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Results Briefs November 16, 2020

Supporting the Most Vulnerable: Scaling Up Support to Address Fragility, Conflict, and Violence

World Bank Group

World Bank support for settings affected by fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV) has expanded for both low- and middle-income countries. It has more than doubled under IDA18, rising to $23 billion from $10.2 billion under IDA17. Through this support, which ran from July 2017-June 2020, 38 million people in FCV-affected IDA countries have accessed essential health services, more than 15 million children have been immunized, and over 17 million people have benefitted from social safety net programs.


Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and threatened to push many millions around the world back into extreme poverty, the global progress that was  made against poverty over the last few decades was not reflected in countries impacted by FCV -- the World Bank estimated in February 2020 that by 2030, up to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor would be living in FCV-affected settings. Violent conflicts have increased to the highest levels observed over the past three decades, affecting both low- and middle-income countries, and there were some 80 million forcibly displaced people worldwide as of end of 2019, the highest number ever recorded. Rising inequality and exclusion are fueling grievances and perceptions of injustice, while factors like climate change, migration, technological transformations, illicit financial flows, violent extremism and poor governance also increase fragility and conflict vulnerability in many countries. Progress against the institutional goal of ending extreme poverty and the shared global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires strong focus on tackling FCV.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased pressure on already-stressed health systems and economies in fragile settings, with countries seeing their worst recession in five decades. Estimates suggest the crisis will push an additional 18-29 million people in FCV settings into extreme poverty in 2020. Tackling the pandemic thus requires an integrated approach that addresses the root causes of fragility as well as compound risks like drought, locusts, and other drivers of food insecurity.  


The World Bank Group's (WBG) approach to FCV recognizes that tackling development challenges in these settings requires a different approach than in other contexts. Projects and programs need to be designed to address the root drivers of conflict and fragility and not exacerbate them. The Bank systematically produces risk and resilience assessments (RRAs), which assess specific drivers of fragility and sources of resilience in each context, and are used to inform operations and country strategies. The World Bank convenes and works with a broad range of partners, including humanitarian, peacekeeping, and, in some cases, security actors to reach and support those most in need. For example, in Yemen, it is delivering projects during an active conflict through implementation partnerships with UNICEF and WHO, and in Central African Republic it has leveraged a partnership with the UN MINUSCA peacekeeping force to access insecure areas outside the capital.

Development effectiveness in FCV settings often requires innovative approaches that deviate from standards ways of work, and it is critical to develop and quickly share knowledge to help scale-up good practices in different places, as has been done with the 2018 flagship UN-World Bank report Pathways for Peace . Finally, the WBG approach understands that a suite of financing tools is needed to address the diversity of FCV challenges. Along with greatly expanded FCV financing through IDA, it deploys catalytic grants for critical FCV analysis and pilot programs and concessional finance for MICs to address refugee issues.


The Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend project  (SWEDD) approved in December 2014 is helping empower adolescent girls, and women, and increase their access to quality education and reproductive, child and maternal health services in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Between About 160,000 girls and adolescents have received a scholarship to go to school since 2015 and over 3,400 safe spaces have been established where about 120,000 out-of-school girls are taught life skills, sexual reproductive health knowledge, literacy, and numeracy.  Over 20,000 young women have been trained in non-traditional professions. In Mali, this has led to a dramatic increase in revenues earned by women from about $5 to $110 per month. Over 4 million people have been engaged on behavior change campaigns through local radio and the involvement of 6,400 religious leaders and women’s associations speaking out on girls’ schooling, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and female genital mutilation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus is on helping adolescents return to school and preventing gender-based violence.

Horn of Africa: The 2017 Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP), is a US$428 million regional operation in the Horn of Africa covering Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, which seeks to mitigate the social, economic and environmental impacts of protracted refugee presence. It invests in improving access to education, health, water facilities and road access; as well as expanding economic opportunities and enhancing environmental management for communities hosting refugees. Until September 2020,  630 community infrastructure subprojects have been completed, providing improved access to social and economic services and infrastructure for over 2.5 million people and 330,000 days of paid labor for construction work. This has meant that 74,000 people have improved access to energy, 82,000 beneficiaries have reported increased income, and sustainable land management practices have been adopted on 19,000 hectares of land.

The Jordan Emergency Health Project has provided critical primary and secondary health care services for poor, uninsured Jordanians and Syrian refugees since 2017, including maternal and child health, malnutrition prevention and treatment of communicable and non- communicable diseases at the 33 hospitals run by the Ministry of Health. With $200 million in additional financing added in June 2019, more than 5.7 million health care services have been provided, of which 3.2 million were for women. The project has helped establish the first systematic mechanism to track health services provided to vulnerable populations, including Syrian refugees.

