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FAQ on Current World Bank Group Engagement in Ethiopia - DECEMBER 2022

The World Bank seeks to end extreme poverty, a goal that cannot be achieved without tackling fragility, conflict, and violence. On the current trajectory, by 2030 up to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Our commitment to improve the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, therefore, does not waver when countries are fragile or embroiled in conflict.

Our strategy is to scale up our engagement in fragile and conflict-affected places, to complement humanitarian action, make lasting progress and reduce conflict risks. Over the last five years, we have tripled our financial support to countries struggling with fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV). In these settings, we focus on addressing drivers of fragility and strengthening factors of resilience—with an emphasis on social inclusion and medium-term support to institutional development, economic opportunities, private sector-led growth, jobs, and service delivery.

Why has the World Bank remained engaged in Ethiopia despite ongoing conflicts?

Multiple ongoing conflicts in Ethiopia have resulted in humanitarian crises, degraded infrastructure, and limited access to basic services. These conflicts risk undermining the economic and social development progress the country has achieved in recent years. Across the country, conflict and drought have internally displaced 4.5 million people, and more than 20 million need food assistance. In Afar, Amhara, and Tigray alone, more than 9 million people need urgent assistance.

As a development institution, the World Bank Group’s role is to help improve the lives and livelihoods of all Ethiopia’s 120 million people, across all regions of the country, including Tigray. Remaining engaged during conflicts and crisis situations, while addressing the drivers of fragility, conflict, and violence is therefore central to our mission in several countries around the world including Ethiopia.

Like other development partners in Ethiopia, the World Bank provides financing for specific projects related to basic human needs, including public health, food security, nutrition, and education, to prevent further development losses.

What is the World Bank’s plan to reengage in the Tigray region following the recent signing of the peace agreement? 

Our team is monitoring the situation closely and making plans for how operations which include Tigray can restart activities in the region in order to deliver support as soon as possible.  Re-engagement will be on a case-by-case basis, driven by specific operational requirements of each project. Of particular concern is finding ways to provide for implementation capacity. One of the first operations where activities are underway in Tigray is the Response-Recovery-Resilience for Conflict-Affected Communities in Ethiopia Project, discussed below.

What are the goals of the Response-Recovery-Resilience for Conflict-Affected Communities in Ethiopia Project?

The World Bank is committed to supporting Ethiopia’s people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and to supporting resilient and inclusive development that equips people to manage shocks.

Aligned with the Bank’s FCV strategy, the Response - Recovery - Resilience for Conflict-Affected Communities in Ethiopia Project is focused on helping conflict-afflicted communities and internally displaced peoples (IDPs) gain access to vital services, such as healthcare, water, sanitation, and education. It will provide survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) with access to health, psychosocial, and legal services.

The project will initially prioritize support to the Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia, and Tigray regions, which have been highly impacted by recent conflicts and which host large numbers of IDPs. The project will follow a people-centered approach to establish community recovery plans that give voice and agency to IDPs and host communities and ensure rapid and efficient support is adapted to local contexts. Based on community input, recovery plans will include the reconstruction or construction of new climate-resilient schools, health, and water and sanitation facilities, youth clubs, and training centers, as well as capacity building activities and social cohesion interventions to facilitate IDP/host community relations.

More information about the Response-Recovery-Resilience project can be found on the project webpage.

What is the current status of the project, Response – Recovery – Resilience for Conflict-Affected Communities in Ethiopia?

The project became effective in September 2022. Project structures have been set up at the federal level as well as in all five target regions. 22 pilot Woredas have been identified, with benefits for communities expected to be provided in the next few months, supported by technical assistance to local community and government structures.

With respect to implementation in high risk of conflict areas, particularly in Tigray, the Government of Ethiopia signed third-party implementation agreements with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), for both components and UNOPS has an agreement with UNFPA to provide GBV response services. UNOPS has a functioning office set up in Mekelle, assessments have been conducted, and the first two Woredas are expected to see benefits over the next few months.

How is the World Bank adapting its implementation arrangements in high-risk areas in Ethiopia?

Every project has its own specific implementation arrangements that are responsive to the specific situation in targeted areas and the planned activities. General features of how projects are implemented in areas of high risk of conflict include: potential utilization of third parties to implement the project in areas where government implementation is not feasible; use of third-party monitoring entities to supplement the World Bank’s regular monitoring and implementation support activities; robust application of World Bank social standards requiring engagement and granular understanding of the needs of targeted communities; and enhanced requirements to monitor and respond to security and safety issues.  

How do we ensure funding reaches vulnerable communities, including in complex settings?

All World Bank financing is subject to a vigorous system of accountability with stringent guidelines for procurement, financial management, and social and environmental standards to ensure that financing is used for its intended purpose and people and the environment are protected from potential adverse impacts. These standards, laid out in the World Bank Environmental and Social Framework, embed key principles, such as nondiscrimination, meaningful consultation and effective public participation, community health and safety, property rights, accountability, transparency, and good governance in all projects financed by the World Bank.

All World Bank projects also establish local grievance redress mechanisms to allow stakeholders to provide feedback on project activities and impacts. Furthermore, the World Bank’s own Grievance Redress Service (GRS) provides an additional avenue for people and communities to submit complaints directly to the World Bank Management if they believe a Bank-funded project has or is likely to adversely affect them.

How does the World Bank mitigate risks of potential discrimination against specific communities?

Prior to disbursement and commencement of activities in World Bank-financed projects, borrowers— or, in some cases, third-party implementers— identify and assess the environmental and social risks and impacts of the project and design appropriate mitigation measures. This includes identifying the type and number of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in project areas and addressing potential social tensions between displaced and host communities.

World Bank financed projects are also screened for the potential for gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse/sexual harassment (SEA/SH). In high-risk projects, SEA/SH Prevention and Response Action Plans and dedicated Grievance Redress Mechanisms are established to receive complaints and address project-related SEA/SH while ensuring confidentiality and avoidance of repercussions or retaliation against survivors.

In addition, the World Bank does not tolerate reprisals or retaliation against people who share their views about Bank-financed projects. When complaints, including allegations of reprisal in connection with Bank projects, are brought to our attention, we work with appropriate parties to address them.


[1] - The Response – Recovery – Resilience for Conflict-Affected Communities in Ethiopia Project should not be confused with the Reconstruction Rehabilitation and Recovery (RRR), an overall plan that the government of Ethiopia is preparing with the support of development partners for conflict affected areas of the country.

Last Updated: Dec 01, 2022