As IFC invests more in fragile states, CSOs and NGOs seek a role

The logos of the World Bank and the International Finance Corp. The IFC is ramping up its investments in fragile states. Photo by: Alex Proimos / CC BY-NC

As the International Finance Corp. — the World Bank’s private sector lending arm — is boosting its investments in fragile states, civil society leaders wonder if they can play a role to enhance the effectiveness of these funds.

During a panel discussion at the Civil Society Forum at the World Bank annual meetings in Washington D.C., a representative from Dutch aid group Cordaid announced they will soon be signing up as a co-investor in one of the IFC investment funds in West Africa. The official asked the panelists how Cordaid — an organization with extensive experience working in fragile states — can help to speed up IFC understanding of fragile contexts so the money is well-spent.

One way nongovernmental organizations can play a role in aid effectiveness in fragile states is through procurement, noted Monica Stephen, head of international institutions at British NGO International Alert.

“There’s a lot more work to be done on the policy side … When we have safeguard reviews or when we do the procurement policy … there are very few NGOs engaging in that, but actually in a conflict context it’s a really important issue, procurement processes,” she said. “I know it sounds very sort of nuts and bolts and technical, but … who you buy your resources from on the ground can change the whole dynamic.”

At the same time, Stephen urged aid groups to be cautious when partnering with major institutions such as the World Bank in the realm of fragility and conflict sensitivity.

These organizations, she explained, are used to working to the brim under intense pressure, so offering extra advice under your area of expertise can be seen as an additional burden.

“Your organizational reputation is under scrutiny and it could be jeopardized because the program could go very wrong, and you’re in theory responsible for conflict sensitizing,” the aid official later told Devex.

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About the author

  • Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a former global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid, and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the U.S., and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.