Finance: The Soft Approach

From the new highway snaking through the jungles of western Hon duras to the huge irrigation and power project that is transforming Pakistan's Indus River Basin, many of the world's underdeveloped areas owe much to an organization that most Westerners have never heard of. The organization is the International Development Association, a branch of the World Bank founded in 1960 by 15 World Bank member nations to make "soft," easy-term loans—with no political strings attached—to poor nations. Last week IDA reached a milestone when the total it has loaned passed $1 billion.

Too Poor to Pay. IDA gives credit only to...

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