Interview with Fragile States Unit Head, Magaret Kilo

09/06/2009
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“The ideas generated in the conference could also inform the preparation of guidelines that could be used by donors and aid-recipient countries in improving the delivery of development assistance in fragile states,” says AfDB Fragile States Unit Head, Margaret Kilo.

Question:  Fragile States occupy a key place in the Bank Group’s Medium Term Strategy. Could you tell us the reasons for this conference?

Answer: A defining characteristic of fragile states is the unavailability or extremely poor delivery of public services - health, education, water supply and sanitation, judiciary, security, etc.  The purpose of the conference is therefore to provide a platform that could enable donors and aid-recipient countries to exchange ideas and experiences on what works and what does not in the process of delivering public services in fragile and conflict-affected countries. The knowledge generated will help in developing guidelines that could improve the delivery of public services in fragile states.

Question:  What is the relevance of contracting out core government functions and services in fragile and post-conflict situations?

Answer: Contracting out core government functions is one proposal that could be implemented to help improve service delivery in some fragile states. A key advantage of this approach is that it brings the private sector into the process of delivering public services in fragile states.  As evident from the discussions in the conference, the approach could fail or succeed depending on specific country contexts. Other proposals that have been floated include the use of “independent service providers”. All these are proposals that have not been tested and their underlying objective is to help improve the delivery of essential public services in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

Question: What are your expectations with regard to discussions being held and how would you translate the conclusions of the conference into action within your department’s objectives?

Answer: By the end of the conference, participants will have some ideas on why service delivery has failed in fragile and conflict-affected countries. They will also have ideas on what needs to be done to improve service delivery in specific country circumstances.  The next step will therefore be to try to implement these ideas by reflecting them in country programming documents or applying them to specific operations aimed at improving service delivery.  The ideas generated in the conference could also inform the preparation of guidelines that could be used by donors and aid-recipient countries in improving the delivery of development assistance in fragile states.