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Module 12 - Scaling Up Agricultural Investments in the Bank’s Changing Internal Environment

Updates were made to this Module on 12/06/2006.

The World Bank, through its new rural development strategy, Reaching the Rural Poor, is committed to increasing lending for agricultural and rural development and to enhancing the impacts of that lending on poverty reduction. However, future investments must conform to new realities in the Bank’s lending environment, new processes in country dialogue (such as PRSPs), and a renewed commitment to quality. This module explores some of the process options for investing in agriculture, in ways that are more sustainable than in the past and that have greater impact on poverty reduction.

Expanding Support to Agriculture—Scaling Up Successes

A key thrust in the implementation of the Bank’s rural development strategy is identifying and “scaling up good practice investments and innovations in rural development” to broaden coverage and deepen developmental impact. Scaling up good practices, especially those shown to be effective in reducing poverty, must become an integral part of strategies to support agriculture.

The term “scaling up” is used with reference to the replication, spread, or adaptation of techniques, ideas, approaches, and concepts, to increase the scale of impact. An investment with potential to be scaled up typically moves through various stages: an innovation (minimal objective evidence); a good practice (clear evidence from several settings/evaluations); or a policy principle (proven in multiple settings; considered to be a widely applicable “truism” essential for success) (World Bank 2003). The lines between these categories are seldom clear, however, and they depend on whether sufficient resources are allocated to evaluate promising innovations at each stage. Scaling up often requires a long process of phased stages (up to 10-15 years) for development and refinement of technologies and institutional processes, often with donor support (box 12.1).

Box 12.1 India: success in scaling up watershed programs

The watershed development work by the Social Center and the Indo-German Watershed Development Programme (IGWDP) addressed the complex livelihoods and natural resource issues of water and watershed management. By 1994, the IGWDP had shown a wide range of local economic gains (doubling crop production, creating employment opportunities, restoring groundwater resources) and social gains (setting up a village watershed committee, involving marginal groups, and reducing out-migration). Through these successes, the IGWDP has been extended to 146 watersheds involving over 200,000 villagers.

The state of practice evolved from early “innovative success stories” prior to the 1990s, which focused on technical arrangements with little regard for social complexities, to a “good practice” stage in the 1990s, in which watershed management was viewed as a social problem but approaches were not consistently replicable. The process of scaling up involved generating a set of “local-level ingredients” of success from pilot experiments. These provided specific mechanisms for building ownership, control, and motivation in communities, linking government communities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), defining exit strategies, and developing mechanisms for continued local funding. This process took approximately 4 years and built on 25 years of experience in the area. Successes included marshalling of political support, developing guidelines for government staff, coordinating government agencies, adopting a long-term “cluster” approach, and developing NGO capacity.

These experiences were further scaled up in other states, with the support of other donors. The World Bank became an active supporter of watershed management projects in India, building on the experience of the IGWDP. The first of these projects, the Northern Hills Watershed Project (1991-97), was highly rated for the impact it achieved, and a second project is underway to extend the scaling up.

Source: World Bank 2003; World Bank internal documents


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