Conflits et situations de fragilité

What do we mean? A glossary of key INCAF terms


This glossary brings together a number of terms used in INCAF publications. Wherever possible, the original work is cited for further information.


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International actors align when they base their overall support on partner countries' national development priorities, strategies and systems.



Basic services:

As embodied in the Millennium Development Goals, basic services are understood to include inter alia primary education, basic healthcare, water supply and sanitation.

Budget support:

A form of programmatic aid in which funds are (a) provided in support of a government programme that focuses on growth and poverty reduction, and transforming institutions, especially budgetary; and (b) provided to a partner government to spend using its own financial management and accountability systems. [1]




Understood as the ability of people, organisations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully.

Capacity development:

The process by which individuals, groups and organisations, institutions and countries develop, enhance and organise their systems, resources and knowledge; all reflected in their abilities, individually and collectively, to perform functions, solve problems and achieve objectives.

Country programmable aid (CPA):

Defined as official development assistance minus aid that is unpredictable by nature (such as debt forgiveness and emergency aid); entails no cross-border flows (such as research and student exchanges); does not form part of co-operation agreements between governments (such as food aid); or is not country programmable by the donors (such as core funding through international and national NGOs).

Civil society organisation (CSO):

The multitude of associations around which society voluntarily organises itself and which represent a wide range of interests and ties. These can include community-based organisations, indigenous peoples’ organisations and nongovernment organisations.

Core government functions and services:

The OECD defines the core functions of the state as law enforcement and citizen protection, justice and conflict resolution, raising and expanding revenues, provision of basic services and facilitating economic development. [2]



Division of labour:

Limiting the number of donors in any given sector or area, designating lead donor, actively delegating to like-minded donors, and making use of silent partnerships.



Early recovery:

A multidimensional process of recovery that begins in a humanitarian setting. it is guided by development principles that seek to build on humanitarian programmes and to catalyse sustainable development opportunities. It encompasses the restoration of basic services, livelihoods, shelter, governance, security and rule of law, environment and social dimensions, including the reintegration of displaced populations. [3]



Fragile state:

A state is understood to be fragile when it is unable to meet its population’s expectations or manage changes in expectation and capacity through the political process.

Fragmentation of aid:

Aid is fragmented when there is too little aid from too many donors, resulting in some donor/partner aid relations that are neither significant from the donor’s point of view, nor from the recipient’s point of view, and where there is room for some rationalisation.



Humanitarian assistance:

The generic term used to describe aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies. [4]




The set of beneficiary and population-level longterm results (e.g. improved food security; improved yields; improved nutrition) achieved by changing practices, knowledge and attitudes.




Ensuring that all people are guaranteed “equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Non-governmental organisation (NGO):

A formally structured organisation that claims a philanthropic, non-profit purpose and is not part of a government.

Non-state provider:

Providers of basic services that are not part of a government or state agencies, including large and small-scale for-profit enterprises and individuals, and non-profit NGOs, community and faith-based organisations.



Official development assistance (ODA):

Flows of official financing administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as the main objective, and which are concessional in character with a grant element of at least 25 percent (using a fixed 10 percent rate of discount). By convention, ODA flows comprise contributions of donor government agencies (“development partners”), at all levels, to partner countries (“bilateral ODA”) and to multilateral institutions. ODA receipts comprise disbursements by bilateral donors and multilateral institutions.

Output-based aid (OBA):

A financing mechanism to increase access to basic services – such as infrastructure, healthcare, and education – for the poor in developing countries. OBA is used in cases where poor people are being excluded from basic services because they cannot afford to pay the full cost of user fees such as connection fees. OBA is also known as “performance-based aid” or “results-based financing” (in the health sector).



Parallel project implementation units (PIUs):

Dedicated structures created outside the existing structures of national implementation agencies for day-to-day management and implementation of aid-financed projects and programmes.

Paris principles:

Refers to the outcome of the second High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, held in Paris in February/March 2005. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, from which the principles stem, is divided into three parts: I. Statement of Resolve, II. Partnership Commitments, and III. Indicators of Progress. The “Partnership Commitments” section contains the five core principles of the Paris Declaration: ownership, alignment, harmonisation, managing for development results (MfDR), and mutual accountability.

