Dissatisfaction with traditional project approaches and a recognition of the limitations of the sector adjustment programs led to the development of innovations to improve the impact of development assistance on the sector as a whole. The social sectors have been at the forefront of these innovations in several countries. Under the leadership of the European Union, a group of European lending institutions worked along similar lines and developed a strategy known as the 'Sector Wide Approach'. In recent years, this approach has been used for approximately a dozen operations in the health and education sectors in the Africa region. This paper is a review of the experience to date in the Africa region of the World Bank using this approach. It summarizes the lessons learned so far, provides advice and guidance to operation staff in the Bank, partner agencies, and governments who will be involved in sector-wide approaches in years to come.