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When Conflict and COVID Collide: Towards a Risk Analysis Framework

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When Conflict and COVID Collide: Towards a Risk Analysis Framework
As COVID reaches the world’s most fragile states, understanding how it is impacting conflict dynamics is critical. How do we best monitor these effects? As COVID reaches the world’s most fragile states, understanding how it is impacting conflict dynamics is critical. How do we best monitor these effects?

Nicaragua: Fourth Roads Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project and Rural Roads Infrastructure Improvement Project (PPAR)

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The World Bank has supported the road sector in Nicaragua since early 1990. It has helped remove road infrastructure bottlenecks, introduced innovations in road work delivery and maintenance, and strengthened capacity and institutions in the sector. In the course of this three-decade collaboration, cooperative-based road maintenance enterprises, concrete block roads, and concrete block surfacing Show MoreThe World Bank has supported the road sector in Nicaragua since early 1990. It has helped remove road infrastructure bottlenecks, introduced innovations in road work delivery and maintenance, and strengthened capacity and institutions in the sector. In the course of this three-decade collaboration, cooperative-based road maintenance enterprises, concrete block roads, and concrete block surfacing through communitybased surfacing units have become salient features of the World Bank’s engagement in the sector. Both projects in this assessment, the Fourth Roads Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project and the Rural Roads Infrastructure Improvement Project, approved in 2006 and 2011, respectively, were preceded by the original Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project and the Second and Third Road Rehabilitation and Maintenance Projects. These projects were approved by the World Bank between 1996 and 2001. They were followed by the ongoing Urban Access Improvement Project, which was approved in 2017. Ratings for the Fourth Roads Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project are as follows: Outcome was satisfactory, Risk to development outcome was moderate, Bank performance was satisfactory, and Borrower performance was satisfactory. Ratings for the Rural Roads Infrastructure Improvement Project are as follows: Outcome was satisfactory, Risk to development outcome was substantial, Bank performance was satisfactory, and Borrower performance was substantial. This assessment offers the following lessons: (i) Rigor in the selection of roads to be financed and continued support for road planning can help countries use resources effectively and create a planning culture. (ii) Contract features and strict enforcement appear critical to taking full advantage of performance-based routine maintenance contracts. (iii) Upgrading rural roads to all-weather access needs to be comprehensive. (iv) Providing limited technical assistance support in many areas with little upfront preparation might restrict project results. (v) Close stakeholder involvement and post-completion outreach strategies might increase the usefulness of project-financed studies. (vi) A strong results framework is likely to facilitate results measurement.

Investing in Evaluation Capacity Development in India: Why it Matters Now More than Ever

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Investing in Evaluation Capacity Development in India: Why it Matters Now More than Ever
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Investing in evaluation capacity development in India: Why it matters now more than ever

