Conversations: Taking Stock of How the World Bank Group Engages with Client Countries
Reflections on the World Bank Group’s engagement model, three years on.
In 2014, following the launch of its twin goals and new strategy, the World Bank Group unveiled a new model with the goal of strengthening its engagement and support for client countries. The model is underpinned by two instruments – a systematic country diagnostic, which provides deep analysis to identify a country’s biggest development challenges; and a country partnership framework, which draws on the diagnostic to spell out a systematic, evidence-based strategy that guides the World Bank Group’s operations in any given country.
As of June 30, 2017, the World Bank Group has completed 46 country partnership frameworks paired with their corresponding systematic country diagnostics.
Our team recently interviewed senior leaders from across the World Bank Group, who shared their experiences and lessons from implementing the World Bank Group’s country engagement model. We spoke to Merli Margaret Baroudi, Director of Economics and Sustainability at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), Mona Haddad, Director, Country Engagement Department at IFC, Hassan Zaman, Director, Operations Policy and Quality at the World Bank, and Auguste Kouame, Director, Human Development and Economic Management at IEG.
Below are excerpts from the conversation.
Question: IEG recently completed an evaluation of the World Bank Group’s country engagement model. Can you tell us what you covered?
Auguste Kouame: In doing this evaluation, IEG responded to a request from our Board of Directors to assess the World Bank Group’s new engagement model, specifically the country partnership framework and the systematic country diagnostic, commonly referred to as the SCD/CPF model. Our goal was, first, to assess how the SCD/CPF model is being implemented. Second, we wanted to identify early successes and best practices. And third, we sought to identify lessons, and recommendations for enhancing the country engagement model.
The evaluation looked at the first 22 country partnership frameworks that had been presented to the Board of Directors, along with their related systematic country diagnostics. In addition, we interviewed several staff, who have worked on implementing the new model and visited ten countries to see first-hand how Bank teams were engaging with clients.
Within IEG’s work program, this evaluation contributes to our mandate of fostering learning for greater effectiveness in the World Bank Group. In this evaluation, we focused more on the learning aspect, as opposed to accountability.
Question: What would you say are the early lessons and experiences so far?
Hassan Zaman: So broadly speaking, as this evaluation suggests, the early experience has been positive. We have been able to use the SCD to strengthen the analytical basis by which country programming decisions are made within the World Bank. We've also been able to use the SCD to disseminate the wealth of knowledge that's generated as part of this analytical work, and therefore it serves as a very useful public good for the World Bank and the countries in which it operates.
And finally, I think the, this process has led to stronger working relationships among staff, across the World Bank, MIGA and IFC and that has been helpful, and will be helpful as we go forward.
Merli Margaret Baroudi: For MIGA, there have been many opportunities to participate more fully in the process. What has really worked well for us is the fact that we are now included in the entire dialogue - from the SCD process through the CPF process. And we are integrated into the World Bank Group. This really hadn't happened in the past, and this is an area where MIGA can leverage its understanding of the country's situation, with our colleagues. That has really worked well for us.
Mona Haddad: The new country engagement has worked really well for the IFC. The collaboration with the World Bank has been mostly seamless. Our institutions have benefited from each other. All SCDs and CPFs were jointly undertaken by the Bank, IFC, and MIGA. The private sector consultations were often led by the IFC, and bringing the private sector perspective to the SCD and the CPFs was immensely useful for prioritizing what will be in these engagements.
However, I think firstly, the dissemination process needs to be more thorough in certain countries. And secondly, building upon the excellent working relationships that are being developed across the Bank, IFC, and MIGA, we need to use this platform to think through when should the Bank intervene, when should other partners come in, and when should the private sector get involved in achieving a certain development result.
Question: Are there specific examples you can point to?
Haddad: A key result for us is that the SCD/CPF model has brought to the forefront the role of the private sector in development. In many countries, the private sector is the main driver of job creation. And it is important that we keep the private sector at the forefront of our engagement in this new framework. The private sector also plays a role in new areas that, perhaps, we didn’t think of before. For example, in Ghana, we see the private sector playing a very important role in providing primary education, which is typically a sector that is covered by the public sector. Building the private sector’s ability to provide new solutions is going to be important for achieving the twin goals.
Question: What have been some of the challenges?
Haddad: One area where we can do better is how we track results. The results frameworks currently applied to the CPF don’t lend themselves to the type of business that IFC does. This is an area we are addressing in our strategies.
Baroudi: What is more challenging from the MIGA side, is that MIGA is not as well-resourced as the IFC and the World Bank, and so it is a challenge for us to ensure that we are at all of the meetings, at the SCD and CPF level, that we are playing a role and contributing regardless of the size of the country, or whether MIGA has had a strong or is at the beginnings of its engagement with that country.
So, this is an area that has posed a challenge for us, in how we can leverage our relatively small resources across all of the countries that the World Bank Group is engaged in, and to ensure that what we are doing is reflected in the documents across all of the countries?
Question: What else do you see as opportunities going forward?
Kouame: We are recommending that the Bank Group provides better guidance to staff to ensure focused priority setting in SCDs. The Bank Group should better disseminate the SCDs at the country level. The CPFs should explicitly indicate how the knowledge and data gaps will be addressed. The CPFs results frameworks should reflect not only ongoing programs, but also new programs. Finally, the Bank Group should modify the country engagement guidance to ensure consistency with the new Gender Strategy.
Baroudi: MIGA sees an opportunity to leverage the SCD and CPF process even more. In particular, we see maximizing finance for development, that is the cascade, as well as the IFC MIGA private sector window under IDA 18, as real opportunities where the one World Bank Group concept can come together through the SCD and CPF processes, to allow MIGA to play an even larger role, and hopefully working with our colleagues across the World Bank Group to have a bigger impact for our clients.
This is an area that we are very excited about going forward, and we are looking for leveraging this process which is already in place, on top of these two new initiatives.
Haddad: Looking forward, stronger collaboration between the World, MIGA and IFC on the SCD and CPF is going to be critical. Not only for the World Bank Group as a whole, but also for the success of IFC 3.0 – our new strategy for creating markets, the cascade, and implementation of the private sector window for delivering on IDA.
The way we are going to do that is by providing more analytical underpinnings to the role of the private sector in development, and in meeting the twin goals. IFC is not really geared to providing analytical work to the same extent as the Bank does. But we can participate much more in the analysis of the private sector constraints and potential opportunities. For that, we are now hiring more economists in IFC. We are also putting in place a new tool at IFC called the Country Private Sector Diagnostics, which will dig deep into identifying the constraints to the private sector by taking a bottom-up approach. And we are talking to the private sector to highlight the constraints they are facing, and then bringing the recommendations to the government and to the World Bank to see how we can work together to reduce or remove some of these impediments.
Zaman: I think it is very important that the dissemination of these instruments is done in a very thorough way in all countries because that will strengthen the public good nature of what the SCDs and CPFs are about.
Secondly, I think it's very important that going forward within the country partnership frameworks, we are able to incorporate aspects of when we use the public sector and when should use the private sector resources in order to achieve better development results.
IEG Assessed the first 22 countries for which the Bank Group has conducted systematic country diagnostics and developed accompanying country partnership frameworks:
|East Asia and Pacific||
|Europe and Central Asia||
|Latin America and the Caribbean||
|Middle East and North Africa||