World Bank says donors agree $23.5 billion in new funds for poorest countries

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fifty-two countries and other donors have pledged $23.5 billion (£18.32 billion) in new funds for the world’s poorest states, pushing replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) fund to a record $82 billion, the World Bank said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A participant stands near a logo of World Bank at the International Monetary Fund - World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 12, 2018. REUTERS/Johannes P. Christo

That fund, which includes more than $53 billion for Africa, will help countries work to create jobs, invest in infrastructure, boost economic growth, and bolster resilience to climate shocks and natural disasters, top bank officials said.

First created in 1960, the fund is replenished every three years. This 19th replenishment covers 2020-2023. The new funding level exceeds the previous level by $7 billion, officials said.

“There’s been an agreement on the largest-ever replenishment of IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poor,” David Malpass, the bank’s president, said, noting that some countries that had previously received money from IDA had increased their donations.

Six new countries had joined the effort, and others could follow suit in coming weeks, he said.

Malpass said this year’s IDA replenishment would support people in 74 countries, home to almost 500 million people, or two-thirds of the world’s poor. He said the funds would help countries deal with the challenges posed by climate change, gender inequality, and conflict and violence, including in the Sahel, the Lake Chad region, and the Horn of Africa.

IDA is one of the largest sources of funding for fighting extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries. It provides zero- or low-interest loans and grants to countries for projects and programs that boost economic growth, build resilience, and improve the lives of poor people around the world.

Since 1960, IDA has provided more than $391 billion for investments in 113 countries.

The bank said it would not release a list of individual donor countries and the amounts they pledged until after a board meeting early next year, but said additional countries could join the effort in the near term.

In addition to country pledges, IDA is also supported by repayments of outstanding IDA loans, contributions from the World Bank, and financing raised from the capital markets.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Larry King