December 15, 2016 / 3:13 PM / 7 months ago

Governments pledge $75 billion to World Bank's poorest countries fund

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World Bank President Jim Yong Kim speaks at the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group in Washington, October 7, 2016.James Lawler Duggan/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank said on Thursday that 48 governments have ratcheted up the fight against extreme poverty by committing $75 billion in new funds to the International Development Association, the bank's fund for the poorest countries.

The replenishment will enable IDA to scale up development interventions to tackle conflict, fragility and violence, forced displacement, climate change and gender inequality, the World Bank said.

It also will help promote better governance and institution building and economic development, areas that the World Bank has targeted for the next three years.

"This is a pivotal step in the movement to end extreme poverty," World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. "The commitments made by our partners, combined with IDA's innovations to crowd in the private sector and raise funds from capital markets, will transform the development trajectory of the world's poorest countries."

The World Bank said the latest replenishment, which runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020, will support health and nutrition services for up to 400 million people, water improvements for up to 45 million people and safe childbirth for up to 11 million women.

It also will provide immunizations for 130 million to 180 million children, increased access to financial services and an additional 5 gigawatts of renewable energy generation capacity, the bank said.

To finance the groundbreaking package, IDA for the first time is seeking to raise funds through debt markets alongside donor contributions with internal resources and donor contributions.

Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank vice president for development finance, said the use of debt financing will allow $3 in spending authority for every $1 in partner contributions.

A total of 48 governments pledged to contribute resources to IDA at a meeting in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, while additional governments are expected to pledge resources in the near term, the World Bank said. It said that more than 60 donor and borrower governments agreed on the replenishment plan.

Some 75 low-income countries are eligible to benefit from the IDA financing package.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Bill Trott

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