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The World Bank Group in Bangladesh

Chapter 3 | World Bank Group–Supported Results


World Bank Group support contributed to increased generation capacity and clean energy access, increased access to all-season rural roads, and greater financial inclusion. Progress has been limited in improving regional connectivity and enhancing urban service delivery. Efforts to support improvements in the business environment and in building fiscal and financial sector resilience have been largely unsuccessful.

The Bank Group contributed to increasing access to education and retention in school, with particular emphasis on girls and poor people, but evidence of improvement in learning outcomes in primary education has been elusive. In the health sector, the World Bank exceeded targets in the percentage of births attended by skilled personnel (although the targets were unambitious) and contributed to reducing maternal and infant mortality rates. World Bank support also contributed to improvements in the coverage, efficiency, and targeting of social protection systems.

Bank Group support had some success in reducing vulnerability to natural disasters, improving access to reliable water sources in urban and rural areas, and increasing adoption of improved agricultural technologies and yields. Bank Group support for water resource management did not materialize due to technical and political economy considerations.

Country Partnership Framework Focus Area 1: Growth and Competitiveness

In line with the diagnosis of the 2015 SCD (World Bank 2015a), Bank Group support for growth and competitiveness focused on transformational (energy, transport, and urban services) and foundational (including education, health, and private sector development) priorities in an effort to help create more and better jobs. Fiscal and financial sector reform did not figure prominently in this focus area.

Power and Clean Energy

Availability and reliability of electricity in Bangladesh were key obstacles to doing business in the country and lagged regional peers. The power sector in Bangladesh faced a dual challenge of requiring massive investment in new generation capacity while facing increasing costs of fuel and a fiscal burden from tariffs below cost-recovery levels.

The Bank Group supported the sector through a diverse set of instruments, including investment lending, technical assistance, and advisory services and analytics. The Bank Group’s lending was complemented by IFC investments and advisory activities and MIGA guarantees. The Bank Group supported investment in infrastructure to extend electricity access to the rural population, add generation capacity, and strengthen transmission and distribution networks. It also supported the scale-up of renewable energy to increase installed generation capacity and mobilize private sector financing. The legacy portfolio sought to improve government capacity, including in power sector planning and regulation.

The Bank Group–supported program made significant contributions to increasing power generation capacity and access to clean energy, achieving most of the targets for this focus area. It contributed additional generation capacity of 2,531 megawatts by 2019 (from 490 megawatts in 2015) and supported the installation of 1.2 million solar home systems that provided access to 2.8 million households by 2019. The Bank Group’s solar home system program is one of the most successful in the world in terms of the number of systems installed.1 Progress was also made in the construction and rehabilitation of transmission (385 kilometers) and distribution (7,550 kilometers) networks by 2020 to improve reliability of supply. Support provided under the power sector technical assistance succeeded in building capacity in the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission. However, subsequent efforts to gain regulatory independence and financial sustainability through executing tariff increases and fostering fair competition were constrained by excessive political and bureaucratic interference in staffing and decision-making (World Bank 2014c).

Bank Group success in the energy sector can be attributed in part to its long and sustained engagement in the sector. The Bank Group played a catalytic role in helping the government establish and sustain an appropriate policy framework to guide the rural electrification program, and also set standards and promoted knowledge transfer in the field of renewable energy (World Bank 2014c). Its expertise, long-standing relationships with key government agencies, and consistent policy views made the Bank Group a trusted partner in the energy sector SOE reform process (Bangladesh country case study on SOE reforms; World Bank [2020i]). In the case of renewable energy, the World Bank drew on sector experience and lessons on design and implementation from within and outside Bangladesh, ensured institutional readiness for implementation, and identified major risks and ways of mitigating them. It worked closely with the government and implementing agency to resolve issues in a timely manner.

However, Bank Group investment projects focused on energy infrastructure provision without the accompanying efficiency-enhancing policy reforms (for example, tariff reforms and gas pricing). Although the CPF envisaged supporting the government in advancing tariff reform through policy lending, this did not materialize during the review period due to the government’s lack of appetite for reform in the sector.


