Inclusion, Governance, Fiscal Space Can Help Overcome Fragility

SUMMARY

A focus on inclusive politics, effective governance, and fiscal health offers a way to overcome fragility in sub-Saharan Africa, an IMF staff report says. Still, given the multiple sources of fragility, fragile countries find it very difficult to build resilience, the study adds.

 
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  • Fragile states face entrenched obstacles to economic human development
  • Countries that have built resilience offer lessons to fragile countries
  • Security, political inclusion, economic governance, fiscal institutions are key
  • Still, given the multiple sources of fragility and the reinforcing interactions among them, fragile countries find it very difficult to build resilience, the study added.

    The report, “Building Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa’s Fragile States,” was released July 1 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The report highlights the persistence of fragility and documents progress across countries since the 1990s, including through detailed analysis of seven country case studies.

    “One key message from this work is that countries need to reach a sufficient level of political consensus on the way forward to drive economic and other reforms that, over time, strengthen institutions and set the basis for economic growth” said David Robinson, Deputy Director of the IMF’s African Department.

    “Since there is no single or common cause of fragility, in light of the variety of individual country circumstances, there can be no single template for building resilience,” said lead author Enrique Gelbard. “Still, some steps that are part of a long-term vision—because resilience takes a long time to achieve—and with adequate tailoring to the specifics of each situation, are usually necessary to build resilience.”

    Such steps should aim at fostering security and inclusive politics as well as implementing selected and well sequenced legal, governance, and economic reforms; and building domestic capacity.

    State fragility

    Fragile states—states in which the government is unable to deliver basic services and security to the population—face severe and entrenched obstacles to economic and human development. While definitions of fragility and country circumstances differ, fragile states generally have a combination of weak and non-inclusive institutions, poor governance, low capacity, and constraints in pursuing a common national interest. Crises in such countries can also have significant adverse spillovers on other countries.

    Initially, fragility was mainly seen as proclivity to or a legacy of internal conflict, the report said. However, more recent approaches highlight other aspects of fragility that are not directly related to, or even associated with, violence, and can be retraced to the weakness and lack of...

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