FY16 Results Achieved
GPOBA maintained a robust and healthy portfolio during FY16, providing strong operational support throughout the year to its existing projects, including those being implemented in challenging and fragile environments, and signing two new grant agreements for investments in subsidy projects in the Philippines and Kenya, both in the energy sector. As OBA projects are results-based, disbursements against verified outputs are key performance indicators for demonstrating impact, and in FY16, GPOBA achieved the third highest level of subsidy disbursement since it began implementing projects in 2006. In addition, technical assistance and knowledge dissemination activities were strengthened throughout the year. These three strands of GPOBA’s portfolio together inform the design of future pilot projects and underpin GPOBA’s work as a Center of Expertise on the use of OBA/RBF.
Here are some of the year’s highlights from GPOBA’s operations:
- As of June 2016, GPOBA’s cumulative subsidy portfolio consists of 46 grant agreements in seven sectors, totaling $234 million. One project, Public Health in the Philippines, closed in FY16, bringing to 30 the number of closed subsidy projects.
- GPOBA disbursed a total of $16.7 million in FY16 for subsidy projects, bringing cumulative disbursements since 2006 to $133 million and representing 9 million people reached by OBA projects for basic services.
- Two new grant agreements totaling $6 million were signed in the energy sector.
Details of GPOBA’s complete subsidy portfolio and disbursements to date can be found in the Appendices section.
GPOBA’s subsidy portfolio focuses on supporting access to basic services for poor and marginalized populations. With the signing of two new grant agreements in FY16, GPOBA now has 46 subsidy projects totaling $234 million in its portfolio, with 63 percent of subsidy funding going to IDA countries and 24 percent to IDA blended countries.1
GPOPA works in seven sectors: energy, water, health, sanitation, solid waste management, education, and telecoms. For FY16, energy remains the largest sector in the portfolio at 44 percent, and water is the second largest sector at 24 percent; GPOBA’s work in the sanitation sector is growing rapidly. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of GPOBA funding by region, at 52 percent, followed by South Asia at 20 percent, and East Asia at 12 percent. Details of the distribution of the overall portfolio are presented in figure 5.
Technical assistance (TA) and knowledge dissemination activities are the other components of GPOBA’s overall portfolio. TA enables GPOBA to lay the foundations for future project design, build capacity among partners and governments, and test the applicability of OBA/RBF in new sectors and environments. In FY16, five new TA activities totaling $903,000 were launched in the energy, transport, social development, and solid waste management sectors. The insights and experience gained from TA initiatives contribute to GPOBA’s knowledge base and are shared with other OBA/RBF practitioners. Highlights and details of the TA and knowledge components of GPOBA’s work are covered in later sections of this report.
The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Countries that lack the creditworthiness needed to borrow from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and those with per capita gross national income below $1,215 are eligible for IDA support. Countries that are IDA-eligible based on per capita income levels and are also creditworthy for some IBRD borrowings are referred to as ‘blend’ countries. ↩
As of June 2016, there are 14 active projects in GPOBA’s subsidy portfolio, and two newly signed grant agreements for energy projects that are in the early stages of implementation 2, together totaling $108.4 million. Seven of the actively disbursing projects are in the energy sector, three in sanitation, and the others in solid waste management, water and health. Many projects are in the early stages of implementation, while energy projects in Liberia and Uganda, both performing well, are nearing completion, as is the solid waste management project in the West Bank. The Philippines Public Health project, which piloted a voucher system for maternal and reproductive health, was closed in FY16 and lessons learned from this project are under preparation by the team.
Since 2006, GPOBA’s subsidy projects have supported access to basic services for over 9 million people, a 12.5 percent increase over FY15. Subsidy disbursements in FY16 totaled $16.7 million for the year – the third highest level in GPOBA’s history – and raise cumulative disbursements to $132.9 million.
In keeping with GPOBA’s commitment to serving poor and marginalized communities, many of its investments in subsidy projects are made in countries or contexts that face ongoing challenges due to natural disaster, conflict, political unrest and other complex fragilities. Operational support to project teams is therefore a vital and growing part of GPOBA’s work, and support for two large projects that GPOBA focused on in the previous fiscal year paid dividends this year. The electricity project in Liberia and solid waste management project in the West Bank were on track in FY16, providing services and disbursing subsidies against verified results. GPOBA is continuing to collaborate closely with these project teams to ensure ongoing progress and to gather lessons throughout implementation. Such hands-on support allows GPOBA to grow and share sector, country, and contextual implementation experience, reinforcing its core activities as a Center of Expertise.
