Cover Image
close this bookOvercoming Global Hunger (WB)
close this folderSession one: global challenge
View the documentWelcoming remarks
View the documentPartnership to fight hunger
View the documentA vision for a hunger-free partnership
View the documentParticipation of nongovernmental organizations
View the documentNothing grows from the top down
View the documentConference themes

Welcoming remarks

Elliott Milstein

The American University is very and honored that the World Bank chose our campus as the site for this major conference on world hunger.

Overcoming global hunger is an ennobling endeavor, besides being an issue of immediate concern and urgent humanitarian priority. Indeed, conceiving of an issue that is of more fundamental importance than this one is difficult. For this reason, our welcome to you on behalf of the university community is heartfelt.

Your participation here comes at the end of 1993, the 100th year of The American University. During our centennial year we were able to reflect on our own involvement in international human rights, international trade and economic development, international environmental protection, humanitarian affairs, dispute resolution, and international education. The involvement of our faculty and our students, through their solar ship and through their public service work, in these kinds of issues throughout the world makes it particularly fitting that this conference is being held here. Furthermore, as overcoming global hunger is part of the agenda of our Center for the Global South, which operates under the able direction of Dr. Clovis Maksoud, the conference reinforces our commitment to that center and its work in the south of the world.

I am hopeful that this conference will open new avenues of cooperation and joint programs between The American University, and particularly the Center for the Global South, our School of international Service, and the World Bank and the NGOs, m their respective struggles to combat the root causes of hunger and to ensue a more equitable world order.

I wish you success in this conference and, more important, in the work that it will engender. Welcome to American University.

Partnership to fight hunger

Lewis T. Preston.

Like most of the organizations represented here today, the World Bank through its commitment to poverty reduction—has long been concerned about global hunger. Congressman Tony Hall's fast earlier this year gave renewed and dramatic attention to the issue and sparked the thinking that led to this event. I would like to take this opportunity to commend Congress man Hall on his efforts, and to say how delighted we are that he is here today.

Sense of Perspective.

This conference does not take place in isolation. There have been many other conferences that— as you know—have set ambitious hunger reduction objectives. The actual results, however— again, as you know-have too often fallen short of those objectives. We must ensure that our words during the next several days are matched by our actions during the next several years. We need to be realistic and view this conference as a step toward a stronger international effort to address global hunger and as part of a continuing dialogue. That does not mean, of course, that we will necessarily agree on everything, but it is in everybody's interest to be open to different views and perspectives.

The World Bank has convened this conference, but it does not act alone. Hunger can only be effectively addressed through a partnership involving all those concerned. The governments and peoples who face the problem every day are ultimately-the key actors, but the United.

Nations organizations, donor agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and multilateral institutions also have important roles to play It is encouraging to see this partnership strongly represented here today.

Poverty and Hunger

Hunger in the midst of plenty is one of the most difficult development challenges of our time Aggregate food production continues to increase; yet hunger also continues to blight the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Hunger is sometimes caused by drought, disease, or war, and a strong humanitarian response is always needed in those cases But the more widespread and deep-rooted form of hunger is caused by people having neither the capacity to produce food nor the income to pay for it Fundamentally, hunger is caused by poverty.

Broad Spectrum of Actions

If we want to reduce hunger effectively, we have to reduce poverty, and that requires a broad spectrum of actions, namely:

· Supporting government polices that encourage growth and employment for the poor and removing policies that discriminate against agriculture and peasant farmers

· Investing in people's capacities through education, health, family planning, and nutrition

· Implementing better agricultural technologies and research

· Focusing on the vital link between environmental sustainability and increased food production

· Expanding the participation of the poor in development through increased access to credit, land, and services.

The Bank, working with its partners, is deeply engaged in supporting these efforts, but recognizes that more needs to be done, both by the Bank and by its partners.

Complementary Action at the Grassroots Level

The discussion over the next few days ought to consider how we can complement our ongoing efforts and reach the poorest of the poor more directly.

Micro-level credit schemes, such as those undertaken by Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, the Badan Credit Bank of Indonesia, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, have proven to be highly effective at the grassroots; level. The basic idea behind these schemes is to help people help themselves by starting small scale income generation projects and businesses They are a particularly effective way of reaching women, thereby helping to improve the incomes and wellbeing of their children and families.

