Development banks and peace

Road building in South Province, Sri Lanka, 2010. Photo by Deshan Tennekoon/World BankIn April the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released a new operational plan to improve how it works in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS).

The ADB's Operational plan for enhancing effectiveness in fragile and conflict-affected situations reflects increasing attention from international institutions to the challenges of achieving development goals in countries that have experienced national or sub-national conflict. These countries are the furthest away from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and while some have made progress towards the MDGs recently, institutional policy changes of the kind the ADB operational plan represents are vital to ensuring aid sustains momentum towards peace and development.

The ADB plan follows the World development report 2011, which called for action to break cycles of violence and poverty in fragile and conflict-affected situations. Since 2011 the World Bank has been operationalising the report's recommendations and reforming its own policies and approaches. The ADB plan adds to the growing global momentum to develop and implement effective approaches to working in countries affected by fragility and conflict. In a sign of the ADB's growing commitment to this global effort, in June the ADB and AusAid are co-hosting a high-level Forum on building resilience to fragility in Asia and the Pacific. The forum will bring together ministers, senior government officials and ADB staff to discuss building resilience to fragility.

The release of the new operational plan coincided with a visit to the ADB headquarters in Manila by members of International Alert’s international institutions programme. The visit was part of a research and dialogue project looking at ADB programming experiences in the complex operating environments of Sri Lanka, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan. All three countries have endured violent conflict in recent years and Alert's research seeks to identify how ADB operations can better contribute to peace and development by implementing key ideas in its new operational plan. During meetings with ADB officials, Alert presented the preliminary findings from our multi-country research and discussed the implications of these for the design and implementation of aid-funded development projects. Alert previously contributed to the development of ADB's Peacebuilding Tool in Nepal, an approach to incorporating conflict sensitivity into programme design and implementation that informed the new operational plan.

Alert will participate in the ADB-AusAid high-level forum in Manila in June and will draw on the findings from the multi-country research and dialogue project in discussions. A synthesis report drawing on discussions at the forum and the country-level research will be published by Alert later this year.

Photo: Road building in South Province, Sri Lanka, 2010. © Deshan Tennekoon/World Bank