The World Bank hits its IDA target, Liberia’s controversial education experiment, and damning accounts of U.N. peacekeepers. This week in development:
The World Bank secured a record replenishment for its fund for least-developed countries, the International Development Association. IDA’s 19th replenishment conference, held last week in Stockholm, saw the institution raise $82 billion — with $23.5 billion from new donor contributions, which the bank intends to leverage in the capital markets to reach its total figure. The successful replenishment comes despite a decreased contribution from the U.S. government, which cut its pledge from $3.3 billion in 2016 to $3 billion this year. That decision was seen as a signal of the Trump administration’s continued objection to the World Bank’s lending to China, a dispute that sharpened after President Trump called out the arrangement earlier this month on Twitter. At the same time, China roughly doubled its IDA contribution from $600 million in 2016 to $1.2 billion this year. The replenishment saw continued support for some of IDA’s key priorities, including $2.2 billion for a refugee subwindow that supports refugee-hosting countries. The World Bank will also continue funding IDA’s “private sector window,” which allows the International Finance Corporation — the bank’s private-sector arm — to use $2.5 billion of IDA’s resources to subsidize private-sector investment in low-income countries. That segment of the fund has come under scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and outside observers who worry it diverts resources from critical needs to unproven investments.
A highly anticipated evaluation of private education providers in Liberia revealed mixed results, though the government of Liberia has hailed the experiment as a success and plans to scale it up. On Monday, evaluators published the results of a three-year randomized control trial that examined the Liberian Education Advancement Partnership — or LEAP, a public-private partnership launched in 2016 — which saw the government hand over management of 93 public primary schools to eight private providers. The evaluation showed that results varied by provider, with some posting broadly positive results, some having negative results, and some demonstrating trade-offs between learning gains and other outcomes, such as school dropout rates. The entire project has been overshadowed by a sexual abuse scandal, in which one of the operating organizations, More Than Me Academy, failed to prevent its co-founder from raping girls enrolled in its program. While that case occurred before the organization was linked to LEAP, it “cast a dark shadow over the whole program” and highlighted concerns about abuse prevention within the private education system, said Justin Sandefur, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, who led the evaluation.
United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti fathered and abandoned hundreds of children, leaving their mothers to face single parenthood “in settings of extreme poverty and disadvantage,” according to the authors of a new study. Conducted by researchers from the University of Birmingham and Queen’s University in Ontario, the study involved interviews with roughly 2,500 Haitians about their experience living in communities that host peacekeeping operations. “Of those, 265 told stories that featured children fathered by UN personnel,” the researchers wrote. The U.N. Stabilisation Mission in Haiti — or MINUSTAH — has been plagued by controversy. In addition to problems with sexual exploitation and human rights violations, U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti were found to have introduced cholera to the country, leading to an outbreak that caused at least 10,000 deaths in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.