Aid Effectiveness in Fragile States and Conflict Situations

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Aid Effectiveness in Fragile States and Conflict Situations

The five mutually reinforcing pillars of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness are virtual non-starters in conflict situations replete with chaos and human tragedy. Rather, unstable and failed states are carbon models for development ineffectiveness. The idea that failed communities can take ownership of their development, collaborate harmoniously with donors and manage their resources in a transparent and accountable manner would pose enormous challenges.

These challenges came to the fore at one of the nine round-tables of the High Level Forum on Development Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana, where the African Development Bank (AfDB)  Group President, Donald Kaberuka, underscored the paramount importance of finding common grounds for stabilizing volatile situations.

"The costs of doing business in fragile and conflict situations are enormous and the Paris Declaration is about reducing the cost of doing business," Mr. Kaberuka said, while co-chairing the roundtable with two ministers from France and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Alain Joyandet and Olivier Kamitatu.

Apparently drawing on his long experiences as Rwanda’s finance minister, he said working with fragile states required high levels of risk that could only be contained through flexibility and innovation.

To deal with such a peculiar situation, the Bank has set up a fragile states facility in addition to a post-conflict facility set up in 2003 to further strengthen its ability to help such states clear their debt arrears to multilateral finance institutions and re-engage with the international community. The facility also provides additional resources on the basis of need to help these countries gradually walk away from the state of fragility.

Participants acknowledged that the development community understood that effective aid was most needed in fragile countries which could not afford the luxury to deal with fragmented aid and high transaction costs. They stressed the need for quick disbursement of aid to provide the intended peace dividend. The focus should be on rebuilding state institutions and addressing poor people’s basic survival needs.

The roundtable also underscored that engaging in fragile states also called for traditional aid agencies to change the way they do business by developing flexible and streamlined procedures for aid delivery.  To enhance the need for them to have greater risk-bearing capacity, they should pool funds and channel them through the budgets of recipient countries. They must avoid parallel project and program implementation, and apply the principle of division of labour with other partners. Above all, they must adopt the "3D" (Defence, Diplomacy and Development) approach in managing different bureaucratic cultures that the situation demands.

World Bank Vice President, Obiageli Ezeekwesili, cited the multi-donor joint assistance strategy established by the Democratic Republic of Congo as a practice that could be replicated in other countries.

In addition, participants emphasized the importance of implementing internationally agreed good practices and establishing intensive monitoring mechanisms that would make it possible to adjust strategy in order to prevent a given country from slipping back into conflict.

Participants reached a consensus on the need for inclusive strategies that attract the private sector to invest and create jobs in fragile states.

Development agencies use the term ‘fragile’ for states with a high degree of political or institutional instability or incapacity, where conventional aid-effectiveness principles are most challenging to apply.

The Paris Declaration states that, while the guiding principles of aid effectiveness apply, they need to be adapted to take account of weak ownership and capacity, and to meet the immediate needs of service delivery.  It recommends that donors harmonize their activities through joint needs assessments and strategies, while involving national counterparts as much as possible through a set of Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States, which have been piloted and refined over the last couple of years.