Great Lakes Region: The June 2014 Great Lakes Emergency Sexual and Gender Based Violence & Women's Health Project, the first large-scale, IDA-funded project to deliver integrated services to gender-based violence (GBV) survivors in Africa, committed $107 million in grants to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and the International Conference for the Great Lakes to provide integrated health and counseling services, legal aid, and economic opportunities to those affected by sexual and gender-based violence. At project closing in December 2019, a total of 65,173 GBV survivors received at least two services (psychosocial, medical, legal or judicial), and 21,114 people received post-exposure prophylaxis within 72 hours of sexual violence, thereby providing lifesaving medical care and mitigating potential HIV infection. For these women, these services have sought to mitigate the devastating impacts of experiences of sexual violence. In DRC, 24,704 people also received mental health care. Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLAs) provided 3,991 women in DRC and 14,326 women in Burundi with access to credit, while community-based organizations provided legal assistance to 5,166 survivors. 

Yemen: The Yemen Integrated Urban Services Emergency Project approved in 2017 is restoring basic services in some of Yemen’s cities hardest hit by the ongoing conflict. Funded by a US$150 million grant from IDA in 2017, the project targets issues like uncollected trash, access to water and sanitation, urgent road repair for better access to health facilities and electricity for critical services. To date, 2.4 million beneficiaries have regained access to critical urban services, 200 kilometers of roads and streets have been rehabilitated, and more than 900,000 people have access to clean water and sanitation while over a million tons of accumulated trash have been safely disposed of. In addition, 47, 000 megawatt hours of clean solar energy have been provided to 86 hospitals and schools -- when COVID-19 hit Yemen, the public hospital in Sana’a had electricity around the clock, due to the provision of solar energy two years through this project. The WBG is partnering with the United Nations Office of Partner Services (UNOPS) to implement the project.

Afghanistan: The Citizen’s Charter Afghanistan Project (CCAP) delivers clean water, electricity, roads, irrigation, healthcare and education to communities across Afghanistan using a community-driven approach.  These services are part of a package of minimum service standards that the government has committed to delivering to all Afghans under its ten-year Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program. Since CCAP began in 2016 to support the program, it has reached over 13 million people in more than 12,000 communities. A key feature of CCAP is its support to over 13,000 democratically elected Community Development Councils (CDCs), half of whose members are women. CDCs lead inclusive development processes to ensure that they reach the most vulnerable populations. Through CCAP, 5,598,550 people have gained access to irrigation, 675,296 have access to renewable energy, and 619,723 to the use of infrastructure like roads and bridges. In May 2020, $100 million from CCAP was redeployed towards providing emergency household assistance in the form of food and cash assistance for the World Bank’s COVID-19 relief response in Afghanistan.

Guinea: In Guinea, the World Bank has been pivotal in supporting the Government’s transformational decentralization reform that promotes inclusive and accountable local governance, institutions and service delivery. The Third Village Community Support Project (PACV3), approved in 2016, has institutionalized a community-driven development approach, including participatory local development planning, creating approximately 1,500 microprojects across Guinea’s 304 rural communes until September 2020, including the building of schools, markets, and health centers. By 2019, the $15 million project had scaled up citizen engagement mechanisms, such as participatory budgeting, to 132 local governments, in alignment with the goal of promoting inclusive institutions.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): The Agriculture Rehabilitation and Recovery project in DRC, approved in 2017, is supporting farmers with improved agricultural practices and encouraging job creation, with particular attention given to youth and women, through civil works like rehabilitating and maintaining rural roads. Benefiting over 1.1 million people, it has created 50,000 jobs, which has promoted economic stability, contributed to economic recovery and reduced the risk of youth joining conflict. The project has improved agricultural productivity for maize, cassava, rice and groundnut --for example, maize yields have increased from 0.5 tons per hectare to 1.6 tons per hectare, and cassava yields from 7 tons per hectare to 20 tons per hectare. Storage silos for seeds and crops have also helped to reduce post-harvest loss by 50 percent and helped support improved food security and nutrition outcomes. About 715 villages have benefitted from the rural roads’ rehabilitation, allowing farmers to easily transport their agricultural produce to markets. The financing has also been used to create over 4,500 farmers producer groups, allowing them voice and empowerment, and a community self-managed savings and loans scheme.

World Bank Contribution

In addition to $25 billion in financing through IDA19 and the strong focus on FCV in IBRD countries through the 2018 General Capital Increase, the WBG supports both low- and middle-income countries affected by FCV through catalytic trust funds. 

The Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) supports middle-income countries (MICs) hosting refugees. Initially launched to support Lebanon and Jordan, the GCFF in 2019 provided budget support grants to Colombia (US$31.5 million) and Ecuador ($6 million) to support Venezuelan migrant populations and host communities. A partnership between the United Nations, Islamic Development Bank, the World Bank and others, the GCFF has disbursed more than $500 million in grants, leveraging over $3 billion in much-needed concessional financing for MICs. Donors include Canada, Denmark, the European Union (EU) , Germany, Japan, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The State and Peace-Building Fund (SPF), the World Bank’s largest Trust Fund for FCV, focuses on conflict prevention and supporting peace. In 2019, the SPF’s active portfolio comprised 74 grants with over $58 million in commitments. In the first eight months of 2020, almost $20 million in commitments were approved by the SPF – of which over $15 million was directly related to COVID-19 response. The SPF is currently supported by contributions from the IBRD and nine development partners: Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and The United Kingdom.

