World Bank report is being released one week before the United Nations International Conference on Financing for Development begins in Monterrey, Mexico (World Bank release, 3/11). The Times reports that the United States has already fended off an effort by the United Kingdom, the World Bank and the United Nations to "use the Monterrey conference to push for large-scale increases in foreign aid" (New York Times, 3/12).