The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is urging the World Bank and its donors to commit to an ambitious twenty-first replenishment of the International Development Association fund (IDA21), the largest single source of development finance for the world’s poorest countries. This is the first replenishment of IDA since the World Bank launched its updated mission to eliminate extreme poverty on a livable planet. 

IDA is critical to accelerating the achievement of  development goals, like raising incomes as well as improving child survival and development outcomes in countries otherwise in danger of being left behind. Three questions - of reach, scale, and sustainability – need to be addressed, and the Spring Meetings are the chance to launch a new model for the delivery and disbursement of IDA. 

Over the last three decades, the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide has dropped by half, while rising over 80% in just 13 countries defined by the UN as least-developed countries (LDCs) and by the World Bank as conflict-affected. These 13 conflict-affected LDCs, all IDA recipients, are home to almost one-quarter of the world’s extreme poor. IDA is one of the few sources of grants and highly concessional loans for these 13 countries; while this model compensates for dwindling donor contributions, it is threatened by high interest rates and the deepening debt of IDA countries. 

By the World Bank’s own projections, up to two-thirds of those living in extreme poverty globally will live in fragile and conflict-affected countries by 2030, the target year for the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Given this new geography of extreme poverty - a convergence of conflict, climate change, and economic shockshas left more than 300 million people dependent on humanitarian aid- and the central role that IDA plays, the Bank’s success in eradicating extreme poverty depends on a replenished and reformed IDA that can finance and deliver results in these settings. The IRC is calling for three key areas of action:

  1. Donors should commit to an ambitious IDA21 replenishment andpledge contributions that exceed the IDA20 amount of USD 23.5 billion and put IDA on track for tripling its size by 2030, to offset the negative impacts of high interest rates and worsening debt in IDA recipient countries.
  2. World Bank leadership and donors should refine and realign IDA finance mechanisms to be more responsive to countries' risk, vulnerability and accessibility to other sources of finances.
  3. The World Bank should expand non-government partnerships to improve disbursal of IDA and delivery of projects. Trialing partnership pilots in conflict-affected and fragile countries would help build evidence of effective approaches.  

Education and early childhood development (ECD) are exemplary areas for strengthened IDA21 investment. Research demonstrates that education and ECD are particularly essential in FCV contexts, where returns for children’s learning and development are outsized for the remainder of their lives. 

The Bank must serve as a frontrunner to better navigate, adapt to, and deliver services to children and caregivers in crisis contexts, particularly those most affected by climate change. Education and ECD for FCV populations provide an opportunity to ensure impactful disbursement and delivery of IDA resources to eliminate extreme poverty on a livable planet.

Therefore, in complement to achieving IDA 21 reforms, the IRC is calling on the World Bank to:

  1. Use robust IDA funds to provide long-term financing for the inclusion of displaced populations in least-developed countries’ national education and care systems 
  2. Strengthen its reliance on non government partnerships to improve the reach and delivery of World Bank education and early childhood projects in FCV settings