WASHINGTON, February 22, 2011 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$420 million in additional International Development Association (IDA) funding for the Protection of Basic Services (PBS) program for Ethiopia.
Since 2006, PBS has complemented government resources to improve the decentralized delivery of basic services in five sectors—education, health, agriculture, water and sanitation, and rural roads—and to increase local transparency and accountability and encourage feedback from citizens. The Government of Ethiopia is expected to commit an additional US$523 million for the year that the program will be extended, while donor partners have committed an additional US$131.7 million so far, with potential new contributions in the next two years.
The additional financing will fund general block grants to Woreda (district) governments (salaries, operations and maintenance) which deliver basic services. In addition, it will support the Government’s efforts against malaria, a key element in attaining health-related Millennium Development Goals. Finally, it will extend for one more year the PBS program innovations to strengthen local transparency, accountability, and monitoring and evaluation—which have been working successfully so far.
Since the 1990s, Ethiopia has made significant progress in improving social indicators and reducing poverty. Over the past five years, PBS has helped Ethiopia to protect the budgetary resources that finance basic services and has supported its efforts to expand and improve the delivery of these services. As a result of collaboration between the Government and donors, the net primary enrollment rate increased from 68.5 percent (2005) to 87.9 percent (2010), and the child immunization rate from 70 percent (2005) to 82 percent (2010). Rural access to potable water also increased from 46 percent (2005) to 65.8 percent (2010). Budgets are now publicly posted in 90 percent of local jurisdictions.
“PBS has played a major role in supporting Ethiopia’s efforts to achieve several of the Millennium Development Goals. For instance, the program has enabled local governments to hire an additional 100,000 primary school teachers nationwide, contributing to the increase in primary enrollment rates,” said Robert Chase, Task Team Leader for the project. Pointing to the program’s emphasis on local transparency and accountability, Chase added, “Since the program has armed parents with the knowledge that money was allocated to pay for teachers, it has empowered them to give feedback about how schools are performing, demanding where necessary that teachers show up in classrooms.”
Ken Ohashi, the World Bank’s Country Director for Ethiopia, noted that while the progress in basic service delivery has been truly impressive in Ethiopia, there is still much to be done, especially in improving the quality of education and other vital services. He said, “Expanding access has been the relatively easy part. Increasingly, the challenge is quality.This will require much greater institutional capability at all levels, including effective public financial management to underpin frontline services. The focus of the partnership between the Government of Ethiopia and the eleven donors will have to shift firmly in that direction during the remainder of the PBS II period.”
In addition to IDA, the PBS II project is supported by ten other development partners including the African Development Bank, the Governments of Austria, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, CIDA (Canada), DFID (UK), KFW (Germany) and the European Commission.