NGOs debate IDA issues

15 April 1998

The IDA Deputies – government officials who negotiate the refinancing of the World Bank’s International Development Association concessional lending arm – have met twice to discuss the policy framework for future IDA lending. Before the London meeting in May, UK-based and Southern NGOs met Deputies and Bank officials to feed in their concerns.

NGOs focussed on social sector spending, national sustainability strategies and energy lending, CAS participation, governance and private sector support.

The Bank and the UK refused to reconfirm Wolfensohn’s 1996 figure for increasing social sector lending, or set new targets: arguing that priorities must be set within countries, that other donors contribute also to social sectors and that IDA is in a good position to fill other gaps.

The UK committed to raising environmental strategies and energy lending in the negotiations, accepting that many National Environmental Action Plans have been prepared without sufficient national ownership.

On CASs the UK and the Bank are aiming to encourage more governments to allow consultation, and release of final documents. Sheila Kawamara from Uganda Women’s Network told Deputies that the “participatory CAS” in her country was not seen as such by groups there. NGOs were only asked to a meeting late in the drafting process, and only received the draft document just before or at the consultation meeting.

On governance the Bank is being encouraged to agree limits to its involvement, and to specify how it will cooperate with other institutions.

On private sector issues the Bank is facing NGO and official criticism for producing a very unclear strategy document, and for stretching IDA‘s financial and staff resources too thin by encouraging the use of IDA money for private sector guarantees. The Bank admitted that further work will have to be done on this.

Available from the Bretton Woods Project: Bank papers prepared for the IDA Deputies on country selection, the private sector, and poorly performing countries, the Oxfam International IDA 12 Statement, and US NGO material on IDA.