Fragility & Peace

Despite declines in interstate conflict, violence prompted by weak institutions, protracted grievances, broken social compacts, illicit transnational networks, and outside intervention have redefined notions of conflict and fragility. ISE seeks to unpack these new collective understandings, exploring features of conflict and violence and broader drivers such as climate change, poor social cohesion, and migration. We are supporting new and innovative perspectives on peacebuilding, informed by comprehensive analyses of modern peace processes.

Towards a Future Research Agenda in Fragile Contexts

The challenge of addressing conditions of fragility remains central from the perspectives of development and security. Fragility is a shared problem for the research, policy, and implementation communities, but too often researchers fail to produce…

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Securing Stability Through Peace Agreements

The recent increase in the number of major global conflicts calls for a re-examination of how such violence can end and how peace can be sustained. Although peace agreements have a mixed historical success, their…

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State Function: Security
Insight & Analysis: Fragility & Peace
ISE at USIP Event: Ending Civil Wars: How Can We Succeed with Limited Opportunities?

As a part of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ ongoing project on Civil Wars, Violence and International Responses, the second volume of a special issue of the journal Dædalus was released in January 2018 to…

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Sovereignty Strategies

Read Clare Lockhart’s article ‘Sovereignty Strategies: Enhancing Core Governance Functions as a Postconflict & Conflict-Prevention Measure’ in the AAAS Special Issue of Daedalus.

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Issue Brief: Re-examining the Terms of Aid

The current terms of foreign assistance mean that it often falls short of the goal of supporting countries on their development paths. The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, endorsed in 2011, represents a…

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State Building in Conflict-Affected & Fragile States: A Comparative Study

In conflict-affected or fragile states there is often a significant gap between what the state is able to deliver and what the citizens of that state, as well as international partners, expect the state to…

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Why understanding reforms during crisis response & recovery should be data-driven and inclusive

By Pat Austria Ramsey, ISE Data & Digital Lead


In times of crisis, the imperative of leadership and prioritization is more prominent than ever before. Today, as the impacts of COVID-19 are felt by all countries, the salience of good governance becomes universal and we must revisit what it means for a state to function effectively. How do leaders lead in crisis? With so many competing imperatives, how do we prioritize? What lessons can we learn from countries that have faced crises, and set out on a sound recovery path, in the past? How can we more effectively use data to scale what works?

Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, many leaders have relied on data to drive decision-making and the experience of others. These insights are used to model both the immediate response and the broader reforms needed to offset the long-term impacts of the shock. The ongoing pandemic and reverberating second-order effects highlight the importance of understanding a diverse set of recovery pathways and indicators. Tools such as ISE’s Reform Sequencing Tracker provide a way to quickly understand the menu of options available and the different sequences adopted in different contexts after crises.

Building a Global Dataset to Support National Visions

In 2018, ISE’s Data and Digital Team began the Reform Sequencing Project to better understand how leaders decide and prioritize reforms in times of crisis. The starting point was that there is no single roadmap for success – it is well established that different countries have followed different pathways. The goal was to codify the widest array of reform pathways possible – providing depth, detail and analytical capacity to information that typically sits in static PDFs in Ministries of Planning.

To date, ISE’s Reform Sequencing Tracker includes over 24,000 reforms that have been coded in over 25 countries. It documents the stories of the countries in every region in the world, spanning decades of history and reform leadership in a range of crises – conflict, natural disaster, pandemic, financial crisis and political transition. In doing so, the tracker aims to challenge the traditional lessons learned model where the focus is placed on the deemed successes and failures. In understanding that each crisis environment and reform agenda is unique, the database provides decision-makers with the information and tools that they need to understand and learn from a wide menu of reform pathways.

What does this mean in practice? The Reform Sequencing Tracker has three main outputs:

  1. Visual analytics to research and understand the sequence of reforms over time and across different areas of government
  2. A searchable database to provide a starting point for governments tackling similar priority areas
  3. An accountability tool for governments and citizens to track the delivery of their reforms, manage various efforts and provide accountability to the public.

