Faith-based Organisations, Development and the World Bank
Faith-based organisations (FBOs) have increasingly become important actors in international development cooperation. Many international institutions recognise them as valuable partners and declare to have ‘mainstreamed faith’ within their own activities. But is this really the case? And how has this happened? Focusing on the activities of the World Bank in the 1995-2005 period, when, under the leadership of President James Wolfensohn and Katherine Marshall, then Head of the Bank’s development Dialogue on Values and Ethics (DDVE), the institution engaged with some selected FBOs, this chapter enquires into the reasons for the Bank’s interest in faith as well as its sudden disappearance. It argues that the main rationale for engagement with faith lay in the disappointing results of previous secular strategies and the feeling that religion had a positive role to play in fighting poverty. However, diverging perceptions of poverty and development between states and religious entities, along with lingering suspicions among state officials about dealing with faith in the public realm, derailed the collaboration.