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.



Conclusions and recommendations

This chapter sets out conclusions and recommendations for DAC donors in particular, and for the organisations that they fund. It lists five main findings: (1) Donors are unduly risk-averse in their aid engagement in fragile and transitional contexts. (2) Lack of shared risk analysis concepts and frameworks is hampering effective collaboration on risk management. (3) The pressure to demonstrate narrowly defined results and accountability requirements is making donors and their implementing partners more risk averse. (4) Current approaches to controlling corruption and other fiduciary risks are stifling effectiveness. (5) There are not enough collective approaches to managing risk or well co-ordinated donor strategies of engagement. For each of these points practical recommendations are made, mainly concerning the need to establish a risk culture and related processes which encourage appropriate risk.


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