In the early 2000s, the World Bank was closely involved in helping the Brazilian government consolidate four conditional cash transfer programs into the flagship social assistance program, Bolsa Familia. Throughout the decade, the Bank used a range of instruments that permitted multiyear financing and analytical and technical engagement in the development of the program. This included various loans such as a programmatic human development reform loan and two results-based adaptable program loans focusing specifically on Bolsa Familia. The Bank used an innovative programmatic analytical and advisory assistance program to provide analytical and technical support on a demand-driven basis over a period of several years. With strong field-based staff able to respond quickly and sensitively to government requests, the Bank served an important role in strengthening a major government program. The combination of approaches allowed for a long-term, ongoing partnership between the government and the Bank and permitted deepening of the technical aspects of the program.
Although Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, poverty levels dropped from greater than 63 percent in 2001 to close to 12 percent in 2007. The Bank sustained its engagement throughout the decade, mainly through analytical and advisory services. A series of studies and technical papers built understanding and appreciation of targeted benefits and formed the basis for a number of reforms aimed at rationalizing and targeting the existing social assistance programs. Overall, the Bank’s approach carefully considered the government’s political concerns regarding the speed of reforms and appears to have been effective. In practice, it entailed developing an understanding of important issues and building capacity during the first half of the decade. This later enabled the successful implementation of reforms with Bank financial assistance, when circumstances permitted.
Sources: IEG case studies.