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Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) Work Program and Budget (FY22) and Indicative Plan (FY23-24)

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IEG adapted its work program to align with the rapid adjustment of the WBG’s strategic priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, IEG will continue to keep a line of sight to other emerging and longstanding corporate priorities including the IDA 20 special themes and cross-cutting areas, climate change ambition, concerns on debt sustainability, the Green, Resilient, Show MoreIEG adapted its work program to align with the rapid adjustment of the WBG’s strategic priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, IEG will continue to keep a line of sight to other emerging and longstanding corporate priorities including the IDA 20 special themes and cross-cutting areas, climate change ambition, concerns on debt sustainability, the Green, Resilient, Inclusive Development (GRID) framework, the new WBG knowledge framework and the outcome orientation agenda. IEG will also continue its efforts to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, aligned with the corporate priority on Ending Racism.

How prepared is the World Bank Group to leverage the opportunities and mitigate the risks of disruptive and transformative technologies?

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An African agronomist is using a drone to monitor a corn crop. Image source: Shutterstock/Martin Harvey
Disruptive and transformative technologies (DTT) offer the welcome promise of faster progress and transforming people’s lives for the better. With the combined impacts of conflict, climate change, and the Covid-19 pandemic threatening to drive up global poverty levels for the first time in decades, harnessing the potential of DTT is now more important than ever. But DTT also come with significant Show MoreDisruptive and transformative technologies (DTT) offer the welcome promise of faster progress and transforming people’s lives for the better. With the combined impacts of conflict, climate change, and the Covid-19 pandemic threatening to drive up global poverty levels for the first time in decades, harnessing the potential of DTT is now more important than ever. But DTT also come with significant risks, such as, for example, income inequality, the lack of data privacy, and cyber surveillance. The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) recently assessed how well prepared the World Bank Group was to help clients leverage the opportunities and mitigate the risk posed by DTT. The evaluation found that, given the accelerating pace and complexity of technological change, the World Bank Group is not yet sufficiently well prepared to help clients harness the opportunities and mitigate the risks posed by DTT, despite some areas of strength. Areas of Strength The evaluation found that the World Bank Group’s traditional areas of strength have enabled its support for DTT. These areas of strength include the World Bank Group’s support for global public goods, its honest broker role, its capacity to provide technical advice and analysis, and its ability to mobilize financing from trust funds and IDA (the fund for the world’s poorest countries). In addition, there are some innovative World Bank-wide DTT initiatives, including the Development Data Partnership, Geospatial Operations Support Team (GOST) initiative, Geo-Enabling for Monitoring and Supervision (GEMS), and the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) TechEmerge and Scale-X. Areas for Improvement Despite its traditional strengths and innovative initiatives, there are a number of areas where the World Bank Group is less prepared. First, the Bank Group’s DTT diagnostics are not yet sufficiently well-linked with the twin goals of reducing poverty and promoting shared prosperity. The diagnostics have often failed to address fundamental questions, such as: What explains low usage of DTT when there is internet coverage? Is low usage the result of high cost or the lack of local content? When there is usage, how effectively does it contribute to the twin goals? Second, the World Bank Group has yet to address the organization’s staff skills and mindsets for DTT. It came as a surprise to us that the World Bank Group has yet to identify the staff skills that it needs for DTT, the staff skills that it currently has, and how any gaps will be filled. In line with the World Bank Group’s Human Resources Strategy for the fiscal years 2020 to 2022, the evaluation also found that mindsets for continuous learning and adaptation in relation to DTT need greater attention.  