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World Bank Civil Society Newsletter - October 2008


1.  Civil Society CEOs and Youth Leaders at the Annual Meetings
2.  Amid Crisis, Calls for Stepped Up Assistance to Developing Countries
3.  Early Impact of Bank’s Global Food Response Program
4.  Bank Moves to Strengthen Voice and Participation of Developing and Transitional Countries
5.  New Initiative to Empower Adolescent Girls 
6.  Fund to Facilitate South-South Development Knowledge Sharing
7.  Bank Prepares Climate Change Report
8.  Australia Contributes to Global Food Crisis Response Program
9.  Development Marketplace 2008 Winners Announced
10 IFC SME Ventures Program


1) Civil Society CEOs and Youth Leaders at the Annual Meetings - Over 350 civil society representatives from over 50 countries attended the 2008 Annual Meetings, a marked increase from previous years.  These represented a wide diversity of CSOs from trade unions and NGOs, to foundations and faith-based organizations.   Some 30 heads of CSOs and youth leaders were invited, for the first time, in order to raise the profile of civil society as development actors in the Annual Meetings.  Bank and Fund Civil Society Teams also hosted a series of programmatic events including: a ‘Townhall and Reception’ with the heads of the Fund and Bank; workshop on the food crisis; Political Cafe; and the Civil Society Policy Forum with over 30 dialogue sessions.  More  

2) Amid Crisis, Calls for Stepped Up Assistance to Developing Countries - The World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings opened amid great concern about the global economy. They ended with member nations urging the Bank and IMF to draw on the “full range” of their resources to help developing countries weather the fallout from the turmoil. At the same time, finance and development ministers agreed that industrialized countries must not back down from their commitments to boost aid to developing countries already battered by high food and fuel prices. Developing countries “risk very serious setbacks to their efforts to improve the lives of their populations from any prolonged tightening of credit or a sustained global slowdown,” Bank President Robert B. Zoellick warned.  More


3) Early Impact of Bank’s Global Food Response Program- The Bank’s US$1.2 billion Global Food Response Program (GFRP) was created last May to rapidly disburse assistance to countries hardest hit by the food crisis. As of end-September 2008, the Bank has approved US$83 million in financing to ten Sub-Saharan Africa countries and US$100 million in IDA financing has been approved or reallocated for eight countries. Through these projects, farmers are receiving seeds, fertilizers, and technical expertise. School feeding programs are also being launched, and food safety nets targeting vulnerable groups are being created. The Bank expects to provide a total of more than US$800 million in financing to the Program. More

4) Bank Moves to Strengthen Voice and Participation of Developing and Transitional Countries - During the Annual Meetings, the Bank’s Development Committee agreed on a package of governance reforms geared to enhancing the voice and participation of developing and transitional countries.  These reforms, called for by the Monterrey Consensus, will begin to effectively change the configuration of the Board of Executive Directors and its shareholding.  Among immediate actions being taken is the creation of a new seat for Sub-Saharan Africa on the Bank’s Board.   The voting shares of developing and transitional countries in IBRD and IDA will increase, with a special emphasis on smaller members.  There was also agreement reached on the need to ensure that the selection process for the President of the Bank be “merit-based and transparent”, with nominations open to all Board members and transparent Board consideration of all candidates.  More

5) New Initiative to Empower Adolescent Girls - The Bank joined governments and the private sector to launch the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) to promote the economic empowerment of adolescent girls in poor and post-conflict countries. The AGI is being piloted in Liberia through a partnership with the Nike Foundation and the governments of Liberia and Denmark. It will be expanded in the coming year to include Afghanistan, Nepal, Rwanda, South Sudan and a sixth country to be identified. The initiative provides funding of US$3 - 5 million per country, and is a new way for the Bank to engage with the private sector. More


6) Fund to Facilitate South-South Development Knowledge Sharing - The Bank launched a financing facility to provide a simple, low cost way for developing countries to share their knowledge and expertise in overcoming poverty. The South-South Experience Exchange Facility is a new multi donor trust fund that promotes the idea that the development successes in one country can pull people out of poverty in another. Through the first grant from the new facility efforts are underway to repeat India’s dairy revolution in Africa. India’s unique program, popularly known as “Operation Flood”, revolutionized the country’s dairy industry. At the request of the Tanzanian government, the Indian model has now been introduced to Africa, with the South-South trust funding visits to India by some African dairy farmers. More

