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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.

Early Evaluation of the World Bank’s COVID-19 Response to Save Lives and Protect Poor and Vulnerable People (Approach Paper)

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Disrupting billions of lives and livelihoods, the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic jeopardizes countries’ development gains and goals on an unprecedented scale. Restoring human capital and maintaining progress on development priorities depends on successfully containing and mitigating the effects of the pandemic, especially its toll on poor and vulnerable people. This Independent Evaluation Group Show MoreDisrupting billions of lives and livelihoods, the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic jeopardizes countries’ development gains and goals on an unprecedented scale. Restoring human capital and maintaining progress on development priorities depends on successfully containing and mitigating the effects of the pandemic, especially its toll on poor and vulnerable people. This Independent Evaluation Group evaluation will assess the World Bank’s early portfolio of COVID-19 support aimed at saving lives, protecting poor and vulnerable people, and strengthening institutions in these areas. The evaluation has one overarching question: What has been the quality of the World Bank’s early COVID-19 response in terms of saving lives and protecting poor and vulnerable people? The evaluation will conduct multilevel analyses, anchored at the country level, to triangulate evidence for early learning from the implementation of the World Bank’s support.

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.

Towards Productive, Inclusive, and Sustainable Farms and Agribusiness Firms: An Evaluation of the World Bank Group’s Support for Development of Agri-Food Economies (2010-2020) – Approach Paper

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Sustainable development of the agricultural sector and the associated agrifood industry is key to ending hunger and poverty and meeting other global goals, such as those related to climate change. Fostering broad-based agricultural development requires transforming agrifood systems because of their critical role in economic growth, employment, and sustainable agricultural development. The World Show MoreSustainable development of the agricultural sector and the associated agrifood industry is key to ending hunger and poverty and meeting other global goals, such as those related to climate change. Fostering broad-based agricultural development requires transforming agrifood systems because of their critical role in economic growth, employment, and sustainable agricultural development. The World Bank Group has been a major supporter of previous efforts to develop agriculture and the broader agrifood system economies. The objective of the evaluation is to assess how well the World Bank Group identifies the needs, addresses the constraints, and achieves results in supporting agrifood system development, defined as the development of more productive, inclusive, and sustainable farms and agribusiness firms. More specifically, the evaluation aims to (i) assess the relevance of the World Bank Group in identifying and addressing the key AFS development challenges of raising productivity, improving inclusion and reducing environmental sustainability threats especially from climate change; (ii) assess the effectiveness of World Bank Group support in making AFS more productive, inclusive, and sustainable; and (iii) identify lessons of experience, success factors, and constraints on effectiveness.

Four Lessons from the Sahel on Land Restoration Programs and their Impact on Vulnerable Populations