Third, the World Bank has yet to tackle procurement bottlenecks in DTT projects. Procurement was universally identified by staff interviewed for this evaluation as a major constraint in DTT projects. The World Bank has introduced some flexibility in procurement rules, for example, introducing two-stage bidding where the exact solutions are not known upfront, and reducing the threshold for bidders’ years of experience to allow younger, innovative firms to bid. However, staff are reluctant to use these flexibilities given insufficient guidance on how to apply them in different situations and given an incentive environment that encourages risk aversion. Fourth, while IEG found specific examples of effective collaboration, there is insufficient collaboration on DTT across the World Bank Group. The need for enhanced collaboration across sectors is underlined by the wide-ranging nature of DTT projects that require not only digital hardware but also analog complements such as policies, institutions, and skills. Successful DTT-related outcomes also require knowledge and inputs from both the public and private sectors. Fifth, the World Bank Group has yet to create an institutional culture that fosters informed risk taking and innovation when it comes to DTT. Harnessing new technology often demands innovation, which by definition is without precedent and inevitably risky. There are several levers for informed risk taking and innovation that the World Bank Group can employ: Clear signaling by World Bank Group management on risk taking and how failure will be treated; Asking questions in operational review meetings that encourage innovation over routine; Reevaluating what is rewarded in staff performance evaluation and the criteria that are used for career development and staff promotions. Paths to Better Preparedness To make quicker progress on the twin goals, the World Bank Group will need to seize every opportunity to harness DTT and to address, in particular, the risks posed by DTT—solid diagnostics will be critical in this regard. Better preparation will also require a World Bank Group workforce equipped with the necessary skills to harness DTT opportunities and mitigate DTT risks. This will require the World Bank Group to identify DTT-relevant skills, determine gaps in these skills, and fill these gaps. Furthermore, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of World Bank procurement for DTT projects will help the World Bank Group to be better prepared to support DTT. Further areas that can help the World Bank Group to be better prepared for DTT include a stronger focus on development data, addressing the gender-differential impacts of DTT, and greater attention to imparting 21st century skills. What distinguishes the current DTT revolution from past technological revolutions is the explosion of data. In 2015 and 2016 alone, more data were created than in all previous years combined. But the World Bank Group is yet to become a data-driven organization that optimizes the use of public and private data, which is both made increasingly available by DTT and more effectively mined using DTT. With regard to gender-differential impacts of DTT, IEG found that just 7% of World Bank Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA) in the ICT sector approved during the fiscal years 2015 to 2018 were gender-relevant ASAs. This is a particular concern since it is in ASA that new opportunities to address the gender-differential impacts of DTT can be explored. In the area of skills, the World Bank Group has an opportunity to move the narrative forward from literacy and numeracy to include 21st century skills, in particular, the ability to learn and adapt.  To conclude, given that technology is set to continue to advance and evolve throughout our lifetimes, the World Bank Group will need to develop the organizational capability and mindset to learn, anticipate, and adapt to change on an ongoing basis—a one-time fix will not suffice. With better preparation the World Bank Group can respond more effectively and efficiently to the twin goals. Such preparation can also help improve the World Bank Group’s response to COVID-19 and facilitate its goal of building back better. * This blog is based on IEG’s recently released evaluation “Mobilizing Technology for Development: An Assessment of World Bank Group Preparedness.” The evaluation was conducted under the guidance and direction of Galina Sotirova and Oscar Calvo-Gonzalez, and benefited from the contribution of several other IEG staff and consultants. Inputs to this blog were also provided by William Stebbins and Arunjana Das. The authors are grateful for each of these contributions.   Pictured above: An African agronomist is using a drone to monitor a corn crop. Image source: Shutterstock/Martin Harvey

