Published on Development for Peace

Fostering UN-World Bank Partnership to Tackle Fragility in Burundi and The Gambia

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Construction of the OMVG (Organization for the Development of the Gambia River) electrical sub-station at Brikama, The Gambia Construction of the OMVG (Organization for the Development of the Gambia River) electrical sub-station at Brikama, The Gambia. Photo credit: Jason Florio/ World Bank.

In today’s complex global landscape, addressing fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV) requires multifaceted approaches and strong partnerships. The long-standing collaboration between the United Nations and the World Bank in fragile and conflict-affected settings demonstrates how strong collective action can tackle the root causes of conflict and advance peacebuilding efforts.

In 2020, the 19th replenishment of the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA19) introduced a new funding envelope for countries facing a range of FCV risks. It offered three FCV-related sources of financing in addition to core country allocations, namely the Prevention and Resilience Allocation (PRA), Remaining Engaged during Conflict Allocation (RECA), and Turn Around Allocation (TAA).

During the IDA19 cycle, 13 countries accessed the FCV envelope, for a total of $5.4 billion. To maximize the impact of IDA financial instruments, partnerships are crucial, particularly in settings that fall outside the World Bank’s areas of expertise – such as political processes, security, and justice. In those areas, the Bank has benefited from the UN’s experience, as highlighted in the latest UN-World Bank Joint Monitoring Report. Burundi and The Gambia provide excellent examples of this World Bank-UN collaboration.

Building Peace and Resilience in Burundi

Since independence, Burundi has been caught in a multidimensional fragility trap characterized by conflicts that have rolled back and considerably limited its social and economic development. With the election of a new president in May 2020, Burundi has demonstrated its commitment to peace and economic and social reforms. To further support the peace process, Burundi gained eligibility to the IDA PRA, securing a notional top-up allocation of $102.3 million (for FY24-25), marking a 75% increase in IDA funding for those fiscal years.

Burundi has developed comprehensive strategies to address factors of fragility and strengthen resilience to conflict. The country has made a series of ambitious commitments spanning security, justice and development, which will be monitored as part of the PRA process. The government demonstrated ownership and commitment to the PRA agenda by approving the corresponding action plan and by adopting and signing a decree in February 2024 that established an institutional mechanism to monitor its implementation.

The World Bank and the UN worked in partnership to support the government in developing the action plan and in identifying milestones, indicators, and key areas of intervention. Both institutions also supported the implementation and monitoring of the Peace Prevention and Resilience Action Plan, leveraging their comparative advantage to lend support as the country strives to achieve specific milestones.  

Reform and Justice in The Gambia

In 2017, The Gambia celebrated a historic democratic transition, breaking with 22 years of authoritarian rule. The new government seized this window of opportunity to pursue major reforms, including on transitional justice, constitutional reform, land reform, and security sector reform. At this critical juncture, the World Bank provided enhanced support to the government, through the TAA. The Gambia gained eligibility to the TAA in November 2021, topping up its IDA Performance Based Allocation by 125%, and bringing the country allocation (for FY22-23) to $246.24 million – more than double what it would have received otherwise.

The Gambia also benefited from the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) Partnership Facility, which facilitated UN support to the government’s implementation of its Turn Around Strategy and the sharing of information and data between the UN and the World Bank on the government’s annual performance in achieving key milestones under the strategy. An important component of this facility is the joint UN-World Bank analytical work, which includes an update to The Gambia’s 2019 Conflict and Development Analysis.

The Government of The Gambia integrated the World Bank and other partners, including the UN, into the TAA governance and monitoring structures, by inviting the World Bank Resident Representative to participate in the steering committee, jointly with the UN Resident Coordinator, and including relevant UN agencies in the TAA Technical Committee and working groups. The result has been richer technical inputs into the TAA review process, underpinned by strong government leadership, sustained dialogue on addressing the drivers of FCV, and a significant sharpening of the indicators used to measure the government’s performance against its TAA milestones. 

In both countries, the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has been supporting the respective government in achieving key milestones through UN agencies. In Burundi, the United Nations Development Programme and the U.K.-based peacebuilding organization Cord led a $1.5-million project to establish a center for protection against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV); and a $3-million UN Capital Development Fund implemented project that helped launch the Kibira Foundation, enhancing state presence in Kibira National Park, improving land access for marginalized Batwa communities, and reducing deforestation.

During The Gambia’s political transition, the PBF supported political dialogue and key reform processes, including establishing the National Human Rights Commission and the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC). The TRRC’s investigative work resulted in the ‘Never Again’ report, framing the country’s transitional justice agenda with 265 recommendations.

Experiences in various fragile settings, including Burundi and The Gambia, demonstrate that strong partnerships between the UN, the World Bank, governments, and local stakeholders play an essential role in fostering peace and stability. By leveraging each other’s comparative advantages and expertise, these partnerships can catalyze transformative change by helping to coordinate investments and amplify impact. Government ownership and commitment are vital in accessing and effectively utilizing funds allocated for addressing fragility, conflict and violence on the one hand. Inclusive and accountable approaches that engage diverse stakeholders, including local communities and civil society, are also essential for driving sustainable change in conflict-affected settings.

Halimatou Hima

Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV) country coordinator for Coastal West Africa with the World Bank Group

Boubacar Dia

Senior Operations Officer and the Fragility, Conflict and Violence Coordinator for Burundi with the World Bank Group

Anne Hagood

UN Peace & Development Advisor (PDA)

Patrick Mc Carthy

UN Peace & Development Advisor (PDA) in The Gambia

Marija Vareikaite

Knowledge Management Officer in the UN-IFIs Partnership Team at the Peacebuilding Support Office, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA)

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