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World Bank Engagement in Situations of Conflict

Report to the Board from the Committee on Development Effectiveness

The Committee on Development Effectiveness met to consider the Independent Evaluation Group evaluation entitled World Bank Engagement in Situations of Conflict: An Evaluation of FY10–20 Experience and the draft World Bank management response.

The committee welcomed the evaluation and management’s constructive response, noting that although the evaluation did not assess the effectiveness of the World Bank Group’s fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV) strategy, the timely report did provide valuable insights to inform the early implementation of the FCV strategy and the deliberations for the 20th Replenishment of the International Development Association. Members appreciated management’s broad agreement with the evaluation’s findings and recommendations and were pleased to learn that the World Bank was making substantial progress in adapting the way it works in situations of conflict to achieve its corporate goals. They encouraged management to rethink what success looks like in conflict-affected countries, as recommended by the evaluation, and look forward to being briefed on work being done in this regard. The committee welcomed management’s acknowledgment of the importance of leveraging United Nations and humanitarian implementation partnerships to enable the World Bank to deliver critical services to conflict-affected populations where the World Bank may not have presence in the field. To improve results in the field, the committee encouraged management to work out a pragmatic approach with United Nations agencies and other partners to overcome their differences in procurement and financial management and security protocols when problems arise at the country level.

Members asked for more clarity on the measures to address the institutional and operational issues that are discouraging staff from engaging effectively in conflict situations to enable the Board of Executive Directors to monitor and track their progress. They welcomed management’s commitment to continue strengthening diagnostic tools, including Risk and Resilience Assessments, and integrating them into country strategies and operations. Members appreciated management’s ongoing efforts to rethink what development success looks like in conflict-affected countries, moving away from an overreliance on quantitative metrics, attribution, and short time frames. They look forward to management’s note on monitoring and evaluation in FCV contexts and the updated guidance on implementation completion reports in FCV contexts, as committed by management in the measures to implement the FCV strategy. Some members expressed concern on the report’s finding that the number of projects that consider conflict dynamics in conflict-affected areas remained low in Agriculture, Energy and Extractives, and Transport Global Practices. They encouraged the World Bank to increase efforts to gather knowledge and build expertise to strengthen analysis and enhance the conflict sensitivity of World Bank engagement.