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Four Lessons from the Sahel on Land Restoration Programs and their Impact on Vulnerable Populations
World Bank Group support to developing countries to manage their natural resources is critical for poverty reduction. A recent IEG evaluation assessed how well the World Bank has addressed natural resource degradation to reduce the vulnerabilities of resource-dependent people. On Desertification and Drought Day, we present the following four lessons drawn from IEG's assessment of World Bank Show MoreWorld Bank Group support to developing countries to manage their natural resources is critical for poverty reduction. A recent IEG evaluation assessed how well the World Bank has addressed natural resource degradation to reduce the vulnerabilities of resource-dependent people. On Desertification and Drought Day, we present the following four lessons drawn from IEG's assessment of World Bank support for the Great Green Wall. Decades ago, several African Heads of State envisioned, and eventually lent their support to, the development of a Great Green Wall: a large belt of trees that stretches across twelve states of the Sahel. The concept of the Great Green Wall was developed to combat land degradation and desertification of the Sahel, a concept that has grown in importance as the threats posed by climate change intensify. Twenty-one African countries have signed on to the initiative, along with at least 11 international partners; including the African Union, European Union, and the World Bank.    These are four key lessons that can inform future investments in the Great Green Wall:   1. A precise understanding of the change in vegetation cover across the Sahel, attributable to donor investments in the Great Green Wall, has been limited because of an underinvestment in measurement. Earth observations combined with site observations show that the World Bank’s support for the Great Green Wall has been successful. Vegetation has been successfully established, land has been rehabilitated, and the density of trees and shrubs have increased dramatically at rehabilitation sites. However, projects did not implement measurement mechanisms to establish how much of the increase of vegetation can be attributed to donor programs versus other important variables including changing rainfall.   Watch: Discussion on the role of increased rainfall on the greening of the Sahel and the need for sustainable practices with professor Matt Turner, from the Department of Geology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Oumarou Moumouni, member of the development NGO Groupe de Recherche, d'Etudes d'Action pour le Développement in Niger.  {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/Data/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/9D0oF2fUcu4.jpg?itok=BZuE1M4A","video_url":"https://youtu.be/9D0oF2fUcu4","settings":{"responsive":0,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (854x480)."]} 2. Land management practices that seek to restore degraded land can run the risk of exacerbating vulnerability. Just prior to the coronavirus pandemic, there were 30 million food insecure people in the Sahel. This large cohort consists of farmers, agro-pastoral, and nomadic populations – all of whom engage in traditional land-use arrangements that provide mutual food and livelihood benefits. In these settings, even the most degraded land has value: these are important areas of passage and grazing for livestock, particularly during the rainy season, and are sources of wild plants and wood gathered by women. But the use of area enclosures – a land management practice that seeks to restore degraded land by excluding livestock and humans from openly accessing it in the short to medium term – runs the risk of exacerbating vulnerability; and in the absence of good land governance, possibly causing harm  Watch: IEG’s evaluation analyst Joy Butscher explains some of the impacts of land management practices on pastoral populations.   {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/Data/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/n_vBYKCnMkA.jpg?itok=hb5_7ceT","video_url":"https://youtu.be/n_vBYKCnMkA","settings":{"responsive":0,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (854x480)."]} 3. Increasing the value of degraded land can lead to predation by elites and to encroachment by non-traditional farmers, which risks displacing the local population.   Such was the case in Niger, where land was effectively restored, but where parcels were also sold outside of the community, in areas that lacked good land governance. Predation also occurs as a result of decisions to support crop agriculture alongside tree planting. While land restoration activities took place on communal land, the introduction of “inter cropping” facilitated individualized claims on community land. Projects should be designed with an understanding of customary, flexible tenure arrangements and the coping strategies of vulnerable resource users who access degraded lands as a social safety net.  Importantly, that emphasis should be placed on ensuring that clear, enforceable land-use agreements are in place prior to land restoration activities, to protect the land-use rights of the most vulnerable.  Watch: Professor Matt Turner, from the Department of Geology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on land governance in Niger. {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/Data/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/xGRxN2Gb0tU.jpg?itok=eRlfPMp2","video_url":"https://youtu.be/xGRxN2Gb0tU","settings":{"responsive":0,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (854x480)."]}  4. Because land restoration mainly benefits those that have access to land, some women and youth are especially disadvantaged in the Sahel.   In Niger, a very large number of women are forced to fend for themselves and their families because their husbands and sons have migrated to other West African countries to look for work. Projects that support land and resource restoration can ensure that women and youth benefit by addressing participation barriers, linked to social and cultural norms. For example, since in some conservative areas, some women’s participation in cash for work programs is prohibited, programs must propose alternative income generating options to ensure equity.  Watch: Oumou Moumouni, from the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs speaks of the disadvantages women face in the Sahel. {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/Data/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/TyL0DXPV2LA.jpg?itok=Vo1IqiJT","video_url":"https://youtu.be/TyL0DXPV2LA","settings":{"responsive":0,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (854x480)."]}   Photo credit:  Rafe H Andrews, Dawning

Nepal: Shunaula Hazar Din – Community Action for Nutrition Project (PPAR)

