Sunday, April 24, 2011

World Bank Report Suggests New Approach to Development in Conflict-Torn Nations

NYT: How to Rebuild a War-Torn Nation
BBC: Aid Spending Should Target Conflict, World Bank Urges
WSJ: World Bank Shifts Focus to Security in Poor Nations

According to the World Bank’s annual World Development Report, the best way to foster development in conflict-prone nations is to direct aid towards improving security. The report, which the World Bank released last week, represents a significant departure from the World Bank’s traditional approach to development. In the past, the World Bank has shied away from security issues and has focused more on the economic and social aspects of development.

The World Bank is the leading international institution for fostering economic development around the world. However, its efforts to promote development in developing countries have been frustrated by frequent outbreaks of violence. According to the report, 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated outbreaks of violence. The report stated that 90% of recent civil wars have occurred in countries that had already experienced civil wars within the prior 30 years.

The cyclical nature of these outbreaks has made sustainable economic and social development virtually impossible in those countries in which they occur. When violence does erupt in a country, the effects can be even more devastating on development than natural disasters. For example, the report estimated that, in 2005, violence in Guatemala affected economic development in that country twice as much as the effects of Hurricane Stan. In addition, the report indicated that in conflict-torn nations, children are twice as likely to be undernourished, three times less likely to be able to attend school, and twice as likely to die before the age of five.

Recognizing the fact that frequent violence restricts development, the World Bank’s report takes a new approach to development that focuses on security and stability before other developmental reforms. To this end, the report proposes that developmental efforts should be focused on strengthening the institutions that support the rule of law, such as police forces, the justice system, and effective governmental institutions that are free of corruption.

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