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

Conclusions and recommendations

More joined up working?

1.  DFID must ensure that funding for countries such as the DRC, which may not be viewed as important for the UK's national security, are not abandoned in favour of more strategically important countries such as Pakistan. The formation of the National Security Council indicates a greater determination to work together, and we will monitor its impact on international development expenditure and policy choices. (Paragraph 17)

Building Stability Overseas

2.  We are pleased that the Government is seeking to ensure through the National Security Council, the National Security Strategy and the Building Stability Overseas Strategy that the Government's response to conflict includes diplomacy, development and defence. This must be seen to change practice. We are also pleased with the renewed focus on conflict prevention which is less costly and can reduce expenditure on humanitarian assistance and other post-conflict expenditure. These are important changes in emphasis. The impact of these changes is not yet apparent and we will continue to monitor this. (Paragraph 26)

3.  All UK ODA must conform to OECD guidelines and DFID's ODA must also contribute to poverty reduction under the 2002 International Development Act. We want to ensure that OECD guidelines on what is ODA-eligible and what is not, are adhered to at all times, especially when ODA is being spent by other government departments or through pooled funding mechanisms such as the Conflict Pool. However the OECD criteria are not set out in the Building Stability Overseas Strategy. The absence of reference to the importance of rehabilitation and recovery as a means of preventing recurrence of conflict is another omission to the BSOS. DFID must explain why these were excluded from the strategy and how they will inform cross government work in fragile and conflict affected states. (Paragraph 27)

Which fragile states?

4.  DFID should be clear and open about the reasons it operates in different fragile countries and the basis for the choices it makes. The Bilateral Aid Review led to a smaller number of focus states where DFID assessed it could make a contribution and deliver results. The needs effectiveness indicator it used in the process created a bias towards large populous countries with large numbers of poor people. If it had used an index which used the proportion of people living on less that $2 a day, the difference in score between larger and smaller countries on the needs-effectiveness index would have been smaller. We recognise that the Millennium Development Goals will not be met globally unless they are met in large developing countries but we are concerned that smaller countries, with a large proportion of their population living in poverty, for example Burundi, have lost out. (Paragraph 35)

5.  There were political aspects to these decisions. The public might question the large sums of money being spent in the DRC, where the UK has no historical links, and in Pakistan, a middle income country, where the motive may have more to do with national security than reducing poverty, although the two are linked. The Government must be clearer about where its development assistance is being driven by political objectives, and should explain better the choices it makes about which states to fund. In a context where the DFID budget is increasing to meet internationally agreed Official Development Assistance targets, it is important that the public understands the value—morally and politically—of the decision to invest increasing amounts of aid in fragile and conflict-affected states. (Paragraph 36)

Working with other donors

6.  DFID has a range of options to choose from in terms of how it delivers aid in fragile and conflict-affected states and whether it does this in cooperation with other donors or not. This helps DFID to opt for ways of delivering assistance which are context specific, which we support. However, DFID should be clearer about how it makes these choices. In relation to budget support for Ethiopia, we agree that poor people should not suffer as a result of the actions of their government. DFID should set out specific governance conditions under which it will provide budget support, and any under which it will be withdrawn. It should also, as a matter of course, set out clearly how its aid budget for each country is distributed between multilateral and bilateral spending and the reasons for this pattern and distribution. (Paragraph 51)

Costs of delivery, achieving results

7.  It is more risky and more costly to deliver programmes in fragile and conflict-affected states. DFID must be open about these risks and open about the costs. However, we want to see evidence that DFID is working to bring down the cost of delivery of its programmes in these states. (Paragraph 54)

8.  DFID's focus on monitoring results is welcome, and can be used to demonstrate that DFID is achieving beneficial impacts from its expenditure. However, we caution that achieving results in fragile and conflict-affected states is more complicated than in stable or peaceful countries and there is always the risk that they will not be achieved because of the lack of security, and because fragile and conflict-affected states are often also places where fraud and corruption can thrive. We do not accept that in a context where fraud and corruption are rife that DFID can always mitigate against this adequately, especially where it sub-contracts delivery of these programmes to third parties. This means it may not be able to guarantee value for money for every pound it spends. DFID should be open about this so that expectations of results are realistic, without being under-ambitious. (Paragraph 55)

Support for elections

9.  Support for democratic elections contributes to better governance, but it is only a starting point. We support DFID's efforts to assist with the voter registration process in the DRC although we do have concerns about using expensive biometric systems. DFID must also ensure that wider issues of empowerment and inclusion, especially for women, are discussed as part of the wider electoral agenda. The rise in pre-election violence, especially in the East, was worrying. However, events have overtaken us and the general election has taken place. We expect the UK Government to make representations to its political partners there to ensure such violence does not also mar the local elections scheduled for 2013. The international community must obtain guarantees from the DRC Government that these less high profile elections take place as planned. (Paragraph 65)

Impunity and human rights

10.  We understand the difficulties faced by the Government of Rwanda in trying to forge a united country and make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals whilst still recovering from the genocide 17 years ago. Rwanda has made remarkable progress on both fronts and the UK Government has placed great faith in Rwanda's capacity to continue to do so. We appreciate the Government of Rwanda has concerns about those who fled Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide and for whom there is no right of extradition from EU countries. Nevertheless we believe the UK Government should set out some indicators or benchmarks in its budget support agreements about what type of improvements it expects to see in areas such as freedom of speech and of association over the remaining period covered by the Memorandum of Understanding. This might include ensuring human rights organisations can operate freely and improving freedom of the press. (Paragraph 71)