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Improvements in child nutrition in Nepal have lagged behind the country’s economic, social, and human development progress over the past decades. At the time of project design in 2011, Nepal ranked among the top countries with the highest national prevalence of stunted growth (40 percent) in children under the age of five, and the country was not on track to reach the Millennium Development Goal’ Show MoreImprovements in child nutrition in Nepal have lagged behind the country’s economic, social, and human development progress over the past decades. At the time of project design in 2011, Nepal ranked among the top countries with the highest national prevalence of stunted growth (40 percent) in children under the age of five, and the country was not on track to reach the Millennium Development Goal’s target of reducing the rate of malnutrition by half. Improving child nutrition is essential for enhancing human capital accumulation, boosting economic growth, and reducing poverty, since the consequences of undernutrition for young children last through adulthood and reduce their potential to learn and to contribute to society. The project was the World Bank’s first stand-alone lending operation in support of Nepal’s nutrition agenda. The project name, “Sunaula Hazar Din,” which means “golden 1,000 days,” reflects the importance of the period from conception to 24 months of age as a window of opportunity to prevent undernutrition before it surfaces. The project’s objective was to improve practices that contribute to reduced undernutrition of women of reproductive age and children under the age of two. At entry, the project covered 15 districts (out of 75 districts in the country), selected based on levels of stunted growth and poverty. A second objective was added in 2015, after the devastating earthquake that struck the country in April, to provide emergency nutrition and sanitation response to vulnerable populations in earthquake affected areas. The project was then operational in 23 districts. Ratings for the Community Action for Nutrition Project are as follows: Outcome was moderately satisfactory, overall efficacy was substantial, Bank performance was moderately satisfactory, and Quality of monitoring and evaluation was substantial. Lessons from the project include: (i) A community-driven implementation approach may not enforce the multisectoral design approach of the project to address the multiple determinants of nutrition. (ii) Equal RRNI-cycle time frames across the menu of goals can slant the selection of goals toward those for which technical know-how is already available, and hence overshadow the spirit of flexibility of the CDD approach. (iii) In settings with limited human resources, the implementation of innovative operations such as RRNIs requires a robust operational planning that takes into account a steep learning curve, strong preparatory arrangements that address weak capacities at entry, and adequate project readiness at entry. (iv) Good collaboration with specialized development partners in emergency relief facilitated the effective responses that maintained the focus on nutrition and on the original intent of the project. (v) Good collaboration with specialized development partners in emergency relief facilitated the effective responses that maintained the focus on nutrition and on the original intent of the project. (vi) In CDD projects that support the achievement of goals yet to be chosen by communities, and which are thus unknown at the outset, additional efforts to collect more granular baseline data at the ward level can facilitate the assessment of the project achievements at completion.

Innovating Evaluation in Multilateral and Bilateral Agencies:

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Innovating Evaluation in Multilateral and Bilateral Agencies Dealing with operational challenges during the COVID-19 crisis
Dealing with operational challenges during the COVID-19 crisis.Dealing with operational challenges during the COVID-19 crisis.

Results and Performance of the World Bank Group 2021 – Concept Note

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The Results and Performance of the World Bank Group (RAP) report is the annual review of evidence from IEG evaluation and validation work on the development effectiveness of the World Bank Group (WBG). It will be the eleventh in a series that began in 2010; it will also be the second report departing from the exclusive traditional focus on ratings to also provide additional evidence on the Show MoreThe Results and Performance of the World Bank Group (RAP) report is the annual review of evidence from IEG evaluation and validation work on the development effectiveness of the World Bank Group (WBG). It will be the eleventh in a series that began in 2010; it will also be the second report departing from the exclusive traditional focus on ratings to also provide additional evidence on the nature of intended outcomes across the WBG. RAP 2021 will build and expand on the RAP 2020 innovations by refining the classification framework for intended outcomes and integrating analysis of existing ratings (trends) with the outcome classification analysis. Like past RAP reports, RAP 2021 will provide an analysis of project ratings and factors associated with performance as measured by those ratings. Expanding on the past, RAP 2021 will analyze and interpret these ratings through the lens created by the refined typology of intended outcomes. This lens would enable an examination of ratings that takes into account portfolio composition in terms of the type (classification) of intended outcomes, as well as the likelihood of achieving those intended outcomes. In other words, RAP 2021 aims at providing a joint assessment of ratings and the risk-return profile of the portfolio generating those ratings.

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