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OP 8.00 - Rapid Response to Crises and Emergencies

These policies were prepared for use by World Bank staff and are not necessarily a complete treatment of the subject.
OP 8.00
March, 2007
Note: OP and  BP 8.00,  Rapid Response to Crises and Emergencies, together replace OP/BP 8.50, Emergency Recovery Assistance, dated August 1995.  These statements apply to emergency operations submitted for the approval of the Executive Directors on or after March 1, 2007.  Questions on this policy should be addressed to




1.       The Bank’s1 policy on rapid response to crises and emergencies rests on four guiding principles:

a)   application of the rapid response policy to address major adverse economic and/or social impacts resulting from an actual or imminent natural or man-made crisis or disaster;

b)   continued focus of the Bank’s direct assistance on its core development and economic competencies and always in line with its mandate, including in all situations where the Bank supports peace-building objectives and relief to recovery transitions;

c)   close coordination and establishment of appropriate partnership arrangements with other development partners, including the United Nations (UN), in line with the comparative advantage and core competencies of each such partner; and

d)   appropriate oversight arrangements, including corporate governance and fiduciary oversight, to ensure appropriate scope, design, speed, and monitoring and supervision of emergency operations.

2.       Consistent with these principles, the Bank may provide a rapid response to a borrower’s request for urgent assistance in respect of an event that has caused, or is likely to imminently cause, a major adverse economic and/or social impact associated with natural or man-made crises or disasters.  The Bank's assistance may include one or more of the following:

a)   immediate support in assessing the emergency’s impact and developing a recovery strategy;

b)   an emergency recovery loan;

c)   restructuring operations within the Bank’s existing investment portfolio for the country to support recovery activities, including provision of additional financing for such activities under OP/BP13.20, Additional Financing for Investment Lending;

d)   redesigning investment projects not yet approved to include recovery activities; and

e)   a contingent emergency loan to countries at high risk of natural disasters (as provided in paragraph 13 of this OP).

3.       In all cases, the Bank adapts its rapid response in form and scope to the emergency's particular circumstances and takes into account the Bank’s assistance strategy for the country.  The country lending program may be adjusted to accommodate emergency operations, normally within the country’s general lending allocation, taking credit risk and IDA lending policies into account.

Objectives of Bank Rapid Response

4.       The Bank may provide rapid response in support of one or more of the following objectives:

a)   rebuilding and restoring physical assets;

b)   restoring the means of production and economic activities;

c)   preserving or restoring essential services;

d)   establishing and/or preserving human, institutional, and/or social capital, including economic reintegration of vulnerable groups;2

e)   facilitating peace building;3

f)   assisting with the crucial initial stages of building capacity for longer-term reconstruction, disaster management, and risk reduction;4 and

g)   supporting measures to mitigate or avert the potential effects of imminent emergencies or future emergencies or crises in countries at high risk.

5.       In support of these objectives, the Bank focuses direct assistance on areas of its core development and economic competencies, and, in response to a borrower’s request, and subject to the guiding principles set out in paragraph 1 of this OP, may a) extend such assistance to all borrower agencies and institutions involved in the emergency recovery effort; and/or b) support, in partnership with other donors, an integrated emergency recovery program that includes activities outside the Bank’s traditional areas, such as relief,5 security, and specialized peace-building.6 The Bank recognizes the lead of other international institutions, in particular the UN, in such activities, and forms appropriate partnership arrangements with other donors for the preparation, appraisal, and supervision of activities outside its core competencies in line with the comparative advantage and core competencies of each such donor.7

6.       Emergency operations do not address long-term economic issues, including those that are triggered by economic shocks and require a policy response from the government that the Bank normally supports through development policy operations.8 They should also not include conditions other than those directly related to the emergency recovery activities and, if appropriate, to preparedness and mitigation.  The duration of emergency operations should be realistically linked to the issues being addressed.

Risk and Design Considerations

7.       The Bank recognizes both the inherent risks involved in working in emergency situations, including the risks and lost opportunities associated with a delayed response, and the critical importance of speed, flexibility, and simplicity to an effective rapid response.  As a result, emergency operations:

a)   are processed under accelerated, consolidated, and simplified procedures and are subject to streamlined ex-ante requirements (including in fiduciary and safeguards areas);

b)   involve a different balance between ex-ante and ex-post controls and risk mitigation measures compared to regular operations, including on issues of fraud and corruption, requiring intensified supervision support to address such risks;

c)   unless the country director determines otherwise, include Bank financing of up to 100 percent of the expenditures needed to meet the development objectives of such operations, including recurrent expenditures, local costs, and taxes;

d)   may include retroactive financing of up to 40 percent of the loan amount for payments made by the borrower not more than 12 months prior to the expected date of signing the legal documents;

e)   may include a quick-disbursing component designed to finance a positive list of goods (i) required for the borrower’s emergency recovery program, and (ii) procured following procedures that satisfy the requirements of economy and efficiency (normally the national emergency procurement procedures of the borrower); and

f)   may benefit from a Project Preparation Advance of up to US$5 million to cover start-up emergency response activities.9

