World Bank, Others to Support CSOs with New Funds

22 December 2008

A new “Global Partnership Facility” holds the promise of new resources for civil society groups working on governance and anticorruption issues, including freedom of information and media development.

The $65 million four-year initiative being administered by the World Bank is designed to “strengthen governance programs and further the fight against corruption,” according to a Dec. 3 announcement.

The funding comes from the development agencies of the United Kingdom ($44.7 million, the Netherlands ($13 million), and Norway ($7.6 million).

A competition for the funds is underway within the World Bank, where staffers have submitted their proposals. The decisions of disbursements will be made by a committee containing representatives from the three donors and the World Bank. The effort is part of the effort to implement the one-year-old Governance and Anticorruption Strategy (GAC). It is mentioned in a recent one-year status report on GAC.

Because the funding comes from outside the World Bank, it is considered a “trust fund,” and so can be distributed as “grants” directly from the Bank to in-country groups without violating the Bank’s legal requirement that its funds go to governments.

The new fund, the GPF, will have three “windows.”

The first window will be for projects that support efforts in the almost 30 countries that are part of the GAC effort. Funding could go to research that would provide a deeper analysis of issues or to efforts at broadening multi-stakeholder participation. Recipients could include civil society organizations, business groups, universities or parliaments.

The second window is for proposals that would promote more innovative work in six “frontier areas.”  These are:  “political economy diagnostics, strengthening governance in sectors/operations, strengthening institutions of accountability, leadership, generating public goods at the country level, and innovative regional and global programs implementation.”

The third is intended to help the Bank share knowledge about governance and anticorruption issues, internally and externally, through mechanisms including peer learning networks, conferences, and information dissemination.

Bank teams recently submitted their proposals and the Bank is now going through a first round of evaluation. An official said there a very high level of interest and the process is expected to be competitive.

Bank officials declined to release documents describing the program. It was summarized, before being announced, in Annex B of the One-Year Progress Report on the GAC effort, dated Oct. 21, 2008. Otherwise, the only written material available to the public is a press release.

The GPF appears to be funding at a level $20 million less than World Bank officials expected when they wrote the one-year progress report on the GAC effort in October. In that document the size of the new fund is put at $85 million. Overall, the GAC strategy emphasizes building up good practice by working with a broad range of stakeholders, sometimes called the “demand side” strategy. A concrete example of this approach emerged recently in the plan for activities in Cambodia.  (See related freedominfo.org article.)

By Toby McIntosh

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In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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