Development Policy Financing (DPF) Retrospective 2021 Share your views

In the busy streets of Male, the capital of Maldives, Aminath Waheed picks up passengers, blazing a trail as the city’s only female taxi driver. In the hills of Nepal, 30-year-old Madhukala Adhikari works

The 2021 Development Policy Financing Retrospective reviews one of the World Bank’s three financing instruments – non-earmarked budget financing that supports policy and institutional reforms to help clients achieve sustainable growth and poverty reduction. This Retrospective presents key takeaways on trends and performance of DPFs and their role in supporting development priorities. The analysis is focused on DPFs committed between FY16 and FY21. The World Bank systematically distills lessons from DPF Retrospectives as part of an ongoing effort to learn from implementation. This is the fifth DPF Retrospective since the DPF Operational Policy (OP 8.60) was introduced in August 2004.

From November 11 – December 11, 2021, we invite you to read and give us your views on the overview and summary of the 2021 Development Policy Financing Retrospective. See more below.

Background: The FY16 and FY21 Retrospective period was a tumultuous one for many developing countries. These years started with the aftermath of the commodity bust and ended with the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, there were rising concerns and awareness of the need to address the detrimental effects of climate change, social and gender inequities, frequent natural disasters and other shocks, insufficient quality jobs, and persistent debt vulnerabilities, especially in low-income countries. The period culminated with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of which are far reaching and ongoing.  

The Retrospective examines the performance of DPFs over the Retrospective period, and the strengths of the instrument in supporting clients as they implement policy and institutional reforms and lay the groundwork for a sustainable recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world rethinks development priorities in the wake of the pandemic, this report reviews the trends and performance of DPFs over the six-year Retrospective period and makes recommendations on how the tool could be enhanced to ensure it is relevant to address current development challenges. The Retrospective examines first how DPFs performed to support sustainable growth and poverty reduction in the context of selected global and regional crises in the past 14 years. The Retrospective then focuses on four selected areas which are core WBG corporate priorities: (i) fiscal and debt sustainability for macroeconomic stability and resilience, (ii) a conducive private sector environment to support private sector led development and job creation; (iii) gender equality, (iv) climate change adaptation and mitigation.  The Report provides some insights on how DPFs have supported these areas in the past and how they are well positioned to support the GRID approach in the future.

From November 11 – December 11, 2021, we invite you to read and give us your views on the overview and summary of the report. 


As you review, consider the following questions:

  • How effective do you think World Bank DPFs have been to support countries achieving their development goals? What are the areas of strengths?  What are the areas for improvement? 
  • Are DPFs a useful instrument to support a green, resilient, and inclusive set of policy reforms?
  • Any other suggestions to make use of DPOs more effective?

Submit your response via email by 12 midnight EST on December 11, 2021 to:

Please include your geographical region and your main affiliation (such as public or private sector, non-government/civil society organization, academic, thinktank, development partner).

We welcome your views and contributions.

Notice: When you send your views to this email address, the World Bank will collect your name and email address solely for the purpose of the collection of your views on our DPF Retrospective report. On receipt of your email, we will send you an acknowledgement email which may contain a link to an anonymous survey to collect your demographic information. Your information will not be processed or shared with third parties and will be retained by us for up to 3 months in order for us to record your views.

By sending your views via email, you acknowledge that you have been provided notice about how your personal data will be processed by the World Bank and that you agree to this processing. If you do not agree, please do not send any comments.

For additional information, please review our Privacy Notice.

as a mobile mason, helping families rebuild houses that were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. And in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Morsheda Begum is a garment worker turned successful entrepreneur, running her own tailoring shop and supporting her school-aged boys

Aminath, Madhukala and Morsheda are examples of how when women gain access to economic opportunities, the benefits are exponential.  Women who make money are able to invest in the well-being of their children and families, contribute to their communities, and help grow economies.

There are millions of such inspiring, independent women across South Asia—especially in the poorest countries, which are served by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). They exemplify why closing gender gaps is essential to reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

Over the last few decades, IDA has been supporting countries in South Asia to open up more economic opportunities for women.  Countries like Bangladesh and Nepal have increased female labor force participation. Bangladesh has also achieved gender parity in both primary and secondary school enrollment. South Asia has implemented laws that have improved opportunities for women and gained ten points on the Women Business and the Law index over the last decade. For example, Nepal recently passed laws to prohibit gender discrimination in employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, threatens to reverse some of these gains in women’s accumulation of human capital and economic empowerment. School closures meant that millions of students –especially girls—lost out on learning opportunities for months at a time. Evidence from Bangladesh suggests that girls are more likely to be spending increased time on household chores and childcare since COVID-19 restrictions began.

“As countries in South Asia build back from the pandemic, it will be critical to ensure reforms that close these gender gaps, with impacts that will endure beyond the pandemic.”

Lockdowns also disrupted economies and labor markets, resulting in significant job losses for women and unequal division of labor at home.  In Bhutan, the unemployment rate is at an all-time high of 5%. Women accounted for more than half of this figure even in 2019. In Pakistan, over a quarter of female workers have been fired or suspended from their jobs in various sectors.

The economic slowdown is also likely forcing families into difficult situations. Child marriage continues to be prevalent, undermining girls’ education and future opportunities. Gender-based violence (GBV) also rose – in Nepal, a 24-hour GBV helpline received twice the number of calls related to domestic violence during one pandemic lockdown period.

It’s important to note that many of the obstacles to women’s economic participation are long-standing and pre-date the pandemic. For the most part, formal sector employment remains inaccessible to women. Women in South Asia work mainly in subsistence agriculture, which is low-paid, unskilled and extremely vulnerable to climate change. The majority of women don’t have access to finance or even bank accounts. In Pakistan, for example, only 7% of women over the age of 15 have a bank account, compared to 35% of men. Even before the pandemic, barely 18% of South Asian businesses were owned by women – the lowest rate among global regions.

As countries in South Asia build back from the pandemic, it will be critical to ensure reforms that close these gender gaps, with impacts that will endure beyond the pandemic.  This means closing gaps in health, education, and social protection; removing constraints to women accessing more and better jobs; eliminating barriers to ownership; and enabling women’s voice and agency.

Continued IDA support has been instrumental: supporting employment opportunities for women, closing gaps in digital technology, expanding childcare, and increasing financing for prevention of and response to gender-based violence.

In Pakistan, the IDA supported Benazir Income Support Program provided cash transfers to over 5.8 million women heads of households, benefiting 30 million family members. In the Maldives, IDA provided over $27 million income support to more than 22,000 workers who lost their incomes due to the pandemic, especially vulnerable women who work in the informal sector. In Bangladesh, stipends and tuition fees were provided to 2.6 million secondary school female students to ensure their continued education during the pandemic.

Next month, as IDA shareholders convene in Tokyo for a historic early replenishment of the multibillion-dollar fund, gender and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19—and most crises—on women should be atop minds. Through IDA, the World Bank stands ready to provide targeted, comprehensive, and readily available support that empowers women —and, in turn, their communities and economies for generations to come.

The blog is part of a series on ways to ensure a resilient recovery from COVID-19 in the world’s poorest countries. For the latest, follow @WBG_IDA and #IDAworks.