Research Analyst
Feb 20 - 26, 2012

The World Bank has expanded from a single institution to a closely associated group of five development institutions since inception in 1944. Its mission evolved from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) as facilitator of post-war reconstruction and development to the present-day mandate of worldwide poverty alleviation in close coordination with their affiliate, the International Development Association, and other members of the World Bank Group, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Once, the World Bank had a homogeneous staff of engineers and financial analysts, based solely in Washington, D.C. Today, it has a multidisciplinary and diverse staff that includes economists, public policy experts, sector experts, and social scientists and now more than a third of their staff is based in country offices. Reconstruction remains an important part of their work. However, at today's World Bank, poverty reduction through an inclusive and sustainable globalization remains the overarching goal of their work.

The Bank's Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) is directly linked to Pakistan's own development vision. The Bank's support is focused on, inter alia, helping the country maintain economic stability by addressing critical long-term constraints to growth; assisting the government to put in place a safety nets system that adequately and effectively protect the poor from economic shocks; and supporting education reform programs to increase school participation, reduce gender and rural-urban disparities, and improve quality and governance. The Bank is also helping Pakistan cope with the consequences of conflict while reducing the prospects of future conflicts through its engagement in the country's border areas.

During March 2011, Pakistan's portfolio consisted of 22 active projects with the total commitment (IDA + IBRD) of US$3.822 billion. The Pakistan Trust Funds portfolio has 55 active grants with a total commitment of US$110.405 million.

During the past five years, from FY 2007 to March 2011, the Bank approved 35 operations totaling around $5 billion (IDA $4395.27 million + IBRD $634.4 million) for Pakistan.

The World Bank is also helping the federal and provincial governments in implementing various reform programs aimed at encouraging growth, investment, and employment generation.

The Bank supports government programs to improve access to education that focus explicitly on the achievement of results. Between 2004 and 2011, IDA extended over $1.1 billion to support increased investment and reform in the education sector in the two largest provinces in of Punjab and Sindh.

Furthermore, recently with dreams in their eyes and a bounce in their step, thirteen girls and boys received prizes as winners of a World Bank organized art competition entitled Pakistan of My Dreams at the Bank's Islamabad office in January 2012. These youngsters, all students of grades 6 to 8, shared at least two common traits like they all go to a public school and no one has ever given them a chance to prove their talents.

The Bank is now administering the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) for KPK, FATA, and Balochistan for reconstruction and development.

Ten donors have contributed a total of $140 million for the MTDF. In 2011, the Bank provided an IDA credit of $250 million - supplemented by $35 million MDTF grant to finance cash transfer to conflict-affected households in the KPK and FATA.

Responding to natural disasters during August 2010, the Bank provided strong support for floods recovery, consisting of $300 million in critical import financing, $20 million for highways rehabilitation, and $125 million to finance cash transfers to around 1.4 million flood affected families. The Bank also provided support to the government of Pakistan when the earthquake hit Pakistan in October 2005. The earthquake left 2.8 million homeless, and 570,000 houses damaged, with 90 per cent requiring total replacement.

The Bank provided $400 million for Earthquake Reconstruction out of which $220 million was for housing reconstruction. Ninety six per cent of the 350,000 houses have been completed under Rural Housing and Reconstruction Program and have also been certified. The Bank is also working to address Pakistan's vast urban and rural infrastructure deficits, often cited as the greatest constraint to sustained, rapid growth. Through its ongoing $495 million Highways Rehabilitation Project, the Bank is helping the country to improve its road network.

The Bank has supported Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) since 2000 and during this time, the program has facilitated the formation of 80,000 community organizations and provided 1.9 million microcredit loans, 16,000 community infrastructure schemes, and training support for 232,000 people in enterprise development skills. The PPAF has supported 3.8 million microcredit loans in different parts of the country.

In social protection, the Bank has helped the government in establishing the social safety net systems.

The Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) is the country's national safety net program and the Bank's support focuses on increasing its targeting efficiency and strengthening its operation.

This cash transfer program offers a monthly payment of Rs1,000 to qualifying households. In 2011, it is expected to cover about seven million households or about one quarter of Pakistan's total population.

No doubt, the Bank is deepening its engagement in social protection, community-led development, water management, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure in Pakistan.