Nearly 1.5 billion people live in countries riddled with conflict, fragility and violence, and which have also shown the least progress on achieving development goals, according to a new OECD study. EurActiv Germany reports.
Progress in the fight against poverty is good news ahead of the steadily approaching deadline to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
But 50 of the developing countries who will not reach the target are becoming increasingly marginalised, a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states.
Almost 1.5 billion people – 20% of the world population – live in conditions affected by conflict, fragility and violence.
These countries have made the least progress in development over the past few decades, despite the fact that 20% of last year’s funding from the KfW development bank went to these countries.
The report alarmingly concludes that fragility and violence constitute a massive barrier to development.
More efficient use of resources
“We must focus more on the question of how these development aid funds can actually be used efficiently,” said the director of the OECD’s Directorate for Development Cooperation (DCD), Jon Lomøy. He spoke at a presentation of the report in Berlin, which is intended to contribute to the development of the post-2015 development agenda.
Fighting poverty is crucially dependent on advances in reducing fragility, Lomøy indicated.
Promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, and thereby the reduction of all forms of violence, is a basic condition for this process, he said.
The report identifies 50 countries, including 28 in Africa, as fragile states.
“Poverty is expected to build up in fragile states until 2030, according to our predictions,” warned OECD development analyst Jolanda Profos.
Poverty can only be sustainably fought if a state has stable institutions, she emphasised.
This is demonstrated by the rate at which children attend elementary school in developing countries. In fragile states, this was only 12% of children. But in other developing countries, the rate is around half of the children.
Concentration and calls for peace
“Our aid must become more political,” argued Jürgen Zattler, an analyst for European and multilateral development policy in the German Development Ministry (BMZ).
Peace and stability have a lot to do with sustainable development, Zattler pointed out. So far, two-thirds of the fragile countries have not done enough to reach the MDGs, he said.
A known difficulty for development aid in unstable countries is getting the aid to the right places, rather than further promoting fragility, Zattler explained.
Here, careful coordination between contributing countries, local platforms and multilateral organisations is indispensable to ensure aid is delivered at the right spot, the development analyst emphasised.
Flexibility on recognising changing lines of conflict
The fact that this approach requires constant flexibility and close contact with experts on the ground, was also indicated by Susanne Wolfgarten, from the German development organisation Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
“Lines of conflict can change and shift rapidly,” Wolfgarten said. But at the same time, being able to understand them is hugely important, she explained, saying only then is good and correct aid possible.
Long-term measures are also important, according to Wolfgarten. These can help sustainably improve many things at a local level in fragile areas, she added.
Oliver Knabe, from the Civil Peace Service, is also calling for long-term aid. Such assistance creates trust among the local population, Knabe said, acting as a catalyst which is necessary for development.
The conclusion of the report indicates that new instruments and measures are urgently needed to sustainably promote development, especially in unstable countries.
In the discussion over the new sustainable development goals, a new understanding is needed on the role the international community can and should play in this process, the OECD’s Zattler emphasised.
“So far,” he said, “peace and security have not received enough attention in the Millennium Development Goals.”
The United Nations set the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be met by 2015. The goals are:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
In 2008, governments, businesses and other organisations reinforced their commitments to meet the MDGs, raising some €12.3 million in new funds for development. Two years later, the MDG summit adopted a global action plan, again reinforcing the drive towards meeting the MDGs.