The World Bank has finished consultations on its partnership initiative to “put committed governments and their people at the centre of the development process” and agreed some action steps for the next few months. Officials, NGOs and company representatives have praised the initiative, hailed as a potential “perestroika” in development assistance, but point to the many difficulties in implementing its vision. These are summarised in a Bank briefing note:
- if countries are allowed to build their own development strategies, on what basis will the Bank assess their merits?
- Some principles to assess civil society representativeness will be needed as groups are asked to feed into development strategies;
- Access to information for civil society groups will need to be improved;
- Genuine partnerships would need discussions beyond aid to encompass donors’ trade, debt etc policies;
Based on discussions with various Bank Country Directors the following countries will see the piloting of the this approach over the next year: Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, and East Caribbean States.
If this works it should significantly increase the space for civil society input to country strategies. The Bank recognises, however, that successful implementation will require changing its culture, Country Assistance Strategies, non-lending services, and operational procedures.