Sounding off on the World Bank's country engagement strategy

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the 2014 IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings press conference. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

At the World Bank’s annual meeting last year, the Development Committee endorsed an ambitious reform agenda spearheaded by President Jim Kim. At last week’s spring meetings, it called on the financial institution to complete those reforms, including its new country engagement strategy.

The new approach comprises four steps designed to make the bank’s country-level strategies more evidence-based and focused on its goals, according to Devex Global Development Reporter Paul Stephens, who led our on-the-ground coverage of the meetings in Washington, D.C.

A Devex reader who identified as George suggested these pronouncements be viewed with a dose of skepticism.

“The fact that they say that the policies will be more fact and evidence based is absolutely no guarantee that they will,” he wrote. “To begin with, statistics in many of these countries often do not exist at all. When they do exist, they are often incredibly dodgy, especially as the new generation of dictators like Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni have learned how to tell the World Bank, IMF and other donors what they want to hear. Many statistics, which come from national governments, are fictitious.

Stephens likewise reported on the failure of the International Finance Corp. to adequately consider environmental and social risks during project planning. This had led to calls by civil society groups for a culture change at the World Bank Group’s private sector arm. IFC leaders strove to appease these groups by asserting during the spring meetings that it is addressing these issues, Stephens wrote.

Maria Jose Romero, another reader, suggested Kim commission an independent probe into the reasons for the repeated failures. Investigators, Romero said, should propose measures that incentivize IFC staff to work toward the twin goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity and “not just getting money out the door.”

What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and check out our complete coverage of the 2014 World Bank spring meetings on Storify.

About the author

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    Ma. Eliza Villarino

    Currently based in New York City, Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.