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World Bank urges conflict-affected countries to preserve poverty-reduction gains

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World Bank
REUTERS

THE World Bank said low and middle-income countries impacted by conflict and violence, including the Philippines, should invest in institutional reform to preserve any gains made in poverty reduction.

According to the bank’s Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence 2020-2025 report published Thursday, “by 2030, up to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor” will likely live in countries prone to fragility, conflict and violence (FCV).

“Fragile and conflict-affected situations take a huge toll on human capital, creating vicious cycles that lower people’s lifetime productivity and earnings and reduce socioeconomic mobility,” the bankr said in a statement Thursday.

In the Philippines, the report said around 62% of people in Mindanao have been impacted by conflict.

The World Bank considers the Philippines to be among those with subnational conflicts, which it said tended to happen in middle-income countries with “strong institutional capacity, regular elections and capable security forces.”

It said these types of conflict are usually linked to “a lack of political and economic inclusion and equity” as well as to perceptions of injustice.

The report said countries with subnational conflicts must develop “FCV awareness and training… to ensure that conflict and fragility issues do not become overshadowed by standard development interventions.”

“Without swift and effective action, FCV risks could both erode gains made in the fight against poverty and undermine the prospects for further progress,” it said.

The bank said that in order to avert full-blown crises, the root causes of conflict should be “proactively addressed,” citing issues like social and economic exclusion, climate change and demographic shocks.

“To end extreme poverty and break the cycle of fragility, conflict, and violence, countries need to ensure access to basic services, transparent and accountable government institutions, and economic and social inclusion of the most marginalized communities. These kinds of investments go hand in hand with humanitarian aid,” World Bank Group President David Malpass was quoted as saying in the statement.

The bank said long-term support will also help countries transition out of vulnerability, citing increased investment in small and medium enterprises, creating jobs to spur economic growth.

The World Bank’s proposed FCV strategy framework proposes measures for conflict-stricken countries to provide “effective and tailored support” to governments, the private sector and citizens.

In 2005, the World Bank established a $29 million Mindanao Trust Fund to support basic services to more than 650,000 beneficiaries in conflict-affected areas over 12 years.

Closed in 2017, the fund was followed by a $3-4 million grant from donor partners which supported a two-year follow-up project in 2018-2019. — Beatrice M. Laforga





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