High Level Panel on Fragile States calls for more resources for AfDB

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Fragility and post-conflict situations, a matter of great concern for development institutions including the African Development Bank (AfDB), were central to discussions at its September 25-26 meeting in Paris on ADF-13 Replenishment.   

The Bank’s work through African Development Fund (ADF) is much appreciated by regional member countries, as indicated by representatives of Malawi, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. AfDB management intends to do more.  

In his opening remarks AfDB President Donald Kaberuka said “the Fund’s emphasis will shift towards those who need greater support while those who can do more for themselves will be encouraged to do so. We are refining our approach to engaging with fragile states to address the root causes of fragility and not just treat the symptoms. The task is for our instruments and procedures to be flexible and responsive so we can do more and do it faster while remaining focused on operational effectiveness and developmental impact.”

At the September 25 meeting, the High Level Panel on Fragile States, chaired by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, made a statement on its work, focusing on directions for the AfDB in its intervention.   

On the ground the Panel has noticed that “the dynamics of conflict and fragility on the continent are changing rapidly, putting at risk and challenging the hard-won gains made by many countries.” It then urged partners to act quickly for the following reasons:

  • Rebuilding and reconstruction solutions are complex and need long-term engagement;
  • Conflict and poverty act in self-reinforcing manner;
  • There is an increased awareness of political and social instability due to sub-state fragility in non-fragile states. There is a growing recognition to address not only situations of post conflict, but also how conflict could be prevented before it emerges;
  • Climate change and related pressures over access to land and natural resources is going to be the greatest risk to new and emerging conflict;
  • The rapid pace of unplanned urbanization puts huge pressure on post-conflict countries’ needs for service delivery, energy and infrastructure; and
  • The movement of illegal small arms across the continent has become much easier and accessible than even before.

The mandate of the Panel is to provide recommendations to the global development community to address fragility and post-conflict issues in a more responsive, effective and accelerated manner.  

“While our work is still ‘work in progress’,” the Panel said in its statement, “there are certain new areas that the Bank should consider addressing in situations of fragility through its new Strategy for Enabling State building and Peacebuilding.”

The Panel’s recommendations include the following:

  • Working  together with other partners to address economic aspects of security and justice;
  • Acting as intermediary for private-sector investment;
  • Giving further attention to youth employment; and
  • Giving priority to women’s empowerment.

The Paris statement concludes by saying that “The Bank is seen as the institution that can deliver on the agenda for post-conflict reconstruction and development… The African nations and regional economic communities are asking the Bank to do much more and it cannot possibly do that with fewer resources. If we want to see change and results in situations of fragility on the continent, we need to help the Bank to become a fully resourced institution first.”

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