Transport infrastructure and services in Bangladesh had not kept pace with the country’s rapid economic growth and urbanization. Institutional fragmentation was a key challenge, with five ministries and 21 agencies with overlapping mandates. Bank Group support for infrastructure provision and access and improved transport connectivity was aligned with the government’s objective “to develop an efficient, sustainable, safe, and regionally balanced transportation system” (Government of Bangladesh 2012, 7).

The Bank Group supported rural and regional connectivity through a mix of lending, analytical work, and advisory services. The centerpiece of the World Bank’s engagement under the CAS (FY11–14) was the multibillion-dollar Padma Bridge project (FY11; see chapter 2, footnote 1), which was envisaged to connect the isolated southwestern region to the rest of the country. Its cancellation due to governance concerns led to a pause in large infrastructure lending, including for planned multimodal transport investments, and cast a long shadow over the Bank Group’s relationship and dialogue with authorities. Nevertheless, the World Bank maintained engagement in rural transport. Bank Group support for large transport infrastructure resumed in the second half of the review period with three regional projects to improve inland connectivity and logistics. It also continued to provide support for rural road and bridge infrastructure and asset management. IFC contributed through investment in cold chain logistics.

The Bank Group’s contribution to rural access has been significant, improving inland connectivity to enhance access to markets for agricultural products and agricultural productivity. It substantially achieved its targets of increasing the share of the rural population with access to all-season roads (from 43 percent in 2011 to 59 percent in 2015) and increasing access for roughly 9.1 million people living within 2 kilometers of upazila and union roads in 26 districts. Bank Group–supported operations also rehabilitated 4,383 kilometers by 2019, including 829 kilometers of upazila roads and 370 kilometers of union roads.

However, there was limited progress in improving regional connectivity due in large part to the rapid scale-up of World Bank lending in complex and diverse subsectors where both the World Bank and the government had limited expertise and experience. Although the World Bank appointed a field-based infrastructure coordinator to facilitate engagement with government counterparts, the increase in lending was too rapid to build up sufficient World Bank staff expertise in specialized disciplines in the field. This resulted in inadequate project design, lack of readiness for implementation, and implementation problems (including staffing and procurement delays). Implementing agencies also had limited expertise in the sector and in implementing World Bank projects. The World Bank restructured and canceled funds from nonperforming components of regional projects. In the case of the Regional Waterway Project, one-third of its project cost was canceled ($126 million) after more than four years of very limited implementation progress. More recently, implementation of rural road and bridge projects has been negatively affected by COVID-19 and continuing procurement delays.

In sum, although the Bank Group has made substantial progress in improving rural connectivity and access, there was limited progress on regional connectivity due to significant design and implementation challenges and a rapid increase of lending without adequate implementation capacity in the field. Results from efforts to improve maintenance and asset management have yet to materialize. Key objectives in the transport sector, such as private sector participation and institutional consolidation, have yet to be addressed.

Urban Management and Service Delivery

Substandard living conditions, high cost of living, and heavy road congestion have eroded the competitiveness and livability of cities in Bangladesh, particularly Dhaka and Chittagong. Dhaka was ranked 137th out of 140 cities in 2019 in terms of livability according to the Global Liveability Index 2021.2 The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific estimated that about 70 percent of the urban population live in slums (twice the rate in India), often in precarious areas. The SCD highlighted the need for transformative investments to improve the competitiveness and livability of cities, especially with respect to urban public transport, water and sanitation, and affordable housing (World Bank 2015a).

Bank Group support for improved urban service delivery has been limited during the review period despite an ambitious strategy to address urban challenges in successive government strategies. The Sixth Five Year Plan (2010–15) sought to address deficiencies in service delivery and reduce poverty in urban areas (Government of Bangladesh 2011). The Seventh Five Year Plan (2016–20) had a chapter on urbanization strategy, including the development of the institutional framework for urban governance and management emphasizing decentralization, capacity strengthening, resource mobilization, and transparency and accountability (Government of Bangladesh 2015). During the first part of the CPE period, only one legacy operation, the Municipal Services Project (FY99), supported the urban service delivery agenda, with a total project cost of $216 million and an implementation time of 12 years.

