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Stimulating Good Governance in Fragile States

Addressing the Challenge of Fragile States

Conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction are critical to the World Bank's mission of poverty reduction. Many of the world's poorest countries are locked in a tragic vicious circle where poverty causes conflict and conflict causes poverty. Eighty percent of the world's 20 poorest countries have suffered a major war in the past 15 years. On average, countries coming out of war face a 44 percent chance of relapsing in the first five years of peace. Even with rapid progress after peace, it can take a generation or more just to return to pre-war living standards.

How to deal with states coming out of conflict or seeking to avoid the breakdown of the state is a burning question. Conflicts not only lead to extraordinary suffering for the people involved but the spillover effects drag down their neighbors as well. The World Bank Group is working with other partners including trust funds and the United Nations to offer more responsive, flexible and comprehensive solutions in difficult environments.

Capacity development is fundamental to the broader objective of transforming fragile states into stable nations. A growing body of research on these issues is emerging, pointing to the lessons that have been learned in recent years. In general, these lessons are outlined in a series of papers and documents produced by the Bank, bilateral donors such as DFID and a working group at the level of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee.

Lessons learned:
 arrow blueAddressing incentives and institutions in order to strengthen governance.
 arrow blueBeing selective by maintaining a focus on the state's primary functions.
 arrow blueAdopting an incremental approach to build, sustain, and retain capacity over the long-term.
 arrow blueDefining the role of non-state actors in building capacity, especially the private sector, NGOs, and regional organizations.
 arrow blueIdentifying post-conflict, resource-poor, or policy-poor states that possess uniquely complicated characteristics and may require a customized approach.

Suggested reading:

 Legend: papers Papers web site Web Sites case studies Case Studies

 papersProvision of Social Services in Fragile States (PDF  PDF 746 kb)
 web siteThe Economics of Conflict
 case studiesDemobilizing and Reintegrating Rwanda's Ex-Combatants
 web siteMulti-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program
 papersLiving in Limbo: Conflict-Induced Displacement in Europe and Central Asia (PDF  PDF 1.14 mb)

web site

Fragile and Conflict Affected Countries
 case studiesForum on Development Effectiveness in Fragile States (PDF  PDF 140 kb)
 case studiesEvaluation of World Bank Support to Low Income Countries Under Stress  (PDF  PDF 1.76 mb)
 web siteOECD/DAC Senior Level Forum on Development Effectiveness in Fragile States
 case studiesAn Operational Note on Transitional Results Matrices: Using Results-based Frameworks in Fragile States (PDF  PDF 240 kb)


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