Why has aid not reduced poverty in fragile states? Why do donors need to work more effectively in fragile states, and how should they go about this? This policy paper from the Department for International Development (DFID) brings together the latest analysis from DFID and others on how to make development more effective in fragile states. It sets out some objectives and makes commitments about how DFID will work differently in the future.
Fragile states cannot or will not deliver what citizens need to live decent, secure lives. They cannot or will not tackle poverty. They are the most difficult environments in the world and working with them is complex, costly and carries significant risks. As a result, donors have often avoided aiding them or relied on humanitarian responses, which do nothing to address chronic state weakness. An emphasis on rewarding countries with relatively effective governments and stable macroeconomic policies has led to further neglect of fragile states, and aid that has been given has often been delivered badly.
Fragile states matter because poverty is so widespread; because they can destabilise regional and global security; and because the costs of late response to crisis are high. Aid has failed to reduce poverty in fragile states because there has not been enough, the aid provided has been delivered at the wrong time and it has been delivered in ineffective ways. However, there is significant potential to improve aid effectiveness in fragile states, through:
- Better early warning systems (and early response).
- Understanding the political economy (the drivers of change approach).
- Recognising the importance of regional relationships and institutions.
- Combining aid with diplomacy, security guarantees, human rights monitoring, trade policy, and technical assistance.
- Better donor coordination, including establishing an international mechanism to decide which donors do what and where.
- Support, in the first instance, for ˜good enough governance’ – the minimum institutions and capacity needed to get the job done.
The most urgent governance reforms are those that directly address aspects of state failure with the greatest potential to increase fragility. Initial success on an achievable reform package can be critical to the states legitimacy and to the political will that is necessary to carry through further reform. Other policy pointers are:
- Failure to protect people and their property, security sector reform, public financial management, and improving service delivery are key areas.
- Donor agreement on setting achievable objectives to reduce state fragility is important to stop overloading fragile states with overly optimistic reform programmes.
- There are ways of increasing access to services through international or local providers that do not undermine the state and may even strengthen it.
- The starting point in delivering services in fragile states should be to strengthen what works.
- Approaches need to be flexible enough to ensure a smooth transition from humanitarian to development assistance; supporting livelihoods is a very effective means of doing this, and social protection measures can be particularly useful.
- There are times when it will be necessary to bypass the state altogether, but the possibility of eventual transfer to the state, at least of the regulatory function, needs to be built into programme design.