The World Bank is willing to work with its partners to expand effective micro-level credit schemes for the poorest of the poor, perhaps by joing other donors who might tee willing to take the lead in establishing a consultative mechanism that could focus not only on funding, but also on the dissemination of best practices.

In the meantime, the Bank is ready to make the concept action-oriented. The Grameen Trust, represented here today by its founder, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, has already initiated a program to provide seed capital to some thirty to forty micro credit schemes in various countries during the next five years. A number of donors have already contributed to this program, and I am pleased to announce that the Bank is also willing to contribute a US$2 million grant to help cover the Grameen Trust's startup needs. As you may know the Bank does not generally provide grants. We are prepared to make an exception in this case because the need is urgent and because, as indicated, we hope it might help to catalyze a broader response from the donor community.

Conclusion

Many other actions can end must tee taken to fight hunger, and I emphasized earlier the importance of embedding our efforts in the context of a broad poverty reduction strategy. The various organizations represented here have different comparative advantages, but we all share the same goal. More collaboration and a more regular, more open dialogue can help us to achieve it If this conference moves us further down that road, it will have served its purpose, and the millions who suffer in poverty and hunger will benefit.

A vision for a hunger-free partnership

Tony P. Hall

St. Francis of Assisi said, "We need to preach the gospel at all tunes and only if necessary do we need to use words." I believe he meant that we need not make speeches or talk so much, but rather act and demonstrate our love for our fellow man. I think action is a good word for us. It is not enough to come out of here with a good statement, a good direction. We must be people of action. Speak softly, but finely, and let our actions speak for themselves.

I want to thank the World Bank, President Preston, Dr. Serageldin, and especially my good friend Bill Stanton, who had the vision and the love not only of this Bank, but of the issue of hunger. I thank them for asking me to be part of this most important conference and for responding not only to this pressing issue, but to my twenty-two-day fast.

The reason for the fast was that I was frustrated with my colleagues in the American Congress for their failure to focus on and emphasis the importance of the hungry, not only in the world, but in the United States as well. How can we call ourselves leaders and yet not lead in the most basic of human rights: the right to eat, the right to food? How can we stand by end not make the children and the malnourished people of this world a priority, especially when we have the resources and knowledge to end hunger, or at a minimum decrease its prevalence substantially?

In reading the book of Isaiah, verse 58, about fasting, I felt that I was on a path that I could not turn back from, and that was to identify with the poor and to raise people's consciousness about the hungry.

Looking back on it, I was amazed at the experience. I looked on this act of fasting with the anxiety and dread that any man of habit feels when suddenly confronted with a duty that carried with it en action that is so unfamiliar, so out of his comfort zone, that the details and results are not up to him, and are beyond his understanding and control. Never theless the action, done in all humility, was very powerful to me. It was a moving experience that I admitted to my wife I would miss. I felt I was inspired by God and I still do. At other times I thought I would be labeled "the flake of & year." I thought this was the end of my career, but I was willing to give it up because I was so frustrated and angry at the lack of response from my own Congress and my own colleagues.

By going twenty-two days without food, with only water, I felt what it was like for some children as they go to school, how they are tired, falling asleep, sometimes dull, because they do not have enough food to feed their brains. I felt very old when, in the afternoon, I could not walk a block without being winded, and when I would lie down to rest I did not feel I could get up because I was so tired, without energy, and yet I was not hungry anymore. I remember an experience I had in 1984 in Ethiopia, on the upper plateau, where 50,000 people had come because they had heard—this was in the very early stages of the famine that food would be available. But when they arrived, nobody was there. There were no medicines, no doctors, no blankets. There was nothing As I was relating this to my own fast, I wondered how these people had walked so far. How were they able to get to the site?

What happened as a result of the fast, the thing that is so unpolitical, was that thousands of people across the country, even in other countries, wrote and asked, "What can we do?" Some started programs Some wrote and asked, "To whom can we donate our money?" "Who is really fighting hunger?" It was amazing that these thousands of letters and communications poured in from all fifty states of my own country.

Then Mike Espy, the secretary of agriculture, started a series of summits on domestic hunger in the United States He is very involved and very committed to this. In the Congress I have started a hunger caucus that has more than seventy members, and I am starting an outside group, the Congressional Hunger Center, to follow up on the issues we will be discussing in the next few days. The center will have a hunger intern program, the Mickey Leland Hunger Corps, which will send young people out to various hunger sites around the country for a few months, and on their return they will share their experiences with their colleagues or with the Congress itself We are also in the process of completing a high school hunger curriculum that we intend to offer to hundreds of schools around the nation, and eventually around the world.

