The UK’s support to the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA)

A review will assessing the value for money of the UK’s financial contribution to the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and how well the UK uses its position as the largest bilateral donor to shape its policies and operations.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 31 May 2022
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Climate change and biodiversity, Development finance, Fragile states, Multilateral spend, Trade and economic development
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Sierra Leone
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:Partnerships for the goals

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This review, which was awarded a green-amber score, finds that UK aid channelled through the World Bank instrument for the poorest and most fragile countries provides good value for money, but the UK could do more to advocate for improvements, such as a stronger focus on climate action, increased accountability for the ‘leave no one behind’ commitment, and compliance with agreed standards for environmental and social protection.


  • IDA’s strategy and portfolio has been well aligned with the UK’s international development priorities in the Association’s emphasis on tackling poverty, fragility and crises, its country allocations and its focus on inclusion.
  • There has been weaker alignment between IDA and the UK regarding climate change, although this has begun to change.
  • IDA also provides useful complementarity to UK bilateral aid – for example, working in many more countries than the UK alone, helping to extend the UK’s influence in other priority areas that receive relatively little bilateral funding, such as some small island states.
  • Despite recent attempts to strengthen citizen engagement and voice, practice still lags behind ambition. IDA is becoming more open to direct citizen engagement, but this remains a work in progress.
  • IDA’s internal results are generally strong and improving, but refer to outputs and intermediate outcomes more than to longer-term impact, which is harder to track and attribute to aid interventions.
  • IDA’s response to COVID-19 has been rapid, large-scale and responsive, demonstrating its ability to perform a unique global role.
  • IDA has a long record of emphasising gender and development issues but there is more to do.
  • Disability has also emerged as a new priority for IDA.
  • However, a more systematic and cross-cutting emphasis on inclusion is yet to emerge, and the Bank’s shared prosperity goal lacks traction.
  • IDA has an ambitious framework for social and environmental safeguards but faces wide-ranging implementation challenges and we found examples of weak practice.
  • In UK taxpayers get good value from the UK’s aid investment through IDA, and the UK exercises effective influence on IDA, combining its financial contribution with high-quality analysis and agile networking.


  1. Climate targets: FCDO should advocate for more action-focused targets for IDA climate change action, particularly on adaptation.
  2. Country relationships with IDA: FCDO should set more systematic objectives for engaging the World Bank at country level.
  3. Leave no one behind: FCDO should hold IDA accountable for meeting the ‘leave no one behind’ commitment, including by advocating for the operationalisation of its ‘co-prosperity goal’.
  4. Environmental and social safeguards: FCDO should work constructively with World Bank management and other donors to improve the Bank’s capacity to monitor and oversee implementation of environmental and social safeguards.
  5. Pressure to lend and financial system strengthening: The UK should strengthen key country partnerships with IDA to bolster public financial management and anti-corruption programmes.


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Published 5 August 2021

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 31 May 2022

Government response

Expected July 2022

Further scrutiny

To be confirmed