8.       To maximize Bank assistance in emergency and crisis situations, at the borrower’s request, the country director may approve a temporary increase in the cost-sharing limits in all Bank-financed operations in the country.10

Implementation Arrangements

9.       In exceptional circumstances, when the borrower’s capacity to implement the needed emergency response activities is insufficient, the Bank may, at the request of the borrower, agree to alternative implementation arrangements for such activities.  These arrangements may include grants to any public or private entity operating in the affected territory as well as grants to UN agencies or programs or other international or national agencies (including NGOs) active in the country.  In all such situations, alternative implementation arrangements would be limited to early recovery and used in operations that include capacity-building measures to enable a timely transfer of the implementation responsibilities to the borrower.  To facilitate the timeliness and effectiveness of implementation of start-up activities in weak-capacity environments, the Bank may adopt appropriate partnership arrangements with the relevant international agencies, including the UN, for implementation of such activities.

10.       In exceptional circumstances, where no viable implementation alternatives exist, the Bank may execute start-up emergency activities at the request of a recipient country either under a PPF advanced on grant terms or a trust fund grant.  Each proposal for Bank execution of start-up activities on behalf of the recipient a) requires authorization by the Managing Director, and b) is limited to technical assistance and small contracts for start-up goods and works necessary to enable the recipient to undertake the execution of subsequent project activities.

Cooperation and Coordination with Development Partners

11.       Harmonization, collaboration, and cooperation with other development partners—including participating in joint strategy discussions and conducting activities in concert with them—are key to mobilization of needed resources and to a successful response to an emergency.  In this respect, trust funds can play a vital role.  To ensure maximum coordination, harmonization, and flexibility when administering emergency-related trust funds, the Bank may administer such trust funds in accordance with specific policies and procedures agreed with the trust fund’s donor(s), and may agree with such donor(s) to joint preparation, appraisal, and supervision of activities supported under the trust fund.

Risk Reduction, Crisis Prevention, and Contingent Emergency Loans

12.       Recognizing the importance of integrating risk reduction and crisis prevention into the development strategies of countries at high risk of disasters or rising conflict, policies and procedures intended to reduce the impact of future disasters or crises, including prevention and mitigation measures, should be an integral part of Country Assistance Strategies, Interim Strategy Notes, and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers of such countries.  Within the framework of these strategies, the Bank may provide technical assistance and finance investments to build a country’s capacity for emergency preparedness and management through regular investment operations.  Such investment operations may also include a contingent emergency support component that would enable the borrower to withdraw loan funds during a defined drawdown period upon occurrence of an emergency.

13.       The Bank may also provide stand-alone contingent emergency loans to high-risk countries determined by the Bank to have appropriate institutional and implementation capacity to respond to emergencies.  Projects that provide contingent emergency support a) are processed as investment operations under OP/BP10.00, Investment Lending: Identification to Board;  b) may disburse against a positive list of goods required under the borrower’s emergency recovery plan; and c) once triggered, are subject to the policy and procedures set out in this OP and in BP 8.00.

  1. “Bank” includes IBRD and IDA, “loans” includes credits, IDA grants, advances under Project Preparation Facility, and trust fund grants.  All references in this OP 8.00 to “emergency operations” include emergency recovery loans, credits, IDA grants and grants under trust funds that support emergency response activities, as well as investment projects restructured or redesigned in response to an emergency situation under sections c) and d) of paragraph 2 of this OP, including additional financing.  This OP also applies to emergency operations financed by trust fund grants, including multi-donor trust funds.
  2. These may include, for example, refugees, ex-combatants, and internally displaced people.  In support of this objective, emergency operations may include activities forming part of the government’s transitional social safety net programs, including cash payments, grant or micro-credit programs, and reintegration packages.
  3. For guiding principles on the Bank’s support of the peace-building objective, see OP 2.30 , Development Cooperation and Conflict.
  4. In support of this objective, emergency operations may include studies and institutional and policy analysis relating to disaster management and risk reduction. In post-conflict situations, they may also include a full range of capacity-building activities necessary to restore state functions that have collapsed.
  5. Activities that form part of the government’s transitional social safety net programs described in footnote 2 do not constitute "relief" within the meaning of this OP.
  6. For guiding principles on Bank support of integrated programs involving such activities in conflict-affected areas, see OP 2.30, Development Cooperation and Conflict.
  7. The government concerned, local groups, bilateral relief programs, local nongovernmental organizations, and specialized international relief organizations often have a comparative advantage in providing immediate relief. Similarly, other agencies, including bilateral agencies, United Nations peace-keeping operations, and regional organizations often have a comparative advantage in providing support in the areas of security and political governance.
  8. See OP 8.60, Development Policy Lending, including paragraphs 32 and 33, which set out policies related to development policy lending to countries in crisis or conflict.
  9. To reflect the debt sustainability framework adopted under IDA14, PPF advances provided in emergency situations to countries at high risk of debt distress that are eligible for IDA grants only are provided on grant terms.  As set out in paragraph 10 of this OP 8.00, in exceptional circumstances, the Bank may agree to implement, on behalf of the recipient, all or part of activities under such a PPF grant.
  10. OP/ BP 12.00 , Disbursement, describes procedures for making changes to individual projects.