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Insights for a Rapidly Changing World

Connecting the Globe through Evaluation

As globalization came under increased pressure in fiscal year (FY)20, evaluations by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) examined how the world works together toward development goals. A corporate evaluation examined how the Bank Group facilitates connections among international partners to solve critical global problems. Country Program Evaluations of the Philippines and Albania showed how the Bank Group is supporting these two countries in reaching their full potential. Other reports looked at the universally important topics of education, social contracts, and irrigation.

In FY20, IEG published three major evaluations and three meso evaluations.

The World Bank Group’s Convening Power

Leading on global issues is a core pillar of the World Bank Group’s strategies. The Bank Group uses its convening power to lead or lend support to action on many global challenges.

IEG’s evaluation The World’s Bank: An Evaluation of the World Bank Group’s Convening found that demand for Bank Group convening is high because of its unique combination of strengths, including reach, reputation, presence in countries, ability to work across sectors, ability to channel funding and apply innovative financial instruments, and data and research capacity, as well as a strong performance record.

Notwithstanding a strong track record, the Bank Group can further improve its convening effectiveness. The evaluation found the Bank Group is more likely to be effective as a convener when the initiative has potential to add significant value by addressing an important problem, crisis, or urgent need, and where the issue aligns well with Bank Group core goals and mandates. Convening is also likely to be effective when it builds on internally strong expertise and experience, and when initiatives have clear objectives, are linked to country programs, and benefit from sustained engagement.

This evaluation recommends scoping engagements and contributions to major global convening initiatives more deliberately; enhancing internal systems and processes for managing major convening initiatives; and strengthening links to country work.

Partnership with the Philippines

High rates of economic growth and improved development outcomes put the Philippines closer to reaching upper-middle-income country status—an impressive achievement for a country affected by recurring natural disasters and internal unrest. Nevertheless, the Philippines still struggles with fundamental structural issues: high inequality, a weak investment climate, infrastructure gaps, and low capacity at the local government level.

IEG’s Country Program Evaluation, The World Bank Group Partnership with the Philippines, 2009–18, found that Bank Group support during 2009–18 made substantial contributions to the improved economic performance of the Philippines. This support was particularly significant in strengthening macroeconomic management, governance, social protection, and disaster risk management as well as contributing to peace and reconciliation in Mindanao. The Bank Group’s rural development projects could serve as a model for regional engagement and capacity building. At the same time, the Bank Group’s support was less successful in promoting private sector development and financial inclusion, advancing the climate change mitigation agenda, and enhancing the capacity of subnational governments.

IEG recommends updating well-established, long-running programs; improving the balance and focus of analytical work; considering making Mindanao a focal area for support; and better coordinating and sequencing World Bank–International Finance Corporation interventions on private sector development.

Albania Country Program Evaluation

Albania had transitioned from a low-income country to a market-oriented middle-income economy by 2008. However, the economic slowdown in the wake of the 2008–09 global financial crisis led to a reversal in poverty reduction. The crisis led to several key economic reforms, not all of which have been sustained since the recovery.

A review of Bank Group support in FY11–19 showed that the Bank Group made substantial contributions to many reforms relevant to Albania’s development priorities, including the goal of joining the European Union. Bank Group support was effective in improving fiscal management and social protection, strengthening the financial sector, and expanding waste management and irrigation. Bank Group support was less consequential in improving conditions for private sector development, the management of energy and roads, land and property registration, health, and water and sanitation services.

This review found that the Bank Group program was responsive to opportunities, but it could have been more selective in its engagements. The findings of the review suggest that analytical work should be used more extensively to build consensus and capacity for reforms, and new lending should be more selective.


Irrigation Service Delivery

The development agenda for the irrigation sector has transitioned from a narrow focus on the construction and management of water delivery systems to a broader and more complex Water in Agriculture agenda that encompasses irrigation, water resources management, and agriculture. Delivering on the Water in Agriculture agenda requires support for both traditional and more “emergent” areas of investment. Traditional areas focus on factors of production such as the rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure, institutional capacity building related to the management of the irrigation plan itself, and the provision of basic agriculture inputs. The emergent areas focus on the outcomes of the service for clients and the wider enabling environment (markets, water resources management, land tenure, and service delivery).

The evaluation World Bank Support for Irrigation Service Delivery: Responding to New Challenges and Opportunities found that the World Bank Group’s irrigation portfolio remains concentrated in traditional investments. Project results frameworks focus on outputs rather than results, with gaps in measuring changes in service delivery, water-use outcomes, and behavior, which are key elements of the emergent agenda. This evaluation highlights the need for greater attention to adequate sequencing and coordination across projects within country portfolios. In addition, institutional arrangements are needed to acquire and share data on irrigation water productivity, quality, reliability, and value for money in infrastructure investment.

Drivers of Education Quality

The World Bank supports two types of professional development to improve teacher capacity: preservice and in-service training. The evaluation Selected Drivers of Education Quality: Pre- and In-Service Teacher Training found that the World Bank’s limited attention to preservice training has focused on coursework to prepare teaching candidates without devoting similar efforts to the practicum that connects the theoretical to the real learning environment. The World Bank also focused on trainer capacity development, infrastructure, and curriculum development, but paid limited attention to quality assurance in the preservice institutions. One of the lessons identified by the report is that closer policy dialogue and context-specific assessment of preservice institutions could encourage reform.

Effective in-service training is discipline-specific, adapts to teachers’ needs and capacity, models adult learning styles, and includes follow-up support. Some of these features are evident in half of the operations examined, though often not in combination. Yet well-designed and well-implemented training programs alone cannot improve teachers’ pedagogical practices, particularly without strong instructional leadership and without a framework for teacher career development. A further lesson is that training programs need to increase both the breadth of coverage and its depth and sustainability to achieve long-term changes in teaching practices.

Social Contracts

Social Contracts and World Bank Country Engagements: Lessons from Emerging Practices assesses the risks, challenges, and value of the diagnostics that the World Bank uses when helping countries reshape their social contracts—that is, what the citizen and the state expect of one another. The World Bank increasingly uses social contract diagnostics to understand development challenges in regions and countries.

Well-executed social contract diagnostics are conducted by multidisciplinary teams with expertise in governance, social development, and political economy, as well as deep country knowledge. Stakeholders appreciate the analysis produced by these types of teams. Social contract diagnostics translate into successful operations when the World Bank is sensitive to whether social contracts are in transition or static, and adjusts its approach accordingly.

However, by getting involved in helping countries reshape their social contracts, the World Bank risks being seen as taking political sides or exacerbating or prolonging a broken status quo.

By beginning with a strong conceptual framework for planning, implementing, and disseminating social contract diagnostics, the World Bank can avoid being overextended. The World Bank should share its diagnostics and ensure that country engagements are consistent with them; build internal capacity; set achievable goals; avoid lending that exacerbates broken social contracts; and seek broader-based engagement, partnerships, and coalitions beyond the project level.