CCAFS / Climate Change / East Africa / ILRI / Kenya

World Bank seeks new ways to engage African governments

Will pastoralists such as this young Maasai man benefit from the new World Bank approach?

The World Bank is changing and supporting development models that allow merging of different government and market interventions concerning agriculture, regional integration and policy issues. This is in reaction to the global economy which has become extremely volatile. The new approach is published in the article, ‘Africa’s future and the World Bank’s role in it’, released by World Bank. The article is quoted in ASARECA’s Policy Analysis and Advocacy Programme (PAAP) electronic newsletter Volume 14 Number 5 of 18 March 2011.

African countries have to tackle long-term development challenges such as undiversified production structures, low levels of human capital, poor service delivery and weak governance.
Through the years, more challenges are also coming into focus. Some of them include:
* Insufficient growth compared to increase in productive employment, especially for young Africans who enter the labor force every year.
* Evenly redistributed growth and productive employment would still remain out of reach for the chronically poor, who suffer from food insecurity and under-nourishment.
* African women, who are both contributors to and beneficiaries from development, still lack legal and property rights, and access to finance and modern business practices.
* Climate change, through its effects on water, threatens Africa’s agriculture.
* Non-traditional solutions must be found for the large number and persistence of fragile states which may be stuck in a low-level equilibrium “trap”.
* The co-existence of a massive infrastructure deficit and the large number of small countries in Africa signals the need for regional solutions.
* Fiscal austerity in developed countries, as well as criticism and political backlash against foreign aid, means that official development assistance may be constrained.

The bank is now seeing its role as a partner first, providing a platform on which development assistance and a country’s own resources can be more effectively used and using its knowledge assistance to nourish an evidence-based debate in countries on policy issues. Accountability is seen as a major constraint in Africa. The high level of corruption in many countries is a symptom of weak accountability. The current state of governance demonstrates negative and positive trends. This is one of the key things that the Bank will emphasize in its new approach. The media has been invited to play a major task of providing and disseminating information with which citizens can hold governments accountable.

The emergence of new development partners, the untapped potential of mobilizing domestic resources, as well as the rise in private capital flows to Africa, calls for a new approach. The bank is therefore seeking to build on news ways to approach governments. The strategy must be transformative for it to realize its’ vision. It will be implemented using the Bank’s traditional instruments – finance, knowledge and partnerships, which will be deployed differently depending on country circumstances.

Photo credit /ILRI/Mann

One thought on “World Bank seeks new ways to engage African governments

  1. This is a very interesting article and an even more interesting develoment. However, we must be weary of putting new wine into old wineskins, by the Bank applying “traditional instruments” to create new and transformative solutions to vulnerability and weakened resilience of many Africans.

    There is need to ask the ‘why’ question over and over again until we go beyond the obvious to the real answers: why is there massive infrastructure deficit; why is there corruption?

    It seems that each attempted exogenous solution leads to the creation of ten new problems – problems which are not addressed simply mutate.

    If the way has been lost, as it seems it has, then ask the natives. They will tell you that the problem is the ‘sophisticating’ simple solutions; creation of a development ideal that is not sustainable if it were to cover the majority; that success is measured by hoarding; that corruption id not a symptom of weak accountability but of benchmarking. The poor are the masters of resilience and no one should lecture them on that. You transform by emersion – missionary style – live like them in order to feel how they feel and make that expereince the motivator to find a way out – necessity is the mother of creativity.

    People who live and have only known luxury will breed their own kind. Ant they have bred their kind. In every poor country there is a wealthy elite that lives an opulent lifestyle; there are ‘tenderprenuers’ instead of entreprenuers.

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