The World Bank’s Conflict Strategy Rifts

After extensive consultations over months with interested parties, the World Bank circulated a draft of its 5-year fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) blueprint intended to guide the new leadership and prepare for a scenario where half the world’s poor could be under the classification. It notes that displacement and war in low and middle-income economies have reached peaks, alongside climate, technology, capital flight and terrorism stress. Chronic bad governance is typically a feature due to affect the population and deepens poverty for another generation, and these combined challenges go beyond reconstruction to span a range of institutional capacity and human development issues. The latest IDA replenishment targets $15 billon for such purposes, with special pools like the $2 billion refugee window also available. Within the broader group IFC and MIGA are scaling up private sector activity, with the former committed to a 40% fragile-country portfolio. The template must be adapted to political, economic and security conditions and will require more staff taking greater project risks, the paper suggests. Environmental degradation, rule of law absence and weak business environments are structural obstacles where outside humanitarian and commercial partnerships should be mobilized as a priority. In the past decade major military confrontations have tripled and thirty countries are in constant crisis. They have drug, gang, gender and cross-border dimensions spurring over 30 million each in externally and internally dislocated waves, three quarters women and children. By 2050 Africa, Asia and Latin America could have 150 million climate migrants alone according to expert projections. Natural resource management is at the heart of two-thirds of fighting, and in cases like the Democratic Republic of Congo has perpetuated it locally and among neighbors. It also drives “elite capture and corruption” and tends to overwhelm cost-effective prevention efforts where one dollar invested can save fifteen dollars of damage.

Future engagement should focus on the most vulnerable in society and follow “do no harm” principles. The Bank has tried this approach in Yemen since 2015 with billions of dollars in food, fuel, health and power support. Standard monetary and exchange rate policies must also be monitored during these emergencies, as remittances are often vital while central bank operations cease. Subnational areas can be spared in the worst conflicts, and IFC has expanded agribusiness deals in parts of Afghanistan and Iraq. On refugees the UN’s Global compact in force this year has guided employment and education programs encouraging integration and self-reliance. Pandemics such as Ebola can be tracked more systematically for early warnings and treatment, and social safety nets and cash transfers should be in place if viable. The Bank Board will update its FCV policy as line staff streamlines small loan approval processes. New quantitative and qualitative indicators will aid evaluation and learning, and real time data collection from satellites and other sources can bolster planning. The Crisis Partnership with the UN can be extended to other official and private actors, as multilateral lenders also further build their dedicated economic migration platform. Faith-based and civil society counterparts are already part of natural outreach but banking and corporate executives should be added without disturbing the volatile mix, the document concludes.

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