Early-Stage Evaluation of the International Development Association's Sustainable Development Finance Policy (Approach Paper)

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IEG is undertaking an early stage evaluation of Sustainable Development Finance Policy (SDFP) of the International Development Association (IDA), which came into effect on July 1, 2020. The SDFP, adopted in response to concern with mounting external public debt vulnerabilities in IDA-eligible countries, seeks to create incentives to strengthen country-level debt transparency, enhance fiscal Show MoreIEG is undertaking an early stage evaluation of Sustainable Development Finance Policy (SDFP) of the International Development Association (IDA), which came into effect on July 1, 2020. The SDFP, adopted in response to concern with mounting external public debt vulnerabilities in IDA-eligible countries, seeks to create incentives to strengthen country-level debt transparency, enhance fiscal sustainability, and strengthen debt management. In light of significant past efforts to restore debt sustainability to heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs), including through large scale bilateral and multilateral debt relief, the World Bank Board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness seeks early feedback from implementation of the SFDP to identify lessons to enhance its effectiveness. IEG will assess the relevance of the SDFP in addressing the sharp rise in debt stress in many IDA-eligible countries as well as the early implementation of the policy.

Mongolia CLR Review FY13-21

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This review examines the implementation of the FY13-FY17 Mongolia Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), which was endorsed by the World Bank Group (WBG)’s Board of Executive Directors in April 2012, updated in the Performance and Learning Review (PLR) of December 2016 (which extended the CPS by six months) and further revised in the PLR of November 2019. At that time, the CPS period was extended Show MoreThis review examines the implementation of the FY13-FY17 Mongolia Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), which was endorsed by the World Bank Group (WBG)’s Board of Executive Directors in April 2012, updated in the Performance and Learning Review (PLR) of December 2016 (which extended the CPS by six months) and further revised in the PLR of November 2019. At that time, the CPS period was extended retroactively by three years until December 31, 2020. The CPS had three Focus Areas: (1) enhance Mongolia’s capacity to manage the mining economy sustainably and transparently; (2) build a sustained and diversified basis for economic growth and employment in urban and rural areas; and (3) address vulnerabilities and growing inequality through improved access to services and better service delivery, safety net provision, and improved disaster risk management. The CPS objectives were well aligned with the country’s own development goals as set out in various government programs and strategies.

Brazil: Rio State Fiscal Efficiency for Quality of Public Service Delivery Development Policy Loan (DPL III) (PPAR)

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This is a Project Performance Assessment Report (PPAR) by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the World Bank Group for the Fiscal Efficiency for Quality of Public Service Delivery Development Policy Loan (DPL) III (P126465) to the state of Rio de Janeiro for $300 million. The program covered three policy areas: (i) tax administration, (ii) public financial management, and (iii) education Show MoreThis is a Project Performance Assessment Report (PPAR) by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the World Bank Group for the Fiscal Efficiency for Quality of Public Service Delivery Development Policy Loan (DPL) III (P126465) to the state of Rio de Janeiro for $300 million. The program covered three policy areas: (i) tax administration, (ii) public financial management, and (iii) education and health. It achieved some of its objectives and targets in the short term (in fiscal years 2013–14), but these achievements were not sustained. Ratings for the Rio State Development Policy Loan III are as follows: Outcome was unsatisfactory, and Bank performance was moderately unsatisfactory. The assessment offers the following lessons: (i) Subnational programs supporting institutional reform in areas such as tax administration, public financial management, education, and health require a long-term strategic vision and sufficient time for implementation. (ii) It was difficult to achieve fiscal sustainability in Rio state by reforming only a few technical aspects of tax administration without accounting for important issues, such as pensions, dependence on unstable oil revenues, weak institutions, and chronic corruption. (iii) An assessment of the Rio state’s fiscal situation, its implementation capacity, and medium-term perspectives could have improved the program’s design since the state was in dire financial situation and lacked the bandwidth to properly prepare and execute the 12 loans it was simultaneously negotiating with multiple lenders.

Meet the Evaluator: Joy Butscher

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Joy Butscher
An early interest in learning about the factors that influence development sparked by a fascinating upbringing led IEG’s evaluation analyst, Joy Butscher, to the evaluation practice and to our team at Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group. She has made important contributions to multiple infrastructure and sustainable development evaluations and played a key role in the production of IEG’s recent Show MoreAn early interest in learning about the factors that influence development sparked by a fascinating upbringing led IEG’s evaluation analyst, Joy Butscher, to the evaluation practice and to our team at Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group. She has made important contributions to multiple infrastructure and sustainable development evaluations and played a key role in the production of IEG’s recent Natural Resource Degradation and Vulnerability Nexus report. Listen to Joy as she discusses her experience and issues close to her heart including the complex relation between people and the environment. IEG · Meet the Evaluator: Joy Butscher

Indonesia CLR Review FY16-20

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This review of the World Bank Group (WBG) Completion and Learning Review (CLR) covers the period of the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) FY16-20, as updated in the Performance and Learning Review (PLR). The review covers WBG activities since July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020 and not since July 1, 2016 as stated in the CLR. Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, with a Show MoreThis review of the World Bank Group (WBG) Completion and Learning Review (CLR) covers the period of the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) FY16-20, as updated in the Performance and Learning Review (PLR). The review covers WBG activities since July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020 and not since July 1, 2016 as stated in the CLR. Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, with a population of 271 million (2019) across over 6000 inhabited islands. During the CPF period (and up to the COVID pandemic) the economy grew steadily, underpinned by solid macro-economic fundamentals, with an annual GDP growth rate (2016-19) of 5.1 percent. The 2020 SCD Update notes that the poverty rate declined to an all-time low of 9.4 percent in early 2019 and that incomes for the lower 40 percent have climbed, but that the pace of poverty reduction has been only 0.3 percentage points per year post 2010, against 0.6 percentage points per year in 2003-2010. Indonesia’s Gini coefficient declined from 38.6 in 2016 to 37.8 in 2018. The 2015 SCD identified three key pathways to shared prosperity: strong economic and jobs growth, improved access to key services, and better natural resource management.

