The South Pacific Secret to Breaking the Poverty Cycle

By Michael Clemens in the Huffington Post

Let me tell you a secret about the World Bank. One of the most effective things it ever did to help people break out of poverty is to help them migrate, temporarily, to pick fruit overseas.

Migration to pick fruit is probably not the first thing you think of when you think of the World Bank’s work, or the broader global effort to eliminate poverty after 2015. That’s understandable, and it helps explain why this remarkable project is so little-known.

It started in the South Pacific in 2006. Tonga is a poor country, with few good jobs and at least a third of the population in poverty. New Zealand is a rich producer of wine-grapes and other fruits, where farm labor is hard to find. World Bank economist Manjula Luthria and many colleagues helped the two countries strike a deal, together with other poor countries in the region: Tonga and others would provide the labor New Zealand needed, for jobs that were the opportunity of a lifetime for Tongan workers.

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