by Kishore Shah

The 1999 International Interfaith Centre (IIC) Autumn Lecture, organised in co-operation with the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), was held on the evening of October 14, 1999 at Mansfield College, Oxford…

Andrew Rogerson, the World Bank Representative for United Kingdom and Ireland,… explained how the World Bank was trying to put new approaches into place by assisting governments in developing countries to develop their own strategies. The new approaches are rooted in more humility and underline the need to develop greater understanding. The Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) being piloted in about a dozen countries was an important step in this direction. The CDF process begins with identifying priority needs for the next fifteen to twenty years, and developing strategies to meet these needs with various institutions, from international to grassroots, acting in co-ordination. Changes are not likely to happen overnight and provide a major challenge for economists who are not used to dealing with intangibles such as culture and values.

It is in this context that Andrew Rogerson felt that a dialogue between faith groups and the World Bank has become necessary. No technical agency, he said, could make changes on a significant scale (‘scale up’) without making alliances. The faith communities, who often are natural advocates for the poor and have an impressive repository of grassroots experience, can help the World Bank by bringing in the missing perspective and to understand the intangibles. The World Faith Development Dialogue (WFDD) is a sincere attempt to build up a dialogue between the faith communities and the World Bank. It is neither a forum for negotiations nor for confrontations. In Tanzania, for instance, it is providing an opportunity for faith groups, who supply 40% of all health services, to influence policy.

For full report go to IIC Newsletter 12