We have here today in this room and at this conference the experts who know hunger issues better than anyone else You live with it, you fight it, and you are committed to doing something about it. We have a chance to make a major difference together.

One sensitive problem that has long plagued our fight against hunger is the long-standing debate about whether hunger can best be solved with a top-down approach or with a participatory bottom-up approach Another major debate is whether we should aim our resources at short term relief or long-term solutions One of the best possible outcomes of this conference would be agreement about the best approaches to take.

We here in Washington have tried to end poverty for years Our policies, developed apart from the Poor's everyday realities, have not completely worked. Our ideas of what is best for the people of Gonaives, Haiti, might not be their idea of what they need. I have seen whole communities defeat hunger. They are like an oasis in a desert of hunger. Their solutions work because they come from the bottom up We need to do everything we can to support solutions to hunger that work, no matter where they come from.

In this context, the NGOs deserve praise for their programs and the arguments they put forth that incorporate a bottom-up approach and a responsible mixture of short- and long-term solutions. The NGOs' involvement in a hunger strategy is absolutely essential if we are ever to succeed. More and more, NGOs are successfully convincing governments and multilateral groups that they must provide both short-term and long term solutions to the problems of world hunger and poverty NGOs are driving home to world leaders the notion that solutions to hunger cannot be imposed from the top down. Progress can best be made when the poor are given the opportunity to design solutions to their own problems.

We must increase our aid and our resources and be sure that they get to the poorest of the poor. I think the Bank deserves credit by increasing its lending to such sectors as health, nutrition, and education The Bank is our friend, and we can all help our friend by continuing to encourage it to pursue economic growth that not only empowers the poor, but enables them to participate.

Our conference should be like a grand bonfire that heats a room during the winter months, and while it bums brightly it provides warmth and comfort, but if you separate the logs from the sticks and scatter them piece by piece around the room, they burn out Some might continue to burn, but they would not heat the room, they would not do the job We need to work together as a team, share our resources, and not reinvent the wheel. We must commit to a plan and work like that bonfire burning brightly to give warmth, comfort, and vision to a cold and hungry world.

Participation of nongovernmental organizations

Carolyn Long

When planning for this conference, the World Bank invited four NGOs to serve on the steering committee, and we accepted the invitation, not as cosponsors of the conference, but in a consultative role, to provide recommendations and our point of view.

The NGOs' orientation to the conference has been somewhat different than the World Bank's The World Bank has perceived this conference and is working in this conference to consider hunger in the global context, which includes all institutions involved - governments, multi lateral agencies, universities, NGOs, and the hungry people themselves—whereas the NGOs, primarily because of the power of the World Bank worldwide, decided that they would focus exclusively on the role of the World Bank in regard to hunger. We felt it was important to explain that at the beginning, because all of our actions in relation to the conference, the NGO speakers we recommended and whom the Bank agreed to put on the program will all look at this conference from the perspective of the World Bank and its role.

So on behalf of the NGOs, the "sticks in the bonfire" that Congressman Hall just talked about, I want to acknowledge the World Bank's staff for their willingness to include the NGOs in the planning of this conference and their openness to accepting many of our recommendations, even though they knew that we would be critical of them. And I want particularly to thank Vice President Ismail Serageldin, who in some ways has put himself on the line.

Nothing grows from the top down

Atherton Martin

I am very pleased to have been chosen to represent the views of several hundred thousand people, who for obvious reasons could not be here today, but who would insist that we remain faithful to their realities, their concerns, and their hopes for the future.

In the last 500 years, there have been four major threats to the survival of humanity: slavery, fascism, hunger, and environmental degradation One of these has been overcome: slavery. To a greater or lesser extent, fascism, hunger, and environmental degradation persist. Slavery was overcome by the action of people in the South and the North who were outraged by the very thought of one human being owning another human being. The other threats to our humanity, and in the context of this conference, hunger, await the action of people who, like Congressman Hall, are determined that the pain and indignity of hunger and the horror of the starvation of even one human being will not be tolerated.

The “champagne glass" of hunger and poverty that is depicted in this chart accurately illustrates the brutality of the problem of hunger. In summary, at the top of the glass the richest 20 percent of the people receive, own, and control 82 percent of all the income and wealth of the world. At the bottom of the glass, the poorest 20 percent of the people share 14 percent of the income and wealth of the world Together with the rest of us, the World Bank is challenged to accept the challenge of changing the conditions that create and sustain this horrendous human injustice.

