To address state fragility and resiliency, experts share tools for targeted solutions

By Natalie Lovenburg

June 23, 2017

“This research is an attempt to move the field forward.”

Pauline H. Baker, Senior Governance Advisor at Creative

A new fragility and resiliency model is providing a promising route to recovery for struggling states, said governance experts at an event at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Pauline H. Baker, Senior Governance Advisor at Creative Associates International, presented the model of conceptualizing state fragility and resilience at the “Reframing Fragility and Resiliency” event.

The model is based on a statistical examination of fragility indicators correlated with conflict in 91 countries. The indicators were selected from the Fragile States Index. Three in-depth case studies of Egypt, Honduras and Pakistan were also conducted.

Baker highlighted that there are roughly 50 to 70 states considered fragile today, containing 22 percent of the world’s population.

Little progress has been made in reducing the prevalence of state fragility and traditional development approaches, while doing good, are not up to the challenge of promoting state resilience, explained Baker, who is also President Emeritus of the Fund for Peace. They fail to address the structural drivers of fragility, such as low political legitimacy, social exclusion, group grievance, inequality, factionalized elites, etc.

“This research is an attempt to move the field forward,” said Baker, addressing governance practitioners, policymakers and researchers in the room.

Evidence shows that a frayed state/society relationship contributes greatly to violent conflict, violent extremism, outflows of refugees and immigrants, among other challenges, said governance experts.

The fragility and resiliency model urges practitioners of development programming in fragile states that strive beyond good governance to promote “Transformational Governance.”

A focus on transformational governance

“We aimed to develop an assessment methodology that began to understand and measure fragility and resilience, based on citizens’ perceptions of the quality of governance in their communities”

Deborah Kimble, Director of Governance and Community Resilience at Creative

Transformational Governance refers to the process that builds the capacity of a government to fulfill its obligations to its citizens and of a citizenry to participate in the governing process. It aims at transfiguring, not simply relieving, a fragile state’s discontinuities and inequities.

Deborah Kimble, Director of Governance and Community Resilience at Creative, highlighted Transformational Governance programming at Creative, based on two case studies in Libya and Syria. In each case, focusing interventions on changing the roles, relationships and responsibilities of community actors and locally elected councils helped address discontinuities and inequities.

Kimble highlighted a complementary assessment tool developed by Creative called “The Fragility – Resilience Assessment Methodology (FRAMe).”

“We aimed to develop an assessment methodology that began to understand and measure fragility and resilience, based on citizens’ perceptions of the quality of governance in their communities,” said Kimble.

When testing FRAMe’s proof of concept in measuring citizens’ reality in Syria, Creative’s governance team was able to identify power dynamics among key actors, including local councils and the private sector, to better understand trust barriers within the community and build on resiliencies, said Kimble.

The USIP Vice President for Policy, Learning and Strategy, Joseph Hewitt, noted the strengths of the model, which stresses that fragility factors can co-exist alongside resilience factors, a notion that should influence policy and practice.

“The emphasis on Transformational Governance is crucial,” said Hewitt. “It highlights the two-way relationship that we want to be concerned with: strengthening aspects of government institutions and transforming civil society.”

 Read or download the “Reframing Fragility and Resilience” publication series.

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