Fragile States: Better Co-ordination of Financing Needs

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What is the role of development finance institutions in Fragile States?  This was the issue discussed at a forum on the ‘Role of International Finance Institutions (IFIs) in the Recovery and Development of Fragile States’ held on 28 May in Marrakech, Morocco, at the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The lead speaker at the forum was Serge Michailof, associate researcher at the Institute of  International Strategic Relations (IRIS) in Paris, France.

In his introductory remarks, James Wahome, economist at the fragile states Unit of the AfDB, outlined the challenges of recovery and development in Africa’s fragile states. Fragile states are states in conflict or exiting conflict after being ravaged by protracted war.  Their populations often lack basics like water, electricity and health services. These countries are also often characterized as ‘failing’ or ‘failed states’.

In the circumstances, what development assistance is most suitable for Africa’s fragile states?  In answering the question, Mr. Michailof first presented the example of Afghanistan, a country that has been in protracted conflict. He then dwelt on the possibilities of learning from the successes and errors of countries like Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s geographic features and ethnic make-up have contributed substantially to it being a fragile state. The interventions of the international community and those of foreign armies have not always been well thought out, Mr. Michailof said. Many of the lessons from Afghanistan apply to Africa, he said.
According to Michailof and other speakers, development financing and all other external interventions will only bear fruit when Africa’s fragile states have good governance and the return to true statehood. In this light, the reestablishment of security was a major preoccupation of the populations in Africa’s Fragile States, above social services, the French researcher, a former official at the French Development Agency (AFD) and the World Bank, said.

With regard to the reconstruction of these fragile states, Fatima Abdoulkarim Bazi of the Indian Ocean Commission said that promoting the reestablishment of the state should be should be the priority, ‘before all ethnic considerations’.

Improved governance should precede interventions for economic recovery and sustainable development.

Participants in the forum said international aid and assistance to fragile states should be strategic and coordinated, with projects reflecting the real concerns of these countries.  

Michailof said the main challenge in development was politics and  that politicians should come up with appropriate visions for their countries.