President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, on Thursday vowed that the organisation will not allow famine and hunger kill Nigerians in the North-East region.
He assured that World Bank was deploying tools and financial support required to respond to the famine plaguing the region and some other countries across the globe.
Jim Yong Kim said this in his opening remarks at the ongoing World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings in Washington DC.
The devastation by Boko Haram has left nearly five million people in the North-East region desperately hungry and risk starving to death, according to figures from the United Nations.
UN also describes the current wave of famine as the worst in 70 years.
Jim Yong Kim lamented that “the world was caught unprepared” by the situation Nigeria and some other countries.
He said: “Too often, we forget about crises as soon as they abate – leading to a cycle of panic and neglect. We’re already working with the affected countries and partners to respond to the famine – and we will use every tool we have, financial and advisory, to prevent famine in the future.
“This won’t be easy. It will require agreement across the entire international development finance system – multilaterals and bilaterals – to move the global development architecture in this direction,” Kim said.
The World Bank boss added that “We are encouraged to see stronger economic prospects after years of disappointing global growth. There are still many downside risks, however, and countries that have the fiscal space need to continue with structural reforms. This is vital to accelerating the sustainable and inclusive economic growth needed to end extreme poverty by 2030.
“We’re meeting at a time when we face several overlapping crises, both natural and man-made, all of which add urgency to our mission. We have to find new and innovative ways to reach the poor, and make the world more secure and stable. Last week at the London School of Economics, I outlined how we’re working to change our approach.
“We have to start by asking whether the private sector can finance a project. If the conditions aren’t right, we will work with our partners to de-risk that project or, if needed, de-risk entire countries or sectors. Here’s the good news: There’s never been a better time to find those win-win solutions.
“There are trillions of dollars sitting on the sidelines, earning little interest, and investors are looking for better returns. That capital should be mobilised to help us meet the exploding aspirations of people all over the world. And with the crises we face, our task is much more urgent than we ever thought.”
Kim said one of the things that the Bank found was that foreign direct investment often had much higher impact, much stronger impact on improving institutions and government than aid to low income and under-developed countries.
“This is why we’re trying to bring together the financing we provide to governments and also the financing that comes from the private sector to create better institutions, more investment, more jobs, more economic growth in a much more synergistic way”, he said.
In her address, Managing Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde urged Nigeria and other low income countries to step up research and development, innovation, revisit housing policies in their countries in order to drive sustainable growth.
“Stronger cooperation across counties would help reduce external imbalances, clamp down on excessive tax evasion and avoidance and would help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals so that the low income countries can also reap the benefits of improved productivity,” Lagarde added.