As the representatives of NGOs, many of us from the countries of the world normally associated with the phenomenon of hunger, we simply refuse to accept hunger as a feature of life on earth. As NGOs we are convinced that an end to hunger is not only possible, but imperative We believe that for every person going hungry anywhere in this world, there should be a Tony Hall willing to go to extraordinary lengths to draw attention to the shameless fact that we have the capacity to prevent that indignity. We salute the courage and persistence of that U. S. congress man who, when all else had failed, was prepared to resort to embarrassing the U.S. Congress, the U. S. public, and the world into paying attention to the tragedy of hunger. We also salute the courageous people throughout the world and inside the World Bank who have received that message from Representative Tony Hall and decided to act on it.

Yesterday, the representatives of southern NGOs had a most interesting exchange with senior Bank staff regarding the Bank's role in contributing to the causes of global hunger We were pleased to hear many of these staffers repeat what NGOs have been saying for several years about the important contribution of economic policies and programs to the debacle of persistent poverty and its bedfellow, hunger. We were pleased because the emergence of a common perspective on the causes of hunger signal the possibility for partnership in the efforts to end hunger. We applaud these staffers and applaud the president of the Bank for his support for this conference and the resulting opportunity to have this dialogue.

As NGOs we believe that we have a special role in this and other efforts aimed at drawing attention to the problem of global hunger. Simply put, we are prepared to be the conscience of many people in rich and poor countries who see hunger, reject it, and have decided to end it. We are prepared to be the conscience of those who understand the cause of the deepening crisis of global hunger as it relates to development policies and strategies, many of which have been advocated and financed by the Rank and other international financial institutions during the past fifty years. We are prepared to be the eyes and ears of the millions who are unable to be here, who are unable to read your documents, who are unable to see the opulence of your work stations, who are unable to be here to tee you themselves what it means to go hungry. We are your conscience saying no! Enough! Let us put a stop to this'.

To put a stop to this means that we must change the way that we do business. For the Bank, probably the single most critical institution relating to the issues of global economic activity in recent decades, this means changing the way that things are done inside the Bank, between the Bank and other financial institutions, as well as between the Bank and its client governments, and most important, between the Bank and the people in whose name we combat hunger.

Instead of administering structural adjustment programs to our countries, the Bank would need to focus on making adjustments to its own operations that would allow it, for example, to establish procedures and mechanisms that allow the experiences and the expertise of poor women, workers, farmers, youth, and others to inform and shape policies and programs of the bank!

The Bank would need to subject itself and its work to the scrutiny of those same groups who are most affected by its actions, and to be responsive and accountable to the poor in whose name it addresses the issues of hunger.

The Bank would need to link its policies and programs in such areas as trade, education, health, housing, nutrition, and other important spheres of human life to the phenomenon of global hunger, and to insist on an integrated approach to the design and implementation of Bank policies and programs.

The Bank would need to admit that the medicine of structural adjustment has not helped stop global hunger, which means that it should stop trying to administer that potion to our countries.

The Bank would also need to agree to regular interaction with those who work with and represent the poor, so that NGOs from the countries of the South together with their partner NGOs from the North would provide year round input into the process of transforming the Bank into an instrument for development that is responsive to the needs of the poor and hungry among us.

It is already clear from this that our perception of economics places people at the center, and is substantially different from the notion of economics that is espoused by the Bank Lest we be misunderstood, however, we wish to make it clear that NGOs recognize the need for international trade as one means of stimulating economic activity, but we in turn ask that the Bank recognize the need for trade arrangements that not only earn foreign exchange, but meet people's needs for jobs, housing, health care, food, and other life essentials.

In the same vein, if the Bank accepts the need for large industrial economies to protect their microchip industries and the intellectual property rights that go with them, we insist that it recognise the need for countries such as ours to protect national and regional markets for our products, to protect our jobs, and to protect our rich biodiversity and other natural resources We note that such measures on the part of poor countries attract the label protectionist and are referred to as unfair trading practices, and often result in economic retaliation. We also note that the Bank is often prodding the compliance of poor countries with trade liberalization as a conditionality for financing.

