The World Bank has been supporting Sri Lanka’s development for close to six decades, having accompanied the country as it has grown to join the ranks of middle-income countries. Among achievements of an active 16 project portfolio, below are some results achieved in the Education, Transport and Rural Development sectors.
Education sector engagements are supporting the Government aspiration of becoming a knowledge hub:
- A Sri Lanka Qualification Framework covering all stages of education and training has been developed.
- A Quality Assurance Framework covering public and private higher education institutions has been prepared, and implementation is in progress.
- University Development Grants to improve the employability of students are under implementation in all 17 universities.
- There are 12,500 students enrolled in the Advanced Technological Institutions, surpassing the project target of 10,000 students. Nearly 200 university and Sri Lanka Institute for Advanced Technological Education academics have commenced Master’s or PhD degree programs, exceeding the project target of 100 Masters/PhD degrees.
- School-based management has been introduced in 40 percent of education zones during 2012-2013. About 2,400,000 students (55 percent of all students) are enrolled in schools in these zones.
- School-based teacher development programs have been conducted in 40 percent of education zones during 2012-2013. About 140,000 teachers (63 percent of all teachers) have benefited from these programs.
Since 2005, roads projects in the transport sector are improving national and rural roads to connect people to prosperity:
- Resurfaced and improved 620 kilometers of roads.
- Reduced the national highways in poor condition from 52 percent in 2005 to 35 percent in 2013.
- The International Roughness Index has improved from 9.5 to 6.2
- Provided innovative pilot schemes for the rehabilitation of rural roads in three provinces.
- A rural roads database created for approximately 95,000 km across 326 Pradeshiya Sabahs.
- Average Vehicle Operating Costs for the National Highways reduced from Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) 23.9/kilometer to LKR 14.21/kilometer.
The end of conflict in 2009 created new opportunities to those affected by the war. Among projects implemented covering the former war affected villages, the following results have been achieved in the community livelihoods in conflict affected areas project:
- 263,613 households in over 1,000 post conflict villages benefited from new income generating activities, productive employment for youth, basic services and rural infrastructure.
- 101,845 families have either started new income generation activities or scaled up existing activities through low interest loans provided under the project’s village revolving fund;
- 2,143 youth employed following skills development training provided through the community skill development fund. The project has assisted 31,449 ex-combatants to start their own livelihood activities.
Bank Group Contribution
Sri Lanka’s World Bank portfolio is healthy, with only one project at risk constituting just 1.3 percent of commitments as of end December 2013. The current total net commitments stand at US$1.38 billion, distributed across 20 activities, including 11 IDA operations, one IBRD operation and eight recipient executed trust funds (RETFs).Urban and transport infrastructure account for 45% of the overall portfolio, followed by human development (24%), livelihoods and rural development (21%) and finance and private sector (5%). The portfolio has a mature profile, with an average project age of 3.2 years.
As of end December 2013, the overall disbursement rate stood at 10.2 percent, with 52 percent of the current active portfolio disbursed.
Trust funds continue to play an important role in implementing the World Bank Group strategy in Sri Lanka, supporting both analytical work and technical assistance, as well as providing stand-alone or co-financing for projects aligned to the country strategy areas of engagement. Current active commitments for recipient executed trust funds stand at US$32.3 million spread over eight operations addressing: private and public investment for increased growth, structural shifts in the economy and increased living standards and social inclusion.
Ensuring complementarities with the activities of other development partners in Sri Lanka remains a tenet of the Sri Lanka Country Partnership Strategy. A number of mechanisms are in place for the Government and its development partners to coordinate and harmonize foreign assistance. These include a Development Partners Forum whereby respective assistance strategies, programs and new initiatives are shared, and a Development Partners Committee supported by a Secretariat and sector-based working groups. The International Finance Croporation (IFC) is a member of the Development Partner Forum Private Sector Development working group, chaired by USAID. The World Bank Group’s program of support to Sri Lanka continues to benefit from close coordination and collaboration with development partners. Collaboration with AusAID, coordinated through recipient-executed trust funds is, for instance, helping to scale up livelihoods support in the conflict-affected North and East, as well as support in the education sector. In the areas of transport, urban development and disaster risk management, World Bank activities continue to be enhanced by close coordination with Japan’s program of support.
Sri Lanka will retain access to IDA resources during IDA17 (FY15-FY17) which will accommodate the updated indicative lending portfolio proposed for the Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) through FY16. Sri Lanka will remain a blend IDA-IBRD country through the IDA17 cycle.
The choice of lending instruments will continue to align with evolving country priorities. Sri Lanka is increasingly demanding support through programmatic approaches from all development partners, which are asked to finance results in its sector strategic programs, especially in social sectors such as health, education and skills. While this is currently done through disbursement linked indicator (DLI) based project financing, Program for Results financing could also be deployed as needed. The earlier deferred development policy loan (DPL) is anticipated for FY16.
The World Bank and IFC will continue to collaborate. The main areas of collaboration are envisaged in access to finance for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) development, public private partnerships, tourism, tertiary education (skills and higher education) and facilitating improvement of the business environment, with a focus on attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Sumanawathie and her husband T.M. Kiribanda live in Siyambalanduwa, once identified as the poorest division in Sri Lanka, where 51.8 percent of people lived below the poverty line as of 2002. Sumanawathie says she and her family faced difficulties in making ends meet. “We did not have any knowledge of how to go about farming…my husband and I worked in neighboring farms for about 125 rupees a day or even less on some days and managed our daily expenses,” she recalls.
With support from the community development and livelihoods improvement project, she received training and money to grow passionfruit and other cash crops. She also received new knowledge and advice on financial literacy.