Financial Times

World Bank unveils ‘conflict sensitive’ lending programme from 2009-2012

By Dilshani Samaraweera

This week the World Bank announced its country assistance strategy for Sri Lanka for the 4-year period 2009-2012. The Bank said it will allocate around US$ 200 million per year for the country, over this period. Despite the ongoing conflict, about 30% of the funds will be channelled into the North and East.

“We hope to spend about US$ 200 million per year, but it would depend on the pace of the projects. If the situation allows it, around 30% or so, would go to the North and East,” the country director of the World Bank, Naoko Ishii told journalists on Monday.

The Bank’s work in the North and East will start from accessible areas and will gradually progressing into other parts, depending on the ground situation. However, the Bank also said funds allocated to the North and East will not be diverted elsewhere, if projects are stopped due to the war.

“At programme level we will not allow resources committed to the North and East to be reprogrammed to other parts of the country, even if a deteriorating situation on the ground makes it impossible to implement activities there,” said Ms Ishii.

Conflict sensitive programmes
A new aspect of the Bank’s country strategy is the emphasis on ‘conflict sensitivity,’ to avoid “further straining Sri Lanka’s social fabric”. “With all our programmes we will try not to create further conflicts,” said Ms Ishii. The Bank says it will use a ‘conflict filter’ on all its projects to make sure projects do not aggravate social problems.

“At project level, greater conflict sensitivity in design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation will be achieved by subjecting all lending operations to a conflict filter,” said Ms Ishii. The Bank will be packaging elements like ‘psycho-social support’ for people in conflict affected areas, to make programmes more conflict sensitive.

Other aspects include providing ‘grievance redress mechanisms’ and third party monitoring of projects The Bank will also support English as a link language and mixed Sinhala-Tamil education.
The overall lending programme of the World Bank is based on the three objectives of expanding economic opportunities in lagging regions, improving the investment climate and competitiveness of the country, and enhancing delivery of public services. The Bank emphasised that it will be working in line with government objectives throughout its programmes.

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