Helping MENA Transition Out of Fragility

The World Bank Group released a new strategy for assisting people and economies in countries affected by Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV). The strategy updates Bank policies, improves on its expertise, and diversifies the financing tools designed to respond to the challenges of low-and middle-income countries facing situations of fragility, violence, and conflict.

The strategy has been informed by lessons learned through the World Bank’s recent engagement in countries, both during and post conflict, most notably ground-breaking work in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen. The strategy also fully endorses the World Bank’s overall approach—that addressing FCV is at the core of its development mission, and that peace and stability are prerequisites to reducing poverty and increasing growth.

The new strategy is embedded in a World Bank report, which explains that two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected countries by 2030. The number of people living in close proximity to conflict has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. One in five people in the MENA region now live near conflict. It also stresses that conflicts and fragility are spreading to middle income countries, where institutional weaknesses and social exclusion result in violence. 

“The best way to prevent countries in the Middle East and North Africa from descending into fragility in the first place is to ensure that they are institutionally solid. The international community has to link its response to fragility, conflict, and violence to inclusive and sustainable development,” said Ferid Belhaj, Vice-President for MENA at the World Bank. “I am also placing my bets on the youth of the region who will create opportunities and open new hope, so regional growth and integration replaces conflict and tensions.”

The World Bank maintains that, given the complex nature of working in difficult environments affected by fragility, conflict, and violence, development actors need to engage earlier to prevent conflict, stay engaged in situations of ongoing conflict, and prevent spillover effects from further de-stabilizing the region. This requires working with a diverse range of partners and accepting higher economic risks. Development policies need to be adapted to the distinct circumstances of FCV settings, and programs must be tailored to address the root causes of FCV.

Throughout the implementation of this strategy, the World Bank will help countries transition out of fragility by strengthening their institutions and economic resilience.