African Leaders Call for New Approach to Development in Fragile States

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African leaders from fragile and conflict-affected countries called for a reassessment of the Millennium Development Goals and new approaches to development in Africa during a regional meeting on peace- and statebuilding organized by the African Development Bank, UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 7-9 September 2011. Their aim was to shape the agenda for the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea in November 2011.

Recognizing that not a single fragile state has achieved any of the Millennium Development Goals, the African Development Bank, along with the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission, organized the meeting. The goal was to help sustain the political momentum to reform the aid agenda, with a specific focus on conflict-affected and fragile states. Participants agreed that security, justice, and job creation are priorities that need to inform future work on peace- and statebuilding.

The 150 participants included 11 ministers of finance and planning, senior representatives from international organizations, and civil society. They came from Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

African Development Bank Vice President of Sector Operations  M. El Kheshen acknowledged the progress being made: “There is success even in fragile environments, so the whole story of development must be told as one of progress while acknowledging more work needs to be done”.

The participants  recognized that new opportunities are emerging to push for changes in the way aid is delivered in conflict-affected and fragile countries - and in the way national and international partners collaborate. Adressing the audience, M. El-Kheshen said : " At the African Development Bank, you are our constituents. We are accountable for how we as an African institution support your priorities, deploy our expertise, and invest our resources. As President Kaberuka said in Tunis last fall, Aid is only ever a means to an end. Aid that is truly effective will eventually do itself out of a job.” New opportunities include new leadership emerging from below as in North Africa, new donors, and increased prospects for South-South cooperation.

At the Forum on Aid Effectiveness next November, leaders and experts will take stock of progress since the Accra Forum in 2008. They will also propose a new framework to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. In addition, they will seek to situate aid in its broader development context, considering ongoing and new complexities such as trade, security, and climate change. The Africa meeting seeks to influence not only that agenda but also other African and international processes.