Twenty Fragile States Make Progress on Millennium Development Goals

May 1, 2013

Despite tough challenges in fragile countries, World Bank analysis reveals glimmers of hope

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2013—Despite enduring political and economic challenges, 20 fragile and conflict-affected states have recently met one or more targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and an additional six countries are on track to meet individual targets ahead of the 2015 deadline, according to a new analysis by the World Bank Group released today.

The figures stand in stark contrast to only two years ago, when the 2011 World Development Report on Conflict, Security and Development reported that no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country had achieved a Millennium Development Goal (MDG).  The analysis was released today in a paper prepared for the “Fragility Forum” event held at the World Bank and comes as the Bank embarks on a series of internal reforms to leverage its effectiveness in fragile and conflict-affected states.

This should be a wake- up call to the global community not to dismiss these countries as lost causes,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “These signs of progress do signal that development can and is being achieved, even amid fragility and violence.  But the challenges ahead for many countries are extremely tough. While these successes offer hope, the reality is that far too many fragile and conflict-affected countries lag behind the rest of the world. We need to offer timely and critical support to improve the lives of people living in these fragile countries.”

The analysis finds eight fragile and conflict affected states – including Guinea, Nepal, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Timor-Leste – have already met the goal to halve extreme poverty - the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day.

Among fragile and conflict-affected states, the greatest progress has been on gender parity in education – the ratio of girls’ to boys’ enrollment in school. Countries including Kiribati, Micronesia, Myanmar, and Tuvalu have met the target, and those on track include Burundi, Chad, Republic of Congo, Timor-Leste, Nepal and Yemen.

However, with less than 1,000 days to meet the MDGs deadline, and with only about 20 percent of fragile and conflict-affected countries now meeting the poverty target, the analysis says the majority of MDG goals in fragile states will not be met.  The analysis, based on the Global Monitoring Report’s data, also points out progress can be reversed for countries relapsing into conflict. 

The signs of progress reflect accelerated development as well as better quality data and monitoring. However the analysis shows lack of data remains a challenge in many countries.

A fragile state does not mean a failed state, and we need to accelerate our efforts to replicate the progress we’ve seen and expand on what works,” said World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey. “We know what gets measured, gets done. So it’s vital we all continue our efforts to help countries build up their ability to collect data as they navigate the tough road ahead.”

The analysis show six fragile and conflict-affected countries, including Nepal, Tuvalu, Comoros, Myanmar and Afghanistan, have already met the target on improved access to water.  Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone are on track to achieve the target by 2015.

Nepal stands out as the only fragile and conflict-affected state to have already reached the target on reducing maternal mortality. For women in Nepal, the chances of dying in childbirth have been cut in half since 1996. Other fragile and conflict affected states such as Afghanistan, Angola, Eritrea, Timor-Leste and the Republic of Yemen are on track to meet the MDG on maternal health, provided their current rate of progress continues. 

The 20 fragile and conflict affected countries which have met one or more targets are Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Comoros, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Liberia, Libya, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sudan, Syria, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, and West Bank and Gaza.

Much of the Bank’s work in fragile and conflict-affected states is supported by IDA, the World Bank's fund for the poorest, which currently has an active portfolio of 190 projects in fragile and conflict-affected states. Since 2000, IDA has provided more than $22 billion in support for fragile and conflict-affected countries, including projects immunizing about 10 million children and delivering antenatal care to about 1.5 million women. To further the impact of IDA in fragile and conflict-affected states, the Bank’s reform measures include a sharper focus on dealing with the causes of conflict and fragility, and new policies to provide more flexible and faster support.

Note: Based on analysis of data in the Global Monitoring Report 2013 and the World Bank’s Harmonised List of Fragile Situations FY13


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