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Investing in evaluation capacity development in India- why it matters now more than ever
Governments around the world face the daunting task of addressing a downward spiral of economic activity coupled with a growing health burden from the spread of the coronavirus disease. India is no exception, and the government has had to be innovative in both designing policies and deploying resources to cope with the twin challenges. We believe that two elements can be game-changers in Show MoreGovernments around the world face the daunting task of addressing a downward spiral of economic activity coupled with a growing health burden from the spread of the coronavirus disease. India is no exception, and the government has had to be innovative in both designing policies and deploying resources to cope with the twin challenges. We believe that two elements can be game-changers in addressing the crisis: the use of data and leveraging partnerships. For almost a decade, CLEAR South Asia has been collaborating with state governments in India to undertake systematic capacity-building efforts on data and evidence use for policy decision-making.  Policymakers at the state and central levels have to lead the charge on developing data capacity and building strategic partnerships. They will need to think innovatively to respond swiftly to emerging challenges. It has been gratifying to see the government’s creative use of real-time data and technology for planning containment strategies and service delivery.  We are also seeing an exciting mix of organizations, such as technology enablers, private companies, non-profits and research institutions complementing government efforts to tackle the most difficult challenges and protect the most vulnerable. For these opportunities to be genuinely advantageous, the government must be able to collate and analyze data from multiple sources to understand fully the nature of problems confronting us and to respond effectively. Strengthened data capabilities of the government, whether independently or by leveraging partnerships, to interpret, absorb, and use data and evidence to make informed decisions are urgently needed. However, system-level changes take time, and data use capabilities cannot be built overnight. The foundation of a systems change that is conducive and incentive-compatible for governments to internalize a data-driven approach needs to be laid in advance.            Enlarge and download infographic Creating sustainable channels Leveraging our host institution J-PAL SA’s institutional partnership (now in its sixth year) with the state government of Tamil Nadu in India, CLEAR SA, in collaboration with the state bureaucracy, has developed and executed a multi-pronged, customized capacity-building strategy.  We engage with multiple levels of government to build capabilities across domains, using customized workshops, hands-on training, and advisory. These efforts have culminated in structural channels that allow for useful feedback loops to inform decisions.  Our capacity-building approach had three key features: First, our long-term, government-wide partnership in Tamil Nadu is founded on a 360 degree, deeply embedded life-cycle approach which forges linkages between research, capacity building, and policy advisory to enable data use for decisions. Second, we now know that knowledge transfer is most effective when combined with live examples. Adoption is greater when demonstrated and allows for learning by doing. Multiple touchpoints and continued engagement have helped build trust and value, and sustain the commitment through elections, transfers of key personnel, and shifts in policy priorities. Third, we recognize that decision-making, especially on the adoption of new ideas or practices can be non-sequential– meaning that what we build and recommend today, could come to use a year or more later. A key strength is in being able to identify and be responsive to an opportunity whenever it emerges. In our experience, this is possible when the groundwork is laid upfront. Thus, when a policy window opens, the only incremental effort needed is to refresh and connect the dots, and not have to start from scratch. A longer-term systems-driven capacity-building approach can lead to increased sensitivity and reception to data-driven decision-making among governments. Tamil Nadu is a good example, which has a substantial aging population, and their well-being is an important priority. The Department of Economics and Statistics, in collaboration with leading researchers, launched the first-ever state-wide elderly panel survey in 2016-17.  For almost four years, CLEAR SA provided technical advisory services and training workshops (mirroring activities on the project timeline) on sampling, questionnaire design, and data quality to enable rigorous and efficient data collection. Our capacity-building efforts led to the adoption of independent backchecks (a standard practice in research) by the department to ensure the quality of data.  Last year, the department completed the baseline survey across five districts. Taking cognizance of a critical finding of a growing proportion of elderly living alone, the government announced in their latest budget, a pilot intervention of elderly daycare centers in the state. In addition to these policy wins, the department also adopted digital data collection for their surveys and plan to conduct a follow-up wave next year. We are now planning an evaluation of this pilot to inform expansion approaches. Further, during the current crisis, via the use of phone surveys, the government and researchers can track whether the elderly covered in the survey are facing any issues during the Covid-19 lockdown.   Such a holistic, long-term, and embedded approach was instrumental in creating systems for new and high-quality data collection, use of data for planning, decisions, and increased appetite for further evaluations. It also means that the goal of adopting a systematic approach to designing innovative policies and deploying resources to protect a vulnerable population such as the elderly, is achievable. Photo credit Shutterstock/ By Myvector

Tajikistan: Energy Loss Reduction Project (PPAR)