7) Bank Prepares Climate Change Report - Ten industrialized nations meeting at the Bank in Washington pledged $6.1 billion to two new Climate Investment Funds. The funds scale up energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies such as wind power and solar energy, and pilot new approaches to building climate resilience in countries threatened by climate change, as well as forest investments and renewable energy. Such strong support for efforts to fight climate change “in the middle of financial turmoil” is encouraging, says a Bank official. Climate change was a key topic at the Annual Meetings of the Bank and International Monetary Fund this week. A wide range of stakeholders, including CSOs, participated in the CIFs Partnership Forum held on October 14 to help plan their implementation.  More

8) Australia Contributes to Global Food Crisis Response Program - The Bank welcomed the Australian government’s AUD$50 million contribution to a new Multi-Donor Trust
Fund created by the Bank to address the danger of high and volatile food prices. The Trust Fund was created to facilitate the involvement of a broad range of development partners to support the Bank’s Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP). The GFRP was approved by Bank’s Board of Directors in May and is a rapid financing facility providing technical advice and access of up to $1.2 billion of financial support  to countries affected by the food crisis. The World Bank has committed and is preparing more than US$850 million in projects for agriculture and social protection in 32 countries. More


9) Development Marketplace 2008 Winners Announced - The winners came from Sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.  India, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Cambodia, and Vietnam were each the home of two award winners.  Altogether, 15 countries and Sub-Saharan Africa as a region were represented. The projects that made the final cut -- from 1,800 applications that were winnowed down to 100 from 42 countries -- promise to deliver a number of objectives and innovations to increase agricultural productivity, give farmers more land rights and link them to global markets, and, overall, reduce the deep poverty of rural regions in developing countries...More

10) IFC SME Ventures Program - The International Finance Corporation (IFC) Small and Medium Enterprise Ventures program provides risk capital and advisory services to small businesses. The project will initially target eight IDA countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. IFC Ventures plans to provide risk capital for between 250 and 500 firms, with an investment size under $500,000 over a five year period. IFC Ventures expects that up to 5,000 firms will receives will receive advisory services support. Sources of risk capital in low-income countries are extremely limited and the primary objective of IFC SME Ventures is to increase the supply of such financing. Through this project, IFC has the opportunity to provide risk capital to SMEs, the engine for job creation and development in IDA countries. This support will help sustain growth. More



Finance Ministers, Donors Discuss Contribution of African Diaspora to Development
A Consultative Meeting on “Mobilizing the African Diaspora for Development” was held with African governments, Africa Union, the African Development Bank, and other donor partners at the Bank during the 2008 Annual Meetings. Obiageli Ezekwesili, the Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region urged African ministers to take concrete steps to create room for the participation of the Diaspora in their national sectoral development programs, such as in health, education, energy, and agriculture. She called on African governments to “recognize even more the importance of creating enabling environments to truly mobilize the Diaspora and leverage their contributions to national development through remittances and virtual or real return programs and work on Diaspora policy frameworks.”  More

Malawi Gets First Weather Risk Management Contract 
The Bank announced its first-ever weather risk management contract to help Malawi protect itself against the risk of severe drought. It also marks the first time that a member of the International Development Association is able to access the Bank’s market-based risk management tools. On behalf of the government of Malawi, the UK Department of International Development provided financial support to cover the premium payment for the contract. The government of Malawi approached the Bank for help with managing the risk posed by severe drought. Malawi suffers from chronic drought that cuts agricultural yields and depresses farmer incomes, negatively affecting the government’s budget. The purchase of the weather hedge is part of a larger framework designed to reduce agricultural risk in the country. More



