The World Bank Group recently announced new programs of support for both Egypt and Tunisia. Rather than the standard, three-year Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), the new relationships will be guided by the shorter Interim Strategy Note (ISN.) This is the first time this instrument has been used in the Middle East and North Africa region, and the following Frequently Asked Questions explain why.
What is an ISN?
Much like a CPS, an ISN is a document that lays out the Bank Group’s strategy for supporting a specific country over a defined period of time. Both an ISN and a CPS are tailored to meet the unique needs and circumstances of individual countries.
How is an ISN different?
One major difference is that an ISN is for 12 to 24 months only, as opposed to the three-year CPS. An ISN is prepared when additional time is needed to identify and develop the most useful program of medium-term support. This can be due to periods of transition following either a political crisis or conflicts, or if the Bank Group is reengaging with a country after a prolonged hiatus. The ISN allows the Bank Group to stay engaged even during changing and uncertain times.
Why is the current relationship with Tunisia based on an ISN?
The recently announced ISN for Tunisia will cover the period during which the Constituent Assembly drafts a new constitution and organizes new elections. Following the elections, the Bank Group will consult with the new government to draw up a full CPS that is aligned with its development priorities.
Why is the current relationship with Egypt based on an ISN?
Egypt is also undergoing a period of transition and the new ISN will cover the period during which a new constitution is drafted and ratified, and a new legislative branch elected. Once the new parliament and constitution are in place, the Bank Group will move to a full CPS that reflects the priorities of the new government.
Does an ISN affect the level of support the Bank can offer?
An ISN means more flexible support rather than less support and is a reaffirmation of the Bank Group’s commitment to offering a full range of technical and financial assistance during a delicate transition process. It is a way of adapting Bank support to respond to changing needs and circumstances in a rapidly evolving environment. As a flexible and short-term instrument, an ISN is also designed to prevent any gaps in Bank Group support due to extended periods of uncertainty.
Who decides on whether to use a CPS or ISN?
An ISN is only prepared for very specific country circumstances. If after careful evaluation, the Bank Group determines that either anticipated or unanticipated changes could render a CPS irrelevant, an ISN will be used.
How is an ISN designed?
The design of the ISNs for Tunisia and Egypt were the result of a series of consultations. The Bank Group reached out to a diverse range of stakeholders to figure out what was most needed, embarking on a listening tour that included the interim government, civil society, youth organizations, academia and the private sector.