WB announces global learning conference to fight poverty [Archives:2004/726/Business & Economy]

April 5 2004

Sana'a, March 23, 2004. As part of a global learning process that aims to step up efforts in reducing poverty by assessing best practices and sharing valuable knowledge among developing countries, officials from the World Bank and the Government of China today announced a conference to be held in Shanghai next May 25-27.
The World Bank, along with its partners, is sponsoring this conference because it is critical to “unlock” knowledge in order to expand or “scale-up” development results across regions and countries. For the first time developing country practitioners and policy makers from around the world will share their expertise about what works, what doesn't, and why, analyzing 70 cases of poverty reduction, and identifying key success factors throughout those efforts.
In the Middle East and North Africa region, case studies are being drawn from Egypt, Iran, Morocco and Yemen where efforts to address the needs of poor communities in health, education, micro finance and rural infrastructure have yielded concrete results. The case study of Egypt, for example, demonstrates how girls' school enrollment in rural areas increased in the late 1990s as a result of government efforts to build schools for girls in remote areas and raise local communities' awareness about the benefits of girls' education.
The main goals of the Conference are to uncover the economic, social, and governance components that enabled some countries to reduce poverty on a large scale; to share these lessons across regions and countries; and to disseminate them widely to policy makers, practitioners, and researchers.
“This first global South-South exchange of development expertise and experience is expected to change our way of doing business. We are calling on developing country experts to identify solutions that can travel,” says World Bank President, James D. Wolfensohn. “We've had many good years of development experience, but to meet the MDGs, to not fall behind in the struggle, we need to accelerate results. This is the first comprehensive look at what works, what doesn't, and why.”
This highly interactive process of knowledge exchange focuses on analyzing more than 70 case studies which are expected to shed light on some common ingredients of development success. The cases are being presented and discussed through 20 multi-country interactive video conferences, on-line dialogues, and 10 field visits to project sites in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Uganda, and Yemen.
The field visit to Yemen took place earlier this month in which local and international development practitioners toured projects supported by the Social Fund for Development)a leading development agency in a country where nearly half of the 18.8 million people live in poverty. During the three-day learning event, development practitioners from countries like Japan, Nicaragua, Bangladesh and Morocco had a first-hand glimpse of how the Social Fund mechanism adopted by the Government of Yemen since 1997 has been successful in delivering basic services to the poor with the participation of local communities.
The Conference in Shanghai is expected to bring some 600 participants together around a series of case studies illustrating successful and not so successful examples, providing high visibility to approaches that really worked in reducing poverty on a large scale within various economic, social, and institutional contexts.

Yemen: Social Fund for Development
Constrained by weak government capacity to deliver social services, the Government of Yemen developed an effective way to provide basic services through the Social Fund. This case study reviews the impact of the Social Fund's support to education, health, and water supply and sanitation in poor communities.