The Dhaka City Neighborhood Upgrading Project (FY19) was the first large-scale World Bank engagement that targeted improving Dhaka’s competitiveness and livability. ASA covered urban policy, technical assistance for capacity building, and development strategies and plans for the city of Dhaka. An ASA (Muzzini and Aparicio 2013) provided a comprehensive analytical basis for guiding future Bank Group operations and engagement across multiple sectors and influenced early thinking on the Metro Dhaka Transformation Platform (FY19).

Bank Group–supported urban operations are still being implemented. Implementation challenges affected two of the three urban sector projects, due to both the pilot nature of the operations and weaknesses in counterpart capacity. Projects in the urban sector have also faced major coordination challenges with several different government ministries (for example, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Road Transport, Ministry of Housing) and levels of local government structures.

Business Environment and Trade Facilitation

During the review period, the Bank Group sought to improve the business environment by supporting a new export zone regime. This step was intended to enhance the supply of serviced land, which had been identified as one of the key obstacles to doing business in Bangladesh due to inefficient land administration and deficiencies in urban planning that contributed to high cost (2015 SCD, World Bank 2015a). The new export zone regime was an effort to move away from the export processing model of the 1980s, which was heavily subsidized and had weak linkages and spillover from foreign investments.

The Bank Group achieved limited progress in improving the investment climate and diversifying exports. Although there has been an increase in gross domestic capital formation by the private sector, and the targeted reduction in cost to set up a business was exceeded, there has been no change in the time to set up a business. There was also a significant deterioration in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index (table 3.1). Exports continue to be highly concentrated in the RMG sector, with little by way of diversification.

Table 3.1. Investment Climate Results Indicators from the Country Assistance Strategy and Country Partnership Strategy

Outcome Indicator



Progress to Date

Private investment–to-GDP ratio increases by at least 2 percentage points of GDP

21.5% (2010)

23.6% (2015)

23.7% (2020)

Overall improvement in ease of doing business index

35th percentile (DB 2010)

Rank: 119/183

Score: 3.0

40th percentile

(DB 2015)

Rank: 173/189

Score: 46.8

12th percentile (DB 2020)

Rank: 168/190

Score: 45.0

Reduction in time and cost to set up a business

19.5 days and 22.3% of income per capita (2018)

25% reduction (2021)

No change in time to set up a business (DB 2020)

60% decline in cost to set up a business (DB 2020)

Sources: Various Doing Business reports, latest Implementation Status and Results Report.

Note: Ease of doing business score is reflected on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest and 100 represents the best performance (ease of doing business score and ease of doing business ranking 2020).

Methodology of ease of doing business score and ease of doing business ranking: Ranking of economies is determined by sorting the aggregate ease of doing business scores. The aggregate ease of doing business score for each economy is the simple average of their scores on each of the 10 topics included in the ranking: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency. All topics are weighted equally. DB = Doing Business; GDP = gross domestic product.

Bank Group support for investment climate reform was provided through investment lending, technical assistance, and ASA. Three investment projects supported export processing zones and export diversification while the Programmatic Jobs DPC series (FY19–21) had prior actions to help modernize the trade and investment environment (pillar A), including the new Companies Act (to modernize the processes of starting and running a business by replacing the archaic 1913 Companies Act).

Substantial analytical work was produced related to competitiveness, jobs, and trade, including the analytical underpinnings to the Programmatic Jobs DPCs, such as the 2017 Jobs Diagnostic (Farole et al. 2017), which provided the framework and basis for several prior actions, including the One Stop Service for investment and the new Companies Act (see chapter 5). IFC provided advisory services primarily through the Second Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund, which was funded by the UK Department for International Development and coordinated closely with two World Bank operations.

Financial Inclusion

The Bank Group’s contribution to financial inclusion has been significant. The number of customers with access to digital services reached 30 million as targeted, while the number of small and medium enterprises with access to financial services reached 78,000, well below the target of 100,000. IFC investments supported financial inclusion, including through investment in a mobile payment company (bKash). bKash has approximately 50 million registered customers and has been instrumental in improving financial inclusion. The 2017 Global Findex reported that the percentage of adults with financial accounts in Bangladesh rose from 31 percent (2014) to 50 percent (2017)3—a gain almost entirely due to a 20 percent increase in bKash mobile money accounts, although significant challenges remain in closing the gender gap in financial access. bKash was also critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the government of Bangladesh disbursed assistance through mobile financing services.

