The World Bank's Work in the Poorest Countries: Five Recommendations for a New IDA

The IDA-15 Working Group
June 11, 2007

The International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's soft-loan facility, is the premier multilateral institution serving the world's poorest countries. It has provided $161 billion in credits and grants to the world's poorest countries since its inception in 1960. IDA Deputies are preparing for the next of round of discussions on IDA's 15th replen­ishment, which will set its course as a development institution for three years beginning July 2008. This report offers recommendations to guide IDA Deputies during their discus­sions. It is based on the deliberations of CGD's IDA15 working group, which brought together a group of individuals knowledge­able on IDA, multilateral institutions, and development and asked them to consider the key issues on which Deputies need to focus if IDA is to maxi­mize its effectiveness in helping the world’s poor. Key recommendations include:

  • Admit you need it: Affirm IDA's central role in the international aid system.
  • Beware the Christmas tree: Allow IDA to concentrate on its core roles by reserving pet issues for other agencies.
  • Stop playing politics: Don't hold IDA hostage to broader geo­political battles.
  • Get serious about fragile states: Push IDA to find the right incentives for dealing with the toughest countries.
  • Sharpen the incentives for performance: Build on the current allocation system to strengthen the link to results and good governance.

The world needs a strong IDA, and it will have one if Deputies follow this report's recommendations.

**This report is the fifth in a series offering strategic recommendations to the incoming leaders of the multilateral institutions; the World Bank (June 2005), the Inter-American Development Bank (January 2006); the African Development Bank (September 2006); and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (October 2007).

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