Using aid for structural change in fragile states could help curb rising instability


30/11/2016 - The world has grown more violent over the last decade, interrupting a long-term trend of increasing peace and disproportionately impacting civilians. This is despite rising financial flows to the most vulnerable places, according to a new OECD report.


States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence calls for more development aid to be used to tackle the root causes of fragility and instability, including building legitimate and inclusive political systems and institutions, strengthening security and access to justice, supporting economic growth and ensuring the availability of basic services..


Analysis of multiple data sources shows that global violence is at its worst level since the end of the Cold War, with nearly half the world’s population, or 3.34 billion people, living in proximity to or feeling the impact of political violence. Conflict is one cause of violent deaths, but in 2015 more people died violently in countries not afflicted by conflict. Central America is the region that suffers the most lethal violence, followed by Southern Africa, the Caribbean and South America.


Low- and Middle-Income countries bear a disproportionately high share of the burden of political and social armed violence, which often impedes development gains.


“If the challenges faced by these countries are not met, progress on combating climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will be stalled and millions of people will remain mired in poverty and conflict, the migration crisis will not be resolved, and violent extremism will continue to increase,” said OECD Deputy Secretary-General Doug Frantz, presenting the report during the 2nd High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation in Nairobi.


Defining fragility as the combination of exposure to risk in five areas – economic, environmental, political, social and security – and the insufficient capacity of the state or system to manage, absorb or mitigate those risks, the OECD estimates that more than 1.6 billion people, or 22% of the global population, live in fragile areas. While the number of people living in extreme poverty is falling, the number of extremely poor people living in fragile places is set to increase to 542 million in 2035 from 480 million in 2015.


The report notes that while the global economic impact of violence has been estimated at USD 13.6 trillion for 2015, or 13.3% of GDP, only a tiny amount of development aid is invested in violence reduction outside of conflict situations.


Total financial flows to fragile places, including official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment and remittances increased by 206% between 2002 and 2014 in constant terms to more than USD 2.04 trillion. ODA represents 32% of that total. While ODA remains an important tool for fragile states, some of it tends to be unevenly distributed and targeted at the symptoms rather than the real drivers of fragility.


The report is freely accessible at:


For further information, please contact the OECD Media Office (+33 1 45 24 97 00).


Related Documents