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Topic:Health, Nutrition, & Population
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

South Africa CLR Review FY14-18

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South Africa is an upper middle-income country with a GDP per capita (2018) of US$6,354. GDP growth has remained slightly above one percent per year over the past decade, which has resulted in negative GDP growth per capita for every year starting 2015. This low growth has exacerbated already high unemployment (up from 25.1 percent of labor force in 2014 to a projected 28.6 percent in 2019 – and Show MoreSouth Africa is an upper middle-income country with a GDP per capita (2018) of US$6,354. GDP growth has remained slightly above one percent per year over the past decade, which has resulted in negative GDP growth per capita for every year starting 2015. This low growth has exacerbated already high unemployment (up from 25.1 percent of labor force in 2014 to a projected 28.6 percent in 2019 – and considerably higher for youth), poverty, and inequality. The government’s vision throughout the CPS period was outlined in the 2030 National Development Plan (NDP) of 2012 that identified three key priorities: raising employment through faster economic growth, improving the quality of education, skills development and innovation, and building the capacity of the state to play a developmental, transformative role.

Argentina: Basic Protection Project (PPAR)

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The Basic Protection Project was prepared in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, in the context of increased pressure to expand coverage and accessibility of Argentina’s social protection policies. The social protection system had historically been linked to the formal labor market through contributory schemes (pension benefits, unemployment insurance, family allowances, health and Show MoreThe Basic Protection Project was prepared in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, in the context of increased pressure to expand coverage and accessibility of Argentina’s social protection policies. The social protection system had historically been linked to the formal labor market through contributory schemes (pension benefits, unemployment insurance, family allowances, health and housing insurance coverage). Noncontributory programs—for children, the unemployed, and informal workers—were limited. The project aimed at strengthening and expanding Argentina’s social protection system by supporting expansion of coverage and improving the design of two income transfer programs for the unemployed and families with children. Ratings for this project are as follows: Outcome was moderately satisfactory, Risk to development outcome was low or negligible, Bank performance was satisfactory, and Borrower performance was moderately satisfactory. This assessment offers the following lessons: (i) The choice of indicators is critical for incentives to be effective, especially when a short implementation time is expected; but the definition of some of the DLIs and the information used to determine their targets were not discussed in detail at appraisal. (ii) This PPAR had to clarify the understanding of “effectiveness,” as it was not made explicit in project documents. (iii) Institutional strengthening of the MTESS statistics area was an important additional aspect of the World Bank’s support, given the peculiar context in which this project was implemented.

Brazil: National Biodiversity Mainstreaming and Institutional Consolidation Project and Sustainable Cerrado Initiative (PPAR)

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Brazil is the most biodiverse country in the world, holding an estimated one-fifth of all known flora and fauna species. It also contains a wide range of climate types in seven major biomes, including the vast Amazon and now largely depleted Atlantic rainforests, the Cerrado savanna (which covering 2 million square kilometers is second in size only to Amazônia), the semiarid Caatinga, the world’s Show MoreBrazil is the most biodiverse country in the world, holding an estimated one-fifth of all known flora and fauna species. It also contains a wide range of climate types in seven major biomes, including the vast Amazon and now largely depleted Atlantic rainforests, the Cerrado savanna (which covering 2 million square kilometers is second in size only to Amazônia), the semiarid Caatinga, the world’s largest Pantanal wetlands, and an extensive coastline. The National Biodiversity Mainstreaming and Institutional Consolidation Project (PROBIO 2) was funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Its project development objectives were (i) to promote mainstreaming of biodiversity at the national level in key public and private sector planning strategies and practices, and (ii) to consolidate and strengthen institutional capacity to produce and disseminate relevant biodiversity information. The project development objectives of the Sustainable Cerrado Initiative (GEF Cerrado) were to enhance biodiversity conservation in, and improve environmental and natural resource management of, the Cerrado in Brazil’s territory through appropriate policies and practices. Ratings from the National Biodiversity Mainstreaming and Institutional Consolidation Project are as follows: Outcome was satisfactory, Overall efficacy was satisfactory, Bank performance was moderately satisfactory, and Quality of monitoring and evaluation was modest. Ratings for the Sustainable Cerrado Initiative are as follows: Outcome was moderately unsatisfactory, Overall efficacy was modest, Bank performance was moderately unsatisfactory, and Quality of monitoring and evaluation was modest. Lessons from the project include: (i) A critical element for the success of projects that seek to promote the mainstreaming of biodiversity across sectors, both public and private, is strong ownership and active participation across the project’s life by the institutions involved. (ii) A firm up-front understanding of the underlying political, economic, and territorial contexts of the geographic area in which a project is seeking to establish new or expand existing protected areas is essential to properly gauge the possibilities of achieving such an objective. (iii) Experience in Brazil (and elsewhere) has shown that government commitment to project objectives and design can shift significantly over time due to changes in administrations, both at the federal and state government levels. (iv) Learning from environment projects that use concessional financing, both successful and unsuccessful, can have policy implications that extend beyond the original project’s intentions.

Nigeria CLR Review FY14-19

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This review of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Completion and Learning Review (CLR) covers the original period of the Nigeria Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), FY14-17, and the update and extension through FY19 as per the Second Performance and Learning Review (PLR) dated May 2018. The implementation of the CPS program was supported by 26 Bank operations with commitments of US$3.7 billion under Show MoreThis review of the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Completion and Learning Review (CLR) covers the original period of the Nigeria Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), FY14-17, and the update and extension through FY19 as per the Second Performance and Learning Review (PLR) dated May 2018. The implementation of the CPS program was supported by 26 Bank operations with commitments of US$3.7 billion under implementation at the beginning of the CPS and 38 new operations with commitments of US$9.4 billion. IFC invested in 28 projects for US$1.1 billion. MIGA issued three guarantees for US$549 million. The CPS design was well aligned with the challenges the country faced and the stated priorities of government. It also responded well to the challenges that arose during implementation. The CLR drew five lessons. Three of the lessons are: (i) achieving significant impact requires commitment beyond the horizon of a CPS, especially in areas such as energy and conflict mitigation; (ii) it can be difficult to accurately gauge the success or failure of results-based operations since they do not respond to traditional Bank tools for measuring success; and (iii) more care is needed in the selection of CPF objectives and results. In addition, IEG highlights the following two lessons from the CLR and builds on them: (i) The experience from expanding coverage of social assistance programs nationally under a common approach provides lessons that can be used to scale up engagements in other areas. Mainly, to combine the use of federal-level rules, policy coordination mechanisms, monitoring systems and data sharing with state-level program implementation and monitoring systems. (ii) Efforts to address design and implementation challenges included the creation of State Coordination Units to break logjams and the Multi-Sectoral Crisis Response Project (MCRP) to bring together efforts in infrastructure rehabilitation and service delivery in three conflictafflicted states. Further progress could entail absorbing and streamlining within the MCRP sectoral program delivery and institutional structures so as to reduce the number of PIUs and facilitate synergies.