There is strong learning potential in looking across a group of countries that have one common characteristic. IEG has looked at four countries that have rich endowment with and dependence on non-renewable natural resources: the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Zambia. These countries are otherwise fairly heterogeneous in terms of geographic location, income levels, and depth of dialogue with the World Bank Group. Although these countries' challenges are not unique, they are obvious with particular intensity in three interrelated areas: (i) management of revenues from an exhaustible resource; (ii) growth and employment in the nonextractive sectors, and (iii) inclusive growth and reduction of poverty. 

Overall, IEG did not find that the World Bank Group has a consistent framework for engagement, driven by the defining characteristics of these countries. Each of the four stories evolved in a unique way that depended on how the country teams decided to react to differing country circumstances. The main challenge for the Bank Group in these countries today is how to stay relevant and competitive, as its value proposition is no longer its financial resources, but its knowledge and global experience, which may call for a more modest scope of interventions while keeping the focus on key challenges.

Overall, IEG has three main conclusions:

  • The Bank Group is well positioned and technically equipped to effectively assist in implementing policies and strengthening institutions for prudent management of natural resources and revenues derived from their exploitation.
  • Economic diversification and growth of nonextractive sectors proved to be an elusive target, and Bank Group strategies and analytical products struggled to define diversification as a specific strategic objective.
  • A decade of high commodity prices resulted in economic growth and progress on poverty reduction and most social development indicators, but inequality remained a persistent and growing challenge.

IEG conducted normal country program evaluations for all four countries; those evaluations are also available in the "Related Reports" section of this webpage.