Significant poverty reduction over the past decade is reversing, and the sharing of prosperity is stalled in many countries. About 14 percent of the region’s population—more than 66 million people—live in poverty, including almost 19 million who live on less than $2.50 a day, the extreme poverty line for the region.
World Bank assistance
The Bank approved $7.3 billion in lending to the region for 42 projects this fiscal year, including $7.0 billion in IBRD loans and $233 million in IDA commitments. The Bank also signed 34 Reimbursable Advisory Services agreements with 9 countries for a total of $34.1 million. These agreements provide technical advice on such issues as the reform of education systems, public sector governance and institutional capacity building, and the planning and management of infrastructure investments.
The strategy for the region seeks to support clients in adjusting to the new normal given increasing vulnerabilities and risks. Toward that end, the Bank is supporting macroeconomic stability and advising on the policy response to currency pressures; working with clients to address the challenges of forced displacement and declining remittances; advising clients on budgets to support key reforms; supporting the development of safety nets; and helping countries to prioritize investment. At the same time, the Bank continues to assist in tackling the structural and long-term challenges affecting the region.
Supporting resilience, diversification, and competitiveness
This year the Bank invested in macroeconomic growth, good governance, competitiveness, and job creation in Armenia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Poland, Serbia, and Ukraine. It also invested in improving public sector governance and ensuring good-quality public services in Albania, Armenia, Belarus, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. It helped to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and private sector growth in Croatia and the Kyrgyz Republic; improve access to finance for micro, small, and medium enterprises in Turkey; and develop competitive tourism services in Georgia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Bank-funded programs supported the resiliency and efficiency of the financial sector and banking systems in Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Ukraine, and helped Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, and Ukraine to modernize and expand their transport infrastructure in order to support growth, connectivity, and competitiveness.
The Bank offered advice on and analytical services for improving the investment climate and business environment in Greece, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, and Spain; public finance and public sector efficiency in Albania, Armenia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, FYR Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Uzbekistan; and trade and competitiveness in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Turkmenistan, and the countries of the Western Balkans.
The Bank produces macroeconomic analysis and sector-specific policy recommendations in its periodic economic reports on many of the region’s countries. The latest “Russia Economic Report: The Long Journey to Recovery” focused on the challenges of economic diversification in Russia; and the “South East Europe Regular Economic Report Special Topic: The Impact of Aging on Economic Growth” analyzed the impact of aging on economic growth in the countries of the Western Balkans.
Developing human capital and supporting inclusion
The Bank works with client countries in designing and implementing reforms to improve the efficiency and fiscal sustainability of their pension, social protection, education, and health care systems. This year it helped policy makers to improve health care systems in Kazakhstan and education systems in Kosovo and Uzbekistan. It provided analytical and advisory services to improve the efficiency and fiscal sustainability of the pension systems in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, and the Western Balkans, and to improve safety net systems in Greece, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
The Bank published a book on the Roma this year. Being Fair, Faring Better: Promoting Equality of Opportunity for Marginalized Roma identifies ways in which countries in Central and Eastern Europe can create fair chances for disadvantaged Roma.
Supporting climate adaptation and energy efficiency
Climate adaptation and energy efficiency remain strategic priorities for Europe and Central Asia, the world’s most energy-intensive developing region. The Bank advised on policy reforms that would increase energy efficiency in the Kyrgyz Republic, FYR Macedonia, and the member countries of the European Union. It supported flood management in Poland, and provided investments and analytical services to improve climate resilience in Central Asia, Romania, and the Western Balkans.
Further Information: World Bank's Europe and Central Asia Region homepage »