Country Partnership Framework Focus Area 2: Social Inclusion


Bank Group support for the health sector focused on improving access to quality health, population, and nutrition services (CAS), and improving access to quality maternal and infant health services (CPF). Public and private health sector spending in Bangladesh as a percentage of the GDP is among the lowest in the region. The support was therefore relevant to the country context and priorities of the government as set out in the Second National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction (2009–11) and the Health, Nutrition, and Population Strategic Investment Plan (HNPSIP) 2016–21. The 2015 SCD identified health as one of the foundational priorities to sustain growth and poverty reduction in the country (World Bank 2015a).

Under the CAS, there was a strong focus on service delivery at district and local levels with emphasis on expanding access, availability, and quality of maternal and child health services, reproductive health and family planning services, and the effectiveness of interventions related to the nutritional status of mothers and children. Under the CPF, the Bank Group engagement shifted progressively in addressing systemic reforms and supporting the government in its ambition for universal health coverage.

The World Bank, together with development partners, supported the health sector through a SWAP, which financed a specific slice of the overall national health program. In addition, the World Bank produced significant analytical work to support the lending program. One analytical work, “Bangladesh Governance in the Health Sector” (Rose, Lane, and Rahman 2014), informed development partners and government on the state of governance issues in the health sector and called for greater transparency and effectiveness to further improve health outcomes. Another analytical work, Health and Nutrition in Urban Bangladesh: Social Determinants and Health Sector Governance (Govindaraj et al. 2018), recommended that, with rapid urbanization, Bangladesh needed to address urban health delivery services and outcomes and undertake reform across several areas, including in governance, financing, and policy framework. IFC had relatively little engagement in the health, nutrition, and population sector. It provided advisory input in the form of the Bangladesh Secondary and Outpatient Care Hospital PPP and the Bangladesh Dialysis Centers PPP, with financial support from the HANSEP Health PPP facility funded by the UK Department for International Development. The Bangladesh Dialysis Centers PPP was recognized in the Infrastructure 100 World Markets Report (KPMG 2014) as one of the top 100 projects across the globe in 2014.

The complex nature of the sector and of the SWAP arrangement gave rise to implementation challenges (notably financial irregularities) that were progressively addressed over the period. At entry, fiduciary-related project risks were rated high. To mitigate this risk, a comprehensive Fiduciary Action Plan was developed that focused on control functions of the ministry in collaboration with development partners. Numerous financial irregularities were identified during project implementation. For example, about $2.2 million was declared an ineligible expenditure due to financial irregularities and misprocurement identified by government and World Bank audits. The government refunded the full amount to the World Bank. External audits identified other irregularities.

Lessons from implementation of the FY11 SWAP helped structure the design and risk mitigation of subsequent SWAPs. For example, disbursement-linked indicators (DLIs) were introduced in the FY11 SWAP. Seven of the 15 DLIs were dedicated to strengthening the fiduciary capacity of the client and improving the overall governance of the sector. These DLIs include contract management guidelines, restructuring of the financial management audit unit, and internal audits of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with time-bound actions. IEG’s Implementation Completion and Results Report Review for the FY11 SWAP noted that effectiveness of the DLI approach is attenuated when budgetary incentives are only partly associated with the achievement of results. In the FY11 SWAP, the government budget for Health Population Nutrition Sector Development Program was prefinanced by the Ministry of Finance, which reduced the effectiveness of the incentive structure.

Overall, sector-level indicators pointed to improvements over time, to which the World Bank–supported program contributed. Project-level assessments of two completed projects through the SWAP arrangements suggest a positive direction of travel.4 Over the CPE period, health outcome targets were achieved, including the increased share of births attended by a skilled birth attendant among the lowest two wealth quintiles (see table 3.2). The outcome target related to attendance of skilled personnel at births in the lowest two income quintiles was exceeded well before the target dates.