Improving accountability and transparency in the mining sector

11.  There is a long history of mineral wealth being used to fund and perpetuate conflict and criminality in the DRC, especially in the East. The Government of the DRC has taken some measures to regulate the industry: however, it is clear that these remain insufficient. The World Bank Economic Governance Matrix, with which the Government of DRC complied, strikes us as a good example of a means of helping to create greater transparency and accountability in the industry. We commend the Bank for this approach. However, the Bank may have been too hasty in resuming funding since the Government of DRC has continued to permit secret sales of assets and First Quantum has as yet had no redress. We recommend that DFID give transparency and accountability in this sector greater priority, building on its work with Promines. The mineral sector has the potential to generate significant wealth which must be used for the benefit of the people of DRC. Given the linkages between this sector and conflict in the DRC the risks of not properly managing this sector are that development gains made elsewhere will be forgone. DFID must set out clearly for the Government of the DRC what it expects in terms of transparency and accountability in the mineral sector and withdraw assistance if these expectations are not met. (Paragraph 78)

Improving the confidence of ordinary citizens in their state

12.  Supporting better relations between the state and society, increasing responsiveness, responsibility and citizenship, should be a key component of governance programmes. Increasing the degree of local ownership over programmes helps to build bottom up accountability and increases political legitimacy—a key component of peace building in post-conflict societies. DFID should ensure that it does not focus excessively on formal institutions at the expense on informal community-building approaches. We recommend that DFID continue to invest at least 10% of its budget in the DRC on bottom-up community building programmes. (Paragraph 81)

Violence against women and girls

13.  Violence against women and girls is a big problem in the DRC, especially in the East, where it is used as a weapon of war. It has multiple causes, some of which are cultural. These must be tackled and will require behavioural changes in men and female empowerment. DFID has said it places a high priority on improving development outcomes for women and girls. As part of this focus, tackling violence against women and girls should be its top priority in the DRC. We recommend that DFID fund standalone projects for reducing and responding to violence against women and girls, such as those supported by the IRC. We also recommend that DFID include the reduction of violence against women and girls in its results framework for the DRC. (Paragraph 90)

Understanding local conflicts

14.  While the war may be over, local outbreaks of violence in eastern DRC continue. These create ongoing humanitarian needs and slow down the development process. This means that the way DFID approaches development in the East needs to be tailored to responding to humanitarian needs, the risks of disruption to its programmes, and to overcoming the hurdles of trying to deliver basic services in a region where criminality and violence continue. This is very different from the situation in Kinshasa, where progress in development is better. While DFID works competently through reputable and effective non-governmental organisations in the East, its knowledge base and understanding of local conflict dynamics would be improved with a greater on the ground presence, for example in Bukavu where the security situation has improved. We recommend that DFID open a sub-office in eastern DRC so that it has a greater presence there. This could help DFID to build and maintain relationships with local civil society groups and their leaders, as well as local law enforcement authorities with a view to improving local security. It would also ensure it had greater oversight of, and capacity to monitor, its programmes in this volatile region. (Paragraph 93)

Confidence boosting measures

15.  Reforming the FARDC has been slow. Nevertheless some progress has been made. In particular the 2009 Ihusi Peace Accord was a significant step as it allowed the incorporation of rebel militias into the army. This too has not been without problems. We commend DFID for its continued support to Security Sector Reform. However, without better donor coordination in this area, progress is likely to be haphazard as well as slow. DFID has a role to play to helping donors to coordinate better with MONUSCO. (Paragraph 100)

16.  Security Sector Reform is essential for providing improved security and restoring citizen confidence. It is important for citizens to feel secure so that they can begin to lead normal lives—to go to markets, get jobs, send their children to school. Part of this must include ensuring the armed forces are trusted by locals. We understand there has been a shortfall in community liaison assistants. This would be a relatively low cost way of facilitating communication and better relations between communities and the armed forces, including MONUSCO and FARDC. We recommend that DFID identify the reasons for the shortfall in community liaison assistants and seek to rectify this. (Paragraph 101)


17.  MONUSCO has been a force for stability in an unpredictable and frequently unstable region of the DRC. While stability has improved, and the number of militia groups has decreased, ordinary citizens still experience violence frequently. Given the lack of infrastructure in the region, there is a limit to MONUSCO's ability to respond quickly to reports of violence in remote areas. Following our discussions with the UN in South Sudan, it is clear that UN forces are constrained by the details of the mandate given to them. Flexible mandates are required, which allow troops to operate out of their base, rather than mandates which involve most of the soldiers guarding their base. We are concerned that the MONUSCO mandate constrains activity in this way. The UK should also seek to ensure that Security Council mandates are appropriate for the level and type of violence on the ground. It may be that MONUSCO's mandate will not be renewed after 2012. However, if there is to be a continued UN force presence in eastern DRC we recommend that it be a more nimble and agile force suited to the terrain and to the type of violence which is now characterising the region. We also recommend that the UK Government re-examine the cost of the MONUSCO mission in relation to its mandate and progress to date. (Paragraph 107)

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Prepared 5 January 2012