Platitudes and poverty statistics: All in a day’s work for the World Bank

by Rashmee

Posted on July 10, 2014

g-6767The World Bank, it seems, finds much to commend in Haiti’s progress in the four years since the earthquake. According to a press release, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the Bank’s Managing Director and Director of Operations, said she found Haiti very different from “the aftermath of the devastating quake.”

That’s good, but if one had to parse the comment, it is a platitude and a rather silly one at that. It is but to be expected that Haiti, or any country, would be rather the worse for wear in the immediate aftermath of a devastating quake. And it is only to be expected that the quake-hit country would be rather different four years on.

The real issue is how much more different and in what way. In this context, the figures quoted by Ms Indrawati were interesting. But she reaches further back than the 2010 quake to explain the encouraging signs she sees in Haiti.

She cited a 2012 household survey conducted with World Bank support by ONPES, the National Observatory on Poverty and Social Exclusion, which recorded a fall in extreme poverty. It’s down from 31% in 2000 to 24% in 2012.

But she cautioned that this progress was limited to urban areas. Out in the rural hinterland, four out of 10 Haitians still live in extreme poverty, she said.

Key reasons for urban progress are public spending and diaspora remittances. The latter is a fascinating measure perhaps of the subtle consequences of globalization.

And how the brain and brawn drain can be a force for good back home?

(Tomorrow: Both Haiti and India reveal the rich irony of poverty definitions)

Jack Kerouac
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac

Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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