The Independent Development Evaluation (IDEV) unit at the African Development Bank has published two evaluation reports that examine the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the Bank’s work in transition states, countries where the main development challenge is fragility.
The first report analyzed the implementation of the Bank’s 2014-2019 Strategy for Addressing Fragility and Building Resilience in Africa. During the evaluation period, the Bank approved 354 operations in 22 transition states, representing an overall investment of $6.48 billion. Four countries, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Chad, served as case studies in the evaluation. The report draws lessons from the experiences of the Bank and makes recommendations that informed the Bank’s recently approved new Fragility Strategy for 2022-2026.
A second evaluation examined the ability of the Bank’s Transition Support Facility to reduce fragility and build resilience in eligible countries.
At the heart of the lessons captured by IDEV are the four main principles that form the fragility lens adopted by the Bank: flexibility to adapt operations and objectives to various contexts; responsiveness to unforeseen urgent needs; selectivity to achieve the greatest impact; and staying engaged across the spectrum of fragility.
Balancing these elements requires commitment and ownership from all Bank departments to strengthen both the design and implementation of the strategy. The evaluation found that the Bank has shown flexibility and responsiveness in its approach to transition states, but no selectivity. It also focused more on responding to fragility than on preventing it.
Both reports emphasize partnerships with other technical and financial partners, civil society organizations, or private sector actors with a comparative advantage over the Bank in certain activities, including in the context of a political or security crisis, or humanitarian emergencies. An example of a successful partnership comes from Tshikapa, in the DRC, where the Bank is building and equipping vocational training centers for women and youths, and multi-purpose rehabilitation centers, which will be managed by local civil society organizations.
The Bank took several initiatives to help transition states improve their economic and financial governance, and their business climate. As a result, the private sector increased its share of Bank investments in transition states, from 8% in 2016 to 12% in 2018. A major takeaway from the evaluation of the Transition Support Facility is the need to create synergy between private sector and public sector operations through partnerships, co-financing, and private sector engagement in the design and implementation of projects. This integrated approach requires adapting the business model of the Bank’s private sector window to include instruments and financing arrangements that align to the realities of small and medium-sized enterprises in transition states.
Overall, the reports conclude that the Bank’s support has produced rapid and concrete results in state-building, institutional stability and access to basic services, but not enough to significantly change the situation of transition states. IDEV recommendations served as a basis for the new strategy that will continue to place the Bank at the center of Africa’s efforts to address fragility and pave the way for a more resilient and inclusive growth trajectory.