Overview

Political Context

Constitutional reforms adopted in 2009 represented a turning point in Comoros’ development, transforming relations between the islands, significantly reducing tensions, and improving the prospects for greater stability. The amendments adjusted the autonomy of the islands, converted the island presidents to governors, and reaffirmed the unity of the state and the role of the federal government.

Presidential elections were held in late 2010 and the new president took office in May 2011. With elections for Union deputies, Island Advisors, and Local Mayors held in February 2015 and presidential elections to follow suit in 2016, these developments are expected to contribute to greater political stability in the future and establish a new focus on a continuous reform program in the Comoros that breaks from a long history of political and institutional instability.

Economic Overview

Comoros is characterized by geographical isolation, limited resources, a small domestic market, a narrow export base, and a considerable dependence on food imports and remittances. Since its independence, political instability has contributed to declining incomes and has taken a severe toll on the government's ability to deliver quality basic services.

Comoros remains vulnerable to macroeconomic volatility caused primarily by weak fiscal policy and a lack of fiscal space for investment in infrastructure and social sectors. Economic growth has consistently exceeded 2% since 2009 and reached 3.5% in 2013, benefiting from stronger agricultural exports (for example, vanilla and ylang ylang), increased construction activities, increased foreign aid, some direct investment, and resilient levels of remittances. However, in 2014 economic activity slightly decelerated to 3% as structural reforms in key infrastructure sectors like electricity and telecom continued to be delayed.

Social Context

Comoros has a dense population of about 390 inhabitants per square kilometer. With a population growth rate estimated at 2.4%, the population is projected to reach one million in twelve years and to more than double by the year 2050. More than half of the population (53%) is younger than 20 years of age.

Poverty remains widespread, especially in rural and remote areas. According to the most recent Complete Household Survey (EIM 2004) the poverty incidence at the household level was 36.9% in 2004 and the share of the population with incomes below $1.25 per day was estimated at 48%. Poverty was mostly a rural phenomenon, with four out of five rural households classified as poor; in urban areas, only one in four was poor. The incidence of poverty varies significantly across the islands and is generally higher in rural areas and in Anjouan.

Development Challenges

Comoros ranked 159th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index in 2014. Progress has been made on several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Comoros is on track to achieve the universal primary education goal and HIV/AIDS, with little progress on poverty and water access. The country also made progress toward reducing child mortality and maternal health, indicators that many other countries have found very difficult to achieve. One of the most challenging targets, especially in the wake of the food price crisis, will be to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Last Updated: May 12, 2015

World Bank Group Engagement in Comoros

Comoros adopted in May 2014 its new strategy for growth and poverty reduction (SCA2D) for the 2015-2019 periods. The SCA2D was prepared through a broad participatory process and provides a framework for medium-term development to lay the foundations for the realization of the vision of the authorities which is "to make the Comoros, an emerging country by 2040, respectful of human rights, promoting gender equality and the rule of law." The overall objectives are:

  • Strengthen the foundations of an economic, high viable, sustainable, equitable and inclusive growth;
  • Improving the quality of life of the population and ensuring equity in access to basic social services;
  • Promoting natural and cultural heritage and the optimal use of natural resources;
  • Promoting good governance and resilience to political fragility.

In support of the SCA2D, the World Bank Group adopted a new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the Comoros in 2014.  The Bank-supported program (knowledge, finance, and partnership) is structured around two pillars: (i) increased public sector capacity; and (ii) shared growth and increased employment.

These strategic priorities are aligned with the SCA2D and contribute directly to the objectives of reducing extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity in Comoros.  The strategy covers the period of 2014-2017 and outlines a total indicative IDA financing program for the CPS period of $60 million, including regional IDA resources.

In September 2013, two financing agreements between the World Bank and the Union of Comoros were approved by the Bank: a grant for the Recovery of the Electricity Sector (RES) of $5 million and another grant for the Regional Communication Infrastructure Project (RCIP4) of $22 million. In the fisheries sector, the World Bank signed a grant agreement for the Co-Management of Coastal Resources for Sustainable Livelihoods (CoreCSuD)  for $2.7 million in May 2012. Further financing in the form of trust funds include (1) $358,034 to support development of national statistical system, (2) $475,000 to strengthen its capacity to develop a platform for disaster risk management through the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and (3) $200,000 to conduct a feasibility study for integrated waste management in the city of Moroni through the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility.

A DPO in the amount of $3 million was approved en 2014, and the World Bank approved two new projects this year: South West Indian Ocean Fishery Project ($9.5 million in February) and Safety Net Project ($6 million in March). Technical assistance is also an important part of the partnership between the World Bank and the Comoros and a collection of Policy Notes was produced in 2014. 

Last Updated: May 12, 2015

Through its technical assistance provided through the Economic Governance Support project, the Bank has supported the recent reforms on public finance management and the strengthening of the public sector. As a result, the civil servant census is now finalized and several reforms on public finance management, including the reorganization of the Treasury, are being implemented.

The World Bank Group continues to support its community development project which is oriented towards poverty reduction in rural areas through a cash for work program and a community development program. This has provided important interventions to disadvantaged communities and vulnerable groups, including women and youth. It has also increased access to basic schooling for Comoros children and enabled the people of Comoros to participate in the local development process. The Bank continues its supports towards effective implementation of the Recovery Plan for Mamwe and a second full-service license in the telecom sector through the PRSE and RCIP4 projects respectively.

The Bank is engaged with the government and the people of Comoros, as well as with other development partners, in knowledge sharing and dialogue on critical issues such as debt forgiveness, public sector reforms and climate change to enable the country to develop foundations for sustainable development.

Last Updated: May 12, 2015

In an environment characterized by large capacity constraints, donor coordination is critical to minimize the government transactions and maximize development outcomes.  The World Bank is working closely with the European Commission (EC), France, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations, and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to harmonize donor efforts and improve results.

Last Updated: May 12, 2015


LENDING

Comoros: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments