Interview with Margaret Kilo, Head of the Fragile Sates Unit

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Mme Killo interview

“The objective of the December 1, 2010 seminar on capacity building in fragile states is to facilitate learning through the sharing of information and experiences”

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Fragile States Unit (OSFU) will organize on 1 December 2010 in Tunis a workshop to sensitize Bank staff on the administration of the Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Program (TCB) of the Fragile States Facility (FSF).  

For Margaret Kilo, Head of OSFU, the one-day meeting will serve as a forum to exchange and share knowledge on Bank intervention in fragile states, as well as draw lessons from past experiences to enhance further operations in beneficiary countries.  Interview

Question:  The Fragile States Unit is holding on December 1, 2010 a workshop on the Fragile States Facility’s Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Pillar?  What is the main objective of the workshop?

Answer:  The workshop aims to sensitize Bank’s staff on the Policy Guidelines approved in July 2010 by the Board on the Administration of the Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Program (TCB) of the Facility.  The seminar  will also provide an opportunity to share operational knowledge and experiences  of institutional capacity building operations in selected fragile states with a view to enhance good international engagement in our client countries.  The exchanges will also provide a better understanding of the diversity of fragile states and the need to customize approaches to country specific circumstances and needs.

Question:  Why is the training only on the Technical Assistance and Capacity Building pillar, when there are two other pillars for Arrears Clearance and the Supplemental Support?

Answer:  Arrears clearance and Supplemental support to fund investment projects and provide social and services are equally important, but technical assistance and capacity building is crucial in supporting the recovery process of fragile states.   

The focus here is on TCB for three major reasons. First, a comprehensive and well targeted technical assistance program combined with support for building state capacity and accountability is essential in sustaining the recovery processes of fragile states. Second, provision of TCB is essential in reviving service delivery and in ensuring effective implementation of the Bank Group’s program of assistance to fragile states. Third, in most of the fragile states, support for capacity building remains fragmented, and governments have been asking the Bank to play a lead role by supporting development of capacity building master-plans that could assist in coordinating assistance from donors.  It is also important to know that the capacity of countries’ public sector to deliver key services, undertake the day-to-day management and administrative functions of government and address corruption and accountability are extremely low due to a combination of factors that include shortage of budgetary allocations, office equipment, working tools and low salaries that have fallen far below the cost of living.

The weak institutional capacity is further compounded by the flight of human capital and skills or brain drain, which is one of the legacies of fragility and conflicts.

Question: Could you please give us concrete examples of the Fragile States Facility’s support to countries?

Answer:  As I said earlier, the broad objective of the program is to lay a strong foundation for building state capacity and accountability in beneficiary countries. To that end, given the capacity constraints in FSF-beneficiary countries, the program focuses on the provision of working equipment, large scale training of senior executives and technical staff through in-service seminars, demonstration projects, workshops and short-term overseas courses and seminars.  

The provision of working tools and equipment is also taken into account.  This dimension is negotiated on a case-by-case basis with the requesting governments, with the objective of ensuring sustainability of support by requesting the programming of resources in the country’s fiscal budget for maintenance, upgrading, replacement and the continuous training of staff, even after the end of the Facility.

Question:  The Organisation  for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) will make a presentation on the Principles of Good International Engagement in Fragile Sates and Sates-Building.  How do the two institutions partner on TCB?

Answer: We work in synergy, and the Bank’s strategic framework for assisting fragile states, including the delivery of TCB operations is be done within the overall framework of the ten  OECD-DAC Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations that govern all FSF operations. Six of the ten principles are particularly relevant in the context of providing technical assistance and building state capacity and accountability.  

These six principles are: 

  • Understanding the specific context in each country, and developing a shared view of the strategic response that is required;
  • Doing no harm in the course of providing TCB;
  • Focusing on state building as the central objective;
  • Agreeing on practical co-ordination mechanisms with other partners engaged in providing TCB;
  • Aligning with local priorities; and
  • Acting fast, and staying engaged long enough to give success a chance. 

The Principles complement the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and recognize that a long-term focus on state capacity and accountability is critical in all fragile states contexts.

Question:  Are you planning to organize similar sensitization seminar in beneficiary countries?  

Answer: This Tunis meeting is just the start to sensitize Bank staff first.  For the next steps  we will go to the field ,  to exchange not only  with our colleagues of  field offices - who provide  strong support to OSFU staff  -, but also  to deepen dialogue with  partner  countries and get additional feedback from  the civil society and government institutions, so as to refine the implementation of our projects.  

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