By Fiona Imbali

The World Bank recently held a consultative meeting with Faith Based Organisations in Nigeria. The theme of the meeting was: Ending Extreme Poverty; A moral and spiritual imperative. Adam Taylor from the World Bank noted that extreme poverty is the biggest threat to human existence today and sadly majority of the world’s poorest live in Sub-Saharan African. Countries like Sudan continue to face famine with sounds of war machines in the Middle East, poverty continues to face more people daily which thus call for serious concern and faith leaders hold key to the solution.

Victor Ivoke the Nigeria Chapter General Secretary notes that the faith community embraces the moral imperative because they share the belief that the moral test of our society is how the weakest and most vulnerable are faring. “Our sacred texts also call us to combat injustice and uplift the poorest in our midst. No one regardless of sex, age or race and belief should be denied the opportunity of experiencing the fullness of life.”
The existence of extreme poverty in the world today is inimical to growth and sustainable development. Ending it will require concerted efforts in tackling its underlying causes: preventable diseases, lack of access to quality education, joblessness, corruption, violent conflicts, discrimination against women, marginalization of ethnic minorities and other causes. The participants called for a change in the habits that cause poverty like greed and waste.

“Our faith is tested and our hearts broken when, in an age of unprecedented wealth and technological advancement, so many still live in inhuman conditions. This is an affront to human dignity as no one should be made to fight for their daily survival,” noted Victor. He further noted that to end the scourge of extreme poverty should be through restoring right relationships among people, affirming human dignity, opening the door to the holistic development of all people. “If we are more committed to living these values, there will be less poverty in the world. Our shared convictions call us to empower and uplift – not denigrate those living in poverty, so that they can become agents of their own transformation. We must abandon politics that too often marginalize their voices and blame them for their condition. Now is the time to turn fatigue into renewed commitment so that together we can end extreme poverty by the 2030.”

A presentation on the Nigeria States Health Investment Project {NSHIP} was also made by the team showing the number of interventions in health sector in Nigeria. The team managed to visit Karu Health Centre which is a pilot case and a good success story. With a grant of $5,000 two years ago, the management of the hospital has erected new structures, attends to a large number of patients than before and maintains an impressive account balance and have in stock large quantities of drugs for different ailments. This performance based financing was designed to act as a catalyst for the improvement of the quality of health care delivery.

Civil Society Organizations and faith leaders from several West African countries noted the importance of the World Bank Group finding an entry point for FBOs and CSOs into their projects without necessarily going through federal governments. They urged that this should be at the entry point during the conception stage to ensure that they made inputs into the nature and quality of the projects that will better serve the interest of their members.
World Bank officials were also urged to increase their consultation and collaboration with faith leaders as they have a moral authority and are widely respected by millions of followers. This will play a big role in ensuring that incidences of pilfering and corruption are reduced tremendously. The discussions were extolled by the World Bank staff as fruitful as they pledged to take home the resolutions and report back with a concrete action plan for more meaningful engagements.

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