The foundational premises of the Reform Sequencing Tracker have only been affirmed by the needs brought on during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many leaders have relied on data and the paths of others to model their responses. The unprecedented nature of the crisis drove greater demand for the rapid transference of information and data-driven decision making. Interesting as well, governments were not just interested in what the United States or Europe were doing. Though often seen as the guideposts for many policy decisions, the United States, Europe, Singapore and South Korea provided just one story out of many. Understanding that their capacity and needs might vary, governments were just as interested in what New Zealand, Uruguay and Hong Kong were doing in the crisis.

“Everything you planned and promised to ordinary people, when a crisis hits, you must change your plan.”

Boris Tadic, Club de Madrid member, former president of Serbia

Leadership Under Crisis

Leaders are always tasked with making difficult decisions on prioritization and sequencing. In crisis environments, the need for expediency and effectiveness becomes exponentially greater.[1] Whether in government, development or the private sector, leaders begin their tenure with visions of their country or organization’s future. In a crisis environment, leaders are forced to reconsider these priorities to respond to the new issues at hand. Providing leaders with a wide array of reform stories can illuminate pathways that were once unrecognized and help balance the short-term demands of the crisis with the longer-term visions of development and transformation.

“It is easy to feel overwhelmed – 70 percent of the time leaders are in reactive mode, and it is difficult to get out of it.

    • It is important to balance time frames – look at 1-2 months, but also consider the medium- and long-term needs
    • Citizens need to see something, but a lot of the important things are not visible – budgets, supply chains, etc. – leaders must find a balance
    • There needs to be more focus on prioritization and sequencing. You cannot do 1,000 things – what are the 3-5 things you can do first?
    • Social inclusion is an imperative – how does a leader take time to listen to citizens? In fragile states, which are almost all youth majority countries, how do you incorporate the voices of vulnerable people?”

– Clare Lockhart, director of the Institute for State Effectiveness

The proliferation of data no longer binds the development community to the anecdotal experience of experts or popular case studies. We can, in a systematic yet detailed manner, lift stories from various crisis environments to help build reform pathways that are distinct and evidence-based. In addition, understanding that their reforms have a place in a broader sequence and trajectory of development can help decision-makers prioritize during difficult times.

“All systems – local to international – face levels of fragility, even more important during COVID-19. It is crucial to learn and revise how they respond to crises.”

– Amat Alsoswa, former minister of human rights in Yemen

Understanding the Unique Crisis at Hand

The spectrum of fragility and governance issues manifests itself in the varied experience of citizens. Leaders must recognize the unique challenges communities face and be empathetic to the political and social culture. Often, decision-makers can look to the most developed nations to provide examples of the road forward. While appropriate in ambition, these examples do not consider the unique starting points each country and community face.

Preliminary analysis from the Reform Sequencing Tracker shows several interesting trends. Reform types and mechanisms vary greatly depending on the type of crisis (I.e. the shock that triggered the need for reform), The tracker classifies actions as three main types of reforms: capacity, policy or project.

    1. Capacity-based reforms refer to actions that are focused on internal public sector mechanisms such as the processes, systems or size of the civil service.
    2. Policy-based reforms refer to rules-based measures such as the enactment of laws and revisions of policies.
    3. Project-based reforms are the physical construction of schools or the rehabilitation of roads.

We see some governments in crisis situations favoring more policy-based reforms while others favor more capacity-based measures. In addition, how governments use various mechanisms – government downsizing, the passing of laws, changing operational procedures, etc.—can have a significant impact on the reform pathway.

How capacity, project and policy reforms are distributed across the three phases of different crises.

Countries facing political transition typically adopt a more diverse set of reforms compared to countries facing a financial crisis. In a financial crisis, leaders typically begin, unsurprisingly, with reforms focused on market engagement and public financial management. Interestingly, by the final phase of the reform agenda, countries in a financial crisis dedicate 30 percent of reforms to human capital (growing from just nine percent in the first phase). Put this in contrast with countries in political transition, where reforms remain varied at every phase of the reform process and human capital only constitutes 19 percent of reforms even in the final phase.

Comparing political transition and post-financial crisis reform actions categorized by the function of the state.

