| The purpose of Module 27 is to provide
information and resources about the World Bank in order to encourage an
understanding of the Bank’s role in both promoting and undermining ESC rights.
This module should help trainees understand/clarify for themselves:
- some of the human rights issues in which the Bank is a relevant actor;
- key Bank policies that relate to human rights protection; and
- what human rights activists need to know about the Bank in order to
address these issues.
A workshop to train activists on the role and function of the World Bank
should have the following basic components:
1. How the World Bank operates
2. World Bank lending and its impact in
3. How to influence the decision-making
process in World Bank projects and policies
How the World Bank operates
A basic understanding of this information can be delivered in a lecture
using overheads and other tools. The lecture should cover:
- The history and purpose of the Bank, including information on its
structure and types of loans made. Trainers could include an analysis
of the unequal nature of the Bank’s governance structure (e.g., the
Part I/Part II voting structure).
- How loans are developed (the country assistance strategy and the project
- How the Bank influences government economic policy and governance
- Key Bank policies and the Bank’s lending priorities.
- Who benefits from Bank lending (how structural adjustment lending
has opened country economies to foreign private sector investments,
- The influence that Bank lending has in attracting other MDB financing,
donor aid and private capital.
Following the basic overview, specific Bank policies that are of importance
to the trainees can be explored in more depth. Some questions to answer
- Who is responsible for implementing the policy?
- What areas of Bank operations does the policy apply to?
- Who or what does the policy protect and what rights does it confer
on affected people?
- Does the policy make space for citizen participation and consultation?
2. World Bank lending and its
impact on country X
In training workshops in specific borrowing countries, it is often helpful
for participants to understand what the Bank finances in the country.
Prior to the workshop, either the trainer or a designated participant
should put together a "dossier” for the country. Dossiers can include:
- Information from the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) that
describes the Bank’s plans in supporting the government’s development
objectives (e.g., developing infrastructure, stabilizing the banking
system, privatization of state-owned industries etc.)
- Recent structural adjustment loans including the amount and the economic
reform measures that the loan required
- The Policy Framework Paper of the World Bank and IMF
- The current pipeline: recently approved projects currently in implementation,
and projects that are in preparation but are not yet approved. Information
should include amounts, sector, and a short project description
The dossiers give trainees an understanding of the scope of the Bank’s
influence in the country. In reviewing and discussing the dossiers, participants
can learn a great deal not only about what the Bank’s priorities are and
how much the country is actually borrowing, but also what information
is available and how to get it.
Another useful exercise is to have participants present the experiences
of NGOs or social movements with projects or economic policies financed
by the Bank. Experiences with or knowledge of specific projects can reinforce
the information already presented, and gives participants an opportunity
to share information and experiences that might be relevant to future
Forming small groups to discuss a specific Bank loan of concern or interest
to participants can be a good way to deepen participants’ knowledge of
the Bank and how it is influencing their country. Such discussion groups
can also be helpful in sharing information among participants who already
have some information about the Bank’s operations. Some questions that
can be asked include:
- Where is the project in the project cycle? Is the project in preparation
or in implementation?
- Who is in charge of the project and how can they be contacted?
- What information is available about the project?
- What are elements of the project that are of concern to NGOs and civil
- What are some ways in which the project can be influenced or monitored?
3. How to influence the decision-making
process in World Bank policies and projects
- Effective Bank advocacy requires a basic understanding of what the
project development and decision-making processes are and where within
the process citizens can have an influence. There are several ways
to approach the development of an understanding of how NGO advocacy
can influence project outcomes. Basic background information includes
an understanding of how the Bank and the government negotiate the lending
portfolio. Once this information is understood, then participants could
be asked to create a strategic framework for developing an advocacy
agenda. Such a framework might include:
- What are the reasons that NGOs may want to advocate for or against
specific project or program of the Bank?
- What are the group’s objectives?
- What approaches can be taken (information gathering, identification
of project authorities [government and bank], meetings with Bank and
government authorities, assessment of possible negative impacts, bringing
in technical experts, development of media or public awareness campaigns,
- What strategic alliances need to be formed?
- Who are the targets and who has the power?
- What tools can be applied (Bank policies, international treaties and
conventions, national legislation)?
Such an exercise, within small groups or in the large group of participants,
can generate an analysis of the Bank’s role in the country or the project
in question. The exercise can highlight the role of the government in
decision-making and clarify what may need to be done to influence government.
It can also lead to the development of specific strategies that can be
followed up after the workshop.
Depending on the amount of time for the workshop, simulations or role
plays can be employed in order to give participants a chance to test
their understanding of the World Bank. In a recent workshop in Mozambique,
sponsored by the Mozambique Debt Group, participants were asked to develop
and present to the group the following:
- 15-minute workshop presentations on various aspects of the Bank’s
structure, function and policies;
- a mock meeting agenda with the World Bank resident representative,
including a request for specific project information;
- a mock workshop agenda to train members of parliament about the role
of the World Bank in the country;
- a mock seminar agenda to train grassroots groups in the provinces.
Small groups were also given several "scenarios,” which simulated
common Bank-NGO interactions. The scenarios gave participants the opportunity
to apply the basic information about the Bank to the development of strategies
and action. Each scenario required the participants to:
- apply their knowledge of the Bank’s structure, decision-making process
and policies to develop a strategy to deal with a certain local problem
related to a Bank loan;
- confront typical obstacles that NGOs meet when engaging with the Bank,
including lack of information or misinformation; Bank staff hostility
toward civil society; insufficient time given for citizens to review
project documents like environmental assessments, resettlement plans,
etc.; lack of transparency in decision-making processes; lack of a response
to letters, phone calls, etc.
- determine what alliances they would need to make, and what types of
advocacy strategies-meetings, letter writing campaigns, press, lobbying-should
be applied in order to achieve their objectives; and
- understand the role of government agencies in developing Bank projects,
and what political and economic dynamics come into play.
q The above methods were suggested
by the module’s author, Kay Treakle.