Bank Confirms Support to Region to Deal with Financial Turmoil
The Bank’s East Asia and Pacific regional vice president Jim Adams has confirmed the Bank’s support for countries in East Asia to deal with the global financial turmoil. “We stand ready to support all of our member countries across East Asia to deal with the challenges arising from the financial crisis,” Adams said. “The WoBank is also supporting the initiatives of ASEAN members to share information and develop a coordinated response in close cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat. The Bank is committed to helping governments and the private sector manage the impacts of the global financial crisis by providing increased lending, equity investments, innovative new tools, and safety net programs. The Bank has the financial capacity to comfortably double its middle-income lending arm to developing countries to meet additional demand from partner countries. IBRD lending was US$13.5 billion last fiscal year. More


Bank Partners with Russia to Improve Education Quality and Financial Literacy
The Bank and the Russian Federation committed to improve the quality of basic education through the US$32 million Russia Education Aid for Development (READ) Trust Fund, and in support an international program in financial literacy and financial education through the $15 million Russia Financial Literacy program. The READ Trust Fund will support a joint Russia-Bank 5 year program to help low-income countries improve the quality of basic education and learning outcomes. The Russia Financial Literacy program is initiated by the Ministry of Finance as a follow-up to Russia’s G8 Chairmanship in 2006. This international joint program with the World Bank and OECD on financial literacy and financial education would be supported by $15 million from Russia’s Trust Fund administered by the Bank. More... 

Managing the Effects of Higher Food and Fuel Prices
The food and fuel price hikes, now compounded by the global financial crisis, are impacting world macroeconomic stability, and policy responses have generated fiscal pressures in many developing countries. The second Europe and Central Asia Global Development Learning Network event on the food and fuel price crisis in 6 ECA countries took place in Washington. The event focused on recent trends and key determinants behind higher food and energy prices and what has been the impact on the poor and vulnerable, as well as appropriate tools for managing inflation, and the effects of different policy options on inflation management. Participants discussed how most commodity prices have peaked and begun to decline due to the slowing of economic growth and the current financial crisis. Oil prices especially have declined sharply from almost $150 a barrel to less than $90 a barrel as a result of the demand slow down. More


A Strategy to Address Climate Change in the Region
The region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change, due to its water scarcity (the highest in the world), its high dependency on climate-sensitive agriculture and to the large share of population and economic activity located in flood-prone urban coastal zones. According to the latest IPCC assessment, the climate is predicted to become even hotter and drier in most of the region.  Higher temperatures and reduced precipitation will result in higher frequency and severity of droughts. Climate change also poses many challenges to the region’s cities, which represent hubs for economic, social, cultural and political activities. Rising sea level could affect many of the regions’ coastal cities. More



World Bank Ready to help Latin America Cope with Crisis
Countries across Latin America and the Caribbean are feeling the effects of the global financial crisis as credit contracts, demand for exports declines, and commodity prices fall, resulting in a deterioration of terms of trade, according to Augusto De la Torre, the chief economist for the Bank’s Latin American and Caribbean region.  In light of this deteriorating situation, a coordinated move is underway among regional institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to provide assistance to countries in need.  They announced today that Latin American and Caribbean countries facing the impact of the global financial crisis will be able to use additional funding from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) --the lending facility for middle-income countries-- and the IFC to sustain jobs, social gains and inject liquidity. More...

Zoellick Visit to Haiti
Bank President Robert B. Zoellick just visited Haiti to emphasize the Bank’s strong support for the country, raise awareness of its situation after being badly hit by recent natural disasters, rally donor support, and discuss emergency recovery, the food crisis, economic perspectives, as well as medium- and long-term development plans. Last week, the Bank announced US$25 million in additional emergency grants to Haiti to support recovery and rebuilding, and strengthen its institutional capacity to cope with natural disasters following four tropical storms and hurricanes since August. More



A Culture of Seismic-Resistant Construction Takes Root in Pakistan
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit north Pakistan in 2005 destroyed and damaged around 600,000 rural houses, leaving more than 73,000 dead and over 3 million people without shelter in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and North West Frontier Province. In the city of Muzaffarabad, over 10,000 died and around 50 percent of the buildings were destroyed. The scale of the destruction and a difficult mountainous terrain made reconstruction a daunting task. The government formed the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority and, and with the financial and technical support of the Bank, launched an ambitious US$1.5 billion owner-driven rural housing rebuilding program. Under the program, homeowners were provided with a range of seismically-resistant and culturally-acceptable structural design options and grants in four installments to finance the reconstruction. More


