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So, you want to reduce fiscal and financial vulnerabilities to better prepare for the next crisis?

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Image of man holding an umbrella to shield from the sun. Adapted from shutterstock
Proactively strengthening institutions for crisis preparedness can make the difference between whether a country bounces back quickly from an unexpected shock or struggles for years to regain its footing.Proactively strengthening institutions for crisis preparedness can make the difference between whether a country bounces back quickly from an unexpected shock or struggles for years to regain its footing.

Addressing Country-Level Fiscal and Financial Sector Vulnerabilities

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Addressing Country-Level Fiscal and Financial Sector Vulnerabilities
This evaluation assesses World Bank Group support to client countries to build resilience to exogenous shocks. Proactively reducing fiscal and financial sector vulnerabilities and strengthening frameworks and institutions for crisis management can make the difference between whether a country bounces back quickly from an unexpected shock or struggles for Show MoreThis evaluation assesses World Bank Group support to client countries to build resilience to exogenous shocks. Proactively reducing fiscal and financial sector vulnerabilities and strengthening frameworks and institutions for crisis management can make the difference between whether a country bounces back quickly from an unexpected shock or struggles for years to regain its footing.

World Bank Support to Aging Countries

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shutterstock/ Ja Crispy
This evaluation is the first at the Independent Evaluation Group to assess the World Bank’s contribution to diagnosing client countries’ demographic issues related to population aging. This evaluation is the first at the Independent Evaluation Group to assess the World Bank’s contribution to diagnosing client countries’ demographic issues related to population aging.

What do cities need to grow equitably, sustainably and build resilience?

