Officials meeting in Brussels this week agreed to contribute nearly $50 billion over the next three years to the World Bank fund dedicated to the globe's poorest countries.The 18 percent boost marked the arrival of some previous aid recipients as donors.
Britain, which topped the United States last year as the largest single donor, said it had promised $4.2 billion over the next three years. British officials said that represents a nearly 25 percent increase in local currency at a time when the government in London is pressing painful spending and benefits cuts on its citizens.
The fund, known as the International Development Association, supports health, education, food security and building programs through grants and long-term, interest-free loans to the world's 79 least-developed countries. The fund is replenished every three years at a donors conference. This year it marked a record for giving, with 51 countries agreeing to contribute.
The money, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said, will translate into an estimated 200 million child immunizations, better health and water for tens of millions of people, training for millions of teachers, and the construction of nearly 50,000 miles of roads and train tracks.