The World Bank and the humanitarian-development-peace nexus: Follow-up questions

22 June 2018

On 24 May, ICVA and PHAP organized the second session of the learning stream on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, which explored the role of the World Bank when working in conflict situations and fragile contexts, and how their approach has changed since the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.

The event featured presentations from Xavier Devictor and Hannah George on the World Bank's approach in such contexts. Moreover, Lauren Post from the International Rescue Committee and Thomas Jepson-Lay from Save the Children Somalia, shared their perspectives on engaging with the World Bank in complex settings. While many of the questions from participants were answered during the event (listen to these in the event recording), there were more questions than there was time for, and the guest experts have answered follow-up questions in writing, which you can now read on this page.


“ What is the World Bank’s current policy for working in areas which are not controlled by the government? Whether due to an armed conflict or if the government does not have the capacity? ”
 - Humanitarian Policy Advisor, UK

 Xavier Devictor   

It is important to underscore that the World Bank is a development institution and does not engage on issues related to forced displacement in the same way that humanitarian agencies do. This is why it is focused on addressing longer term, social and economic challenges, which complements humanitarian aid, and does not replace humanitarian action. 

The World Bank’s work in forced displacement is based on the following reports, which lay out the development approach:


“ What is WB plans to develop their internal capacity regarding humanitarian work and accountability?”
 - Humanitarian Adviser, UK

 Xavier Devictor   

The World Bank has strong accountability systems and engages with CSOs through information sharing, policy dialogue, and consultations in Bank projects, including in forced displacement programs.


“ As mentioned in the event, monitoring is an important role where NGO's can contribute to the World Bank’s work. However, how can the World Bank be incentivized to take the results and advice "seriously" when designing agendas and prioritizing its expenditures? ”
 - Research & Education Assistant, Belgium

 Lauren Post

The assumption underlying this question is that the Bank doesn’t take NGO results and advice ‘seriously’; however, in our experience, the Bank has been quite open to feedback and suggestions for adjusting projects, which policy levers to push on, ensuring that there are adequate monitoring and evaluation frameworks tied to Bank financing. That said, there is still room for the Bank to improve its engagement with NGOs, particularly in country. One suggestion we have offered is for the Bank to develop standardized guidance for its country/program teams that outlines when and how to engage stakeholders outside of their traditional partners (governments, increasingly UNHCR). This could give opportunity for a frank exchange of ideas and feedback before decision-making moments over the cycle of the program.