We note, however, that even when large countries resort to direct cash subsidies to protect their own producers, as is the case with rice, wheat, corn, and many other commodities in the United States, for example, these measures are not considered protectionist, they do not attract retaliatory measures, and the Bank, among others, remains silent on these blatant violations of the principles of free trade A case in point the United States just this year used its PL 480 food aid program in Jamaica to force Guyana's rice out of that Caribbean market. Rice is a commodity that attracts some of the highest subsidies in the United States, and we have calculated that whereas Caribbean rice producers in Guyana receive no subsidies, just one of the five rice sup port programs in place in the United States pays an average of US$50,000 per year to each rice farmer. If this is the free trade that we are being told about, it is no wonder that poor countries cannot engage in free trade. We simply cannot afford it.

What does all this business of trade have to do with hunger? Well, it is relevant when the Bank insists that we produce more crops for export, as that is the way we will earn foreign exchange that we can then use to buy cheap, subsidized food from the rich countries and to service our international debt. But do you understand that by insisting on this dependence on a narrow range of commodities for export, you are destroying one of the only safety nets that poor countries can afford, the diversity of mixed farming that addresses some of our food needs? How many of you would invest all the money that you had saved up for your daughter's college education in one option on the stock market? Well, that is exactly what you are asking us to do.

Does the Bank have any alternative? It certainly does The conditions attached to lending the Bank's resources can be tied increasingly to rewards for efficient management of scarce resources; to food security based on local production; to the effective involvement of women in the production, preparation, distribution, and trading of goods and services; to the processing and manufacture of goods that use local raw materials and foster linkages between different sectors of the economy; to the creation of jobs for the armies of young people that populate our rural and urban areas; and to other such indicators of a development that is sustainable, equitable, participatory, and self-reliant. Such indicators as these have become known as the central features of sustainable development and should become the major conditionalities governing the Bank's policy, programming, and lending.

The practice of providing loans for development projects, yet insisting that mast of the money be spent to purchase high-priced equipment and personnel from the rich countries of the North, defeats the purpose of national self-sufficiency and regional integration and undermines any chance that we might have of developing South-South trade or the capacity to become globally competitive. This can be stopped. So, of course, the Bank can change.

The problem is that a Bank whose collective corporate experience is light years removed from that of those whom it purports to serve may be unable to craft policies and programs except those in support of cash crop production, exported growth, large-scale darns, and mega hydroelectric plants, all of which in their present form destroy the capacity for food production of previously self provisioning communities, exposing people to food shortages, and eventually to hunger. To set off on a new path, the Bank will need to work closely with organizations and people who work with and represent local communities in the poorer countries. The NGOs represented here at this conference, and the many others in whose name I humbly speak, are such organizations. We can help translate the criteria for sustainable development into concrete arrangements that see the expertise and experience of people of the South directly applied to designing and implementing programs that attack hunger at its roots.

It is good and noble that Congressman Hall's fast has brought us here today. Let us not forget that his fast was about hunger. Hunger here, hunger there, hunger everywhere, even in this, the richest country of the world! Let us also not forget, however, that it has taken a twenty-two-day fast by one U.S. congressman to bring the World Bank to the table to eat of the food of reality, but the suffering and death of thousands, hundreds of thousands even millions, of African and other children, women, and men from lack of food was not enough to do that.

This conference should not, therefore, be seen as the definitive response to the congressman's fast or to the pain and suffering of those who experience hunger around the world This conference is instead a chance for a fresh beginning of our campaign to put an end to the sound of "bubbles in bellies" once and for all This conference is our wake-up call to the fact that people in the countries where hunger persists know what is wrong, and know what must be done to end the indignity of poverty and to eradicate its ugly bedfellow hunger. Through this conference, the Bank can send a signal to the world that the sound of the bubbles has been heard for the last time. The Bank can let it be known that from today, the knowledge, skills, and expertise of people from the South and the North will be mobilized and focused on diagnosing, treating and curing the global malady of hunger.

One more decade of structural adjustment and business as usual, and there will be so many hungry people all over the world, so much degradation of our soils, so much pollution of our waters and our air, such complete destruction of our forests, so much debt, so much inequitable trade, such widespread disease, such a breakdown in family and community cohesion, such civil conflict, that even the actions of a bans formed World Bank would be to no avail. Now is the time! Now is the time to change the partners, to change the process, to change the tools of diagnosis and analysis, to prescribe be and administer a different treatment to an earth and its people that are urgently in need of intensive care.

