World Bank poverty drive has failed
A report published yesterday suggests that World Bank projects costing hundreds of millions of pounds and aimed at cutting malnutrition among children in developing countries have completely failed to make any difference.
Save the Children UK claims that the bank has not only continued with costly but failing projects in Bangladesh and Uganda but it is planning to expand, with a scheme billed for Ethiopia, reported the Guardian.
The World Bank both designs the programmes and lends beneficiaries the money to carry them out, which increases their debt.
Fiona Weir, the charity's policy and communication director, said: "It is a matter of deep concern that the World Bank has recently loaned Bangladesh a further 4.6m [£75m] and a projected 10-year investment loan plan of bn is under discussion."
"These projects threaten to plunge developing countries into further debt without making any substantial impact on malnutrition rates."
John Seaman, a health advisor at Save the Children, claims that the programmes are based on a "widely discredited" approach, which assumes "that the child is malnourished because the mother isn't doing something right, because she doesn't know how to feed or lacks the food to support the child".
In areas where the programmes operate, children are registered at birth at a centre. Their mothers then bring them in each month to be weighed. If the children appear severely malnourished, they become eligible for feed ing. The mother then has to bring them to the centre every day and is shown how and what to feed her child while the infant gets a meal.
"It's a considerable time investment for the mother," said Anna Taylor, author of the charity report, Thin on the Ground. "The child could be receiving food for three to six months and she is supposed to go every day and receive messages about how she is supposed to be caring for her child and sitting around waiting for the meal."
The charity's research showed that only 20% of the children eligible for extra feeding were receiving it, concluding that the World Bank has not taken account of the pressures on the mothers to work and take care of their home and the rest of the family."
"Our evidence suggests that too many mothers are too poor to act on their newly acquired knowledge about nutrition: they live in unhealthy, unsanitary environments lacking adequate and safe water," the report says. "They have little or no access to health services; they are often illiterate and they have inadequate time for childcare."