Bank Group support to Chad was aligned with government priorities and World Bank diagnostics. Particularly during the latter half of the evaluation period, the World Bank made a deliberate effort to identify and address Chad’s main development constraints, including those that were also drivers of conflict. These are (i) a legacy of domestic and regional conflict; (ii) weak governance, including weak public financial management; (iii) inadequate provision of basic services; (iv) overreliance on oil for fiscal resources; (v) gender inequality (including implications for high fertility); (vi) climate change; and (vii) inadequate physical infrastructure.
The Bank Group–supported program did advance several human development objectives. This was particularly the case with respect to the delivery of basic services in health, education, and social protection. Advances were also made in gender equality, including through interventions in health, education, and agriculture. However, although consecutive strategies highlighted the pervasiveness of GBV, which hindered efforts to improve gender equality, strategies to reduce GBV were not explicitly integrated. Several projects approved toward the end of the evaluation period (but not envisaged in the CPF) attempted to address issues of GBV through sensitization and training, but the existing project monitoring and evaluation framework did not include indicators to measure progress.
Few results were achieved in agriculture, infrastructure, and public resource management. Although the World Bank helped Chad achieve some improvement in domestic tax and customs revenue collection and transparency in the use of natural resources revenues, the quality of governance was not significantly improved.
Timely budget support helped stave off an imminent fiscal crisis but did not ultimately achieve sustained reforms. Budget support operations were successful in allowing the government to continue to function. However, they could not address fundamental shortcomings with weak public financial management that contributed to arrears accumulation or bring about fiscal sustainability writ large. In a context marked by government instability, DPOs failed to achieve sustained meaningful policy reform.
Notwithstanding the challenges inherent in working in a fragile and conflict-affected situation, the performance of the Bank Group portfolio in Chad was unsatisfactory according to project outcome ratings and relative to expectations. Performance was undermined by a combination of procurement delays, high turnover of government counterparts, and a lack of continuity in World Bank teams working on Chad.
Procurement delays and challenges were a recurrent problem for most investment projects in Chad, undermining performance across the board. Although program documents usually contained credible assessments of procurement risk and put in place mitigation measures, their design was often overly complex given Chad’s limited capacity. Some efforts have been made to simplify the procurement code, but vested interests that derived rents from the current system remained in place.
Collaboration with development partners helped improve World Bank effectiveness. This was particularly the case for the health and social protection portfolios and with the IMF, where collaboration was guided strongly by support to help Chad reach the completion point under the HIPC Initiative.
The following lessons are offered for consideration regarding future World Bank engagement in Chad:
- Timely and targeted analytical work is necessary to inform priority setting, policy dialogue, and the design of reforms. In the case of Chad, when timely analytical work was available, it informed the design of more successful interventions. This was especially true for the World Bank’s social protection portfolio. Unfortunately, little analytical work was undertaken before and in the early part of the ISN period, when lending was curtailed. This was a missed opportunity that affected the World Bank’s ability to provide timely, targeted, and effective support when conditions improved. In recent years, however, there has been a surge in proposals for analytical work from a number of Global Practices. Given the prevalence of capacity and absorptive constraints, it is important to strategically prioritize analytical work to help identify the most binding constraints to development gains and inform efforts to address them.
- Procurement challenges warrant priority attention since they constrain implementation across the portfolio. Efforts to address procurement challenges will require confronting the underlying political and bureaucratic obstacles. In Chad, addressing these obstacles is not solely an issue of technical capacity, and an effective solution will require higher-level dialogue with the government.
- Although working in Chad is challenging in the face of difficult conditions in the field, it is critical that the World Bank strengthen incentives to attract and retain talent to work on Chad. Attracting and retaining talent are necessary for improving continuity of engagement with country authorities and compensating for weak client capacity (including high turnover of government officials). Maintaining country team staff and TTLs for longer periods can help retain operational and institutional knowledge and keep ongoing reforms and project implementation on track.