World Bank

Updated: 2006-11-13 16:42

The World Bank is one of the world's largest sources of funding and knowledge to support governments of member countries in their efforts to invest in schools and health centers, provide water and electricity, fight disease and protect the environment. This support is provided through project or policy-based loans and grants as well as technical assistance such as advice and studies.

The goal of the World Bank is to reduce poverty and to improve the living standards of the people in low and middle-income countries.

The World Bank was established in 1944, as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Recently the "World Bank" name has come to be used for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). When it first began operations to speed post World War II reconstruction, it had 38 members, now it has 184, almost all the countries in the world. As membership grew and their needs changed, the World Bank expanded and is currently made up of five different agencies.

The World Bank is present in 100 countries and has a staff of approximately 10,600 people from around the world. One of the Bank's main strengths is the international experience provided by its diverse staff.

All support to a borrowing country is guided by a single strategy (called the Country Assistance Strategy) that the country itself designs with help from the World Bank and many other donors, aid groups, and civil society organizations.

How the World Bank Assists China

Lasting poverty reduction requires the cooperation of various groups, including communities, civil society, government, and donor agencies. Working with these groups, the World Bank provides technical expertise and funding for poverty-reduction programs in areas such as health, agriculture, and basic infrastructure.

- How are Priorities Selected?

Working with governments and civil society, the World Bank develops an action plan called Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) to broadly reduce poverty and promote economic development. The strategy describes what type of support and how much could be provided to a country during a 3 year period.

The strategy supports the government's own development program and is specifically designed to the local conditions in the country. It also designates funding targets for projects, studies, and other support.

The planned work outlined in the CAS focuses on financial sector development; state enterprise reform; support for the emerging domestic private sector; corporate governance; and private participation in infrastructure. IFC, MPDF and MIGA will expand their work to improve the climate for foreign and domestic investment. While organized around these cross-sectoral themes, the Bank Group program will continue to operate at the sectoral level, and wil continue to promote rural and urban development, and investment in human resources and physical infrastructure.

- Technical Studies and Reports

The World Bank also produces country-specific studies and reports to provide countries with additional perspectives on a range of specific development challenges. Topics of research and analysis are outlined in the Country Assistance Strategy.

Additional studies include reviews of economic policies (Country Economic Memoranda), fiscal spending (Public Expenditure Review), and environmental reviews (Environmental Action Plan).

The World Bank promotes discussion of development issues through workshops and other events. These events bring together groups such as government policymakers, media, and civil society organizations to discuss how best to move forward on a given issue.

- Projects Assistance

Once a Country Assistance Strategy is drawn up, a country can begin to develop projects with World Bank financing and technical support. A project cycle is created to outline the process of financing, implementing, and evaluating a project. Various financing options are available based upon the type of assistance needed.

Loans or credits for these projects are then submitted for approval to the executive directors, the World Bank's decision-making body representing all member countries.

It is important to note that the implementation of projects is managed by the government itself. The government establishes an office that is responsible for aspects of implementation, such as procurement and selection of consultants.

Operational policies set guidelines to ensure that projects meet the World Bank's criteria, including social and environmental standards. Project evaluations are also conducted to capture and share lessons for future work.

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