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By James D. Wolfensohn

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Both pledges are important steps in the right direction. They reverse a period of decline in aid, in real terms, during the 1990s. But they are only first steps. James Wolfensohn has suggested that rich countries move gradually but surely to double aid—in line with the improvements in developing country policies already made, and those that will come—by increasing assistance $10 billion each year over the next five years. Coming on top of improvements in the design and allocation of aid since the end of the Cold War, such an increase would provide a significant boost to developing countries’ own efforts to reach the MDGs.

Priorities will vary across countries and, within countries, across communities. The most effective poverty reduction strategies are locally created and locally owned, and informed by the full range of accumulated international experience. The different dimensions of poverty captured in the MDGs are only summary statistics and not a simple formula for development. The MDGs do, however, provide a sense of commitment, of urgency, of common purpose. They recognize that poverty has various facets and that there is a common humanity across national and regional boundaries.

The Bank builds on success by scaling up initiatives that work, such as the high-return dairy cooperative program (Operation Flood) in India. This vast organization grew out of a single, small cooperative society. 2 percent. In this case, external support from the Bank and others helped to encourage government policy changes that grew out of a homegrown initiative. The Bank in the late 1990s strengthened its approach to managing by results, and also moved strongly to increase the sharing of knowledge.

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