The World Bank Group on Wednesday (September 16) approved a US$600 million fund to support Ethiopia’s continued efforts in improving equitable access to basic services. The Board of Executive Directors announced that the fund would also be used to reinforce accountability systems at the decentralized level. According to the recent Poverty Assessment Report of the World Bank Group, Ethiopia’s impressive record in reducing poverty has been backed by improving access to basic services like education and health. This new Bank support will center on the provision of the decentralized basic services, identified as priorities in the Sustainable Development Goals, through the Enhancing Shared Prosperity through Equitable Service program (ESPES). It will be implemented by the Ministry of Federal Affairs. The World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Guang Zhe Chen, said the program would build on the success that has been achieved in service delivery over the past decade. It would also, he said, build on the lessons learnt “by focusing more on ensuring adequate capacity and expertise to deliver services where they are needed most”. Ethiopia has been among the most effective users of funding to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in addressing child mortality, reducing the gender disparity in primary education and in the efforts to overcome malaria.