Deploy Scarce Development Financing To Impact Poor and Vulnerable -World Bank Liberia Country Manager

MONROVIA: World Bank Liberia Country Manager Georgia Wallen has called on participants at the Government of Liberia (GoL) Joint Sectoral Portfolio Review to reflect on opportunities to depart from business as usual to get more out of our development assistance. Quoting the President of the World Bank Ajay Banga, Ms. Wallen said, “Development delayed is development denied.”  Time is of the essence, she stressed, adding: “Let’s find motivation in a strong sense of urgency.”

Speaking on a sense of urgency, she said the next six years are critically important for scaling up efforts to deliver high-quality, high-impact development in Liberia.  There are six years left to the target date for achieving Liberia Rising 2030 — the national vision — and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Emphasizing value for money and maximum use of concessional financing, the World Bank Liberia Country Manager said the financing that the Bank is deploying in Liberia comes from scarce taxpayer dollars. “The World Bank program amounts to US$1 billion in commitments across sectors ranging from agriculture and energy to health, education, social protection, water and roads. Our program is closely aligned with ARREST (Agriculture, Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation, and Tourism) agenda of the Liberian Government and well-placed to support the forthcoming National Development Plan.”

Ms. Wallen pointed out that the International Development Association – known as IDA – provides most World Bank financing to Liberia. “We are currently in the early stages of the challenging process of replenishing IDA to allow for continued development finance over the next three years.  Scarce taxpayer dollars need to be deployed where they make the biggest, most lasting difference for the poor and vulnerable,” the World Bank Liberia Country Manager said.  She stressed the need to think critically about areas of under-performance and opportunities to re-deploy or repurpose scarce financing to higher priority areas.

Addressing the GoL Joint Portfolio Review at the Belle Casa Hotel in Sinkor, Madam Wallen called on participants to keep the people of Liberia front and center – first and foremost – in these discussions. “We will talk about various quantitative measures of impact, such as disbursement rates and other measures of progress. But the most important measure is, how many people are we reaching? Are we reaching the poor and vulnerable effectively?”

“In the energy sector, for example, how many people get to turn on the lights because of these engagements? In education, how many girls and boys can access education that is safe and high-quality? In health, how many mothers can access prenatal care and how many children are able to access life-saving vaccines? All that we are doing has the Liberian people as our primary motivation and focus,” the World Bank Liberia Country Manager said.

In closing, Ms. Wallen called for a sense of urgency; commitment to value for money in the use of scarce taxpayer dollars; and keeping the Liberian people front and center – these factors, she emphasized, can help to guide the portfolio review. The portfolio review brought together participants from the Government of Liberia, Development Partners and non-state actors.

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