Five Ways to Continue Closing Gender Gaps: Lessons from Albania and Rwanda

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Doctors congregating outside a hospital in Tirana in 2004. Despite gains made in closing gender gaps in the past decade, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating inequalities. Photo: Albes Fusha/The World Bank.
With the COVID-19 pandemic aggravating inequalities, closing gender gaps has become ever more urgent. We look to recent evaluations of World Bank Group supported programs in Albania and Rwanda for five lessons on how to keep Show MoreWith the COVID-19 pandemic aggravating inequalities, closing gender gaps has become ever more urgent. We look to recent evaluations of World Bank Group supported programs in Albania and Rwanda for five lessons on how to keep pushing the agenda. The ongoing social and economic disadvantages that women around the world face, known collectively as ‘gender gaps’, has left them especially vulnerable to the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women have lost jobs at higher rates, often losing out on education to become care-givers, and their already unequal decision-making power has diminished even further (World Bank, 2020 and 2021). This development calls for policy makers to act strategically to reverse the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and make progress towards reducing gender gaps, which persist despite decades of initiatives and efforts (e.g. UN, World Bank, and IDA). The World Bank Group supports the closing of gender gaps through the implementation of its Gender Equality Strategy, which emphasizes strengthening a country-driven approach, with policy dialogue informed by better country-level diagnostics and sex-disaggregated data to achieve results. IEG’s Country Program Evaluations assess the outcomes of World Bank Group support to client governments; they often include a focus on how this support helps reduce gender gaps and advance gender-specific goals in specific countries. Drawing from recent IEG evaluations of Albania and Rwanda, this blog highlights five general recommendations for governments and development partners seeking to make greater progress in closing gender gaps: 1. Integrate a gender perspective in Country Programs While many country strategies mention gender issues, a gender perspective is not always well integrated. For example, the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Strategy for Rwanda for Fiscal Years 2014–18 described gender as an overall cross-cutting issue to be pursued – however, it provided little explanation of how gender would be integrated into the Word Bank-supported program or how progress would be reported on. Other common pitfalls include (i) making gratuitous reference to gender mainstreaming without identifying clear areas of action; (ii) reporting on gender using results indicators from individual projects, rather than focusing on outcomes at a higher level e.g., the program or country level; and (iii) inconsistent treatment across sectors – it is often the case that sex-disaggregated indicators appear in education and health sector projects, but not in energy and transport sector projects (World Bank, 2016: 20-23 and World Bank, 2019). 2. Leverage analytical work to build consensus Use analytical work to engage government authorities, citizens, and other stakeholders to articulate and build support and consensus for reforms. In Albania, in-depth analytical work undertaken by World Bank staff helped diagnose gender inequities, and inform the articulation of policy options to address vulnerabilities and gender disparities in a range of areas including labor force participation rates and wages, shortcomings in agency and property rights for women, and significant levels of domestic violence. In Rwanda, several gender-focused analytical products, including ones from the Adolescent Girls Initiative, informed World Bank-supported country strategies and operations. 3. Push most difficult reforms to remove legal and regulatory constraints In Albania, despite recent improvements, legal and regulatory constraints, combined with implementation gaps, still hinder economic opportunities for women. To address the significant gender gap in land ownership, in 2019, the World Bank Group encouraged inclusive land and property registration and policy reforms through the first gender-focused Development Policy Financing Operation. Some of the reforms supported included increasing registration of women as co-owners of properties and improving regulation that allows women to use property to access financing.  At the same time, the Bank worked closely with bilateral donors to coordinate complementary support to build institutional capacity to support the property registration reforms. 4. Ensure data availability While more sex disaggregated data has become available in recent years, data availability remains a challenge. In Albania, the absence of up to date household survey data makes it difficult to update analytical work, calibrate reforms, and gauge progress toward reducing gender disparities. Given the essential role of household survey data in effective project design and in advancing the gender agenda, the Bank will need to be more assertive in encouraging authorities to prioritize publication of future surveys and that these surveys are carried out regularly. 5. Monitor and evaluate using sex disaggregated indicators It is key to include and utilize results indicators to measure progress toward gender objectives. In Rwanda, the results framework for the Bank-supported country strategy included gender-disaggregated indicators, such as the number of female-headed households benefiting from social protection programs. The Rwanda Country Program Evaluation provided some evidence that the Vision 2020 Umurenge Program[1], which the World Bank has consistently supported, has had beneficial effects on the empowerment of women by increasing their access to labor earnings and financial services, in turn enabling precautionary savings and better coping in the face of shocks. A Way Forward Better integrating a gender perspective, using analytical work to build consensus among stakeholders, encouraging policy reform, investing in data availability and monitoring using sex-disaggregated indicators, are five ways governments and development partners can more effectively help clients bridge gender gaps. IEG aims to contribute to this effort through several upcoming evaluations including of Bank-supported programs in Bangladesh, Chad, and Madagascar, as well as of World Bank Group Support in Closing Gender Gaps in Countries Affected by Fragility, Conflict and Violence.   [1] An Integrated Local Development Program initiated by the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with development partners and NGOs to accelerate poverty eradication, rural growth, and social protection.   Pictured above: Doctors congregating outside a hospital in Tirana in 2004. Despite gains made in closing gender gaps in the past decade, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating inequalities. Photo: Albes Fusha/The World Bank.

