Managing Risks in Fragile and Transitional Contexts

The Price of Success?

image of Managing Risks in Fragile and Transitional Contexts

From the anarchy of Somalia to the relative stability of Nepal, fragile and transitional situations represent a broad spectrum of contexts. However, they share some common features: these are risky environments – for the people who live there, for their governments, for neighbouring countries, and for those who seek to provide assistance. Positive outcomes are hard to achieve and the risk of regression in countries emerging from armed conflict is high.

International engagement in these situations presents significant risks for donors and implementing partners, but also holds the potential for substantial rewards in terms of improved results and outcomes. Indeed, more often than not, the risks associated with not engaging in these contexts – both for the countries themselves and for the international community – outweigh most of the risks of engaging in the first place. The question therefore is not whether to engage but how to engage in ways that are context-specific and do not come at an unacceptable cost.

This publication provides the evidence to help donors understand how to balance risks and opportunities in order to protect the integrity of their institutions while delivering better results to those who need it most.



Annex A. Bases of risk analysis

Risk is a relative concept. We have to ask “risk of what, to whom?”, which requires among other things ways of determining the vulnerability of different groups or institutions to a particular kind of threat. The relative aspect of risk is reflected in the formula commonly used in disaster management: risk = hazard x vulnerability. This serves to illustrate that establishing how great a risk is gives only one kind of information. It is another thing to ask “what are the causal factors – and how can we influence them?” In the event of a disaster, we may be able to do little about the hazard, especially if it is a natural phenomenon rather than a human-made one. But we may be able to reduce people’s vulnerability to the effects of earthquake, floods, etc. It is the effects of these events, not the events themselves, that constitute the disaster.


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