How to Respond to Weak Governance In Fragile Countries

Suspending aid has been a standard donor response to violence and poor government practices in recipient countries. The action works in some places, but donors should be careful in playing this card in fragile states, a World Bank official has warned.

“Tampering with the aid spigot can make matters worse for countries that need external support to restore confidence and create institutions that are better able to manage violence,” Nicholas van Praag, who manages the communication and advocacy unit for the World Development Report 2011, writes in the bank’s “Conflict and Development” blog.

Stop-and-go aid patterns adopted by donors in response to poor government behavior and similar reasons are disruptive and halt development operations in their tracks, van Praag explains.

He suggests a potential solution, with the aim of “increasing distance” between the aid-recipient government and donor funding.

He explains: “Under normal circumstances, aid would support regular government programs. As risks increase, assistance could be diverted to programs with independent oversight or to local government and community-driven efforts. At the extreme end of the risk spectrum, donors could consider giving full responsibility for execution of programs to non-governmental groups with local staff.”

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.