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This project was approved on June 30, 2005, for a cost of $30.0 million, including an International Development Association credit of $17.9 million. The project cost increased to $48 million after restructuring and additional finance of $18.0 million. The project closed on December 31, 2014, two and a half years later than the originally scheduled date of June 30, 2012. The original objective was Show MoreThis project was approved on June 30, 2005, for a cost of $30.0 million, including an International Development Association credit of $17.9 million. The project cost increased to $48 million after restructuring and additional finance of $18.0 million. The project closed on December 31, 2014, two and a half years later than the originally scheduled date of June 30, 2012. The original objective was, to assist [Tajikistan] in reducing commercial losses in the electricity and gas systems, and to lay the foundation for the improvement of the financial viability of the electricity and gas utilities in a socially responsible manner. In 2012, the project objective was expanded to include, to assist in the viability assessment of the proposed Rogun HEP [hydroelectric project] in Tajikistan. Ratings for the Energy Loss Reduction Project are as follows: Outcome was moderately unsatisfactory, Risk to development outcome was high, Bank performance was unsatisfactory, and Borrower performance was moderately unsatisfactory. Lessons from this project include: (i) The development effectiveness of the World Bank’s continuous sectorwide engagement in a country can be diminished significantly if the risk analysis at project appraisal is not comprehensive and candid and if prompt course corrections are not made during implementation when a major risk is realized. (ii) The World Bank should proactively ensure that a project component that is crucial to achieving the project development objective and is funded through parallel financing arrangements is designed and implemented in an effective and complementary manner. (iii) The World Bank’s convening capacity can contribute to resolving politically complex and technically demanding development issues that cut across national boundaries, by creating a transparent and inclusive consultative process, and marshaling globally recognized expertise.

When evaluators cannot make it to the field, they can always observe from space

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change in forest cover of the land surface in Madagascar from 1990 to 2017.
Field missions are at the very core of project evaluation. An evaluator will start with a desk-based review of available project information and prepare a methodology to assess the effectiveness of a project. However, it is only by interacting with policymakers, implementing agencies, and project beneficiaries that the evaluator gets a better understanding of the reality affecting the design and Show MoreField missions are at the very core of project evaluation. An evaluator will start with a desk-based review of available project information and prepare a methodology to assess the effectiveness of a project. However, it is only by interacting with policymakers, implementing agencies, and project beneficiaries that the evaluator gets a better understanding of the reality affecting the design and implementation of projects. This ‘reality-check’ stimulates learning and allows the evaluator to fine-tune their questions and methodology. The current COVID-19 travel restrictions pose significant challenges to field-based assessments of project effectiveness. So, what can evaluators do when they can’t get in the field? One possibility is to observe project impacts from space. Geospatial data is information collected by satellites pinpointed to an exact geographical location on earth. It is often freely available, covers several time periods, and offers a wide range of interesting indicators. Popular geospatial data are indicators of market accessibility, agroecology, and the environment. A geospatial dataset can thus be constructed by linking multiple geospatial data points with the geographical location of project activities and their surroundings. The possibility to construct a geospatial dataset for evaluating a project provides a unique opportunity for a robust quantitative assessment of project effectiveness. Beyond effectiveness, geospatial data can also provide a wealth of descriptive information that allows evaluators to better understand the local context. Even if visiting a project site is no longer possible due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, evaluators can get a detailed picture of what is happening where in the project area by observing from space. IEG is analyzing geospatial datasets in several of its ongoing evaluations including an urban transport project in Mozambique, a sustainable land- and water-management project in Ethiopia, and a biodiversity project in Madagascar. Geospatial analysis usually involves two steps. First, geospatial data is used to precisely and accurately measure an indicator of project effectiveness. When a chronological series of geospatial data is available, changes in the indicator can be calculated using different measurements over time. The geospatial data on land use and road infrastructure are of particular interest to IEG’s evaluations. The ‘vegetation greenness’ of the land in Ethiopia is measured by looking at changes over time in the coverage of land with green vegetation. Similarly, deforestation rates in Madagascar are measured as the change in forest coverage of the land surface over time. In Mozambique and India, the density of social and economic activities is measured by the travel distance to urban amenities using roads. Second, as geospatial information is available for locations beyond the project boundaries, a proper ‘counterfactual’ can be constructed. The counterfactual illustrates a ‘with and without’ scenario - what would have happened at the project location if project activities were not implemented there. Combining the temporal and spatial variation in geospatial data provides a very robust ‘difference-in-difference’ assessment of project effectiveness. The temporal variation identifies the ‘before-and-after’ difference, and the spatial variation identifies the ‘with-and-without’ difference. The ‘difference-in-difference’ assessment of project effectiveness is applied as follows. In Mozambique and India, IEG compares changes in economic activity between urban areas that were either adjacent to a road improved by the project or adjacent to a nearby but non-improved road. Similarly, long-term changes in vegetation cover in Ethiopia are compared between land parcels in treated watersheds with similar parcels in untreated watersheds within a reasonable distance from the project site. Finally, IEG compares changes in deforestation rates between patches of forests on either side of the border of conservation areas in Madagascar. Then, these changes are compared between conservation areas supported by the World Bank and areas without project support. In each of these scenarios, the analysis informs the broader question of ‘what difference did the project make?’.      This 3D map shows the changes in the height of the built-up area in Mumbai. However, not all projects allow for a geospatial analysis of effectiveness. The availability of geospatial data to measure project indicators depends on the sector, the type of project, and the nature of activities. Projects without a specific geographic location, such as projects supporting a development policy at the national level, do not lend themselves to a geospatial analysis. But even if a quantitative geospatial analysis is possible, asking whether a project was effective might not be the most important question for the project evaluation. The more interesting evaluation questions are often those looking at the factors limiting the project’s impact. These factors are often highly contextual and linked with human behavior, which is much more difficult to measure from space. So, the quantitative geospatial analysis is an important first step to assess project effectiveness, but evaluations need to go further and understand why the project has been effective or not. But geospatial data can have an important contribution here as well. The geospatial information on contextual factors, such as the cover of the land or travel time to reach a given location, can help to identify different levels of project effectiveness and understand the role of underlying drivers in explaining the observed differences. In a follow-up blog, we will elaborate on how geospatial analysis can guide the design of a qualitative data collection method. Pictured at the top of the page: This image displays the change in forest cover of the land surface in Madagascar from 1990 to 2017. The black line represents the boundary of two Protected Areas for biodiversity conservation in Madagascar, Manongarivo and Tsaratanana. The blue dotted line is the 5 km buffer around the border of the Protected Area. Green dots are land that remained forest over time, white dots are land covered with forests, and red dots are land that were deforested during the period 1990 to 2017. IEG analyzed the share of different dots on each side of the border of Protected Areas to assess deforestation rates in and around Protected Areas.

