IEG slams World Bank trust funds

14 September 2011

In May, the World Bank’s arms-length evaluation body, the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), released a critical review of the Bank’s trust funds (see Update 47). The evaluation limited itself to examining the procedural and administrative arrangements, not outputs or outcomes, of the $57.5 billion that donors contributed to Bank–administered trust funds between 2002 and 2010. This was more than donors gave to the Bank’s low-income country arm, the International Development Association (IDA) over the same period. About half of the trust funds are integrated into Bank procedures and programmes, and half have external governance arrangements and procedures, including the Climate Investment Funds (see Update 77) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The evaluation concluded that “trust funds have not been a consistently effective way of providing financing. They do not necessarily integrate well with countries’ own programmes, nor do they foster coordination on the ground with other sources of aid.” It found “no clear evidence that trust fund resources have added to global [overseas development assistance]”.  However, it also argued that, in certain areas, trust funds were important and could be “indispensible in providing coordinated grant financing in response to country emergencies”, and might “add value as a vehicle for financing global and regional public goods”.  Without mentioning specific cases, the IEG said that “many global funds – including funds that … finance the provision of regional or global public goods – involve little or no recipient participation in their initiation and design”.