What the World Bank Means by Poverty Reduction Essay

11433 Words May 20th, 2016 46 Pages
What the World Bank Means by Poverty Reduction


Paul Cammack


ABSTRACT

Critics of the World Bank have variously attributed its proclaimed commitment to poverty
reduction to empty rhetoric, hypocrisy, incompetence, confusion, or overload in the absence of a coherent agenda. This article argues that the commitment is genuine, but that it is not a first order goal: poverty reduction is an intended consequence of its principal objective, the transformation of social and governmental relations and institutions in the developing world in order to generalize and facilitate capitalist accumulation on a global scale, and build capitalist hegemony through the promotion of tightly controlled forms of 'participation' and
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As a result, countries seeking debt relief through the HIPC scheme must produce interim
and full Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and negotiate approval for them from the
Bank. Great emphasis is placed throughout the process on ‘country ownership’, the participation
of civil society, and consultation with donor countries and NGOs. Over the same period the Bank
has reformed its internal structures and changed the way in which it works with debtor countries
and development partners. It now designates itself a ‘Knowledge Bank’, and places particular
emphasis upon its expertise and its capacity to provide objective and disinterested policy advice
directed towards the alleviation of poverty. The dream of ‘a world free of poverty’ headlines the
Bank’s mission statement, and is central to the image of itself it promotes (Granzow 2000; see
also http://www.worldbank.org/ourdream). However, in spite of the lead given to indebted
countries in the shaping of programmes, and the participation from an early stage of donor
countries and NGOs, scepticism regarding the Bank’s commitment to both poverty reduction and
partnership is widespread. Critics characterize the conversion of the Bank to poverty reduction as
confused and incomplete, denounce the largely market-oriented policies still advocated, and
question the character and extent of country ownership and local participation, asserting that
behind the rhetoric the Bank still keeps tight…

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