I am a mining specialist, not a conflict specialist. But on my recent trip to Sierra Leone, I was struck by the ever-present need to look at extractive industries through the lens of conflict prevention. The devastating 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone, in large part fueled by local alluvial diamond mining, is impossible to separate from future mining development. With over 50,000 deaths due to the civil war, we cannot ignore the link between conflict and mining.
Sitting in a safe house, an ocean away, three former pirates reflect on their past lives as ”footsoldiers” aboard skiffs preparing to attack unsuspecting cargo vessels off the Horn of Africa. Our research team is transfixed by their stories.
We listen as they describe to us how they got involved in the piracy business, how much they earned, how they spent their money and, perhaps most interesting, what they know about their ”masters” – the pirate financiers, investors and negotiators.
These footsoldiers were merely small fish in a big sea. They would be sent out to hijack shipping vessels, which would only be returned to the ships’ owners for a hefty ransom.
Following research for our report “Pirate Trails,” studying acts of piracy off the Horn of Africa, we estimate that between US$339 million and US$413 million was handed over in ransom payments between April 2005 and December 2012. The exact amount is very hard to pin down, given the reluctance of the shipping companies and pirates to reveal the cost and rewards of piracy.
This Blog was originally posted on the World Bank Voices Blog.
The National Dialogue is an important moment in Yemen’s rich history. It has brought together political parties, social groups, women, youth, and regional representation around a dialogue to craft the future of Yemen.
If there is one thing that most of the donor community can believe in, it is this: aid gets better results in countries with better governance. The data linking aid effectiveness and governance go back to the work of David Dollar and Craig Burnside around 15 years ago. And though there have been many challenges to the original findings, more recent studies by Aart Kray and colleagues on the World Bank’s (WB) own portfolio confirm that over the past 25 years, WB projects have performed better in countries with better governance. But for most people, it’s not the data that convinces them of this simple, but powerful maxim; it’s just a matter of plain common sense. Or is it?
Something strange and unexpected has happened to the WB’s portfolio in the last few years. Since 2009, projects in fragile and conflict affected states (FCS) have out-performed projects in the rest of the portfolio as judged by both internal and independent evaluations. The share of “satisfactory or better” projects has been 5-10 percentage points higher in FCS versus non-FCS over a three year moving average. Of course, a few years of volatile project performance data are not enough to challenge one of our most deeply held assumptions about aid performance. But what is going on here?
Spoiler alert: I don’t have the answer, just a lot of potential hypotheses. Here are some that come to my mind. You’ll undoubtedly have others.
The World Bank Group presents a plan to international donors to help Lebanon cope with the impact of the Syrian crisis.
World Bank Vice President Inger Andersen speaks more about the plan in this video.
At least 80% of countries considered fragile or affected by conflict are home to valuable extractive resources that the global economy hungers for. Earth’s riches like oil, gas, and minerals often fuel conflict, trapping all but the elites in poverty amid vast wealth.
A high-level panel of industry experts and representatives from CSOs and resource-rich nations weighed in today on the challenges that define poverty or prosperity in a fragile country.
Fragile states endowed with natural resources have the chance to benefit from their transformational impact, said Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director and chief operating officer of the World Bank Group. "Success can mean stability and development, and failure can mean aid dependency,” she said.
Indrawati underscored the need to get things right — alluding to the recurrent discussion regarding the “resource curse.” “Our focus is on transparency, governance, and strengthening country capacity,” she said.
On transparency, panelist Clare Short, chair of the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative, an international standard that ensures transparency around countries’ oil, gas and mineral resources, acknowledged that extractive resources “are very difficult to manage.”
The conflict in Syria, raging into its third year, is devastating the country’s population, economy, and infrastructure. The impact on neighboring countries, while less visible in the media, is nonetheless real and growing rapidly. At the request of Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the World Bank, in collaboration with the United Nations, the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund, undertook an Economic and Social Impact (ESIA) Assessment of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon. The report, available here, was presented to the newly formed International Support Group to Lebanon (ISG) at its inaugural meeting on the sidelines of the recent United Nations General Assembly.
Ferid Belhaj of the World Bank and Robert Watkins of the United Nations discuss the impacts of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, and the need for a coordinated response to the rising social and economic costs.
Getting Somalia right has huge regional and global implications and attracted $2.4 billion in support at a recent development partners meeting in Brussels.
Supporting fragile and conflict-affected countries to get back on a stable, hopeful development path is a key priority for me as Vice President for the World Bank’s Africa region. It is on my mind especially at the moment after being in Brussels several days ago to participate in the EU-hosted New Deal Conference on Somalia, and then visiting Bamako to pledge our support to Mali’s newly formed Government. As stated by the international community and many observers, the recent election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will open a new era of peace and reconstruction for Mali and we will be an active partner in this immense task.
The Brussels conference marks the anniversary of last year’s political transition and culminated in the endorsement of a “Compact” against which the international community pledged $2.4 billion through 2016. The conference, hosted by the EU and the Government of Somalia led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, not only helped consolidate international political support for Somalia but also generated considerable momentum for the country’s development plans and a path to international debt relief.
Over the summer I was part of a team looking at the potential impact that an influx of Syrian refugees could have on labor markets in Lebanon. Indeed, as of August 2013, over 914,000 people had crossed the border between Lebanon and Syria because of the Syrian conflict.