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A Trip to the Sahel Shows New Opportunities

Jim Yong Kim's picture

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — I arrived in the Sahel on a four-country trip thinking of the trouble in the region: drought, hunger, and conflict. I left impressed by the political leadership and the resolve of the people. To learn more, please watch this video blog.

The Possibility of Social Inclusion: Yemen's National Dialogue

Junaid Kamal Ahmad's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français

Yemen. World Bank photo.“You are a Bangladeshi. Did your country benefit from seceding from Pakistan?” I was recently invited to meet with members of the Yemeni National Dialogue who are debating the future of the state.  The wounds of the past are deep in Yemen’s history – war between the South and the North and conflict within Regions – and not surprisingly the talk of regional secession is present in the discussions. The question drew a murmur in a room full of policy makers and activists from different parts of Yemen.  It had clearly touched a raw nerve.

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. Some argue that the process is incomplete and imperfect – not all stakeholders are present; there is a fear of elite capture; and in some parts of the country there is armed conflict. But, despite these challenges it is to Yemen’s credit that it is hoping to forge a state through dialogue – not the typical image of Yemen portrayed in the international press.

How Does a Fragile State Lose Its Fragility? Lessons From Cote d’Ivoire

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: العربية

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ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire – At a jobs training center in this key capital city in West Africa, a young man showed me his newfound skills as an electrician. At a workshop, light bulbs flickered on and off. And then he told me something really important:

“It’s been 10 years since I graduated with my secondary school degree, and because of our conflict, I have never held a job. So this is a blessing to me,” said the young trainee. “But my brothers and sisters and so many people haven’t had this opportunity. I wonder how they can get jobs, too.”

Bank Spring Meetings highlight solutions to food crisis, conflict

Julia Ross's picture

Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

The World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings concluded Sunday, having brought renewed attention to the impact of the food crisis, challenges facing conflict-affected states, and progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, among other issues.

In case you missed one of the many announcements or discussions held over the last two weeks, here are a few highlights:

Development Committee: Food Prices Remain Top Concern

Julia Ross's picture

Food prices are the biggest threat today to the world’s poor, World Bank President Bob Zoellick told reporters at an April 16 press conference following the meeting of the Development Committee of the World Bank and IMF. “We are one shock away from a full-fledged crisis,” said Zoellick.

In their final communiqué, Committee members expressed concern that “overheating in some sectors, especially food and energy, is resulting in price pressures and volatility.”

Violence and the failure of institutions

Marcelo Giugale's picture



The World Bank has just published its annual World Development Report, something it has been doing for more than three decades.  [Disclosure: this economist has been contributing comments to early drafts of the WDR for the past 20 years.] The new volume is about security and development.  It says that societies are constantly under internal and external “stresses”—think corruption, youth unemployment, racial discrimination, religious competition, foreign invasion, and international terrorism.

Conflict, security and development

Sarah Holmberg's picture

Nigel Roberts, co-director of the World Development Report 2011, blogs on the report’s release today over on the Bank's Conflict and Development blog. "We’ve estimated that 1.5 billion people live in areas experiencing or threatened by organized violence; that’s roughly a quarter of the world’s population," he writes.

Related

>WDR Webcast and Panel Discussions: April 14
>World Development Report
>Press release
>Videos
>Feature story

For Conflict-Affected Countries, MDG Challenge 'Daunting'

Julia Ross's picture

Over at the Bank's Conflict and Development blog, Nicholas Van Praag, Communications Manager for the 2011 World Development Report, shares his thoughts on the insidious impact of violence on development.

He writes:

"With more than 1.5 billion people living in conflict-affected countries, the challenge is daunting. There’s no chance of coming close to attaining the MDGs at the global level unless we move from bumper-sticker aspiration to policy action in fragile states."

Read the full post

Fragile States should not be forgotten while dealing with the international crisis

William Byrd's picture

Fragile States Panel. Photo: Geetanjali Chopra

Yesterday an exciting panel of committed global experts and international leaders spoke compellingly about the extreme problems faced by countries affected by fragility and conflict, and what can be done. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Managing Director of the World Bank) asked probing questions to the panel of Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion, and Wars, Guns and Votes), Donald Kaberuka (President of the African Development Bank, former Finance Minister of Rwanda), and George Soros (Open Society Institute, Soros Foundation).

 
I will write a more systematic summary paper later; here I am just trying to capture some memorable points that struck me from the lively discussion and debate.

Fragile States Panel. Photo: Geetanjali ChopraOn the one hand a sense of optimism, that the problems of fragile states can be addressed, the world is much more aware of these problems, and fragility is not a permanent condition, although it will require much more money and greater accountability, as well as strong leadership in the countries themselves.

On the other hand the recognition that helping countries move out of fragility and conflict is a long-term and thankless task, the dynamics of these countries often put them in a downward spiral, and it is essential to take advantage of windows of opportunity when they arise – whether at the end of a conflict or when there is political change (because once the windows are gone they are gone), and then have staying power. Deterioration can occur quickly, whereas rebuilding takes years and decades. Important not to lose hope.

Don’t bypass the state but rather use aid to help these countries build institutions, was a key message of the seminar.

More money for fragile and conflict affected countries (although it is tiny in relation to what has been spent on the global financial and economic crisis) needs to be accompanied by greater accountability. There are promising ideas, some of which have begun to be put into practice, that need to be scaled up and taken farther.