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City view of Bogotá, Colombia on January 11, 2016. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank
Cities will be home to 2 billion new residents by 2045. Accommodating this growth will require large-scale development of land in and around urban areas. For lower‐income cities, this will be challenging since they tend to grow through slums and other informal settlements. Along with a  lack of adequate and equitable access to public services and economic opportunities, slum residents Show MoreCities will be home to 2 billion new residents by 2045. Accommodating this growth will require large-scale development of land in and around urban areas. For lower‐income cities, this will be challenging since they tend to grow through slums and other informal settlements. Along with a  lack of adequate and equitable access to public services and economic opportunities, slum residents   are more vulnerable to diseases, especially highly communicable ones such as COVID-19, and they are likelier to bear the brunt of natural disasters associated with using land that is environmentally sensitive, unprotected, or more susceptible to  disasters. In 2014, an estimated 880 million urban residents lived in slum conditions, compared with 792 million in 2000 (UN 2019). This number is likely to keep growing unless urban spatial expansion is planned and managed well.   IEG recently assessed the World Bank’s support to client countries on managing urban expansion, particularly through its work on land administration, land‐use planning, and land development. These three key factors determine how urban areas grow. Land administration Land administration is the process of establishing, recording, and disseminating information about the ownership, value, and use of land and its associated resources. Making available such fundamental reference information through wider records systems is key towards recognizing a continuity of property rights and ensuring the security of tenure. This, in turn, will motivate households to invest in dwellings and contribute towards creating functioning land markets, which are crucial for the development of cities. World Bank support to land administration is successfully strengthening property rights through land titling, which contributes to land market development. However, countries eligible for IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, have faced challenges with land titling and land records data management systems, which, in turn, affects their ability to develop land markets. This is partially due to limited technical capacity locally and issues related to political economy. Government planning and policies regarding land administration may not be sufficiently adapted to the local context, including the diverse and, sometimes, conflicting political and economic incentives and motivations that are at play at the local level. The political economy around land administration laws is often complex, and the time taken to reform them typically goes beyond the duration of related projects, and at times, political cycles. Land‐use planning Land-use planning helps regulate the use of space, focusing not only on the physical aspect, but also the economic functions, social impact, and the location of different activities within the urban environment. One of the critical functions of land-use planning is the allocation of land to private and public uses, including infrastructure and services. World Bank support to clients on land-use planning has generally been successful, but it rarely supports implementing land-use planning tools that focus on preventing the emergence of new slums or informal areas. This is critical to managing urban spatial growth. The Bank has been encouraging the establishment of independent planning agencies, which help develop preventative approaches, but it has not provided the operational support that is needed for such agencies.  Land development Land development is the transformation of land through investments and this evaluation assessed it through two components: first, urban upgrading, which is the improvement of conditions in existing slums and preventing the growth of new ones, and second, urban transport, which includes integrating transportation with land use. These components shape how land is used and how its use evolves over time, in turn, defining how productive and inclusive cities will become in the future.   World Bank support to land development has been generally successful, but Bank projects on urban upgrading have tended to focus on upgrading existing slum areas and improving the access of slum-dwellers to infrastructure and housing. It has focused less on preventing the emergence of new slums and informal areas. On urban transport, because of the traditional focus on mobility and access, the Bank’s support does not systematically consider land prices and land markets. Excluding land market assessments from urban transport projects leads to underestimating the total economic benefits of these projects as well as not fully accounting for the benefits and opportunities that an increase in the value of land offers to various income groups, especially those from lower-income segments.    There is also a lack of systematic geolocation of the World Bank’s investments, which further limit the Bank’s ability to support countries in assessing changes in land use, increases in land values, and the associated distributional impacts. Lessons learned and way forward There are three specific areas where the World Bank can enhance its support to countries in managing their urban spatial growth. Adopting a framework that links determinants of urban expansion with strategies for managing it, in an integrated way: The framework could act as a reference for the design and delivery of the Bank’s lending and analytical work on urban spatial growth. The framework could reflect the approach of the Planning, Connecting, and Financing Cities report, the World Bank Group housing framework, the transport-oriented guidelines and recent findings from Pancakes to Pyramids: City Form to Promote Sustainable Growth report. Adopting preventive approaches in addition to curative ones: This could be done by securing rights of way and financing basic infrastructure in emerging neighborhoods to accommodate new urban dwellers. The World Bank should support the use of public transit, walking, and cycling as primary modes of transportation. It should also expand the use of land‐based planning tools and approaches, such as scenario planning, which is a process to support informed decision-making helping urban planners navigate future uncertainties. Identifying and recording precise project locations and collecting land market data: The World Bank should strengthen its data collection protocols and increase the use of technologies such as the Geo‐Enabling Initiative for Monitoring and Supervision and the Smart Supervision Application. It should also improve the collection of land market data, including mainstreaming land market assessments in World Bank investments in urban areas. When countries manage well the factors that determine urban expansion, it can lead to fewer slums, efficient and resilient use of land, functioning land markets, and integrated urban transport systems. These, in turn, will ensure that the expansion in urban areas occurs in ways that are sustainable, efficient, and equitable. The World Bank Group will need to adopt new approaches, frameworks, and technologies that enhance its ability to support clients, especially IDA countries, on urban expansion. This will contribute directly to Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 11, which address the need for equitable, inclusive, and sustainable use of and access to economic resources, including land, and will help the World Bank Group respond more effectively and efficiently to the twin goals – poverty reduction and shared prosperity. In addition, this will also support countries in managing their urban expansion in ways that consider the infrastructure and services that are needed to help them be more resilient towards chronic stresses and future shocks, such as pandemics and natural disasters. This will facilitate the World Bank Group’s goal of green, resilient, inclusive development. Read IEG's Evaluation: Managing Urban Spatial Growth World Bank Support to Land Administration, Planning, and Development   pictured above: City view of Bogotá, Colombia on January 11, 2016. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Managing Urban Spatial Growth

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Contrasting the rapid growth of informal settlements  and high rise buildings in the city of Salvador, Brazil—taken with a drone January 2021—by Johnny Miller / Unequal Scenes
This evaluation offers IEG’s first systematic assessment of the World Bank’s support to the management of urban spatial growth. This evaluation offers IEG’s first systematic assessment of the World Bank’s support to the management of urban spatial growth.

The private sector in low income and fragile countries needs more than credit

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Kitabi Tea Processing Facility A worker sorts the green leaf tea before it reaches the main processing floor. The Kitabi Tea Processing Facility in Kitabi, Rwanda has a capacity of 48 000 tons of green leaf per day. The facility employs 200 people during its peak season and about 70 during the rest of the year. Photo: A'Melody Lee / World Bank
Lessons from the early implementation of the IDA Private Sector Window (PSW)Lessons from the early implementation of the IDA Private Sector Window (PSW)

The World Bank Group’s Experience with the IDA Private Sector Window: An Early-Stage Assessment

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Employees of Vita Foam working in Freetown, Sierra Leone on June 19, 2015. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank
This report is an early-stage assessment of the World Bank Group’s experience with the International Development Association (IDA) Private Sector Window (PSW).This report is an early-stage assessment of the World Bank Group’s experience with the International Development Association (IDA) Private Sector Window (PSW).