Keeping the Private Sector Alive During the Coronavirus (COVID-19): 5 lessons from past crises

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Keeping the Private Sector Alive During the Coronavirus (COVID-19): 5 lessons from past crises
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Lessons from Evaluation: Support and Financing to the Formal Private Sector in Response to COVID-19

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This note identifies core lessons for the Bank Group on addressing the impact of the crisis on business and enterprises, based on evaluative evidence from the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG). It particularly draws on Bank Group experiences in addressing earlier crises, including the global economic crisis of 2008–10, the food crisis of 2007–8, and the East Asian crisis of 1998. It also reviews Show MoreThis note identifies core lessons for the Bank Group on addressing the impact of the crisis on business and enterprises, based on evaluative evidence from the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG). It particularly draws on Bank Group experiences in addressing earlier crises, including the global economic crisis of 2008–10, the food crisis of 2007–8, and the East Asian crisis of 1998. It also reviews evidence from responses to other systemic shocks, such as natural disasters and crises arising from conflict. However, it does not reinterpret past findings in light of subsequent developments. Lastly, it incorporates IEG’s broader evaluative findings on instruments that support business and market development. It complements other IEG notes on crisis response topics under preparation, including those on distressed assets and trade finance.

Keeping the private sector alive during the coronavirus (COVID-19): 4 lessons from past crises

