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World Bank's $1.2bn fund to feed the poor

The World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, yesterday unveiled a $1.2bn (£606m) rapid response fund to help developing countries deal with the food price crisis. Speaking from an African development meeting in Japan, Zoellick said the fund was part of a $2bn general increase in World Bank spending on agriculture.

The new "rapid financing facility" is part of a snowballing Snowballing

Used in the context of general equities. Process by which the exercise of stop orders in a declining or advancing market causes further downward or upward pressure on prices, thus triggering more stop orders and more price pressure, and so on.
 international response to the crisis, sparked by sharply rising prices over the past year for basic staples staples

U-shaped stainless steel or vitallium units with sharp points used for surgical fixation.

epiphyseal staples
used to staple epiphysis to metaphysis; have metal bracing at the corners.
 like wheat, corn and soya, which have added more than 100 million people to the ranks of the world's hungry and triggered riots This is a chronological list of riots: 17th century and earlier
  • 121 BC - Roman Election Riot of 121 BC (Rome, Roman Republic)
  • 113 BC - Roman Election Riot of 113 BC (Rome, Roman Republic)
  • 390 - Hippodrome Revolt (Thessaloniki, Roman Empire).
 in more than thirty countries.

Last week Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop.  donated $500 million to the World Food Programme allowing it to meet its $755 million appeal to maintain its food aid operations.

The fast-track World Bank money would be available immediately, bypassing the normal project vetting vet 1   Informal
A veterinarian.

v. vet·ted, vet·ting, vets
1. To subject to veterinary evaluation, examination, medication, or surgery.

 procedures, and would help fund safety net support for the hungry, in the form of school feeding programmes or food-for-work schemes. Zoellick said priority would be given to pregnant women and infants, who were most vulnerable. The money would also be spent on seeds and fertiliser for farmers for the next few harvests.

In a call to rapid action, Zoellick said: "This is not an issue like HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome  where you need some research breakthrough. People know what to do, and we need to get the resources out quickly to where they are needed."

He added that World Bank teams had carried out rapid needs assessments in 25 countries and 15 more studies were underway to determine where money was needed most urgently. $200 million of the fund has been set aside for grants and the first three grants were disbursed to badly-affected countries yesterday, to Liberia, Haiti and Djibouti. Togo, Yemen and Tajikistan are due to receive grants in the next month.

"As we go into the Rome meeting next week it is crucial that we focus on specific action. Along with our partners, these initiatives will help address the immediate danger of hunger and malnutrition malnutrition, insufficiency of one or more nutritional elements necessary for health and well-being. Primary malnutrition is caused by the lack of essential foodstuffs—usually vitamins, minerals, or proteins—in the diet.  for the 2 billion people struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices, and contribute to a longer-term solution that must involve many countries and institutions," Zoellick said.

Zoellick said the World Bank board was also planning to introduce risk management tools such as hedge funds hedge fund, in finance, a highly speculative, largely unregulated investment device. Originating in the 1950s, the funds "hedge" by offsetting "short" positions (borrowing a security and then selling it at a higher price before repaying the lender) against "long"  and insurance schemes to protect poor countries and their farmers.

He also called for a review of subsidies and targets for biofuels, which are competing with food for land, investment and other resources.

Next week's Rome summit will be followed by a series of high-level meetings to address the crisis. European leaders will discuss the issues in June, ahead of the G8 summit in Japan the following month, and a UN summit in September.
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Date:May 30, 2008
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