In Fragile States, It Is Time to Innovate and Put People First

Children playing on Dili beach, Timor-Leste. Photo credit: ADB.
Children playing on Dili beach, Timor-Leste. Photo credit: ADB.

Despite extensive aid, countries with fragile and conflict-affected situations are generally failing to significantly improve the lives of their people. New thinking is needed.


Statement of Issue

Fragile and conflict-affected situations are generally characterized by political instability, weak governance and institutional capacity, economic and social insecurity, and greater vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

Though the list periodically changes, in 2016 ADB classified the following countries as having fragile and conflict-affected situations: Afghanistan and Myanmar, which are affected by conflict, and the fragile Pacific countries of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Tuvalu. The conclusions and recommendations made are based primarily on the study of these countries.

Fragile and conflict-affected situations countries confront complex and multifaceted issues, and it can be difficult for policy makers to establish which development projects and programs should be prioritized. Despite massive international aid to these countries, they continue to rely heavily on external assistance. This often involves the building and rebuilding of unsustainable infrastructure and the repetitive training of personnel. Development projects and programs designed to improve the transport, energy, education, health, and private sectors in these countries have reaped some benefits but usually only for a short time, and for a small proportion of the population.

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Meet the expert

  • Patrick Safran
    Principal Operations Coordination Specialist (Fragile Situations), Pacific Department, ADB

    As focal point for fragile and conflict-affected countries, Mr. Safran supports ADB operations in this context. Previously, he helped developed ADB’s strategic and results-oriented approach to fragile situations; focal point for disaster and emergency assistance; ICT coordinator; and project specialist and focal point for coastal and aquatic resources management. Prior to joining ADB, Mr. Safran was regional manager for Asia-Pacific and Latin America at French agricultural research agency CIRAD. He has PhDs in Agriculture from Tohoku University in Japan and in Natural Sciences from Lille University in France.

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   Governance and public sector management, Social development and protection
   Last updated: February 2017



The views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asian Development Bank, its management, its Board of Directors, or its members.

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