Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 July 2018:
Former president of Liberia – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was in Freetown, Sierra Leone yesterday, 23 July 2018, where she held talks with president Julius Maada Bio about how best to implement the recommendations of the recently published ‘State Fragility’ report by the International Growth Center (IGC).
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the only woman to have won the $5 million Mo Ibrahim Award for achievement in African leadership, arrived in Freetown with Jonathan Leape, Executive Director of the IGC.
The Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development was established under the auspices of the International Growth Centre (IGC) in March 2017 to guide policy to address state fragility. The Commission is chaired by David Cameron – Former UK Prime Minister.
In April 2018, the Commission published its report: ‘Escaping the Fragility Trap’. According to the report, “the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set the mission to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Yet nearly a third of the way towards that deadline, almost 900 million people are still living on less than two dollars a day and, in too many of the world’s poorest countries, progress is completely stuck”.
It explains that: “A great many of these countries are what are often called ‘fragile states’. They are blighted by conflict and corruption. Their governments lack the legitimacy and capacity to deliver the jobs, public services, and opportunities their people need. The latest estimates suggest that by 2030, half of the world’s poor will live in countries that are fragile.
The report sets out the characteristics of fragility, including the lack of basic security, inadequate government capacity, the absence of a properly functioning private sector, and the presence of divided societies.
The Commission says that its findings are clear: “If international assistance, aid, and – crucially – economic development are to help make our world safer and more prosperous, we need to address what we call the ‘syndrome’ of fragility.
“At the moment, we are failing to do so. Indeed, some of the things developed countries, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and donors have done have arguably made matters worse. After decades of aid, many of these countries are as poor as they ever were – some even poorer.
“The solutions to such fragility, the Commission concludes, will be largely domestic. That may be slow and tough, but it is likely to be more lasting. Homegrown solutions and locally negotiated coalitions of governments, businesses, and civil society are the things that will make well-designed international support more likely to be effective.
“That is why this report argues that international actors – donor countries, aid agencies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations (UN), development finance institutions, security forces, and NGOs – need to do things differently, learning from the mistakes that have been made and the evidence that has been collected over the years.
“Above all, they must stop setting out long lists of unachievable objectives and unrealistic timetables, and start working with governments rather than around governments. Domestic actors – governments, political parties, media, and civil society – need to do things differently, too.
“This emphasis on greater national respect and responsibility will only work if they set out their national priorities – about where they are going as a country and who they want to be. Owning those priorities, learning from mistakes, combatting corruption, and demonstrating accountability are all crucial,” says the report.
The team visiting Sierra Leone, told president Bio that Sierra Leone and Liberia are vulnerable to fragility and instability. They said that if proper care was not taken to consolidate a lasting peace in the Mano River Union basin, the situation might lead to serious problems in future.
“Sierra Leone and Liberia share similar features about this fragility. This is the reason why the International Growth Center has drawn the attention of the two countries to quickly look into the recommendations in the report and find ways to address issues around political and economic growth in the two countries,” Leape warned.
President Bio thanked the team visiting and told them of his government’s plans to work very hard and go beyond the foundation he inherited.
“I have carefully looked at the report and the recommendations proffered there in and we are trying to forge beyond the foundation that we met to make serious efforts at dealing with issues raised in the report,” President Bio assured.
In its report, the Commission says that its recommendations “amount to a new approach to state fragility and international aid. It looks in detail about whether there should be more realism about what can be achieved by states that have suffered from decades of conflict and failure.
“Simple steps that bring jobs and security matter more than, for instance, setting new national targets for tackling inequality and climate change. When it comes to priorities, isn’t it vital that countries are able to set these themselves?
“The aim of international assistance should be to help fragile states to build legitimate and capable institutions, rather than undermine them. When it comes to the conditions we attach to our aid, wouldn’t it be better if they were linked to ensuring that money was properly spent and not embezzled, rather than being tied to particular policies? The authors of the report ask.
These are the recommendations of the report:
International Actors: Help build government that is subject to checks and balances and works for common purpose; Help build domestic security, including through a phase of international and regional security; Capitalise on pivotal moments
Domestic Actors: Establish limited and purposive long-term goals; In the short-term, look for quick wins
International actors: Focus on economic governance, not policies; Use aid to support private investment for job creation; Adopt distinctive IFI policies for fragile states; Use international means of building resilience.
Domestic actors: Build institutions to support the private economy;Invest in urban infrastructure for energy and connectivity; Use domestic means of building resilience
You can read both the ‘Escaping the Fragility Trap’ and the ‘Causes of Underlying Fragility and Instability in Sierra Leone ‘Reports here: