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Bolivia, World Bank Launch Pilot Poverty Initiative

      
The Bolivian government and the World Bank launched a pilot initiative on Monday in which both are implementing a new strategy to fight poverty and promote social and economic progress in the country.

The strategy combines Bolivia's National Action Plan and a "Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF)," developed by the World Bank in consultation with member-countries and other development agencies.  

The initiative was launched at a ceremony in La Paz attended by Bolivian Vice President Jorge Quiroga and the World Bank's vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, David De Ferranti. The launch follows the approval Tuesday of two World Bank loans to Bolivia worth a total of $57 million for health and institutional reform, and which are consistent with the new framework.

"Bolivia's National Action Plan seeks an ambitious transition led by Bolivians, with the vigorous participation of civil society and the private sector, and with the support of the World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral organizations," said Quiroga. "The World Bank's decision to work with Bolivia as a pilot country for the CDF recognizes our country's commitment to reform, poverty reduction and partnership."

The five-year National Action Plan is a multifaceted approach to development that seeks four broad objectives—or pillars—for Bolivians, namely Opportunity, Equity, Institutionality and Dignity.

It also integrates critical institutional, social and physical infrastructure elements. On institutional reform, for example, it aims to build an efficient and transparent public administration, an effective legal and judicial system, and functioning regulation of the financial sector.

In the social area, it addresses the need for educational and knowledge-sharing institutions, health services, and a social security system to protect the vulnerable. On physical infrastructure, it calls for adequate water and sewerage services, electricity, roads, transport and telecommunications, as well as a recognition that development must be sustainable, both environmentally and culturally.

There is a high degree of commonality between the Bolivian government's plan and the CDF. For example, Bolivia's National Action Plan is a long-term vision, initiated under the National Dialogue, in which representatives of government, civil society and the private sector met in October 1997 to seek a shared view of Bolivia's development challenges.

Bolivia's plan, like the CDF, also reflects a holistic approach, with its four pillars embracing both sound macroeconomic policies and governance, as well as emphasis on social and institutional reform. Finally, the plan has drawn support from many of Bolivia's development partners, including bilateral and multilateral donors, as well as the World Bank.

"The CDF seeks to move beyond indicators of economic performance and human capacity to address the fundamental, long-term issues of the structure, scope, and substance of development of societies," said World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn. "Bolivia's government, led by President Hugo Banzer, is committed to difficult—but necessary reforms—to stimulate economic growth and fight poverty. These reforms and the goals of Bolivia's National Action Plan, coincide with the Bank's new approach."

With strong ownership by Bolivia's government, the National Action Plan promises to be an effective tool in reducing poverty in the country.

The Bolivian government has set the goals for the strategy, and is committed to building capacity to lead donor-supported activities in partnership with the World Bank, other donors, NGOs, and the private sector. It has also committed itself to institutionalizing the National Dialogue by re-establishing communication with representatives from civil society organizations, including indigenous groups, to exchange information on key national issues.

"The World Bank is responding to Bolivia's long-term vision and leadership, which were revealed first in a unique event — the National Dialogue," said De Ferranti. "In implementing Bolivia's National Action Plan, the critical question is how the World Bank and other donors can coordinate our activities to achieve the Plan's objectives."

Helpful links: To read the full press release on the launch of the new poverty strategy in La Paz, click here for the English version and here for the Spanish.

For more on the CDF, visit http://www.worldbank.org/cdf.

For more on the two Bolivia loans approved last week by the Bank, click here.


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