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Was Keynes right about fragile states?

Nicholas van Praag's picture

Keynes said that “In the long-run we are all dead.” But for people living in fragile states affected by violence, the short run can be deadly too.

The challenge is to balance swift action with long-term stability and security. The two must be carefully paced and sequenced if we are to make progress, both sooner and later.

Not by bricks alone.

Frustration with the slowness of recovery efforts has focused attention on the short-term part of the story. No wonder. We have seen the promise of peace dashed so often by tardy action on meeting immediate needs.

Look at Haiti. Whoever emerges from the presidential elections will be under huge pressure to get a lot done fast, from controlling the cholera epidemic and rebuilding homes to getting intimidating gangs off the streets and creating jobs.

We've been there many times before in fragile places the world over - whether they are emerging from the devastation of violent conflict, exacerbated in Haiti by the earthquake, or about to plunge into it. Neither national leaders nor the international community have been effective enough in responding to the pressures that lead to conflict or reignite its embers.

Speedy action to meet immediate needs is a good start but it is not enough on its own to solve what is perhaps our greatest development challenge -- giving a stake in the future to the 1.5 billion people who are forced to look on as the middle income countries power ahead, with many lower middle income states on their heels.

Paul Collier: New rules for rebuilding a broken nation

Daniel Maree's picture

Like you, we sometimes spend our lunch-breaks catching up on old TED videos – especially when one of our Advisory Council members is involved!

Check out Paul Collier’s TED@State talk in which he explains the problems with current post-conflict aid plans, and suggests three ideas for a better approach.

 

WATCH:

 

 

Collier is Professor of Economics and Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. His work focuses on the causes and consequences of civil war, the effects of aid, and the problems of democracy in low-income and natural-resource-rich societies. He addition to serving as Associate Professor at the Université d'Auvergne, and Fellow of the Center for Policy and Economic Research in London, Collier is also a member of the WDR 2011 Advisory Council.

 

From Aceh to Haiti - Recovery is possible

Natalia Cieslik's picture

Joachim von Amsberg, the World Bank's country director for Indonesia, published an interesting op-ed in today’s Washington Post: Out of Aceh's experience, hope for rebuilding Haiti.  Despite the many differences between these two conflict-affected countries, he draws lessons from post-tsunami Aceh for a possible recovery in Haiti. “Local and national leadership count," he writes, "and empowering people is key.  In Aceh, strong top-down leadership was complemented by the empowerment of the people and communities. Victims became development workers. Aid recipients and former combatants became community facilitators. Displaced families became workers who rebuilt their houses. By channeling a large share of reconstruction funds directly to communities, the people of Aceh's problems were transformed as they became part of the solution. Their hard work meant that houses were built faster, at a lower cost, and better met the needs of the people.”

Haiti Family
    Photo © 'Paul Jeffrey'


 
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