DHAKA, January 19, 2013— The government of Bangladesh and the World Bank today jointly conducted the midterm review of the 2011-2014 country assistance program, focusing on strategic results at four thematic levels (accelerated growth, environment and climate change resilience, social services delivery, and governance and inclusion). The World Bank’s strategy for Bangladesh is aligned with the Government’s Sixth Five Year Plan and supports Bangladesh’s vision of reducing poverty and attaining middle income status by 2021.
The Midterm Country Performance Results Review assessed progress in achieving results supported by the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for Bangladesh. Using rigorous monitoring of progress toward results, the Bank and the government found progress from the baseline for 76% of program indicators, with another 14% showing no change and 7% showing deterioration. This is an improvement over the previous year, with a notable upswing in data availability for indicators from only 56% to an impressive 97%. Positive results were measurable for an array of programs, with particularly good results achieved at all levels of the education system, in the provision of health, population and nutrition services, in public expenditure management and in community participation and empowerment.
With 33 on-going projects and $4.3 billion in commitments, the World Bank-supported program in Bangladesh is highly concessional. The bulk of the support is provided as IDA credits (interest free credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional arm, which has 40 years to maturity with a 10-year grace period and carries a service charge of 0.75 of one percent). Yearly disbursements experienced a steady upward trend over the past few years, increasing from USD 450 million in FY11 to over USD 500 million in FY12. Disbursements are at record levels in the first half of FY13 which bodes well for the full year if the pace can be maintained.
“It gives me immense pleasure that government and the World Bank were able to deliver results in most of the areas in our strategy. We have piloted innovative approaches and scaled up where we have seen measurable results” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Nepal. “For example, we have scaled up our support to solar home systems remarkably. What started as a project to install 20,000 systems per year is now installing 60,000 new systems every month in rural areas, making this one of the fastest growing solar homes systems program in the world.”
The World Bank assistance strategy focuses on strengthening monitoring and evaluation of results, including Third Party Monitoring by civil society organizations. Participants at the Midterm Country Performance Results Review were able to receive first-hand reports from the Manusher Jonno Foundation about a pilot program that tested third party monitoring of selected Country Assistance Strategy outcome indicators.
“Focusing on and monitoring results of the World Bank supported operations will have a positive effect on Government’s Annual Development Program’’ said Mr. Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh. "We are committed to effective implementation and to ensuring that the external resources made available to the country are well utilized for the purposes intended.”
The Country Performance Results Review concluded with working sessions led by Government Secretaries, who facilitated group discussions by sector experts about progress and areas for improvement within each of the results pillars. Each group agreed on actions within their area of responsibility that will accelerate program implementation and achievement of development results.
“Bangladesh is a remarkable country with high potential. During my tenure, we have focused heavily on strengthening country systems in areas such as public procurement reform and local government development. I am proud that together with government we are mainstreaming transparency and social accountability into all our operations. This is ultimately the key to sustainable development and responsive government for the wonderful people of Bangladesh,” said Goldstein.
Ms. Ellen Goldstein will complete her tenure in Bangladesh and move on to her new assignment on February 01, 2013. Mr. Salman Zaheer, South Asia Regional Cooperation Director, will become the Acting Country Director for Bangladesh and Nepal until the new Country Director joins later this year.