Attendees of the launch of the second phase of the World Bank-funded results-based financing project for health in Zimbabwe. Photo by: World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

It has now been more than three years since the World Bank introduced its polarizing lending instrument known as Program-for-Results, and the institution recently concluded a review of its first two years of implementation.

So what happens next?

PforR — designed to support local government-run development programs — disburses funds only when results are delivered in an effort to improve the efficiency of locally driven programs and bolster local institution’s capacity.

World Bank management found PforR has made significant progress, approving 22 operations in six different regions, amounting to $8.5 billion. Nineteen operations worth $5 billion are in the pipeline, and an additional 11 operations are awaiting a concept review.

Demand from the country level is rising above the program’s current ceiling of 5 percent of International Development Association and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development commitment, said World Bank manager for operations, policy and country services Fadia Saadah, who spoke Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

The World Bank board plans to examine findings from the recent review in March and will discuss raising the program’s lending ceiling to above its current 5 percent limit. It will convene a public discussion on the future of the new instrument at the spring annual meetings.

PforR has been criticized by advocacy groups and civil society organizations, which fear the instrument lacks enforcement of social and environmental safeguards. But proponents of the instrument feel it is essential to spreading World Bank influence and keeping the institution relevant at a time when new multilaterals are emerging and donors such as China are providing quick money with little attention to regulations.

Stay tuned to Devex to see more of our coverage on the status of the World Bank’s Program-for-Results financing. Which side of the PforR debate are you on? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

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    Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a former global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid, and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the U.S., and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.