Jim Kim


One woman’s struggle to escape extreme poverty | 

DSC_0041Yala, Kenya  - The world’s leaders want to reduce extreme poverty to three percent by 2030. Mary Anyango would like to see progress now.

Getting to the overall target means halving the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide by 2020 to nine percent, World Bank President Jim Kim said earlier this month.

“Our strategy calls for more investment in fragile states, and it also calls for working on a variety of fronts to combat climate change; and to improve health and education systems, especially for the benefit of girls and women,” said Kim at the Bank’s annual meeting.

But it is one thing to talk about lifting people above the $1.25 line; it is, of course, another thing to do it.

The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) is an initiative aimed at showing how and it started in Sauri, Kenya in 2005. By providing a series of opportunities and interventions, the MVP was designed to meet some of the Millennium Development Goals and create an environment that would tackle problems like extreme poverty. Continue reading

World Bank Prez Jim Kim on how to use the market to defeat poverty | 

Dr. Jim Kim
Dr. Jim Kim

What do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘World Bank’? For me, it brings to mind a bunch of a stodgy old economists holed up in office buildings, dictating to poor countries around the world how to run their finances. Indeed just last week, the bank faced protests in Washington D.C. over its support for dams and gas projects across the developing world.

And yet, to hear activist-physician Jim Kim – formerly of Partners in Health and president of Dartmouth University, and now the President of the institution – tell it, the bank is transitioning towards a smart, holistic approach to fighting poverty. Does he believe markets can do harm as well as good? Should growth be prioritized over political freedom or other development metrics? How does he deal with criticism that he’s just a doctor, not an economist? Here’s a recent critical analysis in The Economist of his tenure so far.

Humanosphere’s editor Tom Paulson, who’s known Kim for a while, chatted with him last month about all this and more. Kim notes he was once a World Bank protester. But he now seems to relish the chance to defend his own record and that of the bank.

We also discuss the headlines from this week, including Tom’s rejoinder to critics of anti-poverty advocate and economist Jeffrey Sachs and our look at a new lawsuit against the UN over cholera in Haiti. Don’t miss this.

(Clarification from Tom: Jim actually came to Seattle to speak at the Gates Foundation, but took time out to chat with us. And that guy who broke in near the end to hurry me up was my buddy John Donnelly, a great journalist who now serves as Jim’s press guy.)

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World Bank cracks down on corruption | 

Corruption has persisted for millennia as have various efforts to root it out. International development efforts, with money moving from donors like the World Bank to contractors and governments, have their fair share of corruption.

A chart from The Economist shows the number of individuals and organizations that have been debarred from working with the World Bank due to corruption. The increase from 2006 to 2013 appears to be the result of an increased effort by the Bank to cut down on corruption.

Interestingly, 2013 already has four times more debarred firms and individuals than 2012 and more than twice that of 2011. Could that increase be the result of Jim Kim taking the helm?


Obama puts $7 billion behind increasing electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa | 

Obama takes the stage in Cape Town.
Obama takes the stage in Cape Town.
Ari Shapiro

Amid all the attention on the health status of former South African President Nelson Mandela, President Obama unveiled a new initiative during his sub-Saharan African tour that will increase access to power in the region.

The President outlined a plan for engaging with Africa on the fronts of trade and democracy. US support for trade comes with a new $7 billion packaged called Power Africa.

The United States will partner with Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania to increase power capacity and bring electricity to at least 20 million new households.

The plan also includes partnerships with Uganda and Mozambique to support the nations’ management of their oil and gas resources.

“Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age.  It’s the light that children study by; the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business,” said President Obama at the University of Cape Town on Sunday.

“It’s the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs.  And it’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy.  You’ve got to have power.” Continue reading

World Bank President Leads Charge Against Climate Change | 

Jim Kim
Jim Kim
World Bank

The World Bank unveiled its plan to end extreme poverty by 2030 recently.

The rapid progress of India, China and Brazil blazed the path towards exceeding the global Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015. Now the Bank wants to rid the world of extreme poverty forever.

Ending extreme poverty will require the acceleration of economic growth in developing countries and translating that growth into jobs while eliminating inequality, said World Bank President Jim Kim in a blogger call yesterday morning. Work must be done to mitigate the shocks caused by natural disasters and eliminate the insecurity linked to food, fuel and poverty, he added.

Linking all of these problems, for Kim, is climate change.

“Climate change is not just an environmental challenge. It’s a fundamental threat to economic development and the fight against poverty,” he said. Continue reading

AIDS 2012: Bill Gates skeptical of ending AIDS anytime soon | 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The International AIDS Conference, a mega-meeting of more than 20,000 people, has opened here to fanfare, protests, calls to action and (overly?) ambitious proclamations aimed at fighting complacency.

The world’s biggest AIDS conference has returned to the U.S. – to a city with HIV infection rates comparable to some African nations – after 22 years of ‘separation’ due to our government’s ban against HIV-infected visitors. The Obama Administration repealed the travel ban in 2010.

It appears to be a critical moment for the global response to AIDS. The theme of AIDS 2012 is “Turning the Tide Together.”

This positive message has been accompanied by many speakers and organizations here claiming, sometimes in verbatim echo, that we are on the crest of finding a “cure” for AIDS, of creating an “AIDS-free generation” or “the end of AIDS.

  • “We can, with the technology we have today, end the epidemic,” said Mark Dybul, former director of the President George W. Bush’s ground-breaking and successful initiative to get AIDS drugs to Africa known as PEPFAR.
  •  ”We look toward the end of AIDS as something realistic,” said Jim Kim, an activist physician who President Obama recently tapped to take over at the World Bank.
  • “We have everything we need to beat this epidemic,” said Michel Sidibe, director of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

Most folks here are talking like that and it sounds great, very hopeful. But if you dig a bit deeper, it’s not clear if there’s evidence to support all these claims. Bill Gates, at a plenary talk today, joined the minority of skeptics questioning these rallying cries.

“We don’t have the tools to end the epidemic,” said Gates, citing the lack of an effective AIDS vaccine as the most critical weapon needed to defeat the pandemic.  “Only when we have these new tools can we seriously talk about moving toward the end.” Continue reading

Despite some international misgivings, Seattle backs Jim Kim’s appointment to World Bank | 

By Lisa Stiffler, special correspondent

U.S. physician and anti-poverty activist Dr. Jim Kim has been confirmed as the new president of the World Bank.

The news – while controversial internationally – was well received in the global health and development field in Seattle.

“In an era when hiring a politician or a banker in the U.S. might not be a very good choice, hiring Jim Kim was brilliant,” said Dr. King Holmes, chair of the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health and director of the UW’s Center for AIDS and STDs.

“He’s very competent and has demonstrated that in a variety of areas,” Holmes said.

Continue reading

Physician activist Jim Kim wins position at helm of World Bank | 


Dr. Jim Kim

President Barack Obama’s controversial nomination of Dr. Jim Kim to take over as chief of the World Bank has, as most expected, won the day.

AP Jim Yong Kim chosen to lead World Bank

Reuters World Bank picks health expert as president

New York Times World Bank officially selects Jim Kim

Huffington Post How Jim Kim could transform the World Bank

The selection of Kim, also as expected, has prompted a lot of resentment — in part because it furthers the American monopolization of the position and also because some saw Kim as ‘anti-growth‘ or, more legitimately perhaps, as having the wrong kind of expertise needed.

Some stories along this line:

Guardian Nigerian WB candidate says Kim’s selection not based on merit

BusinesWeek Kim’s selection extends the monopoly

CounterPunch Why Jim Kim should resign from the World Bank