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World Bank poorly prepared for conflict countries

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The World Bank's anti-poverty programs are not well-structured for countries beset by conflict, and do too little for women suffering from violence, according to internal study released Monday.

While the bank has prioritized helping the 370 million people living in 33 "low-income fragile and conflict-affected states", it needs to better prepare its programs in those countries, the study by the in-house Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) said.

"Country assistance strategies have lacked tailoring to fragility and conflict drivers and realism, and do not currently have contingencies based on political economy and conflict risks," the study concluded.

In addition, the bank has "paid insufficient attention to conflict-related violence against women and economic empowerment of women in low-income fragile and conflict-affected states."

Anis Danim, the lead analyst for the IEG, said that World Bank programs in poor conflict countries have registered progress in areas like community-driven development and building citizen capacity -- for instance providing access to education and health care

Even so, he said, "the results in these countries has proved to be challenging."

As a group, fragile and conflict-affected states are much poorer, grow more slowly, and have higher population growth rates than other most-impoverished countries.

That means they need more tailored strategies for assistance, the IEG report says.

However, it said, the Bank "lacks a realistic framework for inclusive growth and jobs that is based on economic opportunities and constraints in fragile and conflict-affected states."

It also said Bank programs are often too focused on helping ex-combatants -- mainly male -- after conflicts and offer less for women who are victims of the violence.

"Most of the demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration programs were not gender sensitive," it said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131202/world-bank-poorly-prepared-conflict-countries