WB’s new Yemen strategy aims for jobs, better governance

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC
[PHOTO: Shiny Things
Washington: The World Bank Group support for Yemen over the next eighteen months will focus on delivering tangible results that address immediate needs, restore confidence in the state and contribute toward a stable environment for the political transition.

The Interim Strategy Note (ISN) discussed by the World Bank Board of Directors will guide Bank engagement throughout the critical period of the next 18 months during which Yemen will draft a new constitution and organize elections. 

“Our strategy is tailored to match the transition timeline,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Country Director for Yemen. “It will allow us to concentrate on short-term actions that boost the credibility of the transitional government while laying the foundations for future, sustainable development.”

The Government of National Reconciliation, formed after the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, faces the formidable task of uniting the country in the face of a humanitarian crisis and ongoing instability. At the request of the transitional government, the World Bank led a joint effort with its development partners to assess the social and economic impacts of the revolution. This assessment informed the government’s own reconstruction plan and medium-term priorities.

The ISN is firmly anchored in the government’s program and represents an overall shift in the World Bank strategy to align it with post-revolutionary needs and development priorities. It is also designed to help the government address the causes of the recent upheaval.

The strategy is guided by three overarching principles which will be integrated into all future programs. The first is a commitment to promoting social inclusion and participation, especially for women and young people. In recognition of the vital role of good governance, the second is a focus on increasing transparency and accountability, while strengthening institutions. The third principle is to maintain flexibility in all World Bank programs, to ensure that they are able to adapt as needs and priorities evolve.

The ISN further identifies a set of key priorities for immediate action. These include measures to address rising levels of poverty, food insecurity and unemployment by creating short-term jobs, restoring basic services and improving access to social safety nets. These will be complemented by efforts to improve local service delivery by building up capacities, and making services more responsive to citizens’ needs.

“Yemen is still very fragile,” said Wael Zakout, Sana’a based World Bank Country Manager. “The government’s ability to improve the lives of ordinary Yemenis through jobs and improved services will be vital for stability, and they will need the full support of the international community to achieve this. The World Bank is committed to assisting Yemen at this critical moment.”

Stabilizing the economy and creating the conditions for growth will continue to be a primary goal. This will include programs aimed at revitalizing economic management to maintain macro stability, and strengthening fiscal policies and public financial management. Creating an enabling environment for the private sector as the engine of growth and the best potential source for the number of jobs needed is another immediate challenge. This will be especially critical for Yemen’s large youth population which is expected to double in the next 40 years. In view of the importance of the private sector, the ISN was developed jointly with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private sector arm.

"IFC has a large advisory program in Yemen and the investment portfolio has also grown over the last few years,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “While the operating environment for the private sector remains difficult, IFC will continue to focus  on capacity building, support for small and medium enterprises, and the training of entrepreneurs, while exploring opportunities for investment with regional and international partners, including on PPP transactions."
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