Bank lending to developing countries by IBRD/IDA in FY 2010 totaled over US$72 billion. The world's poorest countries—which usually can't afford to borrow on commercial terms—receive grants and no-interest loans (credits) from the International Development Association, (IDA), the Bank’s fund for the poorest.
Why does the Bank lend to some countries that do not have democratic political systems, or have poor human rights records?
Our primary mission is to help the poorest people of the world, regardless of the political system in a country. In some cases, our involvement can encourage a government to consult more widely and recognize the problems of its citizens in ways it perhaps would not otherwise have done.
Does the Bank always make developing countries privatize their industries and assets?
No, our advice is shaped by the needs and circumstances of each country. In some cases, state-owned industries are propped up with public funds that could be better used to improve health care, hire new teachers, or build roads. Each country is different, and therefore we assess a country according to its own circumstances and tailor our advice to best implement the policies the country has laid out for economic and social development.
Do political considerations play a part in whom the Bank lends to?
No, our Board of Directors represents all 188 member countries. When the board makes a decision on lending, the decision is based on management's estimation of how the project will benefit the developing country that asks for our support. It is true that during the Cold War years aid was politically motivated. Now, however, aid is being delivered to countries most in need and to those who show they are determined to use it well.
Go to Project Search and browse by region and country. Then click on the title of the project that interests you. This will generate a brief description of the project, including the name of the Bank team lead.
Does the public get to comment on Bank projects prior Bank approval?
Consultations are incorporated into many of the projects that the Bank funds. We encourage governments to consult widely with communities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in their countries for input throughout the project cycle.
What happens when a project isn't working, can it be changed?
Yes, our independent watchdog, the Independent Evaluations Group (IEG), reviews projects every year to see whether they are meeting their goals. In addition, if two or more people feel a project isn't being undertaken according to our standards, they can ask the Bank's Inspection Panel to investigate and see if any changes should be made.