Publication: Improving the Lives of the Poor Through Investment in Cities : An Update on the Performance of the World Bank's Urban Portfolio

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Roy Gilbert
The central theme addressed by this evaluation, is whether the Bank ' s investment in cities, improved the lives of the poor. This report is based on a desk review of the Bank's urban portfolio. It focuses on the results of the 99 operations completed in the past 10 years. It uses the four pillars of livability, good governance, bankability, and competitiveness of the Urban Strategy Paper as the evaluation framework. At the project level, the study identifies factors that help determine good outcomes, such as building on previous operations, involving beneficiaries, and avoiding straining borrower resources and implementation capacity. At the strategic level, the study finds that the portfolio has concentrated on the livability pillar, through projects aiming to make the lives of the urban poor healthier and more productive. Attention has also been paid to governance, especially through operations that strengthen municipal administration. Bankability aspects received some attention, while the competitiveness pillar-which seeks improvements to the workings of urban markets- has proven the most elusive. The Operations and Evaluation Department (OED) recommends: 1) Systematic monitoring and evaluation and reporting of results-of poverty alleviation especially-from the city to the sector/strategic levels. 2) Revision of the business strategy discussed in the Urban Strategy Paper, "Cities in Transition" (USP) to ensure successful implementation. This would provide explicit targets and determine priorities that link the USP's four key instruments-scaling-up services to the poor, city development strategies, national urban strategies, and local government capacity building-and four strategic pillars-livability, good governance, bankability, and competitiveness-to urban poverty alleviation. 3) Clarification of the concept and the operational consequences of the competitiveness USP pillar for urban practitioners.
Roy Gilbert. 2003. Improving the Lives of the Poor Through Investment in Cities : An Update on the Performance of the World Bank's Urban Portfolio. © Washington, DC: World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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