Indicators, measurement, results – we need to know! Sounds like a typical meeting of evaluators wanting to know about what and how results are being achieved. Right? Actually, these were the central themes of the meeting of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The meeting brought together leaders from fragile and conflict-affected states, known as g7+, and donor countries, as well as representatives of international organizations and civil society.
I was thoroughly impressed by their determination to end fragility. This clear focus on the end game combined with a strong commitment to find the right indicators and monitor and measure progress is an encouraging sign that leaders in these countries are serious. The frankness of the discussion was much inspired by Emilia Pires, the Minister of Finance of Timor-Leste, one of the Co-Chairs of the International Dialogue and the Chair of the g7+.
In her opening remarks at the launch event for our evaluation of World Bank Group Assistance to Low-Income Fragile and Conflict-Affected States, which took place in Nairobi just after the Kinshasa meeting, she spoke of the urgency of implementing the evaluation’s recommendations and of making sure its lessons get translated into policies and actions.
Our evaluation covers a set of complex issues, mirroring the complexity of development challenges in fragile and conflict-affected states:
- Improving the public sector – through, among others, public expenditure management, civil service reform, and service delivery to citizens –in terms of its immediate functioning while at the same time developing its capacity;
- Providing citizens with services not only through the traditional channels – for instance, by providing health services through non-state actors as is the case in Afghanistan – and with the use of community-driven development programs that provide resources to them directly (Afghanistan, Nepal, and Yemen);
- Tackling the challenges of jobs and economic growth – both intertwined with security and stability as much as with the development prospect of the country – in ways that strategically integrate the comparative advantages of the World Bank Group institutions so that investment climates improve to ensure private sector investment opportunities can materialize and benefit broad-based economic growth; and
- Addressing gender concerns not simply through the angle of social sector services, but by resolving economic disempowerment and the effects of gender-based violence.
Our evaluation resonates with World Bank Group colleagues from the Global Center on Conflict, Security, and Development. IEG’s launch event was organized as part of their Learning Week in Nairobi, which aimed to create a forum for discussions and knowledge exchange among Bank Group staff, donors and clients about best practices and lessons from working in most challenging environments around the world. Some of the discussions touched upon how the Bank Group staff working in the FCS countries need to inform the current Bank Group restructuring process, particularly shaping the fragility cross-cutting solutions area and its relationship to other important issues, in particular jobs and gender. As the evaluation illustrated for these two areas, specific, tailored responses to the circumstances of fragility are needed.
The interest and commitment of the g7+ and International Dialogue together with the strong commitment of the Global Center on Conflict, Security, and Development are a promising platform to see that lessons are learned and internalized from this evaluation. Over the next six months, IEG will be building on this with a series of learning products on specific topics--such as how resource richness and extractives, gender, the private sector, and jobs play out in FCS countries--that mine the evaluation in more depth. This is the part of IEG's wider commitment to maximizing learning from its evaluations by making evidence accessible and relevant to operational teams.