The Korea Trust Fund for Economic and Peace-Building Transitions (KTF) supports WBG peacebuilding initiatives, with $8 million in grants having supported preparation or implementation of over 30 lending operations to date. 

Over three years through 2019, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has invested $7.6 billion in countries classified as fragile and conflict-affected and very low income – $2.4 billion from its own account and $5.2 billion mobilized from other investors. As of 2019, MIGA had provided $2.7 billion of insurance to facilitate investment in countries impacted by FCV, which is 12% of its gross guarantee portfolio.


The WBG partners with humanitarian, development, peacebuilding, security, and private sector actors to maximize impact in FCV settings, building on the respective mandate and comparative advantages of each organization.

The UN and the WBG collaborate in FCV settings at both strategic and operational levels, in more than 40 crisis-affected situations. The WBG complements the essential short-term relief provided by humanitarian actors with longer-term development support, given the highly protracted nature of fragile situations. WBG financing provided through UN agencies reached approximately $2 billion between July 2017 and June 2020.

Partnerships with security actors—for instance, with UN peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mali—help the WBG access and provide development support in insecure areas. Through the G5 Sahel and the Sahel Alliance, which include Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, the WBG is leveraging security partnerships to deliver $6.7 billion in development support to insecure areas across the Sahel region.

The WBG also promotes joint analysis to inform financing needs and programmatic strategies in post-conflict settings through Recovery and Peace-Building Assessments (RPBAs), a trilateral instrument used by the EU, UN, and WBG. On forced displacement, strategic and operational alignment between the WBG and UNHCR has led to complementarity in programming and coordinated policy dialogue with client governments, as well as the 2019 establishment of the WBG-UNHCR Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement.

Moving Forward 

In February 2020, the WBG launched its first institutional strategy for FCV.

The key pillars that underpin the 2020-2025 WBG FCV strategy are reflected in specific components of the $25 billion financing commitment to FCV under the International Development Association 19th replenishment (IDA19) covering July 2020 – June 2023.  They include:

  • Preventing violent conflict by addressing drivers of fragility and strengthening sources of resilience and peace though the Prevention and Resilience Allocation (PRA);
  • Remaining engaged during conflict and crisis situations to protect hard-won development gains, human capital, and essential institutions through the Remaining Engaged in Conflict Allocation (RECA);
  • Helping countries transition out of fragility by strengthening resilience and the legitimacy and capacity of core institutions through the Turn Around Allocation (TAA);
  • Mitigating the spillovers of FCV and cross-border crises by supporting refugees and host communities through the Window for Refugees and Host Communities, as well as by taking regional approaches to addressing FCV as in the Sahel and Horn of Africa; and
  • Supporting the local private sector, which provides the majority of jobs in FCV settings, through the IDA Private Sector Window, in addition to support by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

The strategy also articulates specific operational measures and changes to personnel, policies and programming that will be addressed over the next five years to strengthen WBG effectiveness in tackling FCV challenges

Looking ahead, the enhanced IDA investments, along with IBRD, trust fund, and private sector resources, will drive increased and tailored WBG engagement in FCV settings.

In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, WBG support has focused on the most vulnerable – and this includes fragile and conflict-affected settings and displaced populations. As of September 2020, 31 of the 111 countries receiving support to address the crisis are on the World Bank’s July 2020 -June 2021  list of fragile and conflict-affected situations, and many more benefitting countries are impacted by broader aspects of FCV. In full alignment with the framework of the WBG COVID-19 Approach Paper, this support is focused not only on preventing, detecting, and responding to the threat posed by COVID-19 and strengthening national systems for public health preparedness, but also on building longer-term resilience in FCV settings by addressing underlying drivers of fragility.


“My name is Ramatou. I live in the Garina Village (Niger). We have received a lot of training on peace avoiding violent extremism and we have learned a lot about the importance of remaining in peace. Our only problem is poverty in the village. Conflict in bordering countries has had many negative consequences in our lifetime but in our area, we live very peacefully. Now I have started my own business where I sell local produce such as vegetables, flowers, local groundnut oil and other things. Through the project they draw attention to business management, and they have trained us in several issues regarding time management and improving our knowledge about cooperative credits and the union between women in the village. Safety nets is a huge program which gave us each 10,000 francs for 24 months. My business is farm work.  I initiated planting with the money given to me by the program which helps my family. We no longer think about the idea of leaving. Because of the project participation we have assistance we need so there is no need to go elsewhere”. 

Learn more about Ramatou and this project.