Table 3.2. Health Results Indicators from Country Assistance Strategy and Country Partnership Framework


CAS and CASPR: FY11–15

CPF and PLR: FY16–21

Percentage of births attended by skilled personnel in the two lowest income quintiles*

Baseline (2007): 8%

Target (2014): 14%

Actual (2015): 23%

Baseline (2014): 23%

Target (2020): 27%

Actual (2017): PLR reports target exceeded at 33.6%

Percentage of under-five children who were underweight

Baseline (2007): 46%

Target (2014): 42%

Actual (2015): 32.6%

Coverage of measles immunization for children under 12 months of age

Baseline (2014): 85%

Target (2020): 87%

Actual (2017): PLR reports target achieved

Source: Independent Evaluation Group based on CAS/CPF/PLR, ICRRs/ISRs.

Note: CAS = Country Assistance Strategy; CASPR = CAS Progress Report; CPF = Country Partnership Framework; FY = fiscal year; ICRR = Implementation Completion and Results Report Review; ISR = Implementation Status and Results Report; PLR = Performance and Learning Review.


The CAS/CASPR objective for “increased equitable education access, improved system efficiency, and student learning” (World Bank, 2010a, 2013a, p.9 ) and the CPF objective of “improved equity in access and quality of education” (World Bank 2016b, 23) were in line with the government’s priorities, including job creation through inclusive growth, promotion of gender equality in education, and achievement of universal primary and secondary education. The objectives were also aligned with the SCD’s identification of the need to improve the quality of learning outcomes. IDA was the largest source of finance in education among development partners (notably through SWAP arrangements in primary and secondary education, which accounted for 88 percent of IDA commitments in education). More than half of it went to primary education. The Bank Group also supported higher education and skills training (see chapter 5).

During the CPE period, the World Bank contributed to increased completion rates in primary education (80 percent), achieving the CPF target in 2017; the CPF target (50 percent) for completion rates in secondary education was not achieved. The World Bank also contributed to increased enrollment of out-of-school children in underserviced upazilas and urban slums, reaching 687,556 in 2019, which exceeded the target of 400,000. These achievements were made through the World Bank’s long-standing engagement in the SWAP with development partners.

Despite favorable outcome ratings for individual projects,5 improvements in learning outcomes have proven elusive. This shortcoming was identified in the 2009 IEG Country Assistance Evaluation for Bangladesh (World Bank 2009). Key factors associated with weak learning outcomes included lack of access to early childhood development programs, low quality of teaching practices, inadequate school management, and low levels of spending on public education (World Bank 2013b). Given that enhanced quality of education was a strategic objective for both the CAS and the CPF, the lack of progress is concerning, particularly given significant efforts and investments made in this area.

Social Protection

There was a continuity of focus across CAS and CPF objectives—“Strengthened social protection system to reduce vulnerability” and “Improved social protection coverage for poor people”—which was relevant in support of government strategy. A top priority for the Seventh Five Year Plan was to streamline existing programs to ensure the effective and efficient use of public expenditures. At the start of the CAS period, a significant number of Bangladeshis were poor, in extreme poverty, or vulnerable to reentering extreme poverty. To mitigate this, the authorities operated 31 social safety net programs at the time of the CAS and more than 100 programs at the start of the CPF period. These accounted for 15 percent and 12 percent of total government expenditure, respectively. Weak coordination and targeting in the social protection system reduced the effectiveness of targeted programs and was identified as in need of improvement as part of the World Bank’s strategic focus on improving public service delivery.

The World Bank sought to provide support to improve the equity, efficiency, and transparency of major social safety net programs that it provided through investment lending and support for prior actions under the Programmatic Jobs DPC series 1–3 (including a financing scheme for workers in export industries affected by COVID-19). Lending was complemented by a substantial body of knowledge work, particularly the Bangladesh Social Protection and Labor Review: Towards Smart Social Protection and Jobs for the Poor (World Bank 2016c), which reviewed the social protection landscape and labor policy agenda and programs and offered relevant policy recommendations, such as measures to develop a pension system that would cover workers regardless of employment type. Pillar B of the DPC series supported strengthening systems to protect workers and included a trigger for the cabinet to approve a comprehensive pension strategy; however, this trigger did not materialize into prior action. (See appendix D on the DPC evolution of prior actions and indicative triggers.)

