Design, Monitoring and Evaluation for Peacebuilding

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Evaluation of World Bank Group's Assistance to FCS: 7 Lessons for the Peacebuilding Community

An evaluation of World Bank Group’s support to fragile and conflict-affected states was recently published by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG). 

While traditionally, development and conflict management were viewed as two separate fields of practice, with 370 million people residing in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS) among low-income countries, there is growing recognition among the international community of the intrinsic link between the two. 

The World Bank Group’s management welcomed IEG’s review of its assistance to FCS. The Bank Group has identified support to FCS as a strategic priority, critical to achieving its mission of poverty alleviation and shared prosperity. In addition to scaling up investments and resources, the Bank Group has established the Center on Conflict, Security and Development, and the Hive, a knowledge-sharing platform designed to connect individuals working on issues of fragility, conflict, and violence around the world. 

The IEG evaluation assessed the relevance and effectiveness of the Bank Group’s country strategies and assistance programs in 33 FCS. A detailed discussion on whether the evaluation successfully addressed the key evaluation questions is beyond the scope of this post. Instead, we wanted to highlight key themes that emerged from the evaluation report, and how they should serve as important reminders to the entire conflict resolution and peacebuilding community

1. The Need to Develop a More Suitable and Accurate Mechanism to Classify a Fragile and Conflict-Affected State

There continues to be confusion on how the international community defines when a country is a fragile and conflict-affected state. The report called for a more suitable and accurate mechanism to define FCS, which at minimum integrates indicators of conflict, the level of violence, and the political risks within the country. 

2. Importance of a Strong Understanding of Conflict and Fragility Drivers

Integration of well-researched and accurate conflict and fragility drivers make the country assistance strategy more relevant and realistic, and strengthen the design and implementation of assistance programs. While from the report it appears that the Bank Group is conducting conflict assessments and conflict analyses, they are not always resulting in a strong understanding of conflict drivers. 

3. Greater Attention to Conflict-Related Violence Against Women and Economic Empowerment of Women

While extensive progress has been made in mainstreaming gender specifically within social sector interventions, the evaluation pointed out that more needs to be done to address the effects of violence against women, to economically empower them, and to make demobilization, disarmament and reintegration programs gender sensitive. The evaluation report also recommended that while gender mainstreaming in FCS is important, where conflict affects women disproportionately, targeted programs are also needed to address the social and economic consequences of conflict on women. 

4. Importance of Applying Insights and Lessons from Fragility and Conflict Analyses to Operations 

An interesting finding of the evaluation report was that while efforts were made to draw on fragility and conflict analyses to formulate country assistance strategies, similar attention needs to be paid to applying the insights and lessons from those analyses to operations. 

5. Risk Assessments 

Country strategies must always tailor to conflict drivers. Organizations should develop contingencies based on political economy and conflict risks to allow for rapid adjustment of objectives, implementation mechanisms, and results frameworks. 

6. Promoting Inclusive Growth 

In FCS, organizations are frequently focused on economic growth in the short-term. However, promotion of inclusive growth requires greater attention to and investment in medium to long-term strategy, careful sequencing and customization of interventions to FCS contexts. An important point was also made regarding the impact of extractive industries. One cannot ignore the fragility risks associated with natural resource management, and therefore interventions must take into account the effects of the distribution of benefits and local economic development in a FCS context. 

7. Sustainability 

Community-driven development has been an important vehicle for short-term assistance, but it also needs to play a role in the long-term. For that, attention needs to be paid to developing the institutional and financial sustainability of community-driven development programs, and strengthening the viability of community institutions. 

Are there other themes that the peacebuilding community should be paying attention to? What do you think will be the impact of the IEG evaluation report on how the World Bank provides loans and financial assistance to FCS?