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PRS in Fragile States:
A stocktaking of what we
Nora Dudwick
Defining fragile states (FSs)
FSs lack functional authority, capacity and/or
legitimacy to provide for citizens’ basic needs
FSs are vulnerable to conflict, humanitarian
crises, economic collapse and political
Conflict-affected FSs exhibit breakdown of
law, services, & economic activities; conflictrelated poverty (forced labor, theft/destruction
of crops, epidemics, new vulnerable groups)
The new “fragile states agenda”
This agenda responds to (i) inability of FSs to
perform core state functions, and (ii) the threat they
represent to neighbors in the form of economic
impacts, organized crime, disease, refugees
FS agenda calls for sustained international
engagement and improved donor coordination to
promote government legitimacy, accountability and
greater capacity to fulfil core state functions
State-building, growth and poverty
reduction: which comes first?
Do good institutions and effective governance
precede or follow growth?
Can institutional reform in FSs stimulate
growth enough to reduce poverty?
How to balance priorities - restoring services
and building core state functions?
For post-conflict states, when is less rather
than more assistance preferable?
PRSs may not be the best approach…
where governments lack legitimacy
where governments don’t demonstrate at least minimal
commitment to poverty reduction
where governments lack minimal capacity: to collect data,
formulate credible budget and policies, form country
in countries emerging from conflict where international
support may “freeze” rather than help resolve conflict, or
provide financing likely to be diverted to military conflict
with neighbors
Where security situation is too volatile for data collection or
participation, and planning horizons are short
When adapting PRSs to fragile states,
accept that….
PRSs may require multiple iterations
donors must confront and address entrenched
obstacles to coordination & harmonization
expectations of participation in volatile
environments must be tempered by recognition of
poverty diagnostics depend on creative use of
multiple data sources
it is critical that capacity building is integrated into
all activities and long-term rather than ad-hoc
Prioritizing reforms in fragile states
Aim for “good enough” governance; attack
corruption only selectively to avoid destabilization
Macreoconomic reforms should pay more attention
to employment (including in infrastructure/rehab)
PFM reforms should be prioritized where
governments lack basic capacity to allocate and use
Substitution can be considered, but with a clear exit
When restoring urgent services, donors should keep
a low profile and promote the state’s role as
Adapting the PRS to conflict countries
PRS should integrate analysis of conflict
drivers and triggers
Security needs should be addressed in
spending plans
Evaluating PRS implementation in FS:
questions for further research
Did the PRS improve capacity to gather, analyze &
use data for policymaking?
How effective was PRS implementation?
Did benefits of implementation outweigh time and
resource costs of PRS preparation?
Were there negative outcomes to implementing the
Should there be alternative instruments that can
satisfy HIPC debt relief conditionality in FSs?