AfDB gains more experience dealing with development challenges in fragile African states

The management of the African Development Bank (AfDB) says it has initiated a discussion with its Board of Directors to shed light on effective strategic direction, improved operational processes and tools to address fragility in conflict affected countries in Africa.

According to the AfDB, the seminar on the “Bank’s Support to Fragile States: Lessons Learnt,” was based on a presentation made by Sunita Pitamber, Head of the Fragile States Unit, and looked at various issues relating to Africa’s fragile states and the fragile state facility.

In a statement, the Bank said “these issues included the definition of state fragility, history of the Bank’s support to fragile states, rationale for the Bank’s enhanced engagement in these states, their resource eligibility criteria and the resources allocation pillars.”

The seminar also highlighted the work being done by the Bank-wide Taskforce on future operational themes and procedures for fragile states, the statement indicated.

In her presentation, Mrs. Pitamber, according to the statement said that “since the establishment of the Fragile State Unit, it has been a continuous learning process in which the Bank has gained extensive experience which has made all the member countries recognize the fragile states facility as an important vehicle to support their development priorities.”

The AfDB said a number of issues were raised which the Taskforce could consider when finalizing its report on the Bank’s future support to fragile states.

These include the following:

·    A big-push from the fragile states themselves to reconsider the term “fragile”, as it gives the impression of “weak standing” rather than being on a strong path to peace and state building for sustainable development states,

·    The Bank should reflect more on what has been done in Fragile States and if possible bring in OPEV to make the necessary evaluations including conditions and criteria for the states to graduate from fragility;

·    Need for a differentiated classification of state fragility and lending instruments. As fragility varies over time, institutional and structural diagnosis should also vary to ensure different engagement modalities including sector support, budget support, capacity building, training policy dialogue, and transitional justice, among others.

·    The need for the Bank to remain within the state of continuum while identifying the positions of the different states and the Bank in the continuum. The Bank should not have blanket eligibility criteria based on what others are doing;

·    The Bank therefore needs to be more innovative and proactive, in accordance with the respective  dimensions of fragility and the volume of knowledge it has acquired since it commenced operations in Fragile states;

·    Need for the Bank to continue with its development partners such as the World Bank and African Union, among others in fine-tuning and harmonizing its support package on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind that the best criteria should be result-oriented.

The Board expressed its satisfaction that Mrs. Pitamber and her team are on the right path to meet the pervasive development challenges in the Fragile States, the statement concluded.

By Ekow Quandzie

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