News story

Britain backs drive to lift millions out of extreme poverty

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Britain will help millions of people secure access to basic education, immunisation and clean water through an international programme aimed at the most impoverished countries in the world, International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, announced today.

The fund - the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) - will train two million teachers, boost trade by constructing 80,000km of roads and improve access to clean water for 80 million people.

The British Government has agreed to support the fund after agreeing to key reforms from the World Bank, which included, for the first-time ever, thanks to UK pressure, setting ambitious targets.

In addition, IDA will now have an increased focus on the world’s most fragile countries, a key priority for the Coalition Government.

The agreement is set to boost the impact of British support in the poorest countries across the world and increase the level of transparency attached to UK aid spending.

Britain’s support to IDA will help:

  • Immunise up to 20 million children;
  • Improve access to water for 8 million people;
  • Recruit and train 200,000 teachers; and
  • Boost trade by constructing almost 8,000km of road.

Andrew Mitchell said:

“Britain is keeping its promises to the world’s poorest people, targeting our support where it will make the most difference.

“Through this fund, we will help to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people who are currently living in some of the most impoverished circumstances imaginable.

“The British Government has pushed the World Bank to put a greater focus on results, which will deliver a greater impact on the ground and better value for money for the UK taxpayer.

“In embracing this, the Bank has taken a positive step forward.”

In the three years following the 2007 IDA replenishment, almost one million teachers were recruited and trained, 31 million people enjoyed improved access to water, 85 million children were immunised and 32,000km of road was constructed in developing countries.

Britain also helped secure agreement from the Bank to extend the period of time in which post-conflict countries are given additional assistance. It will also work more closely with the UN in these countries.

The IDA is the part of the World Bank Group that provides assistance to the poorest countries, and is an important and effective channel for the UK’s efforts to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Half of its work is in Africa.

A new facility is being established in IDA16 that will enable the Bank to offer countries additional support when they face natural disasters, like the earthquake in Haiti, or major external shocks, like the recent financial crisis or previous spike in food prices

Britain’s contribution to IDA16 will be £888m per year for three years.