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Corona virus economic impact concept image
How can the World Bank Group help keep the formal private sector alive during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis?  Beyond its impact on public health, efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 are taking a toll, damaging businesses and livelihoods across the world. Trade and transport are disrupted, many businesses are idle, and workers and households have lost jobs and income.  By Show MoreHow can the World Bank Group help keep the formal private sector alive during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis?  Beyond its impact on public health, efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 are taking a toll, damaging businesses and livelihoods across the world. Trade and transport are disrupted, many businesses are idle, and workers and households have lost jobs and income.  By providing timely and effective support and financing, development agencies can help the formal private sector survive. Here’s what the World Bank Group’s experience in earlier crises tells us.  As international financial institutions look to help the private sector cope with the economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic, past global crises offer valuable lessons on what works.   At the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), we have mined our evaluations of World Bank Group responses to a range of global crises, alongside assessments of programs to support the private sector, and identified four overarching lessons to guide efforts to help businesses survive the impacts of the coronavirus . In summary, the lessons suggest a need to find ways to act fast to support the private sector, to ensure that assistance reaches those enterprises in distress, to build on prior knowledge of business conditions and constraints, and to understand that restoration of growth and employment requires a sustained response.  1) Businesses need help quickly, so international financial institutions must act fast Governments are often the fastest way to get support to the private sector. The World Bank’s Development Policy Loans (DPL) provide general budget financing to governments to allow spending to address the crisis and fill crisis-induced revenue gaps.  Budget support allows governments to channel resources to banks and businesses to fund payrolls, provide guarantees, credit or loan forbearance to help firms survive although they cannot produce or sell. World Bank Investment Lending can get to enterprises faster when adding finance to existing loans and when designing new simple or repeater loans. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, which is already engaged with private banks and businesses, can respond more rapidly to keep the private sector alive when it focuses on programs and instruments that already have a solid track record and have shown the capacity for rapid mobilization during a crisis. Following the 2008 global financial crisis, the IFC launched several new initiatives to support businesses but their set-up time and the lags in implementation limited their short-term impact.  On the other hand, IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program , an existing facility, was able to increase its support for trade finance and reach out to new banks.  New instruments may be more appropriate for the medium term.  Click to enlarge and download the infographic 2) Make sure projects reach the businesses that need the help Rapid project preparation is critical during a crisis, but it is vital that projects are designed with effective systems for targeting the hardest hit firms and monitoring to ensure the help has actually reached them. The primary aim of most crisis-related World Bank Group financial intermediary loans (FILs), was to increase bank credit for private sector groups most affected by the crisis, such as small and medium enterprises, exporters needing trade finance, rural businesses, and cooperatives.  FILS have been widely used during crisis -- including after the 2008 crisis. Subsequent evaluations found that few FILs were able to disburse rapidly, targeting was an ongoing problem for many of them and the monitoring of the impact of the crisis financing component was weak and often not reported.  Reaching micro, small and medium enterprises poses additional challenges due to their limited size and bargaining power. Besides loans, matching grants can be helpful and business development services appear to help improve firm performance and create jobs.  Yet a better understanding of how they work and how they can be used to respond to crisis is needed. Partial credit guarantees that cover a share of the default risk of loans can also help, but their effectiveness depends on the strength of a country’s legal and regulatory frameworks.   3)  Understanding the business environment is key to helping businesses Drawing from an existing stock of knowledge or carrying out new analytic and advisory work can ensure that interventions are aimed at the most important problems faced by the private sector, and that resources are directed to their best use. During the 2008 global financial crisis, earlier analytical work provided a platform for the World Bank’s response (and sometimes that of other donors as well). In situations of fragility and conflict, Risk and Resilience Assessments (RRAs) can complement private sector diagnostics and help guide interventions that both support businesses and address the drivers of instability.  In countries where pre-crisis engagement was low, knowledge gaps left the Bank unprepared to help map out actionable, forward-looking programs and the quality of lending suffered. 4) When the crisis is over, the private sector still needs support Even when responding to a crisis, there is a need for longer term planning. This should be focused on an enduring restoration of growth and employment, and sustained responses. A strategic roadmap for crisis engagement, that sequences interventions from short term to longer term can be beneficial. Such a roadmap for crisis engagement should be based on ongoing, systemic analysis of stress factors, a framework for coordination within the World Bank Group and with other international financial institutions, and a review of instruments for effective crisis support, meaningful growth and medium-term development. For more details, please see the learning note that elaborates on each of the lessons. Please visit the IEG Lessons Library for a range of resources relevant to the COVID-19 response   Image credit: Shutterstock/ ffikretow

Meet the Evaluator: Lauren Kelly

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Meet the Evaluator: Lauren Kelly
The Independent Evaluation Group’s Lauren Kelly speaks on the role of the evaluator during the ongoing pandemic – and infodemic. The Independent Evaluation Group’s Lauren Kelly speaks on the role of the evaluator during the ongoing pandemic – and infodemic.