Madagascar: Third Environment Program Support Project (PPAR)

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The closure of the Third Environment Program Support Project (EP3) brought an end to the World Bank’s programmatic series of loans to implement the Madagascar National Environmental Action Program (NEAP). The Madagascar NEAP—implemented between 1990 and 2015—aimed to “reconcile the population with its environment to achieve sustainable development” by simultaneously conserving the country’s Show MoreThe closure of the Third Environment Program Support Project (EP3) brought an end to the World Bank’s programmatic series of loans to implement the Madagascar National Environmental Action Program (NEAP). The Madagascar NEAP—implemented between 1990 and 2015—aimed to “reconcile the population with its environment to achieve sustainable development” by simultaneously conserving the country’s critical biodiversity and improving the livelihoods of local communities dependent on natural resources. The World Bank’s programmatic series of loans to implement the NEAP is considered a flagship program because of the focus on its long-term objective of biodiversity conservation, depth of financing, innovations introduced, and the convening role played by the World Bank in coordinating donor support. This evaluation focuses on the overall effectiveness of EP3’s simplified and revised objectives and outcomes regarding improved biodiversity conservation and livelihoods. In particular, the PPAR focuses on EP3’s support for the establishment or extension of PAs to reduce deforestation. It tests the project assumptions that the critical PAs supported by the project can reduce deforestation. The PPAR also assesses how the EP3 supported communities through CDAs. Project ratings for the Third Environment Program Support Project are as follows: Outcome was moderately unsatisfactory, Overall efficiency was modest, Bank performance was moderately unsatisfactory, and Quality of monitoring and evaluation was negligible. The assessment offers the following lessons: (i) A project designed and implemented with a narrow focus on the protection of biodiversity resources without addressing the underlying human pressures on those resources is unlikely to achieve the long-term goal of biodiversity conservation. (ii) When PAs restrict the long-term access of rural households to forest resources that are indispensable for their livelihood, safeguard activities are inappropriate instruments for promoting the sustainable use of forest resources in the long term. (iii) Any intervention supporting the conservation of biodiversity in Madagascar is likely to be ineffective without complementary efforts to improve the policy environment that shapes incentives for sustainable biodiversity resource management. (iv) The overarching objective of a programmatic series to support higher-level development objectives around biodiversity conservation is undermined when design issues, such as overambition and complexity, persist across all projects in the series.

Malawi CLR Review FY13-17

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This review of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Completion and Learning Review (CLR) covers the period of the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS), FY13-FY17. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is an agrarian landlocked country, with a population of 18.6 million (2019) growing at 3 percent per year. Between 2013 and 2017 real GDP and real per capita GDP grew at 4.0 and 1.2 percent Show MoreThis review of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Completion and Learning Review (CLR) covers the period of the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS), FY13-FY17. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is an agrarian landlocked country, with a population of 18.6 million (2019) growing at 3 percent per year. Between 2013 and 2017 real GDP and real per capita GDP grew at 4.0 and 1.2 percent per year, respectively. The poverty headcount ratio at the national poverty line was 51.5 percent in 2016, slightly above the 50.7 percent in 2010. The Gini index (World Bank estimate) stood at 44.7 in 2016, below its 2010 level of 45.5. The Human Development Index improved from 0.441 in 2010 to 0.47 in 2015 and to 0.477 in 2017. During the review period, Malawi faced several challenges including the governance and public financial management crisis in September 2013 and two natural disasters- the flooding in 2015 which affected half of the country and the drought in 2016. The “cashgate” led to temporary suspension of donor budget support and sharp reduction in disbursement of aid funds through government systems with the consequent impact on the fiscal deficit.