New partnership models, new opportunities: working with the World Bank to broaden impact

Gina Anderson

Gina Anderson

From my perspective this was really a session on how to work in partnership with the World Bank.  While the panel members talked too long and the World Bank representatives were a bit too defensive (unnecessarily so) there was much to learn for the small number of participants from this session.   Various models were showcased including road safety.  Did you know that road crashes are already the no. 1 killer of young people aged between 10 and 25 years in every region of the world!

As always Barry Gaberman summed up the barriers to partnership with the World Bank, beautifully:

  • Asymmetry between a big institution with big dollars and individual foundations with relatively small dollars
  • For all the transparency of the World Bank it is impossible for an outsider to understand how it works – so the outsider finds a champion
  • Too soon the champion moves on!
  • Both the World Bank and foundations have different notions of partnership and both are guilty of being less than honest about their intentions.

Sounds a lot like dealing with government! But that is only part of the story….

The World Bank is a multi-sectoral agency and a global leader in development policy.  It can offer leverage effects at the global, regional and country levels.

And actually, it’s a bank, so it’s driven by a focus on the financial bottom line backed up by hard data – data which the bank collects for policy development and is recognized as ‘credible’.

The biggest reminder for me came on expectations of leverage, particularly of money.  There seemed to be an expectation that if the World Bank put money into a project and one or two foundations put money in to match, then everyone else would naturally join in.  The reality is that is not the case.  Generally others will only join when they see the outcomes of the work undertaken.  And it needs to be made clear who is responsible for gaining the participation of other groups!

At the end of the day everything comes down to TRUST between people.  If people trust each other things work, but if they don’t it won’t.

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