We, the NGOs, are here to tell you that this conference must be that signal for change. We are also here to tell you that this will be so only if the Bank and others, including the U.S Congress, are big enough to admit that change is needed. Big enough to admit that the Bank's staff, as talented as many of them are, do not have a patent on the skills of economic analysis, planning, and management for growth and development. The Bank must also be big enough to admit that there are people, even in the countries where hunger and starvation are endemic, who have the skills, the experience, and the commitment to play a critical role in the campaign to end hunger.

We are here to tell you that the only chance that the Bank has to be part of this campaign to end hunger, once and for all, is to ensure that the needs of those with the greatest stake in ending hunger, the hungry, become the centerpiece of the Bank's imperative for action. The NGOs, by virtue of our evolution into institutions that know and understand these needs intimately, have the unique capacity to facilitate this new partnership, this new contract for survival, this new grand alliance for a world free from the horror of hunger. The Bank, for its part, is challenged to be a sensible, flexible, and reliable partner with the people, especially those in greatest need.

If the horror of global hunger forces the Bank to do one thing, it should be to change the terms of engagement and to do all that is necessary to make it possible for local people, poor people, hungry people to accept the Bank as a partner in this quest to end hunger. Our message to the Bank, therefore, is simple, "Come to terms with the fact that the standard prescriptions for growth have not ended poverty or hunger. The chance for a change begins and ends with the people on the ground, because very simply, nothing grows from the top, down, not trees, not economies, and certainly not people.”

Conference themes

Ismail Serageldin

It is indeed invigorating to hear the eloquence with which Atherton Martin puts forth his case. I feel comfortable that it is not disagreements on the objectives that ma,, divide us in this group today, but perhaps on fine-tuning the contributions of each of us to establish more firmly the common ground on which we can act. This fine-tuning will be our responsibility in this coming day and a half, to determine how we can keep Congressman Hall's bonfire going to provide us with the necessary heat and vision.

Perhaps I too can share with you the feelings of outrage that so many of us in the World Bank, and in the development community at large, feel about the problem of extreme poverty and its ugly corollary, hunger, in the midst of a plentiful world.

Every day, 40,000 people die from hunger related causes. In the brief forty-five minutes of this opening session, one-and-a-half times as many people as are in this auditorium will have died from hunger-related causes. Those who do not die outright are deprived of the most basic attributes of human existence, and their children are stunted in their growth and unable to realize the full potential of their genes.

From this perspective, hunger is surely the most abhorrent physical expression of absolute poverty, for it is imprinted on human flesh and bones. Furthermore, it is not only the poor who are degraded by that condition. All of humanity is degraded by tolerating that one-sixth or more of the world's population could continue to live, barely, in such conditions. It is shameful for the nations of the world that have achieved so much in so many domains not to be taking the necessary actions to remove this blight from the face of the earth. All the more shameful because so much of the problem is avoidable.

Taking the actions needed to reduce hunger is what this conference is all about. But—and in this I join my colleagues who spoke before me today, including Mr. Martin and Congressman Hall— the goal of this conference is more than that. The abolition of hunger in our lifetime is a task to which all people of good conscience must rededicate themselves.

Mr. Martin mentioned slavery, and I believe that like slavery 150 years ago, hunger today is unconscionable. Let us be the new abolitionists, those who from every location and every forum will go our almost to address this challenge. We must do so because it is a moral imperative. But beyond the ethical issues, from an economic standpoint and from a political standpoint, we have no choice. It makes no sense to leave so many kindred souls living in misery and wretchedness, barely on the brink of survival, when they could be active contributors to the improvement of both self and society.

But wishing the problem away will not make it disappear. It will require the systematic application of sound policies, a sustained commitment to investment in human resources, and the promotion of policies that support the empowerment of the poor. It will require special attention to the needs of women, for the empowerment of women is at the core of any sustained action to deal with poverty and hunger. It will require sustained commitment and partner ship from the international community, including all of us here today.

You may well ask, "What is the World Bank doing to meet this challenge?" The Bank's commitment to fight poverty is grounded in a view of development that sees the ultimate measure of success in the improvement of people's wellbeing. Mr. Preston has said many times that poverty reduction is the benchmark against which our success as a development institution must be measured.

