How to prioritise when everything is a priority?

Fragility Report 2022: Record number of fragile contexts
13. Oktober 2022
Emily Morter | Unsplash

With a total of 60 fragile contexts, 15 of which are extremely fragile, this year’s State of Fragility report offers the highest numbers of fragile contexts out of any multidimensional fragility framework. Although the impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine cannot be foreseen, it is expected to reinforce this development and push countries even further away from achieving the SDGs.

Since 2015, the OECD’s multidimensional fragility framework analyses fragility in numerous contexts. "Fragillity" captures the ratio ofexposure to risks and adequate coping capacities of the state. As an independent, data-driven resource, it thus serves as an important analytical tool allowing policy makers to analyse the complex concept of fragility worldwide.

In this year’s report, a sixth dimension was added to operationalise the concept: Human fragility will now be considered in the analysis alongside economic, environmental, political, security and social fragility. For the first time also a gender-focused indicator is included in the assessment of each dimension.

More fragile, more diverse contexts than ever

Covid-19, climate change and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine are the three main forces moulding the current state of fragility. While these crises shape the prospects of prosperity and peace throughout the world, the 60 fragile contexts are expected to be influenced most severely. It is hence not surprising that none of the countries succeeded in exiting fragility compared to the previous report. On the contrary: two countries moved from fragility to extreme fragility and three additional countries to a fragile state. Fragility is also more diverse: On average, fragility systematically increased across dimensions in all the 60 fragile contexts and despite the link between economic development and fragility, there are currently more middle-income (33) than low-income (26) fragile contexts. Out of these 60 countries, none is on track to achieving the SDGs related to hunger, good health or gender equality.

Multiple crises accelerating existing fragilities

Even before Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine food systems in fragile contexts were under severe pressure. Fragile countries account for all top ten countries with the highest number of people facing acute food insecurity in 2021 and 20 out of 23 food insecure hotspots in 2022. In low-income economies 60% or more of the population cannot afford a healthy diet. 193 million people are acutely food insecure, 40 million more compared to 2020. The high inflation over the last two years is partly responsible for this development. Climate change intensifies this crisis, particularly in fragile contexts which are hit hardest by its consequences. Five of the top ten hunger hotspots are fragile contexts experiencing severe environmental fragility.

Climate change acts as a driver for fragility also beyond food insecurity. Countries depending on agriculture, forestry and fishing for economic growth are extremely vulnerable to the influence of changing climatical circumstances. In the long run, not only economic security is at risk, but all dimensions of fragility.

Technological progress can yield significant benefits for achieving sustainable development. It can, however, also entrench existing inequality and create new forms of it. Countries in which only a low share of the population has access to Internet, for instance, were more vulnerable to the shift to online working environments and schooling caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Children from poorer households and girls were affected disproportionately from school closings. Done correctly, digitalisation can serve as enabler of financial inclusion and global awareness, especially for women and girls.

Fragility, War and Violence

51 out of 60 fragile contexts were not in a state of war in 2021, indicating that the concepts cannot be considered as synonymous. Nevertheless, four developments show that violence and fragility are indeed related: an increase in non-state violence and violence perpetrated by the state against citizens, increased prevalence of protest movement, a significant rise in coups events in 2021 and, finally, the scale and severity of violence against women and girls in fragile contexts.

The central question for development partners is how to prioritise when everything is a priority. Considering the developments outlined, the report argues that a multidimensional approach which acknowledges the complex nature of fragility is the answer. As an essential step it highlights the importance of an improved interaction between the development and peace pillars of the HDP-Nexus. It is crucial to learn from context such as Afghanistan where the imbalance between development and peace alongside insufficient funding became an obstacle to a jointed management of peace and development processes.

The International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS), relaunched in the same week the State of Fragility report was published, is the first forum that brings together countries affected by conflict and fragility, development partners, and civil society. As a member of the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) the working group on peace and development (FriEnt) is also part of this dailogue.
The goal of IDPS is to drive political momentum for change through strong partnerships and it facilitates the needed dialogue for a comprehensive approach to development, peace and security issues.

The complete State of Fragility report 2022 can be found here.

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