Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Recent Report Highlights World Bank Downfalls

Source: World Bank Study Faults Its Work in Rural Africa

According to a recent report produced by the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank, the bank has “too often failed to tackle effectively the deprivation in the African countryside, home to most of the continent’s poor people.” The report stated that the bank’s aid to rural areas produced poor results in about half the 48 countries it studied.

The report concluded that the bank “tended to spread itself too thin, underestimate[s] resistance to its efforts to combat corruption and patronage, and pay[s] too little attention to ensuring that economic growth improved the lot of the poor.”

Specifically, the bank has had several shortcomings in its educational reforms, although education has been Wolfowitz’s priority since taking charge of the bank in 2005. According to the report, the bank has sought to increase education in poor countries but has paid very little attention to learning outcomes. For example, in Uganda, school attendance has rapidly increased, but currently 94 students share a classroom and three students share each textbook.

The evaluation team also found that although the bank pushed for countries’ adoption of anticorruption laws, the agencies the bank helped finance to carry out the laws had little enforcement capability.

The bank’s management seems receptive to the report and states that the bank is “now more focused on improving the management of particular public services.”

1. How should the World Bank effectively follow up on the African reforms the bank helped to implement and how much involvement should the bank have in these countries’ programs after such implementation?

2. Should the bank practice a “hands-off” approach once their funding is used to implement the programs? Or, should the bank remain heavily involved throughout the process to ensure that the programs produce the desired results?

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