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August 30, 2023

Human Capital Umbrella Program

The Human Capital Umbrella Program, launched in 2019 with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Government of Canada, serves as a catalyst for accelerating investments in people. 

It continued to advance its work through a whole-of-government approach to support evidence-based initiatives across sectors, fostering lasting social and economic transformation. Aligned with the objectives of the Human Capital Project – a global program that comprises 95 member economies committed to  building, protecting, and utilizing human capital – it operates through three pillars: knowledge, evidence, and measurement; country engagement; and global engagement. 

Human Capital Umbrella Program - Investing in People to Meet Global Challenges : Annual Report 2023 (English)

The Umbrella Program shapes World Bank operations to deliver impacts at scale. Through analytical work and strategic initiatives, the program influences project design and execution to effectively advance human capital outcomes. Since its inception, activities funded by the Umbrella Program have informed 26 World Bank-financed operations, totaling in more than $7 billion in lending and directly benefitting over 57 million beneficiaries.

Highlights of results 
The Human Capital Umbrella Program built on the momentum of previous years to further accelerate investments in people. It provides critical support to governments through data-driven insights, technical assistance, and advocacy efforts aimed at optimizing human capital outcomes. By leveraging a robust results framework that emphasizes measurement, analytics, and convening, the program addresses key challenges and fosters collaboration across sectors to drive impactful change. 

At its core, the Umbrella Program is committed to leveraging data and evidence to inform policies and shape interventions that optimize human capital outcomes. 

By providing governments with access to tools and methodologies, the program empowers decision-makers to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and target interventions effectively. Utilizing the Human Capital Index (HCI), the Umbrella Program complements policy measures and interventions by offering a quantitative assessment to evaluate gaps in human capital and to determine prompt and strategic actions. 

  • In Bangladesh, disaggregating the HCI using various data sources highlighted low human capital outcomes across all population groups. The finding underscores the need for targeted measures to ensure equitable progress and break intergenerational poverty. 

  • The Umbrella Program also played a pivotal role in developing a comprehensive set of indicators crucial for Pakistan’s Human Capital Review. The resulting indicators are now integrated into an interactive dashboard, providing a dynamic platform for teams to monitor progress at the country, provincial, and district levels through time-series analysis and mapped visualizations. The indicators are also essential in developing a simulation tool that would identify the cost of bringing children back in school and gauge parental norms and attitudes towards girls’ education. 

The Human Capital Umbrella Program places a strong emphasis on building government capacity to implement multi-sectoral interventions that address complex challenges and improve service delivery. Leveraging analytics and technical assistance, the Umbrella Program offers targeted support to institutions and ministries to foster their capacity to implement effective solutions. 

  • In Kenya, it provided critical support in developing potential entry points that improve policies, planning, and budgeting of county-level and national government programs to invest in young children and boost women’s productivity. 

  • Through technical assistance and trainings in Ethiopia, the program aims to enhance the capacity of the National Education Assessment and Examinations Agency to conduct in-depth assessments in early grade reading, measuring early learning and quality of outcomes, and facilitating more frequent national learning assessments.  Simultaneously, in the health sector, it is providing technical support to bolster capacity and expand Ethiopia’s Unified Nutrition Information Systems (UNISE) across 29 woredas identified under the World Bank project with Human Capital Specific Purpose Grants (SPGs).  

  • Public Expenditure and Institutional Reviews (PEIRs) in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan supported by the Umbrella Program provide a comprehensive analysis of how public funds are spent, how well they are spent, and what funding and financing gaps exist to identify areas for institutional reforms and lay the groundwork for effective interventions.

A cornerstone of the Umbrella Program’s mission is its commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Aligned with the World Bank’s Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project, GIRL actively addresses gender disparities and empowers women and girls across various sectors. 

  • In Cote d’Ivoire, it is leveraging radios and digital technologies for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) training in safe spaces. 

  • Enlisting a cohort of African Girls and Women’s Empowerment Specialists, it is also building national and regional capacity in the region who will shape, implement, and advocate for policies and programs to empower women and girls. 

The Human Capital Umbrella Program serves as a catalyst for policy dialogue and advocacy, convening stakeholders and fostering thought leadership to mobilize resources and drive innovation. 

  • Regional platforms and summits, such as the Africa Human Capital Heads of State Summit, provide critical opportunities for leaders to commit to investments in human capital and set ambitious targets for progress.

  • While not directly funded by the Umbrella Program, Ministerial Conclaves organized by the Human Capital Project and held biannually around the World Bank–IMF Meetings serve as catalysts for meaningful dialogue among Ministers of Finance. Previous gatherings, for instance, tackled issues around climate change, boosting jobs and entrepreneurship, and harnessing AI and digital technology for human capital. These high-level convenings ensure that lessons emerging from global, regional, and country programs are captured and made available to stakeholders to help build capacity, influence policy, and improve investment decisions and operations.

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