The new strategy supports the country’s ambitious aspirations to reduce the poverty rate from 40 to 15 percent and achieve middle-income status by 2021. It proposes record levels of technical and financial support, including IDA lending of more than $6 billion in the coming four years based on continued strong country performance.
“The new country assistance strategy proposes a doubling of financial support for Bangladesh relative to the FY06-09 strategy,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “To deliver this higher volume of support more effectively, we will work with government to shift to larger, more strategic interventions that enhance selectivity and leverage priority reforms and investments. We will seek to scale up projects and programs that have demonstrated results and a high degree of country ownership.”
Ramping up to accelerate growth and reduce vulnerability
Bank Group support will emphasize accelerated, sustainable and inclusive growth underpinned by stronger governance at central and local levels.
To accelerate growth, the Bank will ramp up proposed investments in economic infrastructure, particularly to address severe energy deficits, urban congestion and poor transport connectivity. This includes $1.0 billion in proposed investment in power and gas, as well as $1.2 billion for the Padma Bridge, which is a priority to unlock the potential of the country’s lagging Southwest Region.
For more sustainable growth, Bank strategy will include for the first time a priority to reduce vulnerability to the effects of climate change by increasing investments in water resources management, agricultural adaptation, environmental protection and disaster preparedness.
To promote more inclusive growth, the Bank will maintain long-standing support for human development and social welfare. This includes second-generation sector-wide approaches in education and health, with an increasing focus on education quality and skill building and on lagging maternal health and nutrition outcomes.
To strengthen governance, the Bank will selectively target support to areas with sufficient political commitment to achieve results. This will include scaling up on-going support to enhance core governance and strengthen local government, as well as efforts to empower communities and build demand for good governance and accountability at the local level.
A cross-cutting dimension of the new strategy is fostering regional cooperation in South Asia. The Bank Group will build on new opportunities for enhanced cooperation particularly in cross-border infrastructure networks and management of natural resources.
Strengthening the focus on results
The new strategy has been articulated around a results framework that includes a more manageable set of indicators and measurable targets. A lesson learned from the previous strategy was the need to strengthen monitoring during implementation. This time, the Bank’s Bangladesh team will maintain multi-sectoral ‘outcome teams’ responsible for monitoring of progress towards results in each area. Monitoring of the strategy will be linked to regular portfolio reviews.
An important element of getting better results will be a continued focus on reducing corruption risks in the Bank’s portfolio. This will include stronger diagnostics and risk assessment, a shift to larger, more strategic operations and greater reliance on community-based accountability mechanisms. As part of a broader Demand for Good Governance initiative, third-party monitoring will be extended to flagship operations across the portfolio.
In partnership, the Bank group will work to strengthen country capacity to manage for results, as part of a broader Joint Cooperation Strategy aimed at enhancing aid effectiveness. The Bank will play a leading role in working with Government and other stakeholders to define a national development results framework. This framework could serve as a common performance assessment tool aimed at reducing transaction costs and increasing external resource mobilization for Bangladesh.