World Bank: Globe bracing for more poverty

By DEB RIECHMANN –

WASHINGTON (AP) — The global economic crisis has stymied the international community’s effort to halve extreme poverty by 2015 and meet other goals to reduce hunger, fight disease and get young children to school, the World Bank warned on Friday.

A report released in conjunction with this week’s meeting of the bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington said the financial meltdown is impeding efforts to achieve most of the eight U.N. millennium development goals. Although it still may be possible to reach the first goal — halving extreme poverty by 2015 from its 1990 level — it will be an uphill battle, according to “The Global Monitoring Report 2009: A Development Emergency.”

“With simultaneous recessions striking all major regions, the likelihood of painfully slow recoveries in many countries is very real, making the fight against poverty more challenging and more urgent,” said John Lipsky, deputy managing director of the IMF.

New estimates show that more than half of all developing countries could experience a rise in the number of extremely poor people this year. The report said it’s estimated that 55 million to 90 million more people will be trapped in extreme poverty this year due to the worldwide recession. The number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb to more than 1 billion this year, reversing gains made in fighting malnutrition and making it even more urgent to invest in agriculture.

“Worldwide, we have an enormous loss of wealth and financial stability,” said Justin Yifu Lin, an economist at the World Bank. “Millions more people will lose their jobs in 2009, and urgent funding must be provided for social safety nets, infrastructure and small businesses in poor countries, for a sustainable recovery.”

The crisis calls for special attention on programs and services that shield poor and vulnerable people from immediate hardship, the report said. But it also is vital to speed up progress toward the human development goals, particularly those related to health where prospects are gravest, according to the report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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