The World Bank approved $10.1 billion in lending to the region for 37 operations in fiscal 2023, including $4.3 billion in IBRD commitments and $5.8 billion in IDA commitments. We also supported 61 advisory services and analytical products for eight countries. These provided technical advice on issues such as debt management, governance, job creation, social protection, air pollution, and climate resilience.
Across the region, we are focused on the resilience of human capital to minimize the scarring effects of crises; resilience to the impacts of a changing climate and natural disasters; and resilience of the economy, markets, and society so that development is inclusive and sustainable.
Protecting people in the wake of crisis
The Bank helped Pakistan respond to devastating floods with nearly $1.7 billion for five projects in the worst-affected Sindh province to build resilient housing, restore crop production, provide health services for mothers and children, and strengthen social protection and the local government’s disaster response capacity. In Afghanistan, we have continued to provide support for basic services and livelihoods in health, agriculture, and education, with more than $1 billion in off-budget support implemented through UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations.
In response to the unprecedented economic and financial crisis in Sri Lanka, we moved quickly to protect people—particularly the poor and vulnerable—from its worst impacts. We repurposed $325 million to finance emergency cash transfers, medicines, school feeding programs, tuition vouchers, fertilizer for smallholder farmers, and cooking gas. In December 2022, the Bank approved Sri Lanka’s request to access concessional financing from IDA—a process called reverse graduation—to stabilize the economy. We also prepared a new country partnership framework for fiscal 2024–27, along with two operations totaling $700 million to advance critical economic reforms and improve social protection.
Investing in resilient human capital
Across South Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a collapse in human capital for millions of children and young people. Today’s students could lose more than 14 percent of their future earnings; today’s toddlers could see a 25 percent decline in earnings when they reach adulthood. Learning poverty—the inability to read and understand a simple text by age 10—increased from 60 to 78 percent during the pandemic. We support education policies that ensure learning for all, build skills for future needs, and improve access to labor markets. In Maldives, a $9 million project is improving the quality of secondary education. In Nepal, a $120 million project is helping establish a teacher mentoring system and ensuring that a full complement of subjects is taught in schools.
We are also strengthening health systems, expanding access to primary care, and building targeted and responsive social protection systems. In the Indian state of Gujarat, we are providing $350 million to improve public health care, with a special focus on girls. In India’s Odisha state—which is hit with a natural disaster about every 15 months—a $100 million program is enhancing social protection coverage for poor and vulnerable households through a digital cash transfer program.
Building resilient economies
To help countries build economic resilience, we promote private sector–led solutions, increase transparency of debt and investment, improve credit and market access for small and medium enterprises, and boost digital transformation. Our research looks at the drivers of the high rate of inequality of opportunity and how countries can enhance inclusion.
In the Indian state of Punjab, we committed $150 million to help the state better manage its financial resources and improve access to public services by leveraging digital technology and increasing accountability in public procurement. In Maldives, a $15 million project is strengthening private participation in state-owned enterprises, as well as their financial stability, and boosting the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises. In Nepal, we provided $100 million to support sustainable and productive use of natural capital, strengthen resilience to climate change, and promote private sector investment in greening the economy and creating jobs and livelihoods.
Boosting resilience to climate change and natural disasters
South Asia is confronting intensifying heat waves, cyclones, droughts, and floods—the changing climate could sharply diminish living conditions for up to 800 million people.
In fiscal 2023, we launched Country Climate and Development Reports for Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. The reports underscore the urgent need to boost resilience across the region’s roads, hydropower dams, coastal communities, and agriculture, as well as its rapidly growing cities, which are full of informal settlements that are at the highest risk.
In India, we provided $1.5 billion to scale up renewable energy, develop green hydrogen, and stimulate climate finance for low-carbon energy investments. In Pakistan’s Punjab province—which accounts for 73 percent of the country’s total food production—a $200 million project is promoting climate-smart technologies and practices to improve water-use efficiency, build resilience to extreme weather, and increase small-scale farmers’ incomes. In Bangladesh, we provided $250 million to promote green investments in the brick-kiln sector, municipal waste management, clean cookstoves, and rooftop solar systems to reduce air pollution and improve environmental quality.
Last Updated: Oct 03, 2023