April 30, 2013–What will it take to end extreme poverty by 2030? Part of the answer revolves around fragile and conflict-affected situations – “situations” because sometimes otherwise stable countries have fragile regions or provinces. More than 1.5 billion people live in places affected by conflict and extreme violence, where governments can’t fully function, and progress in achieving basic human development outcomes is stalled. The poverty rate is typically high and economic growth low. They seriously lag the rest of the world in progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, and are in danger of being left further behind as other developing countries grow and become more integrated in the global economy.
But such countries and regions should not “be viewed as basket cases,” says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
“We know there’s no quick fix,” says Dr. Kim in a blog, Five Steps to Help Fragile Countries. “The task is to understand what drives conflicts; move quickly and with flexibility on priority initiatives; deliver early results; create jobs; and help coordinate all the players in development. Fragile states can be lifted out of their fragility… We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
At the just-completed Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF, the Development Committee representing 188 member countries backed the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and urged a strong replenishment of the Bank’s fund for the poorest – the International Development Association (IDA) –especially in support of the world’s fragile states, where the challenges are greatest.
Dr. Kim joins experts focusing on the issues facing such countries this week at the World Bank’s Fragility Forum in Washington, where he will participate in the May 1 opening session: Stop Conflict, Reduce Fragility, End Poverty.
‘It’s About How You Get Things Done’
The 2011 World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development found building institutions can take 20 or 30 years—a generation. It calls for focusing development assistance on citizen security, justice, jobs, and building legitimate institutions that can prevent repeated violence.
In response, IDA has made addressing conflict and fragility a priority. The Bank Group also established the Center on Conflict, Security and Development in 2011 with staff in Washington, DC, and in Nairobi, Kenya, to bring a cadre of development specialists closer to many of the world’s fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS). Headed by Joel Hellman, , it has been dispatching experts as needed and has worked with 23 World Bank Group teams stationed in fragile states..
“The issue is really about how you get things done,” says Caroline Anstey, Managing Director. “How you take an education project, a roads project, a health project, and create systems to help those benefits get to the peoplewho need them –and doing it in a country where the regular systems we rely upon often don’t work; that’s why they’re fragile.”