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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

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

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.