The recently released IEG evaluation Using Knowledge to Improve Development Effectiveness, examining the Bank’s economic sector work (ESW) and non-lending technical assistance (TA) between 2000-2006 presents a limited review. This evaluation complements the IEG´s scathing review of the Bank´s training programmes (see Update 60).
The Bank spent nearly $1 billion between fiscal 2000 and 2006 on ESW and TA, a quarter of its spending on country services.
The evaluation found that the Bank met its objectives in ESW and TA and that “[t]he indirect effects of ESW and TA on client countries…were greater than the direct effects”. However there were “substantial differences in ratings across countries and tasks”. In trying to explain this variation the IEG highlights differences in the technical quality of ESW; the level of client involvement; the extent to which the services were followed up after completion; client demand for the services; government capacity and the preference for TA over ESW.
ESW was found to be positively correlated with government capacity and receptivity as well as better loan design. ESW products of a higher quality were seen to have cost more whilst “ESW and TA products of lower technical quality were less effective”.
Less importance was placed on the issue of whether ESW and TA was requested the client although what they termed as client “buy-in” was still important as was the need to “ensure that there is genuine client interest or needs to engender such interest”.
In both IDA and ESW countries, TA was preferred to ESW. Clients also displayed a preference for the Bank’s non-lending services over its lending services. In response, Bank management broadly agreed with the recommendations of the evaluation that measuring the results of the work must be taken seriously and that country preferences must be respected