The Bank Group made progress in supporting an increase in the share of people covered by social safety nets, people receiving social care services, and additional beneficiaries receiving social protection benefits. The World Bank built on lessons from previous operations, such as the Employment Generation Program (FY11), on beneficiary targeting. However, reforms supported under the DPC series to protect workers’ rights did not materialize as envisaged, as prior actions in subsequent operations in the series were weakened relative to the indicative triggers supported by the program. For example, the planned overseas migration legislation addressing gaps in the regulation of intermediaries to reduce the cost of international migration was replaced by a weaker action related to the publication of recruitment agency licensing and code of conduct for performance monitoring, which has less traction compared with a legislative act.

Country Partnership Framework Focus Area 3: Climate and Environment Management

Focus area 3 sought to address the nexus of climate change preparedness, disaster risk management and resilience, and environmental management (water resources and agriculture).

Resilience to Natural Disasters in Urban and Coastal Areas

The Bank Group supported enhanced disaster and climate change preparedness (CAS/CASPR) and increased resilience of the population to natural disasters in urban and coastal areas (CPF/PLR). These objectives were highly relevant to country conditions, notably the country’s extreme vulnerability to disasters and climate change. The government placed high priority on adaptation to and mitigation of the consequences of natural disasters. Successive five-year plans stressed the urgency of paying attention to disaster management and climate change.

During the review period, the Bank Group provided lending and analytical support to enhance the country’s preparedness for natural disasters and the consequences of climate change. The CAS objective was supported by the Emergency 2007 Cyclone Recovery and Restoration Project (FY07), which was the largest and most comprehensive response to the cyclone Sidr that hit the country in November 2007.6 The World Bank provided financing to rehabilitate coastal embankments and existing disaster shelters as well as build new multipurpose disaster shelters, and provide assistance to restore the livelihoods of affected communities. The project benefited 4.8 million people in areas affected by the cyclone with the rehabilitation of 353 multipurpose shelters, the construction of 460 new shelters, and the rehabilitation of more than 500 kilometers of coastal embankments intended to prevent flooding in low-lying areas (World Bank 2019a). According to the Implementation Completion and Results Report Review, the project’s multipurpose shelters have successfully reduced the country’s vulnerability to weather-related disasters. At least two subsequent cyclones, Mahasen in 2013 and Mora in 2017, were more intense than Sidr but caused many fewer deaths, injuries, and damages.7

Early results from CPF-supported interventions suggest some progress in increasing the number of wards with decentralized emergency response services and providing additional people with access to multipurpose shelters. The portfolio experienced implementation delays due to protracted procurement processes, delays in land acquisition, and weather-related events, necessitating restructurings and extensions.

During the second half of the review period, World Bank lending focused on infrastructure such as investments in new or rehabilitated multipurpose shelters (cyclone shelters, which serve as primary schools during the year) and rehabilitation and improvement of rural roads to improve access, with no explicit provision for operations and maintenance after the project has closed. For instance, nearly 95 percent of the project cost for the Multipurpose Disaster Shelter Project was dedicated to construction and rehabilitation. Given the World Bank’s focus on extensive infrastructure projects to improve the country’s resilience to natural disasters and impact of climate change, there are concerns with how these investments would be maintained after project completion, as there was insufficient attention to operations and maintenance, resulting in a cycle of build-neglect-rebuild. The 2015 SCD suggests that Bangladesh needs to move away from the build-neglect-rebuild mindset. It states that insufficient attention to operation and maintenance of infrastructure results in a fiscally inefficient cycle of build-neglect-rebuild (World Bank 2015a, 10, 84, 108).

Water Resources

Throughout the review period, the World Bank envisaged supporting water resource management. Inefficient water resource management, particularly river management, poses risks to the country’s development through recurrent floods, erosion, and water pollution. River management in Bangladesh is complex because of the vulnerability of transport, agriculture, and human health to water-related impacts. Fifty-seven transboundary rivers feed into Bangladesh, creating the world’s second-largest riverine drainage basin, the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin (which it shares with India, Nepal, Bhutan, and China). The Bank Group sought to support strengthened water resource management and protection of coastal areas (CAS) and water resource infrastructure for climate resilience (CPF). However, none of the World Bank’s proposed interventions were approved. The World Bank prepared two operations in the CAS period on water resources, but they were dropped after the Padma Bridge project cancellation.

