Strengthening governance through the World Bank’s Fund for the 77 poorest countries

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Photo credit: Graham Crouch/World Bank

In my blog “The Governance Gap – can we bridge it?”, I stressed that strengthened institutions and improved governance are especially critical for the world’s most vulnerable countries in IDA, the World Bank’s Fund for the 77 poorest countries.

IDA is the single largest source of funds for basic social services for these governments and every three years, members representing IDA’s 173 donor and borrowing member countries meet to replenish its resources and refine its priorities.

Governance and Institutions as a Special Theme
This year, during the 18th Replenishment, Governance & Institutions was added as Special Theme, joining Jobs, Gender, Climate, and Fragility, Conflict & Violence. Governance has always been at the core of IDA’s activities, but we welcome this extra emphasis at a time when the world is being tested by increasingly complex and global challenges.

Governance issues are at the heart of the challenges IDA countries face in achieving the World Bank Group twin goals to end poverty and boost shared prosperity. Part of this is about raising and managing well the resources needed to provide public services. Part is looking at how institutional arrangement promote accountability and how they may create incentives or present bottlenecks to the effective delivery of services to people—keeping teachers from being trained or immunizations reaching children. This complex link between poor governance and persistent poverty is hard to break, especially in Fragile States which make up a growing set of IDA countries.
What is clear is that institutions shape the incentives of all actors and the policies they pursue  -- ranging from the health workers at the front-lines of Ebola response in Liberia to the mining firm paying its taxes (or not) in Papua New Guinea.  We are also focusing on the strengthening of trust between citizens and the state by supporting transparency and participation in the public sector. Our 2016 Annual Meetings event “The Governance Gap” also tried to tease out some of the reasons why half the world does not trust government.
So we are proposing key areas of emphasis within the governance and institutions theme to address these challenges. These areas of emphasis will be confirmed in the final IDA meeting this December in Indonesia, and are likely to include:

  • Domestic Resource Mobilization to help IDA countries raise more resources domestically in a sustainable and equitable way in order to finance key development priorities;
  • Management of public expenditure finances and procurement to help IDA countries use the resources they do collect most effectively and for their intended purposes;
  • Public Administration Performance to relieve institutional bottlenecks that impede service delivery to citizens in key sectors like health, water, and education, as well as  helping to improve the performance of State-owned enterprises;
  • Open Government & Citizen Engagement to facilitate transparency, inclusive decision making processes, strengthened accountability, and build stakeholders’ capacity to engage in development dialogue;
  • Illicit Financial Flows to strengthen IDA countries’ ability to monitor and measure the cross-border movement of money illegally earned, transferred, or used from sources such as tax evasion or illegal trade in natural resources;
  • Scaling up GGP work in Fragile and Conflict States to strengthen and systematize governance and institutional analysis in these countries;
  • Operationalize the WDR 2017 on Governance and the Law - where there is client demand - to help reduce policy implementation gaps and support more adaptive approaches in our work.

We aim to share knowledge about what has worked more effectively, while looking for the best fit on the ground, and to push for innovation in our own work. Strengthened links among all the Special Themes is also important. For example, we have been collaborating particularly closely with our colleagues working on Fragile States as we prepare for an unprecedented scale-up in these countries with huge governance challenges whether that is strengthening civil service and justice reform in Afghanistan, or the resumption of public services through recurrent cost support in Central African Republic.
Our goal is that this will pave the way for IDA countries to accelerate good governance, strengthen their institutions and maximize effectiveness in providing services in an inclusive and transparent way to their people – further boosting growth, resilience, and opportunities in IDA countries in the years to come.

Take a look at our current work on governance in IDA –


Deborah Wetzel

Director, Regional Integration for Africa, the Middle East and North Africa

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