We believe that sound economic management that focuses on broadly based, employment generating growth is a necessary feature of any effective attack on poverty, because real progress occurs when the poor, the weak, and the marginalized become the producers of their own welfare and bounty, not the recipients of charity or the beneficiaries of aid. We also believe that these policies must be accompanied by sound investments, especially in human resources. Currently, the World Bank is lending close to US$ 3.0 billion a year for human resource development, of which US$1.6 billion is going for education, with a special emphasis on the education of girls. In some countries in the poorest regions that are most at risk, such as the Sahel in Africa, fewer than one girl in four goes to school.

But beyond this double-pronged attack of sound macroeconomic policies and investment in human resources, increasingly the Bank has been supporting direct interventions to improve food security and nutrition. Our support for nutrition projects, for example, rose from nearly US$20 million or so five or six years ago to more than US$680 million last year. Many of these projects have brought about sound improvements in people's lives. The Tamil Nadu Nutrition Project in India, for example, managed to reach 20,000 villages and 3 million children, and significantly improved the nutritional status of 50 percent of those children.

Today we heard Mr. Preston announce that the Bank was willing to consider new ways of supporting complementary actions to reach the poorest of the poor and to join with our partners in exploring how we can systematically provide support to the kinds of micro-credit schemes that empower the poorest of the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, whether it be the National Family Planning Coordination Board in.

Indonesia or Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. My colleagues and I look forward to participating in such discussions with the donor community after this conference.

Mr. Preston spoke of the different comparative advantages of different institutions in the fight against hunger. We fully recognize that ours is only one contribution among many. During this conference we must all seer; the common ground that will enable each of us to make our contribution in a way that creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts. How do we do this? The World Bank certainly does not have all the answers. We are here to listen and to learn from the experience and expertise of others as much as to share whatever we have learned ourselves. This conference was structured so as to allow maximum interaction and cross-fertilization of ideas, which brings me to the mechanics of the program.

The conference was preceded by a participatory workshop at which representatives of international agencies, governments, nongovernmental organization and academic groups discussed the main themes of each of the main plenary sessions to be held today and tomorrow: macroeconomic policies, targeted interventions, and the political economy of hunger. The workshop participants designated rapporteurs from the workshop who will be reporting in the plenary for each session during the conference. The main sessions are structured as panels with an invited speaker, a designated discussant, and the workshop rapporteur as the second discussant. Each set of presentations will be followed by questions and answers from the floor.

On this occasion we hope that all speakers will keep in mind the issues of equity, sustainable development, and popular participation, which are the common threads running through this intricate tapestry. Again, as Mr. Preston mentioned, we know that there will be differences of opinion and disagreements, but that is healthy, because these are differences in means, not in ends. With good will on all sides, we all will leave here enriched by this dialogue.

The World Bank will be represented by many of our staff in the audience, and by four vice presidents in addition to myself, who will be the chairs of the four sessions: Mr. Edward Jaycox, the vice president for Africa; Mr. Caio KochWeser, the vice president for the Middle East and North Africa; Mr. Joseph Wood, the vice president for South Asia; and Mr. Shahid Husain, the vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Thus, in addition to the central vice presidents like myself and Mr. Michael Bruno, our chief economist, who is here in the audience right now, we will actually have listening to this debate the four vice presidents dealing with the four regions of the world that are perhaps most affected by this problem.

I would also add that we are privileged to have distinguished world leaders join us in our deliberations, and by their presence lend their support to the cause of ending global hunger during our lifetimes. We are indeed privileged to have with us.

· His Excellency Ketumile Masire, president of Botswana, winner of The Hunger Prize for 1989, chairman of the Global Coalition for Africa, first vice chairman of the Organization of African Unity, a true spokesperson not just for the people of Botswana, but for all of Africa. His actions have demonstrated what political leadership and a sensible government can do to avoid hunger and famine even in the face of the worst drought in 100 years. President Masire will be addressing us after the first session.

· Secretary-General of the United Nations Dr. Boutros-Ghali, scholar, diplomat, and profound humanist, who is actively working to orient the global United Nations system to balance military and political security considerations with the security that only broadly based development can provide when it brings a decent living to the millions of people currently deprived of it.

· Former United States President Jimmy Carter, who by word and deed, both in and out of the White House, has shown how profoundly a political leader can be committed to the cause of the poor and the hungry in the world. He will be addressing us tomorrow.

All in all, it promises to be quite a gathering and an unrivaled opportunity to build that common ground and keep that bonfire alive, to retain that sense of outrage that is necessary for all or us to go straight into action and not limit ourselves to talk.