July 15, 2011— Development practitioners based in fragile and conflict-affected situations often work in isolation, cut off from colleagues who can share ideas and experience. There is a pronounced urgency to almost everything they do; normal routines rarely apply. Immediate advice from a colleague facing similar challenges can make all the difference.
With this month’s opening of the Bank’s new Global Center for Conflict, Security, and Development in Nairobi, Kenya, development experts will have a new way to reach out. The center serves as a global “hub” to connect those working in fragile and conflict situations across the globe and to provide access to the latest research and knowledge on what works in volatile environments.
The center is staffed by a team of Bank experts with experience in fragile and conflict affected situations, working closely with U.N. and other partners.
“We really want to change the way we do business,” says Joel Hellman, Director of the Center as well as the Bank’s Fragile and Conflict-affected Countries Group. “The idea behind creating the global center was to shift some of our support closer to the ground, closer to country teams for quick disbursing advice, support and even surge capacity, when necessary, for these teams.”
“We wanted to create a place – both physically and virtually – that will bring together people working on fragile and conflict-affected situations,” he says.
In launching the center, the Bank is following up on recommendations set forth in the 2011 World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development. The Bank selected Nairobi as the center’s base due to its proximity to many of the world’s fragile and conflict situations and in recognition of its emerging status as important center for development expertise and practice across Africa.
“The negative impact of conflict on development is of particular relevance for Africa – which is home to 23 of the world’s most conflict-affected and fragile economies,” says Obiageli Ezekwesili, Vice President for the Africa Region. “The Global Center will be critical to supporting the efforts of these countries to build strong, legitimate institutions and governance that will not only provide security, justice, and jobs for citizens, but are crucial to breaking the cycles of violence.”
Tapping Partners’ Expertise
Through the center, the Bank will work with U.N. agencies, regional institutions, multilateral development banks, and bilateral agencies, tapping into their specialized expertise in the political, security and justice areas.
One such partnership is a Swiss-financed U.N.-World Bank Trust Fund that supports a program of small grants (up to $100K each) for projects in four pilot countries: Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea-Bissau, and Liberia.
"In a world where development and security are increasingly interlinked, the importance of collaboration between the U.N. and the World Bank in fragile and crisis-affected countries has never been more apparent,” says Bob Orr, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning. “The World Development Report contains a wealth of important data and analysis confirming these trends and pointing to areas where the two institutions could work better together.”
“The Global Center is designed to be a platform for partnerships and knowledge management and to provide support to country teams and clients in achieving and scaling up development results in fragile and conflict-affected situations,” says Joachim von Amsberg, Vice President, OPCS. “We will work in close partnerships with our partner countries and other agencies, including the UN and help implement the WDR agenda of building effective country institutions to overcome fragility and conflict.”
Adding to Conflict Portfolio
The Bank has a long track record of working with partners in conflict and post-conflict settings, including to mitigate the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Rwanda, in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and to endorse government reforms and debt relief for Liberia, in coordination with the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank, and the European Commission.
The center is the latest addition to a robust portfolio on fragile and conflict-affected state. The Bank’s International Development Association increased financial assistance to fragile and conflict-affected countries from $772 million in 2000 to $2.6 billion in 2010. In addition, the Bank contributes $33 million annually to the multi-donor State and Peace-Building Fund. It also administers the fund, which supports 40% of affected countries.
Over 20 years, Bank results in conflict-affected and fragile situations include reintegrating 235,300 ex-combatants into society, building 1,190 kilometers of road to increase access to hospitals, markets, schools and work, and creating more than 17 million person days of employment in Afghanistan, Burundi, Republic of Congo and Gambia.