Partner government:

In international development terms, partner countries are those countries that are supported in implementing development measures through financial or technical co-operation with donor countries or organisations.


Commonly defined as activities by national or international actors to prevent violent conflict and institutionalise peace. Peacebuilding aims to address the root causes and effects of conflict and is not just the cessation of conflict.

Pooled funding:

A funding mechanism which receives contributions from more than one donor which are then “pooled” and disbursed upon instructions from the fund’s decision-making structure by an Administrative Agent (or Fund Manager) to a number of recipients. [5]

Programme-based approach:

A way of engaging in development co-operation based on co-ordinated support for a locally owned programme of development, such as a national development strategy, a sector programme, a thematic programme or a programme of a specific organisation.



Rent seeking:

An activity undertaken by an individual to enrich himself or herself by controlling a scarce resource (e.g. land, minerals) without contributing anything of value. When a public official enriches himself or herself by manipulating his or her discretion over government decisions (e.g. in granting licences), it is a form of corruption.



Sector-wide approach:

All significant donor funding support a single, comprehensive sector policy and independent programme, consistent with a sound macroeconomic framework, under government leadership. Donor support for a SWAp can take any form – project aid, technical assistance or budget support – although there should be a commitment to progressive reliance on government procedures to disburse and account for all funds as these procedures are strengthened.

Shadow alignment:

Alignment to government systems such as the budget cycle or administrative districts to increase future compatibility of international assistance with national systems) and bottom-up approaches (aligning with local priorities as expressed in consultations with state and/or non-state actors such as local government authorities and/or civil society).


Actions undertaken by international actors to reach a termination of hostilities and consolidate peace, understood as the absence of armed conflict. The term of art dominant in us policy, usually associated with military instruments, usually seen as having a shorter time horizon than peacebuilding, and heavily associated with a post 9/11 counterterrorism agenda. [6]


An endogenous process of strengthening the capacity, institutions and legitimacy of the state driven by state-society relations. This definition places statesociety relations and political processes at the heart of state building and identifies legitimacy as central to the process as it both facilitates and enhances state building. It recognises that state building needs to take place at both the national and local levels. It gives central place to strengthening capacities to provide key state functions. The concept of state building is increasingly used to describe a desired (“positive”) process of state building and therefore emphasises the importance of inclusive political processes, accountability mechanisms and responsiveness.



Technical assistance:

The personnel involved (individuals as well as teams of consultants) in developing knowledge, skills, technical know-how or productive aptitudes.

Technical co-operation:

Activities whose primary purpose is to augment the level of knowledge, skills, technical knowhow or productive aptitudes of the population of developing countries, i.e., increasing their stock of human intellectual capital, or their capacity for more effective use of their existing factor endowment.



Untied aid:

Official Development Assistance for which the associated goods and services may be fully and freely procured in substantially all countries.



Whole of government:

Refers to external assistance that is designed and implemented in a coherent, co-ordinated and complementary manner across different government actors within an assisting country (most critically security, diplomatic and development agencies). The term whole-of-system approach refers to the joint efforts of national and international organisations.






  1. UK Department of International Development (DFID) (2011), Online Glossary,, accessed 1 September 2011.
  2. OECD (2009), Bridging State Capacity Gaps in Situations of Fragility, Partnership for Democratic Development, OECD, Paris.
  3. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2008), UNDP Policy on Early Recovery, UNDP, New York,
  4. Development Initiatives (2009), Global Humanitarian Assistance 2009, Development Initiatives, Wells, United Kingdom,
  5. UN Development Group (UNDG) (2009), "Guidance Note on Funding for Transition", internal working document, UN Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs, Working Group on Transition (ECHA/WGT), UN, New York.
  6. Charles T. Call and Elizabeth M. Cousens (2008), “Ending Wars and Building Peace: International Responses to War-Torn Societies,” International Studies Perspectives 9, 121-4.




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