Working Effectively in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: DRC and Rwanda - International Development Committee Contents

6  Conclusions

108. We support the Government's decision to invest in fragile and conflict-affected states because countries suffering from conflict or fragility will find it difficult to make progress against any of the Millennium Development Goal indicators without reasonable levels of peace, security and governance, and because it is far less costly to prevent conflict than to recover from it.

109. There are significant risks associated with allocating sizable sums of money to fragile and conflict-affected states but also significant opportunities which we think DFID should grasp. These include:

  • helping hard to reach groups who as a result of conflict have had little access to health or education or no opportunities to improve their lives;
  • strengthening systems of governance to deliver services in an accountable and transparent manner and helping communities to make choices about the services they need and to hold state institutions to account;
  • contributing to peace building through improved security at the local level which will allow people to go about their daily lives without fear and without needing to pay bribes.

This involves creating a context in which ordinary citizens can exercise choice about their lives and their children's future. It is not so much about the amount of money but about the way that funding is spent. DFID's programmes begin to do this, but could do more, for example, investing more in bottom up community building initiatives, giving greater priority to ending violence against women and girls, and helping to create better relations between communities affected by violence and the armed forces.

110. DFID needs to be straightforward that the risks of misuse of funds will be somewhat higher in conflict or fragile states. In addition, while elections in such places may not be perfect, they remain important, and DFID should continue to support these, even though their beneficial effect may not be immediately apparent.

111. DFID has already invested significantly in many fragile and conflict-affected states, often where other donors are more reluctant to invest, for example in the DRC. This is commendable, but DFID must be clearer about its conditions for providing such assistance. The UK Government's approach to building stability overseas may rightly focus on countries such as Pakistan which pose security threats to the UK, but it must also ensure that poor countries, such as the DRC, of less direct strategic interest to the UK, are not forgotten.

112. This is the first in a series of reports on fragile and conflict-affected states. We see our recommendations as 'rolling' which means they may be reinforced or amended as a result of the work we look at in other countries. For example our recent visit to South Sudan has had an influence on our comments on the role of UN peacekeepers.

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Prepared 5 January 2012