World Bank's Mission
The resignation of World Bank president David Malpass on February 16, 2023, has placed a spotlight on the World Bank. Throughout the years, the World Bank’s endeavors have brought both victory and controversy. However, overall, the World Bank’s mission to end poverty has seen significant success across all regions of the world.

The Founding of the World Bank

About 12 months before the conclusion of World War II, the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference resulted in the creation of two institutions aimed at igniting economic growth and reducing poverty: the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The World Bank’s endeavors originally focused on “rebuilding the economies of countries devastated by war and increasing the economic development of developing countries,” but now, the institution works on all types of development.

According to the World Bank’s website, the World Bank’s mission is to “end extreme poverty” and “promote shared prosperity.” Made up of five institutions, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the International Development Association; the International Finance Corporation; the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, the World Bank partners with governments and private sectors to provide funding and assistance for poverty reduction initiatives. Since its founding in 1947, the World Bank has aided 189 member nations with $45.9 billion worth of financial assistance support for at least 12,000 development projects.

World Bank Projects in Africa

The World Bank’s website breaks down its own results into regions, starting with Africa. Its strategy for the continent aims to address extreme weather events, reduce hunger, create employment opportunities, increase resilience, safeguard the most vulnerable people and improve human capital.

In Somalia, the World Bank partnered with the Federal Government of Somalia to implement “social safety net provisions.” Within the first two years of support, more than 1 million Somalians received funding for “basic consumption needs.”

The World Bank has supported the Niger government for close to a decade to help establish an adequate social safety net. The Adaptive Safety Net Project 2 “Wadata Talaka” (PFSA 2), which launched on June 20, 2019, has provided direct support to more than 3 million Nigerien people.

Initiatives in East and Pacific Asia

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the World Bank has implemented emergency projects in many East and Pacific Asian countries, a few being the Philippines, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea. The emergency funding allows these countries to “purchase medical and laboratory supplies, train medical staff and strengthen national public health systems,” the World Bank website says.

In Vietnam, the World Bank’s endeavors have improved access to quality health care services for 13.7 million Vietnamese people in mostly remote areas in Northern Vietnam. Through the Northeast and Red River Delta Regions Health System Support Project, the World Bank “improved the treatment capacity of 74 public hospitals at the district and provincial levels by investing in upgrading the medical infrastructure and training health workers.”

These hospitals can now provide specialized health care services in the areas of “cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, oncology and trauma (surgery).” This means patients no longer need to travel very far to seek this care.

To reduce Indonesia’s national stunting rate, the World Bank established the Investing in Nutrition and Early Years Program in 2018 to support Indonesia’s national strategy. The project managed to decrease the national rate of stunting by 6.4% in three years.

World Bank Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean

In April 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank committed $29.1 billion to Latin America and the Caribbean to combat the crisis till June 2022. Within this region, the World Bank has been focusing on “promoting inclusive growth,” “investing in human capital” and “supporting countries’ development goals” while “fostering a green and sustainable recovery.” The World Bank has provided funding to countries such as Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru, with support ranging from reformation, stability efforts, education expansion, sustainability and economic recovery.

Supporting South Asia

South Asia has received $31 billion in funding from the World Bank since March 2020. More than 857 million disadvantaged South Asians received support through $2.73 billion of funding provided by 10 initiatives supporting social safety nets. These finances provided social assistance to the most impoverished households to help them meet their basic needs. This funding has also supported health projects that have equipped health care centers, bolstered education programs and increased vaccine availability.

World Bank Projects in MENA

The World Bank’s mission in the Middle East and North Africa is to “eliminate poverty and promote shared prosperity through strengthening human capital, supporting jobs and economic transformation, advancing gender equity, addressing fragility and enabling green growth,” its website says. World Bank projects in the MENA equate to about $23.2 billion. Since April 2020, the bank has devoted $5.4 billion as of October 2021 to address the pandemic’s impacts and “protect the most vulnerable, support sustainable business growth and job creation and strengthen institutions to rebuild.”

The World Bank’s endeavors have supported the distribution of vaccines in Tunisia, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen. In 2021, the World Bank detailed its strategies for the Middle East, including efforts toward transparency and trust, improving human capital and strengthening gender equality.

The World Bank is one of the leading institutions in the fight against poverty. Its mission and impact highlight the importance of the global organization in the progress and development of developing countries.

– Audrey Gaines
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccination in MENACOVID-19 has caused the death of 2.5 million people globally. However, the good news is the vaccine has prevented 1.25 million patients saving at least 279,000 lives. According to Yale and CommonWealth funds, without the vaccine, the U.S. would have seen 4,500 deaths per day. Additionally, if vaccines had occurred periodically, an extra 121,000 deaths would have come about. A chance of 26 million cases could have become a reality if vaccines had not been openly available. With only 14 out of 21 countries having access to the vaccine in the Eastern Mediterranean region, there is an apparent uneven distribution putting lives at risk. An inequality is leaving Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries in the dark. Here is some information about COVID-19 vaccination in MENA.

About COVID-19 Vaccination in MENA

Health Policy Advisor Anna Marriott told Middle East Eye that “Those promises that were made at the outset of this pandemic that the vaccine would be a global public good, you know our leaders have failed. We know that 17.9 million people lack access to health care in Yemen and only half the facilities are fully functional.” Marriott referred to the pandemic as vaccine apartheid. In other words, nations are experiencing discrimination solely because of wealth and vaccine diplomacy.

Here are a few other ways inequality has been prominent in MENA locations. On January 24, 2021, in Egypt, Hala Zayed, Minister of Health and Population, announced that citizens would have to pay $12 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The only MENA citizens eligible for a free shot are the lower class. The MENA region has received vaccines from India and the United Arabs Emirates. Meanwhile, Tunisia and Iraq received vaccine donations from China due to the lack of access. Tunisia garnered 100,000 doses and China was able to provide Iraq’s first batch of vaccines after 13,428 deaths, on March 1, 2020. These donations helped prevent the further spread of COVID-19.


Organizations have also taken steps to help improve COVID-19 vaccination in MENA. GAVI is one of the many organizations focusing on improving vaccine access. It founded COVAX, which delivers vaccines to underprivileged nations, including those in the MENA region. For example, Iran, one of the first countries to battle the pandemic, had 18 million vaccines available, 1 million of the vaccines being CovIran Barekat, which Shifa Pharmed Industrial group developed in Tehran. Iran’s vaccine development resulted from experiencing 40,000 cases a day, leading to more hospitalizations than it could handle. China developed its Sinopharm vaccine, donating 12 million to Iran and other MENA countries. Meanwhile, Oxford founded its Astrazenca vaccine, donating 4 million to Iran.

Iran continues developing other vaccines overcoming obstacles regarding access to materials and equipment. When asked why the answer was simple, Iranian scientists said that “We can’t rely on help from the international community with the pandemic. We are living imposed by the United States….” The scientist cements their reasoning, “The United States says that sanctions don’t affect humanitarian activities, but when your money is restricted, it is difficult to buy drugs and medicine. And we have the technology to produce vaccines, so why not.”

MENA countries are not oblivious to the unequal distribution of vaccines. They realize they can not rely on outside lands to provide for them, so they have taken advantage of their resources and provided for themselves and other struggling nations.

– Alexis Jones
Photo: Flickr