In the CPF, the World Bank brought forward the River Management Improvement Program, which reached the negotiation stage, but government priorities had changed by the time the project was presented to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council for approval. The World Bank refocused its support to water supply and sanitation services with the approval of two operations in FY20. These operations supported infrastructure investments in piped water systems and sanitation along with institutional capacity building for water supply and sanitation management. Bank Group support contributed to improving access to reliable water sources for an estimated 1.48 million people in selected urban and rural areas.

The World Bank produced several analytical pieces, including Multisector Approaches to Delta Management: Investment Plan for the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (World Bank 2017b) to support the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 implementation. The Bangladesh Poverty Diagnostics for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (FY18) ASA provided the foundation for several subsequent water and supply sanitation projects approved in FY20. Given that the planned operation supporting water resource management had been dropped, the expected results of upgrading the hydrological network and preventing soil erosion and flooding from the Brahmaputra River were not realized.


The Bank Group supported improved agriculture production and food security (CAS/CASPR) and increased adoption of sustainable practices (CPF/PLR), in line with government priorities. Vision 2021 stressed self-sufficiency in rice production, and the need to diversify agricultural production and increase crop intensification. IDA priorities include climate smart agriculture, with an emphasis on increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, adapting and building resilience to climate change, and reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions.

During the review period, the Bank Group achieved its targets for increasing both yields in selected crops in targeted areas and the number of farmers adopting improved agricultural technologies. These targets were achieved through the World Bank’s lending operations, which provided support for agricultural research and extension; and release of new technologies for selected crops by the Bangladesh national research institutes (in agriculture, livestock, and fisheries); targeted support to farmers in the project area to adopt improved agricultural production technologies and management practices; and expansion of irrigated areas to enhance cropping intensity. The World Bank’s contributions to improving food security are reflected in World Development Indicators’ crop production index, which shows an overall increasing trend over the CPE period. A crop production index shows agricultural production for each year relative to the base period 2014–16. It includes all crops except fodder crops. Regional and income group aggregates for the Food and Agriculture Organization’s production indexes are calculated from the underlying values in international dollars, normalized to the base period 2014–16.

In addition to lending, the World Bank’s engagement in agriculture was supported through grants from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program and in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization as the implementing agency. Key analytical pieces included The Climate Smart Investment Plan, which underpinned the Climate Smart Agricultural Water Management Project (FY21), and Dynamics of Rural Growth in Bangladesh: Sustaining Poverty Reduction (Gautam and Faruqee 2016), which informed the World Bank’s dialogue with the government.

  1. World Bank Group success in Bangladesh with solar home systems is cited in several reports: Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (2012), Cabraal et al. (2021), and World Bank (2015c, 2017c).
  2. Economist Intelligence Unit (2021),
  3. Global Findex Database 2017,
  4. The two projects—Health, Nutrition and Population Sector Program (FY05) and Health Sector Development Program (FY11)—validated by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) were rated moderately satisfactory and satisfactory, respectively, for overall outcome.
  5. All five closed projects were rated highly satisfactory or satisfactory by IEG. The Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project (closed December 2017) was rated highly satisfactory. All four remaining education projects—Primary Education Development Program II (PEDP II; closed June 2011), PEDP III (closed December 2017), Reaching Out of School Children (ROSC; closed June 2013), and the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (closed December 2018)—were rated satisfactory.
  6. Cyclone Sidr caused the loss of more than 3,000 lives and 55,000 injuries, and damages estimated at $1.7 billion.
  7. The Mahasen cyclone struck eight coastal districts: Chittagong, Bhola, Barguna, Pirojpur, Noakhali, Patuakhali, Satkhira, and Laxmipur. Cyclone Mora hit some districts near the city of Cox’s Bazar and the province of Chittagong. Approximately 30 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts were affected by Cyclone Sidr, mainly within the administrative divisions of Barisal and Khulna.