Meet the Evaluator: Bekele Shiferaw discusses the nexus between natural resources and human development

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Meet the Evaluator: Bekele Shiferaw discusses the nexus between natural resources and human development
As IEG marked World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought earlier this month, we spoke with Bekele Ambaye Shiferaw, who spent much of his long career focused on environmental degradation and how to stop it. Along with describing his journey to the Independent Evaluation Group, after a 25-year career in development, Bekele spoke to us about the importance of addressing the nexus between Show MoreAs IEG marked World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought earlier this month, we spoke with Bekele Ambaye Shiferaw, who spent much of his long career focused on environmental degradation and how to stop it. Along with describing his journey to the Independent Evaluation Group, after a 25-year career in development, Bekele spoke to us about the importance of addressing the nexus between natural resource degradation and threats to human development, and the way forward. IEG · Meet The Evaluator: Bekele Ambaye Shiferaw

The Drive for Financial Inclusion: Lessons of World Bank Group Experience – Approach Paper

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Financial inclusion is expected to help address poverty and shared prosperity by improving and smoothing household incomes at the same time as reducing vulnerability to shocks, improving investments in education and health, and encouraging the growth of businesses and related employment. The poor face immense financial challenges. The income of the poor is not only lower but also more volatile. Show MoreFinancial inclusion is expected to help address poverty and shared prosperity by improving and smoothing household incomes at the same time as reducing vulnerability to shocks, improving investments in education and health, and encouraging the growth of businesses and related employment. The poor face immense financial challenges. The income of the poor is not only lower but also more volatile. They often rely on a range of unpredictable jobs or on weather-dependent agriculture. Transforming irregular income flows into a dependable resource to meet daily needs represents a crucial challenge for the poor. Another challenge lies in meeting costs if a major expense arises (such as a home repair, medical service, or funeral) or if a breadwinner falls ill. Savings, credit, insurance, and remittances can each help the poor to smooth volatile incomes and expenses, providing a margin of safety when income drops or expenses rise, or providing the needed funds for children’s education or health care. Additionally, financial inclusion in the form of financial services for microentrepreneurs and very small enterprises has been guided by the intention that it can help them to survive, grow, and generate income for the poor. Nonetheless, evidence that financial inclusion directly takes people out of poverty is mixed. The main objective of this evaluation is to enhance learning from the Bank Group’s experience, including the World Bank, IFC, and MIGA, in supporting client countries in their efforts to advance financial inclusion over the period of FY14–20. It both updates and expands on a 2015 IEG evaluation, which assessed Bank Group activity for FY07–13. It not only updates an evaluation of WBG activity in financial inclusion and in support of national financial inclusion strategies, but also plans for a deep focus on the following: (i) A retrospective look at the drive for universal financial access (the UFA 2020 initiative), including outcomes achieved in its 25 focus countries; (ii) Progress and challenges in women’s access to financial services (gender); (iii) An in-depth examination of digital financial inclusion efforts and the role of digital financial services as vehicles for financial inclusion. This work intends to focus more deeply on outcomes on the ground for poor households and microenterprises. It intends to understand the relevance and effectiveness of these activities, including the outcomes and the mechanisms by which observed outcomes were achieved. The evaluation aims to identify lessons applicable to the World Bank, IFC or MIGA by obtaining evidence-based findings of what works, why, and for whom.

Mozambique Country Program Evaluation (Approach Paper)

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Mozambique’s recent history is characterized by economic growth, rising inequality, and fragility. After the end of a civil war in 1992, Mozambique enjoyed a sustained period of growth until 2014, positioning it as one of the fastest-growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Such growth, however, was not broadly shared and inequality increased. Fragility in Mozambique traces back to the uneven Show MoreMozambique’s recent history is characterized by economic growth, rising inequality, and fragility. After the end of a civil war in 1992, Mozambique enjoyed a sustained period of growth until 2014, positioning it as one of the fastest-growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Such growth, however, was not broadly shared and inequality increased. Fragility in Mozambique traces back to the uneven historical development of the state, in part shaped by geographical characteristics, and to the nature of the political settlement and the exclusionary political arrangements that it maintains. This evaluation seeks to assess the World Bank Group’s success at helping Mozambique address challenges that constrain its development. The evaluation will cover fiscal years (FY)08–21 and is timed to inform Mozambique’s next Country Partnership Framework (CPF). The evaluation will assess the Bank Group’s support for addressing three development challenges and drivers of fragility in Mozambique: (i) rural poverty linked to weak agricultural productivity and regional inequalities; (ii) weak institutions and governance; and (iii) vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.