May 1, 2009

Report: Some World Bank programs lacking

Some of World Bank's health, nutrition and population programs performed poorly from 1997 through 2007, the institution's internal watchdog said.

The weak showing of about a third of the programs resulted, in part, from inadequate monitoring and overly complex projects, The Washington Post reported Friday

The World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group's report, released Thursday, said the programs were ineffective in areas critical to public health in the developing world. The report said a program designed to combat HIV-AIDS in Africa had only a 25 percent success rate, compared with an 80 percent success rate for World Bank programs overall.

A third of the projects did not meet their objectives, said Cheryl Gray, the evaluation group's director. Over-complexity is a problem, as is the lack of capacity of countries to implement the programs.

Many projects lacked procedures to ensure that the poorest and neediest received assistance while other ventures were poorly implemented, the report said. It singled out a $26.6 million HIV-response project in Ghana that failed to target at-risk populations from 2000 to 2005.

The report also said many programs were extremely successful, including an anti-malaria effort in Eritrea that succeeded in reducing malaria-related deaths by 85 percent.

World Bank officials said they recognized some of their programs have flaws and were working to correct them.