Sat, Apr 04, 2015 - Page 9 News List

Aid must be smarter to stop conflict and end poverty

More focus is needed on security and policing in fragile states, with nearly two-thirds of nations likely to miss the millennium development goal of halving poverty by 2015

By Clar Ni Chonghaile  /  The Guardian

Illustration: June Hsu

Despite sending more than half their aid to countries marked by conflict, donor states have not been successful in promoting peace and building institutions, and this failure risks torpedoing efforts to lift the world’s most vulnerable people out of poverty, according to a new report.

States of Fragility 2015, which has been produced by New York University’s Center on International Cooperation (CIC) for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), says many countries will not be able to eradicate poverty if concentrated efforts to address fragility are not made now.

“To rise to the challenge of the post-2015 era, aid needs to be made smarter,” the report said, adding that the development debate offered a “historic opportunity” to make the international approach to fragility and financing “fit for purpose.”

“If institution-building and conflict reduction continue at their existing pace, by 2030 nearly half a billion people could remain below the poverty line of US$1.25 a day,” it said.

While fragile states had made progress towards achieving the millennium development goals (MDG), as a group they lagged behind other developing countries: Nearly two-thirds are expected to miss the goal of halving poverty by 2015, with just a fifth halving infant mortality and just over a quarter halving the number of people with no access to clean water.

“These trends point to a growing concentration of absolute poverty in fragile situations — today, the 50 fragile countries and economies monitored by the OECD are home to 43 percent of people living on less than US$1.25 a day; by 2030, the concentration could be 62 percent,” the report said.

Sarah Hearn, associate director and senior fellow at CIC, said the big flaw of the MDGs was that they did not directly address governance, conflict and fragility.

AID ORPHANS

“A lot of aid has gone into health and education and social sectors, which is really important and a part of peace-building but there has been insufficient emphasis on security and justice and policing and politics, and those are really important areas for countries trying to exit conflict,” she said.

UN member states are due to meet in New York in September to finalize a new set of 17 goals and 169 targets — the sustainable development goals — that will set development priorities until 2030. The draft includes a target to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.

“Far greater international political will is needed to support nationally owned and led plans, build national institutions at a faster rate and help countries to generate domestic revenues and attract private finance,” the report said.

The report found that some countries received the lion’s share of the aid, which has nearly doubled over 15 years: Afghanistan and Iraq accounted for 22 percent of all official development assistance (ODA) sent to fragile states and economies.

Hearn said a new model of global monitoring would help to address such inequalities and improve efforts to prevent crises.

“Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are a really important example of that ... They were actually aid orphans before the Ebola outbreak. Only about US$9 million was going into those countries for infectious disease control, and now of course it’s billions that are going to have to flood into the region,” she said.

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