World Bank Assistance
The World Bank (IBRD/IDA) has provided $5.9 billion of support to the ECA region so far during fiscal year 2015, aimed at reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity in the region. In addition to its traditional lending, the World Bank also acts quickly and effectively to respond to urgent situations, such as the crisis in Ukraine, and the catastrophic floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in May of 2014.
Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS)
Middle-income countries interested in highly specific knowledge services that exceed what the Bank can finance from its own resources are increasingly accessing Bank technical expertise using Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS). Under RAS programs, the Bank works with countries at their request and provides reimbursable technical advice. ECA has been engaged in 171 RAS programs since 2006.
Countries that have signed RAS agreements include: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Poland, the Republic of Cyprus, Romania, the Russian Federation, San Marino, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.
Some notable outcomes of our lending include:
- In Poland, following 200 years of flooding of the Odra River Basin, thousands of homes and 2.5 million of residents are now protected against the flooding through improved flood forecasting to allow for better prevention of flood damage and the minimization of damages, as part of the flood protection project work along Poland’s Odra River.
- Since the start of the World Bank’s engagement in Greece in 2012, the Government implemented reforms in three areas supported by the World Bank Group, and became top improver in starting a business in Doing Business 2014 and top improver in registering property in Doing Business 2015.
- In FYR Macedonia, the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program has increased secondary education enrollment by 10 percentage points. Approximately 7,500 children from poor families, who would not otherwise attend school, regularly attended secondary school in the school year 2013–14 thanks to the new CCT benefit. The coverage of the CCT secondary education program increased from about 67 percent of eligible children in the first year of implementation to about 83 percent in 2014.
- In Tajikistan, regulatory reforms aimed at improving the business environment have cut the length of time that it takes to start a business from 62 days to 39 days. In addition, the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group has supported the Government of Tajikistan in joining the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961. The Convention contributes toward strengthening Tajikistan’s credibility in the international trade arena, making it a more attractive place for investors to do business because the legalization of documents will require less time and money.
- In Albania, 607 classrooms and laboratories were constructed or rehabilitated, and over 24,000 computers and internet connectivity to schools were provided, reducing the students per computer ratio from 46 to 14 students per computer in urban centers and from 133 to 13 students per computer in rural areas.
Please go to “Results in ECA” for more examples of the Bank’s work in ECA.
Analytical Work Highlights
In addition to its financial products and RASs, the Bank produced important research about critical issues in the region during the past fiscal year. Through its analytical work, the World Bank aims to bring global knowledge and adapt it to the needs of ECA countries.
The What’s Next in Aging Europe: Aging with Growth in Central Europe and the Baltics report finds that with their populations aging faster than their neighbors in the rest of the European Union, the countries of Central Europe and the Baltics would benefit from a focus on promoting active, healthy, and productive aging.
Steady growth over the past decades has brought Turkey to the threshold of becoming a high-income economy, prosperity has been broadly shared across income groups in the society, and the size of the middle-class was doubled, according to the Turkey’s Transitions: Integration, Inclusion, Institutions report. However, challenges remain. The report examines Turkey’s experience in the transition from a lower middle-income to an upper middle-income economy, and looks at what has worked well and what needs to change.
The Serbia Judicial Functional Review found that Serbia’s judiciary lags behind EU Member States, including the EU11, and those areas that are under-performing need to be addressed. The Review provides a comprehensive assessment of the functioning of the judiciary, and of what is needed to reach EU benchmarks. The Review comes at the start of work under Chapter 23 of the Acquis, and will provide the baseline for future efforts to align the country’s judiciary with EU standards.
According to the Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal report, as the planet warms further, heat-waves and other weather extremes that today occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, would become the “new climate normal,” creating a world of increased risks and instability. The report, prepared for the World Bank Group by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, says that the consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources shift, sea-levels rise, and the livelihoods of millions of people are put at risk.
A series of reports on skills in Central Asia, entitled The Skills Road: Skills for Employability in Uzbekistan, The Skills Road: Skills for Employability in Tajikistan, and The Skills Road: Skills for Employability in the Kyrgyz Republic provides policy goals and recommendations for improving skills in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan based on an assessment of both cognitive and non-cognitive skills.
The Ukraine: Soil Fertility to Strengthen Climate Resilience report takes a close look at the challenge of accelerating soil erosion in Ukraine and provides recommendations on how to better address soil erosion, excessive land tillage and climate change in Ukraine.
The Open Data for Economic Growth in Russia report draws on the most recent developments in Russia’s Open Data initiatives and provides recommendations for policies and actions that could maximize economic growth from the open data initiatives.
The ECA region also provides timely monitoring of economic trends and prospects in the region through its Economic Reports for Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, the EU Regular Economic Report (RER), Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, South East Europe Regular Economic Report (RER)1, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Individual Country Program Snapshots are updated twice a year, and include analyses of the economy, sectors, and the World Bank's activities in country. They also include Project Briefs, which detail the projects' objectives, results, and financing.
1 Six countries are included in South East Europe (SEE6) — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.