BERLIN - The World Bank body that aids the poorest countries said Friday that donors had made record pledges for the next three years at a conference here, including China's first-ever contribution.
The International Development Association (IDA) said at the end of a two-day donors' conference in Berlin that it would have 41.6 billion dollars at its disposal for 2008-2011, a 9.5-billion-dollar increase on the previous cycle.
US currency themed panda sculpture in front of the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, in 2004. The World Bank body that aids the poorest countries said Friday that donors had made record pledges for the next three years at a conference here, including China's first-ever contribution. [Agencies]
Donor countries offered an unprecedented 25.1 billion dollars. An additional 16.5 billion dollars will come from internal financing from the World Bank group and prior donor pledges for covering debt forgiveness.
The 185-nation World Bank said its growing field of IDA donors now included China -- which just eight years ago was a recipient of IDA aid -- as well as Cyprus, Egypt, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Created in 1960, the IDA grants aid and interest-free loans to the world's 80 poorest countries, home to 2.5 billion people -- half of the total population of the developing world.
About 1.5 billion people in the currently eligible countries subsist on incomes of two dollars a day or less.
Thirty-nine of the countries are in Africa and about half the money goes to the impoverished continent.
The World Bank's vice president for concessional finance and global partnerships, Philippe Le Houerou, told AFP on the sidelines of the conference that the pledges were a vote of confidence in the IDA's work.
"We managed to convince donor countries that we have played a very positive role," he said.
Le Houerou said Britain had surpassed the United States as the top contributor, although he declined to give a breakdown of individual countries' pledges. The dollar has lost four percent of its value since the last replenishment drive.
He welcomed Beijing's participation in the IDA "because China is becoming a key contributor, particularly in Africa".
He said the pledges were also a good sign for World Bank chief Robert Zoellick, who took office in July after a nepotism scandal forced out his predecessor, Paul Wolfowitz.
"I think our president and the strategy he adopted during the annual meetings (of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund this autumn) were also very important because the contributors in particular wanted to know how the bank is doing," he said.
The donors' meeting in Berlin covered pledges for the three years between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011.
The funding aims to reduce poverty and encourage economic development in countries and is the single largest source of donor funds for basic social services, such as health care and education, in the poorest countries.