Published on Arab Voices

We are planning our support for Yemen and we need your help

World BankYemen is at a critical stage in its transition. At the World Bank Group, we want to do everything we can to support this process. To that end, we are trying to figure out what types of engagement will provide the maximum benefit, which we will then organize into a two year plan called an Interim Strategy Note (ISN). This is where we need your help.

One of the important lessons we learned from the ‘Arab Spring’ is to listen more carefully, to a wider range of voices - especially when we are developing new strategies. We are redoubling our efforts to reach out to all members of the communities we intend to support, to give everyone an opportunity of being involved right from the beginning in the design of our programs and projects. This is the only way of guaranteeing that our engagement will match the needs and ambitions of those we set out to help.

We are currently holding a series of discussions in Sana’a with a range of government officials, representatives from civil society and academia, and the donor community.  Security concerns have forced us to restrict our consultations to the capital, but as soon as circumstances allow we look forward to reaching out beyond Sana’a. The recent discussions have provided valuable feedback which we will include in the design of the ISN. But it is not enough. We need to hear from YOU. Your insight will help us deliver the right kind of help, to where it is most needed.

Please help us with your feedback on the following questions: 

o What role should the World Bank Group play in supporting Yemen’s transition?
o Are the proposed areas of engagement (please see the paragraphs below) appropriate? Will they meet Yemen’s demands and needs?
o What are the key risks and how might we prepare for them?
o How can we improve the implementation of our program?
o Are there things the World Bank Group could do differently?

We are all too aware that the transition process will have to deliver some immediate and tangible results as proof that it is working and worth the continued commitment. The ISN will therefore focus primarily on short-term, confidence building measures, such as helping the transition government restore economic stability and basic services, meet immediate needs with improved social safety nets, and deliver as many short-term jobs as possible through investments in public works. This would be coupled with medium-term efforts to create the right kind of environment for the long-term goal of private sector-led growth and job creation. An overriding concern in the design and implementation of all our plans will be to ensure that they are in tune with the goals of the revolution, that they foster inclusion and participation, of young people and women in particular, and promote transparency and accountability.  The strategy we are preparing has organized these various concerns into four major categories.

The first is the promotion of economic stability, with projects aimed at strengthening economic management and improving fiscal policies as well as the performance of the financial sector. The second is the protection of the poor, to be achieved by addressing immediate and urgent needs, restoring basic services and enhancing social safety nets, and creating short-term jobs. The third is the revitalization of the private sector as the future source of growth, through targeted support for small and medium enterprises, better access to finance, educational reforms to ensure Yemenis are equipped with the skills and knowledge required by a vibrant private sector, and reforms to the business environment to make it more attractive to both domestic and foreign investment. The fourth and final category is best described as better governance and local service delivery, which includes everything from strengthening institutions and building up their capacities, as well as bringing government closer to the citizens and making it more transparent and accountable through enhanced citizen participation and better access to public information.      

Before concluding this note, let me reiterate that we would like to do as much as possible for Yemen but at the same time we don’t want to over-promise on what we can actually do over the next 18-24 months, given the current transition and some of the political and security related uncertainties in Yemen – we would like to be ambitious in our plan but also realistic.  

Does it sound like we are on the right track?

Please let us know. 


David Craig

Former Country Director, Egypt

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