Promoting Shared Prosperity
The World Bank helps to bridge the gap between the public and private sector, helping countries like the Philippines, bounce back from a crippling pandemic
INTERVIEW BY GRACE BAUTISTA
Like every organization, across all countries, the World Bank, a 76-year-old global financial institution, has also been greatly affected by the ongoing pandemic. Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand, reveals that the health crisis has hampered progress when it comes to the institution’s two key objectives—to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to promote shared prosperity. But not all hope is lost. The Philippines may have been slower to recover, but there is much more that can be done. Diop shares his thoughts and insights on how the World Bank is helping the country bounce back.
1. What is the focus and what are the goals of the World Bank during this COVID-19 pandemic?
Since 2020, the World Bank Group has been delivering a COVID-19 crisis response to help its member-countries strengthen their pandemic response and health care systems. This crisis response covers three stages: relief, restructuring, and resilient recovery, which are anchored on four pillars: saving lives, protecting the poor, securing the foundations of the economy, and strengthening policies and institutions for resilience. The relief stage involves our emergency response to the health threat and its immediate social, economic, and financial impacts. As countries manage the pandemic and re-open their economies, the restructuring stage focuses on strengthening health systems for pandemic readiness; restoring human capital; and restructuring, debt resolution, and recapitalization of firms and financial institutions. Finally, as countries recover from the crisis, the resilient recovery stage takes advantage of opportunities to build a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient future.
2. How close is the institution to achieving or completing these objectives?
The global pandemic still rages in many parts of the world so the World Bank continues to support its member-countries to respond to the pandemic. The Bank has delivered emergency support operations to over 100 developing countries, and has helped countries access critically needed medical supplies. Acknowledging the importance of vaccination to the overall pandemic response, the Bank has vowed to deliver US$12 billion over the next 24 months for the acquisition and deployment of vaccines and the strengthening of vaccinations systems among developing countries. The pandemic is certainly not over, but the strong collaboration between the World Bank and governments across the world are important steps toward winning the war against COVID-19.
3. According to the World Bank Group mission statement, the goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030. How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect this mission?
The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime global crisis that has plunged many economies into deep recession. The sudden and significant losses of income and business have led to the deterioration in human capital and has set back the poverty gains achieved by many countries in recent years. While it may now prove to be difficult to achieve this goal to end extreme poverty by 2030, the Bank remains steadfast to address this surmountable challenge.
4. The other goal of the World Bank Group is to promote shared prosperity by increasing the incomes of the poorest 40% of people in every country. What are the major projects in the East Asia and Pacific Region that are working towards completing this objective?
World Bank work in the region to promote shared prosperity spans across several areas, including support for private sector growth, climate change mitigation and adaption, disaster risk reduction and management, and the development of human capital (health, education and skills). In the Philippines, the World Bank has been a partner of the government in delivering key social programs to alleviate the conditions, improve capacity, and empower the poor. These programs include the conditional cash transfer under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which aims to improve the health, nutrition, and education of children aged 0-18; and the Philippine Rural Development Project that aims to increase rural incomes and enhance farm and fishery productivity in the targeted areas by supporting smallholders and fisherfolk to increase their marketable surpluses, and their access to markets.