Evaluating World Bank Effectiveness

Sri Lanka



Amidst a peaceful period between a 2002 mediated settlement and 2006 resumption of hostilities between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) the World Bank Group worked with key stakeholders to design and finance a community driven development initiative aimed at supporting the self-determination of those living within some the country’s least performing economic areas. Between 2004 and 2010 this initiative, called Gemi Dirya (or “Raising the Village”), helped to establish over a thousand self-governing local institutions that included village level savings and credit organizations which financed and maintained investments and services targeting those most in need.

The initiative came at a critical time for Sri Lanka. Just as the election of a new government administration triumphed economic reform and private sector development that helped deliver a gradual economic recovery, nearly a quarter of the country’s population remained below the national poverty line, with large disparities among regions and significant vulnerability in rural areas. In 2014 the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) sought to evaluate and understand the real-world impact of these programs.


The World Bank IEG team had a dilemma. To accurately assess the impact and sustainability of those local institutions supported by the program, they needed a flexible and efficient way to collect and analyze a randomized set of data across 32 sub-districts. With limited time and resources, they were eager to find data collection methods that would be easy to use and easy to convey to a local team that had limited technological exposure. Outdated methods and the deep inefficiencies associated with past pen-and-paper survey experiences (poor handwriting, loss pages, long lead times to manually enter data before beginning analysis) or waiting for maps from the GIS unit simply wouldn’t get the job done.

They needed a way of capturing real-time feedback that could visually pinpoint trouble areas during the data collection process in order to understand not just what worked, but why it worked or didn’t, on the fly.


As leaders in the use of innovative methods and technologies for development, the World Bank team realized there had to be a better way.

And there was.

By adopting Native, the team was able to swiftly craft their data collection instruments in Washington and seamlessly distribute them directly to teams in Sri Lanka for collection. From there, local teams could dive deep, offline into rural places across the country to capture the data they needed, sync it back to the system in the evenings, and generate high-fidelity data in maps and dashboards for swift and easy analysis across the evaluation team. No more comparing notes. The data was in one place, clean, easy to manipulate, and presented in visualizations that simplified the process of analysis. One system from collection in rural Sri Lanka all the way to the World Bank Board of Directors for decision making.

For more on the content of the evaluation, see the full IEG report online.


Using Native the World Bank was able to:

  • Easily collect data through local field teams in a rapid, iterative fashion.
  • Map trends in the data to see spatial differences without the GIS Unit
  • Generate cross-tabulations that drove analysis of key findings
  • Present resulting visuals to team members between the field and HQ


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