The World Bank approved $4.3 billion in lending to the region in fiscal year 2018, including $3.9 billion in IBRD loans and $428 million in IDA commitments. The Bank also issued the first ever multi-country catastrophe bond between Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, valued at more than $1.3 billion.
The priorities in the region centered on supporting inclusive growth through higher productivity and competitiveness, with an emphasis on investing in education, health, and other aspects of human capital. It also invested in infrastructure and worked to improve countries’ abilities to manage and withstand shocks—such as natural disasters, economic upheaval, and crime and violence— while promoting greater transparency and accountability. In addition, the World Bank prioritized the inclusion of groups that have traditionally faced exclusion, including Indigenous Peoples and rural communities. As countries’ needs often exceed public resources, the Bank supported activities and interventions that attracted private investment whenever possible.
The World Bank tailors its extensive financial, knowledge and convening services to the region’s diverse needs. Countries increasingly turn to the World Bank for more than direct lending, taking advantage of services including risk insurance, commodity swaps, climate adaptation finance, technical assistance, convening assistance and development research.
One of the reports from the last fiscal year was “Afro-descendants in Latin America: Toward a Framework of Inclusion.” About one in four Latin Americans self-identify as Afro-descendants today. They comprise a highly heterogeneous population and are unevenly distributed across the region but share a common history of displacement and exclusion. Despite significant gains over the past decade, Afro-descendants still are overrepresented among the poor and are underrepresented in decision-making positions, both in the private and the public sector. The report proposes a framework to organize and think of the myriad options available to address their situations, based on the experience accumulated by the region and the data available.
A second report was “The Jobs of Tomorrow: Technology, Productivity, and Prosperity in Latin America and the Caribbean.” This report discusses technology adoption and its impact on inclusive growth through productivity, jobs, types of skills, and wages in Latin America. The report focuses particularly on two dimensions of inclusive economic growth: overall job growth, and how less-skilled, less well-off workers can also benefit from technology adoption.
Some program highlights include:
Caribbean: The WBG’s ongoing support for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries has reached nearly US$2 billion, with a focus on strengthening resilience and financial protection against disasters. These sectors have received more than US$1 billion in concessional financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).
Brazil: A joint World Bank and Eletrobras project benefited more than 4 million consumers in six states. They now receive improved electricity services, which means fewer and shorter outages, better voltage control (meaning fewer equipment burnouts), and new (legalized and safer) connections. The project represented the World Bank’s first large tendering and implementation of smart grid technology: US$95 million for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). New smart meters were delivered to 84% percent of targeted customers, reducing fraudulent activity and theft. Additionally, the six electricity distribution companies the initiative worked with adopted environmental and social management best practices, such as material recycling.
Costa Rica: Through the project "Strengthening of the Universal Health Insurance", the availability and quality of the universal health insurance system was improved, and the strengthening of the institutional efficiency of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS). Under the Program for Results mode, objectives such as the reduction of waiting lists and the care of chronic diseases have been met. For example, the goal of 41 percent of patients with type II diabetes identified and with optimal clinical control was exceeded. The improvement in colon cancer screening also exceeded the goal by reaching 15 percent of the target population. In addition, expectations were exceeded in the percentage of surgeries performed on an outpatient basis where the goal of 43 percent was exceeded. One of the greatest achievements is in the expected percentage of the total number of health areas equipped with the Single Digital Health File (80 over 60 percent expected).
El Salvador: The Project to Strengthen Local Governments (known locally as PFGL) benefited around 3.4 million people across 262 municipalities in El Salvador through the development of 507 local infrastructure projects, such as electrification, clean water and sanitation, waste management, construction and improvement of roads, and bridges, as well as renovation of sports and recreation spaces to support violence prevention programs. In addition, these local infrastructure projects generated around 12,987 temporary jobs.
Honduras: The Rural Competitiveness Project (Comrural) seeks to increase the productivity and competitiveness of around 7,200 small rural producers in Honduras and link them to domestic and international markets. Comrural promotes productive partnerships between rural producers and trade partners and supports the development of business plans, and, to date, has created more than 9,000 jobs and has helped to increase productivity in sectors such as specialty coffee, horticulture, fruits, dairy, beekeeping, rural tourism and aquaculture. Producers supported by Comrural produce around 30 percent of all the specialty coffee exported by Honduras to the United States, Europe and Asia.
Guatemala: The Maternal-Infant Health and Nutrition project helped to provide access to basic health and nutrition services for over one million people in Guatemala through the building or renovation of 35 health centers for maternal and child care, training of more than 5,000 health workers and support to preventive nutrition programs in 142 jurisdictions, among other activities. The maternal mortality rate declined by more than 50 percent between 2006 and 2012 in the intervention areas, while the percentage of pregnant women who received prenatal care increased from 54 percent in 2006 to 89 percent in 2012. Currently, the Pilot to Improve the Development and Nutrition of Young Children in Guatemala (Nuestros Niños Sanos y Listos) is helping to strengthen the capacity of parents and communities to improve child development outcomes for up to 5,500 children under two in poor rural areas in Guatemala’s highlands.
Mexico: The Expanding Rural Finance Project promotes the strengthening of financial institutions in the country known as financial intermediaries to facilitate loans in remote or difficult to access areas where traditional banking has weak or no presence. Through them, credits are given to producers and entrepreneurs who live in rural areas of under 50,000 inhabitants to support activities that promote inclusion, job creation, and poverty reduction mainly in the agriculture, livestock, forestry, and fishery sectors. More than 150,000 loans have been delivered, 70% in rural areas in the poorer states of the South, 85% to women, and 10% in communities classified as marginalized or highly marginalized.
Colombia: The Support to the Bogota Metro Line One Section One Project seeks to improve public transportation in the city, and thus improve access to jobs and other types of opportunities for commuters using this new quality transport. The metro will be integrated with Bogotá’s mass transit system and will substantially reduce commuting times and costs for users, will improve road safety along its alignment, will generate urban renewal in its vicinity and will substantially reduce air pollution and GHG emissions in the city.
Last Updated: Apr 05, 2019