World Bank needs to match words with actions on inequality and combating poverty

Published: 3rd October 2016

As the Annual Meetings of the World Bank kick off in Washington this week, Oxfam welcomed the focus on inequality, but urges top officials at the institution to align their words with their actions if they are serious about combating inequality and poverty.

Nadia Daar, the head of Oxfam International’s Washington office, said: “The World Bank needs to be consistent in how it approaches inequality and poverty. We’ve been hearing the right things from top officials, but we’re too often seeing the wrong results for communities actually confronted with the reality of the Bank’s actions.”

On World Bank investments through “Financial Intermediaries”:

“Oxfam and other organization today linked the Bank’s ‘hands-off’ financial intermediary lending to serious human and environmental abuses. If, as Bank president Jim Yong Kim said today, scaling down the growth of coal-fired plants in Asia is vital to curbing climate change, why we still seeing them finance a ‘coal power boom’ in the region?

“Kim said we need ‘a greener finance sector.’ If that’s the case, the Bank should start by being more responsible with where it invests and how it tracks the impact of their investments.”

On privatizing education and health:

“Kim rightly spoke about the need to invest in human capital, like education and health, to help countries grow their economies in a way that benefits everyone.

“An upcoming report by the Global Campaign for Education shows how free and universal public education is the best way to reach children living in poverty.  So-called ‘low-fee’ private schools, which the Bank has supported, offer poor quality education, exclude girls, and fail to reach the poorest communities.

“Having to pay for healthcare forces people in poverty to make brutal choices about where to spend their money: will a single mother put food on the table, send her child to school, or treat a chronic sickness? In the past, Kim has spoken out on the urgency of achieving universal health coverage and reducing out-of-pocket payments. The Bank needs to commit to help countries eliminate user fees, especially for maternal and child care.”


“This year, donor countries have been meeting to discuss funding for the International Development Association, one of the Bank’s important lending arms. Oxfam urges countries to fully replenish IDA, but do so in a way that commits the Bank to truly combating inequality and poverty.”

Notes to editors

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima will be in Washington during the week of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings and will available for interviews on a variety of issues..

Contact information

Simon Hernandez-Arthur in Washington 585 503 4568@SimonHernandez For updates, please follow @OxfamIFIs.