Winter Internship Program Application Period Now Open
The application period for the Bank’s Winter Internship Program 2008 opened on September 1. The Program is open to students who are nationals of the Bank's member countries and attracts a large number of highly qualified candidates. To be eligible for the Internship Program, candidates must possess an undergraduate degree and already be enrolled in a full-time graduate study program (pursuing a Master's degree or PhD with plans to return to school in a full-time capacity). Generally, successful candidates have completed their first year of graduate studies or are already into their PhD programs…More

The Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program
The Program provides support to young researchers working in academic and research institutions from eligible countries preparing a doctoral thesis. Research grants cover residence costs for a 5 to 10 month period in a renowned university or research center. Fellows are expected to advance their research work mainly by using the facilities and resources provided by the host institution and by interacting with peers. Only lecturers and researchers from eligible countries working on their doctoral thesis can apply for the fellowship. Candidates should be under 45 years, and have completed any course work or exams required for their doctoral program. More



Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook
The Bank launched the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook, the product of a three-year collaborative effort with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Through case studies and best practices, the Sourcebook addresses the development reality that persistent underinvestment in women and agriculture together with gender disparities in knowledge, technology, access to credit, and land result in less food being grown, less income being earned, higher levels of poverty, and greater food insecurity. In addition to knowledge for practitioners, the Sourcebook speaks to policy makers with recommendations to increase analytical work on gender in agricultural programs, to strengthen female representation in public and private institutions, and to invest more in developing the capacity of women farmers through education and skills formation. More

A New Resolve to Sustain Reforms for Inclusive Growth
This comprehensive review of Cameroon's development policies since the 1970s-including public finance, privatization, trade, infrastructure, and governance-finds that Cameroon's malaise is due less to a lack of resources than to an inability to sustain reforms and to implement growth-enhancing policies. While the government's strategies have been sound, this volume argues that an "administrative inertia" has set in. This study, subtitled “Republic of Cameroon -- Development Policy Review” makes a number of key recommendations to overcome this inertia, enhance cohesion and consistency in government actions, strengthen capacity to effectively execute
programs, and hence increase development outcomes for Cameroon. More


A Return to State Intervention?
In a very recent post on the AfriCan blog, Shanta reports that: “At a recent videoconference with journalists, I was asked the question in the title of this post several times. Does the fact that private banks in the United States are going bankrupt mean that the free market system is a failure? Does the fact that the United States government is bailing out these banks and in some cases “nationalizing” them mean that state intervention is back? In a word, “No.” First, any financial system needs some form of government intervention, a point lucidly made by Bob Shiller. The problem with some aspects of the financial system in the U.S. is not that there was no government intervention, but that it was flawed. The solution is to improve government regulation of the system. This however takes time. Meanwhile, there is a danger of the system collapsing, which is why the government is bailing out various institutions.” Join the conversation

Development Marketplace Blog Launched
The DM blog is a collective blog seeking to explore the knowledge, experiences and partnerships accumulated by the program in these years. The DM Blog brings together experts and practitioners from around the world with different backgrounds and fields of expertise but with a common interest and commitment to early stage development, innovation and social entrepreneurship. This platform aims to become a virtual space to: connect ideas, projects, people and countries; share knowledge, opinions, opportunities, tools and resources; discuss trends, lessons learned, good practices and news; follow global and regional competitions; and meet World Bank specialists, DM participants and friend, funders and peers.More...


The Newsletter is produced by the Civil Society Team of the World Bank (WB) in collaboration with other WB units. This newsletter highlights some of the many policies, programs, and initiatives of the WB which may involve or be of interest to CSOs. We welcome your comments and feedback to make this newsletter as useful as possible. You can subscribe to the Newsletter using a new registration page: Please share your comments on the Newsletter with us: All past issues of the Newsletter can be found on the WB site on Civil Society Engagement at: http://www.worldbank


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