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Parliamentarians Emphasize Their Role as Partners to the World Bank Group in Tackling Fragility, Conflict and Violence in the context of COVID-19

Virtual Parliamentary Meeting on Tackling Fragility, Conflict and Violence Strategy in time of COVID-19

“The World Bank is bringing in Members of Parliament and making them a part of the process. This will help ensure we are reaching the population and that local government will focus on development” Dissan Gnoumou, Member of Parliament, Burkina Faso

Parliamentarians from across the globe convened with World Bank leadership and experts in a Virtual Parliamentary Meeting on Tackling Fragility, Conflict and Violence in the Time of COVID-19 to highlight the important role of legislators in confronting FCV. They emphasized how they could partner with the World Bank Group to facilitate and enhance the implementation of its first FCV strategy released earlier this year, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, to improve development outcomes at the country and regional level.

The meeting, co-organized by the World Bank and the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and IMF, gathered more than 100 registered participants from 47 countries. Influential parliamentarians such as the Speakers of Parliament of Cabo Verde and Chad, as well as leaders of prominent parliamentary organizations including the Secretary General of ASEAN Parliamentary Assembly were among those connected.

"Parliamentarians must be seen as full-fledged actors as part of the World Bank strategy in terms of taking action and controlling and overseeing the government."
Jacques Maire
Member of Parliament, France and Founder of the G5 Sahel Interparliamentary Alliance

Through presentations from Franck Bousquet, Senior Director, Fragility, Conflict and Violence, World Bank and Soukeyna Kane, Country Director for the Sahel Countries, World Bank, parliamentarians gained a deeper understanding of the World Bank Group’s comprehensive, adaptable, and evidence-based FCV strategy, with specific examples of operations in the Sahel region. They also gained insights into how the strategy provides a framework to guide both emergency and longer-term interventions in countries now also fighting COVID-19. Parliamentarians from countries impacted by or implicated in FCV also shared their perspectives on actions legislators can take in shaping policies, allocating budgets, overseeing their governments and pinpointing the needs of marginalized communities. They underscored the importance of international solidarity and partnerships, both with the World Bank Group and with fellow parliamentarians, in achieving sustainable country outcomes. They also encouraged the participation of multiple stakeholders and local actors, such as civil society, to bridge differences and ensure inclusive development.

Participants elaborated on how the health and economic crisis being spurred by COVID-19 is compounding their challenging parliamentary functions in countries impacted by FCV. As nations declare states of emergency and governments are being granted exceptional authority, parliament’s oversight function becomes all the more important, and difficult. Participants also cited allocating funds from the budget to human capital and preventative social programs versus spending on security as an ongoing issue that COVID-19 will only complicate further as economies slow and limited funds are redirected toward the pandemic response.

“This is not only about additional resources; it’s about asking countries to make sure that they have a plan to address prevention and resilience. And that our programs aim at addressing prevention and resilience.” Soukeyna Kane, Country Director for the Sahel Countries, World Bank

Addressing FCV is crucial to achieving the World Bank Group’s twin goals to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. While extreme poverty is falling around the world, it is increasing in countries affected by FCV, where it is estimated that up to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor will reside by 2030. The COVID-19 outbreak is only exacerbating development efforts in these complex settings.

“Conflict and pandemics do not recognize borders and do not need passports,” Franck Bousquet, Senior Director, Fragility, Conflict and Violence, World Bank

The World Bank Group is doing more, and doing it differently, scaling up and expanding its commitments to the most vulnerable communities in FCV situations through long-term, multi-faceted and tailored approaches to national and regional needs. The latest International Development Association (IDA) financing package, IDA19 includes $18.7 billion of support for FCV-affected countries – a 27 percent increase from the previous IDA18 replenishment, which had already doubled funding for FCV. The World Bank Group has evolved its work from a focus on post-conflict reconstruction to address challenges across the full spectrum of fragility – before, during and after crises. Countries impacted by FCV will also be prioritized in the $160 billion in COVID-19 financing over the next 15 months.

Key takeaways of the meeting included:

  • The significant role of parliamentarians in achieving development outcomes as part of the WBG’s evolved approach to FCV, especially vis a vis government oversight and accountability, and through community-driven approaches that prioritize the most vulnerable given their proximity to people on the ground.
  • The multiplicity of crises facing FCV countries: in addition to insecurity, they are grappling with socio-economic challenges, climate change, and most recently COVID-19.
  • The importance of human capital investments in FCV settings (health, education, nutrition) and prioritizing spending on prevention and reaching marginalized people in spite of scarce fiscal resources. COVID-19 is the latest of many crises competing for funds.
  • The need for increased collaboration among development, humanitarian, and security actors as well as solidarity between parliamentarians across borders.