WB establishes security and conflict center for Africa

Dr. Caroline Anstey, the World Bank’s Managing Director for Operations, on Thursday opened a new Global Center on Conflict, Security and Development to support fragile countries.

She said the Center would help the Bank to establish a stronger community of practice and knowledge-sharing across the worldwide network of practitioners who work on development issues confronting fragile and conflict-affected countries.

Dr Anstey said “political and criminal violence should not be the chains that shackle people for life. We know violence knows no borders. We know the impact of violence can last for generations”.

A WB statement available to the Ghana News Agency said the new Center located in Nairobi, will allow the Bank to provide communities with conflict more flexible, transparent help.

Dr Anstey said the Bank’s challenge is to provide more support and make development work more effectively in fragile and often violent places….”not to do so would be abandoning our development mission”.

She said fragile and conflict-affected states were a key priority for the Bank’s poverty-fighting mission as their poverty rates were twice as high as people living in other low-income countries.

“These countries face severe development challenges like weak governments, corruption, political instability, and frequent violence or the legacy of past violence; and while people living in fragile and post-conflict countries make up 15 percent of the world’s population, they represent more than 30 percent of all people living in dire poverty,” she noted.

. She explained that too often in the face of violence and conflict, the international community had offered fragmented, short-term, and ear-marked support.

The Nairobi Center will connect with other agencies and groups working in fragile and conflict affected situations worldwide, as well as reinforce its partnerships and innovative practices on the ground, while improving development coordination.

Dr Anstey noted that the Bank had mobilized more than 690 staff to work in fragile countries across the globe, and had provided more than US$5.9 billion with zero-interest in reconstruction support to foster peace-building in fragile and conflict countries since 2000.

The WB fund for the poorest countries includes the International Development Association (IDA), and the Bank-administered State-and Peace-Building Fund in conflict zones.

She said with more than 1.5 billion people living in countries afflicted by repeated cycles of conflict and violence, the Centre represented a strategic shift in the way to help fragile and conflict affected countries.

“It will make the Bank more flexible and smarter about how to improve people’s lives in desperate situations,” Dr Anstey said.

Mr Samura Kamara, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance, sharing a thought on post-conflict management said “Sierra Leone has made significant progress in recovering from conflict, and could offer some useful lessons for other post-conflict countries and development partners.

He commend the WB for the Centre and said, “we hope that it will attract other partners and communities to provide us with more flexible financial aid and advice, and help us build up the stronger national and local institutions that empower countries to journey towards lasting peace and security.

The ceremony was attended by government ministers, United Nations representatives and development agencies, as well as Non-Governmental Organisations active in post-conflict development. GNA

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