Monday, December 03, 2007

World Bank gets lackluster marks in new report released by its own Independent Evaluation Group

SOURCE: Independent Evaluation Group—“Development Results in Middle-Income Countries, An Evaluation of the World Bank’s Support

A report on the World Bank's continuing work with Middle Income Countries (MICs) was released in September of this year. There are 86 MICs across the globe, on every continent save North America, Australia and Antarctica (the first two due to the relative wealth of the nations situated there, the last because no one lives there). For example, on the African continent fourteen countries are identified as MICs. These include all the countries along the continent’s northern coast and southern region, as well as three isolated outliers: Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in the east and Djibouti in the west. Central Africa is not represented.

In general, the report, conducted by the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), found that while the Bank had focused efforts on bettering tailoring its programs to meet nation-specific needs, there is still room for significant improvement. While the Bank’s efforts have promoted growth in MIC countries, the cost has been rising inequality and inadequate social programming. This is particularly problematic given that MICs are home to one third of the world’s poor. Additionally the report notes that more attention needs to paid to environmental issues associated with Bank projects in these countries and that internal cooperation between the various Bank programs to realize the best outcomes in MICs has been “underwhelming.” Another area of concern is the failure to incorporate MICs in shaping global planning—this is troubling given the number of countries in this group and that at least one rising economic powerhouse, China, is an MIC.

At the same time, the IEG implies that part of the problem for the Bank is the rapidly changing needs of the MIC client population. While the report is not a glowing one—it frankly sounds as though the Bank is struggling with this sector, which is the recipient of two thirds of its assistance—it recognizes the challenging nature of the task the Bank has set itself. On a different note, the candor with which the IEG sets forth its statement of areas where the Bank has fallen short convinces one that it is in fact independent, for it is unlikely it could have published such a report otherwise.

Click here to download the full report and view interactive maps of the MICs.


How might MICs be better incorporated into global planning?

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