The institutions should match fine words about eradicating poverty with action to help one of the world’s most fragile states
It is fair to say that Somalia was not top of the agenda at this year’s annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Finance ministers and central bank governors were too busy chewing the fat over the state of the global economy and the threat posed by cybercrime to pay much attention to a poor country with a population of 14 million people in the Horn of Africa. Or, indeed, pay it any attention at all.
Yet the decisions the IMF and World Bank make – or don’t make – about Somalia matter. They obviously matter to the 400,000 Somali children with acute malnutrition and three million people living in crisis or emergency food security conditions. They also matter in a wider sense, because both institutions are keen to demonstrate that they are now truly progressive and dedicated to the elimination of poverty and tackling inequality. Somalia is a good test of whether the grand plans and the lofty rhetoric actually amount to anything, because this is a country that needs help – and it needs it now.