AfDB and World Bank: Strengthening Partnership for Developement

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A few weeks ago I completed a three-month secondment to the World Bank’s Fragile and Conflict-Affected Countries Unit (OPCFC), organized by OPCFC in partnership with the Fragile States Unit (OSFU) and Human Resources Management Department of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

The broad objective of the secondment was to advance and further operationalize the strong collaboration and coordination between the AfDB and the World Bank, particularly with respect to providing support to fragile and conflict situations (FCS) in Africa—the continent with the largest number of FCS. I welcomed the opportunity to acquaint myself fully with the World Bank’s operational work in FCS, and to share with World Bank colleagues elements of the AfDB’s operational model and work in support of the FCS.

On arrival at the World Bank, I was assigned to follow-up on some commitments reached in recent IDA and ADF Replenishment Negotiations, particularly with respect to preparing a harmonized phasing-out framework for FCS benefiting from enhanced or exceptional allocations and laying the grounds for preparing a performance or results monitoring framework for fragile states in Africa. I was also expected to review the appropriateness of the use of the harmonized AfDB/World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) in assessing fragility and conflict in Africa, and to gain a better understanding of the reforms of the Post-Conflict Performance Indicator (PCPI), which is likely to be used in allocating enhanced or exceptional resources to beneficiaries in future.   

More broadly, the secondment provided an opportunity to review the partnership between the AfDB and the World Bank, especially at the headquarters level. The AfDB and the World Bank have long collaborated and coordinated their work in support of FCS in Africa, and both institutions have also coordinated with the OECD-DAC members, especially the International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF), and with the United Nations agencies, funds, and programs. 

Collaboration between AfDB and the World Bank has also been strong at the country level, with increased numbers of joint missions, cofinancing of operations, and preparation of joint country operations strategies,  appraisal reports, and economic and sector work, including post-conflict needs assessments. There has also been significant collaboration and coordination in the areas of resource mobilization, arrears clearance and debt relief operations, and preparation of operational policies and guidelines aimed at providing more (quantity) and better (quality) development assistance to FSC. With this history of strong collaboration, and given the many reforms the World Bank is undertaking with the aim of repositioning the institution to better serve FCS, we in the AfDB wanted to review the relationship and find ways to strengthen it further.  

Our hope is that together the two institutions will better tap synergies, improve on results, and systematically address some of the issues and challenges that continue to impede the delivery of development assistance to FCS. Among those issues are the following: 

  • The slow delivery of development assistance (perceived or actual),
  • The bureaucratic and risk-averse nature of investment programming that fails to take advantage of opportunities to change conditions on the ground, and
  • The high transactions costs attributable to poorly harmonized business processes and procedures and to complex financial management and procurement rules and regulations.

We feel that these and other challenges could be best handled through the Multilateral Development Banks’ Working Group on Fragility and Conflict (MDB WGFC), established in 2007 by the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the World Bank, in partnership with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It would be important to negotiate new mandates for the WGFC to reflect current challenges and the MDBs’ expectations in providing development assistance to FCS, taking into account work done by OECD-DAC, the G-20 donors and partner countries involved in the International Dialogue on Peace-building and State-Building, and the findings, operational implications, and recommendations of the 2011 World Development Report (WDR) on Conflict, Fragility and Development.

The revitalized MDB WGFC could provide a useful platform for exchanging ideas and experiences, discussing operational policies and approaches, including reforms that work, and sharing analytic and programming information. It could also serve to address the common challenges MDBs face in FCS, such as (a) the development of a more robust results framework or methodology for assessing FCS to replace the imperfect CPIA definition that has served MDBs since 2007; (b) piloting the expected IDA Special Allocation Index that is based on the PCPI; and (c) providing inputs to reforms that could lead to better application of the performance-based allocation of resources to FCS.  All the members of the WGFC could benefit from the Core Course on Fragility and Conflict that the World Bank normally offers each year, revamped and updated as necessary.   

During my secondment to the World Bank I had the opportunity to discuss the WGFC with OPCFC staff. 

Now that I have returned to the AfDB, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with colleagues in a sister institution who are engaged in the same work and facing the same challenges as we are.  I look forward to our continued—and enhanced—collaboration.

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