IDA at 65: Heading Toward Retirement or a Fragile Lease on Life? - Working Paper 246

March 10, 2011

As the concessionary lending window of the World Bank, the International Development Association (IDA) has provided grants and low-interest loans to the world's poorest countries for over 50 years. IDA funds projects that address many of the problems associated with slower growth in developing countries related to primary education, basic health services, clean water supply and sanitation, environmental safeguards, business-climate improvements, infrastructure, and institutional reforms.

However, looking to the future, IDA's operations will likely be substantially altered by the transformation of its membership. Even under conservative assumptions, IDA will likely face a wave of country graduations by 2025. We project that it will lose more than half of its client countries and that the total population living in IDA-eligible countries will plunge by two-thirds. The remaining IDA-eligible countries will be significantly smaller in size and overwhelmingly African, and a majority are currently considered fragile or post-conflict. This drastically altered client base will have significant implications for IDA's operational and financial models. We conclude with three possible options for IDA and recommend that World Bank shareholders and management begin frank discussions on its future sooner rather than later.


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