afrol News, 12 February - Last week the World Bank Vice-President of the Africa Region, Callisto Madavo, completed a five-day visit to Côte d'Ivoire. The visit was organized in the context of the Bank's re-engagement with Côte d'Ivoire, following clearance on 30 January 2001 of its debt arrears, paving the way for the resumption of disbursements on already approved credits and the approval of new credits.
According to a release by the World Bank, Madavo's stay afforded him the opportunity to consult with the government, donor partners, and civil society on the urgent challenges facing the country and on possible Bank support in meeting them in the years ahead.
The World Bank's assistance program in Côte d'Ivoire includes much-needed credits for education, health, agriculture, finance and infrastructure, as well as policy lending.
During his visit, Madavo was received by the President, Laurent Gbagbo, and by the Prime Minister, Pascal Affi N'Guessan. Working sessions were organized with the ministers of: Economy and Finance; Agriculture and Animal Resources; Mines and Energy; Public Health; National Education; Infrastructure; Industry and Promotion of the Private Sector; Transport and Economic Infrastructure; and HIV/AIDS issues.
Madavo noted that as a result of Côte d'Ivoire's progress on the political reconciliation and macro-economic reform fronts (as reflected in implementation of the IMF Staff-Monitored Program, SMP), and in clearing its debt arrears toward the World Bank, a window of opportunity had opened up for strengthened collaboration with the Bank.
The World Bank Vice-President stressed that "although progress to date was encouraging, the situation remained fragile and more work lay ahead in deepening reforms and addressing remaining challenges." The Bank and other donor partners stood to play an important role in accompanying government efforts to consolidate and build on present gains.
The World Bank stated its support during the present critical post-crisis phase would be three-fold. First, implementation of the existing portfolio, with an undisbursed balance of about US$ 280 million, would be stepped up.
At the same time the portfolio would be restructured to focus more sharply on poverty reduction and emerging challenges, with the transport sector adjustment and investment project supporting the development of the roads network, the land management project accompanying implementation of the national decentralization strategy, and the health project supporting pilot and other activities to help control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Second, the Bank would provide new resources through an Economic Recovery Credit (ERC) and a multi-sector HIV/AIDS operation of about US$ 200 and US$ 50 million respectively. Focusing on addressing growing poverty in Côte d'Ivoire, especially in the wake of recent external economic shocks and political and social instability, the ERC would support pro-poor sector policies and institutional reforms in priority sectors, e.g. education, health and rural development.
The HIV/AIDS operation would help address the looming menace of AIDS, with particular emphasis on supporting a coordinated multi-sector approach, and on prevention activities using community organizations and NGOs, according to the World Bank. During field visits to local HIV/AIDS control initiatives, Madavo was "particularly moved by the plight of women living with HIV/AIDS and children orphaned by it, and pledged the Bank's full support in helping fight the pandemic."
Third, Côte d'Ivoire's performance under the SMP and preparation of its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) would render it eligible for support under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, which would release additional resources to support socio-economic development and poverty reduction.
Madavo highlighted that in order to effectively support poverty reduction and socio-economic development in Côte d'Ivoire, it was essential for its external partners to forge a strong partnership building on Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) principles and guided by the objectives of the national PRSP.
- This would facilitate better coordination of donor initiatives and foster the synergy necessary for supporting equitable and sustainable development and meaningful poverty reduction, the Bank concluded.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November agreed to discuss with the Ivorian government a three-year programme to reduce poverty and spur economic growth in Côte d'Ivoire. The IMF had suspended ties with Côte d'Ivoire following a December 1999 coup d'état.
Sources: Based on Word Bank and afrol archives