Strong operational support continued in FY16, when many project challenges resulted from technical and political factors, as well as from the continued effects of natural disasters such as the Nepal earthquake and Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. GPOBA worked closely with task team leaders, operations advisors, practice managers, and project clients to find solutions to problems hindering implementation. The team focused special attention on five projects this fiscal year – sanitation projects in Kenya and Sri Lanka; a solid waste management project in Nepal; and energy projects in Vanuatu and Mali. Operational support – such as technical support for independent verification agents, and project restructuring to respond to significant cost fluctuations related to fluid local conditions and capacity levels – helped projects to get back on track. In Mali, for instance, where the fragile security environment was affecting implementation, close engagement with the client to secure private operators with adequate technical knowledge, along with a customer information campaign on GPOBA-financed connections, helped the project achieve approximately 20 percent of its final connection target in the second half of the fiscal year. Operational support to Mali was supplemented through GPOBA-facilitated South-South knowledge sharing amongst governments with OBA experience, which is discussed later in this report.
The two energy projects for which grant agreements were signed in June 2016 are not yet actively disbursing funds. ↩
Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting
GPOBA tracks the progress of each subsidy project toward intermediate outcomes and project objectives, integrating monitoring and evaluation (M&E) findings into future project design and sharing best practices. In FY16, GPOBA continued to expand the evidence base for the OBA approach through M&E at the project level, as well as through two comprehensive sector studies. A significant addition to GPOBA’s M&E capacities during the fiscal year was the development of an OBA results framework, which will guide M&E going forward (see Box 1).
GPOBA also set up a framework for mainstreaming gender in OBA projects. In practice, gender mainstreaming can mean, for example, that women have input into where lighting devices are installed in the house or that sanitation facilities are designed with female hygiene and safety in mind. The framework is in line with the World Bank’s new Gender Strategy and with the Sustainable Development Goals focused on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
GPOBA completed Grant Reporting and Monitoring (GRM) reports for the Bangladesh Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy (RERED) Mini-grid project and the Philippines Public Health project. GRMs are prepared for closed subsidy projects under $5 million and measure performance and results against objectives, as well as capturing lessons learned. Two Semi-Annual Monitoring Reports, providing information on implementation progress of subsidy projects, TA, and dissemination activities, were produced, along with two Lessons Learned notes presenting valuable insights gleaned from a solar home system project in Ghana and an education enhancement project in Vietnam.
GPOBA also finalized an evaluation of the Electricity Access Rural Expansion Project in Ethiopia, an OBA project that provided over 70 percent of the connections made nationally during the project period. The evaluation details the project’s positive impact on the daily lives of residents in the target areas and presents policy recommendations based on lessons learned. GPOBA initiated an evaluation of access to grid-based electricity in Zambia that will follow the Access for Low-Income Households OBA project in FY16-18. This evaluation focuses on access to electricity for micro-entrepreneurs in urban and peri-urban areas, an area not widely studied but a known driver for economic development.
Valuable insights and lessons emerged from GPOBA’s studies of OBA experience to date in the water and energy sectors, which were finalized in FY16. The studies assessed to what extent OBA has been tested in these sectors, and whether the experience gained is useful for the global agenda on access to water, energy, and urban services (as mandated in the SDGs), and for improving upon the ‘science of delivery’ – that is, appropriate project design and agile implementation. Findings in both sectors were positive regarding the range and value of OBA experience:
The water sector study showed that OBA projects have been successful in numerous contexts, and working with a range of service providers. Due to its emphasis on delivery, OBA consistently targeted appropriate levels of service at costs poor households were able and willing to pay. In some cases, OBA subsidies succeeded in leveraging commercial financing to make pro-poor investments viable and attract community equity to invest in their own future (see Box 3). The study presented recommendations on how OBA disbursements can be anchored in intermediate deliverables supporting improved access to water and how OBA can be integrated into larger, long-term water sector reform projects.
The energy sector study reported that OBA has proved its feasibility and relevance in the sector, particularly by enabling low-income rural households to afford electricity and through a strong emphasis on delivery. Flexibility of design was a key factor in the success of OBA projects, as was independent verification of outputs. Early OBA pilots had lower percentages of disbursement, which sent clear messages to non-delivering implementing partners and saved donor funds from supporting poor performers. Subsequent OBA projects and the majority of ongoing projects have had high disbursements, pointing to the application of lessons learned from early pilots.