In virtually all crisis environments, governments endeavor to improve the human capital system. Human capital is a complex and multi-disciplinary field that rests on improved education, employment opportunities and social protection mechanisms. Similarly, human capital reforms can be enacted through different types and mechanisms. Between Phase 1 and Phase 3, we see that capacity-based reforms increase while project-based reforms decrease over time. Looking specifically at reform mechanisms, most capacity-based human capital reforms focus on training the civil service while policy-based reforms focus on implementation and promotion. Project-based reforms are largely implementation and rehabilitation.

Actions within the three different reform types.

The Reform Sequencing Tracker allows users to search through human capital reforms based on several different tags – type, mechanism, region, country, economic status, crisis type, etc. – to draw the parallels that are best suited for their country and context. Perhaps a country knows that its system currently lacks the policy foundations needed to support human capital reform. Through the Reform Sequencing Tracker, users can search specifically for policy-based reforms in any number of human capital priority areas, whether that be employment generation, curriculum improvement or social protection.

Beyond providing trend analysis, the Reform Sequencing Tracker aims to provide researchers and decision-makers with a library of reform actions to provide a detailed and nuanced menu of options. Leaders typically become overwhelmed by the barrage of priorities and are forced to rely on anecdotal experience. The Reform Sequencing Tracker can provide leaders with both an overview of the varied roadmaps countries have taken, as well as the specific reform actions that formed the basis of their vision.

Social protection reforms across Moldova, Senegal and Tajikistan.

Moving Forward

Data does not absolve leaders from the decision-making process – but it can strengthen its legitimacy and effectiveness. The demands of a crisis situation force many governments to proceed with the information and traditional methods they have become accustomed to. In turn, the approach of international development can, at times, seem anecdotal. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in an unprecedented way and forced us to reconsider the traditional model of development.

All countries now face unique challenges brought on by the same critical shocks of the global pandemic and reverberating financial and social crises. As we look towards the future and the other challenges ahead of us, we see the need for the continued transference of information – information that is inclusive and detailed. That is what we hope to do with the Reform Sequencing Tracker. The Reform Sequencing tracker aims to be a valuable tool to democratize reform information and provide researchers and decision-makers with diverse, actionable and relevant data.

We hope you will explore the beta version of the Reform Sequencing Tracker. Since our launch in August 2020, we have presented the Reform Sequencing Tracker at the World Bank Fragility Forum and United Nations World Data Forum and have received highly positive feedback. However, we know we still have plenty ahead of us. In the coming months, ISE hopes to establish a performance component to look not only at “planned reforms” but evaluate whether they were completed and successful in their aims. Did countries that dedicated more reforms to human capital actually see improvements in human development indicators? Do certain types of reforms perform better in particular crisis scenarios? Does the timeline of the national vision actually matter?

This phase of work, like the one before it, will take a tremendous effort. We know there is no silver bullet to reforms. The COVID-19 crisis, like every crisis before it and every crisis after it, will have a number of different outcome permutations. However, by creating datasets that are more diverse, inclusive and data-rich, we hope that we can gain a better understanding of what different reform pathways can look like.

[1] On June 9, ISE partnered with the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid to open the World Bank’s virtual Fragility Forum to answer questions and discuss how leaders and development institutions can prioritize reforms in these unique crisis situations. Moderated by Raj Kumar, the President of Devex, the panel featured President Boris Tadic, former president of Serbia; Minister Amat Alsoswa, former minister of Human Rights in Yemen; Franck Bousquet, senior director, Fragility, Conflict and Violence at the World Bank; and Clare Lockhart, director of the Institute for State Effectiveness.


Participants of Indonesia’s Pekka Program. | Credit: Pekka



The October call of the Movement for Community-led Development saw government, World Bank and NGO representatives share lessons from implementing national level Community Driven Development programs across three countries: Afghanistan, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. This article was originally posted by the Movement for Community Led Development. View the presentation slides here.


  • Mr. Moujeeb Habib, Head of CCNPP Capacity Development Division, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Afghanistan
  • Ms. Nani Zulminarni, Founder and Director, Pekka (Female Headed Household Empowerment Program), Indonesia
  • Ms. Rano Tlepovoa, Social Development Specialist, World Bank Country Office in Uzbekistan


  • Brigitta Bode, Social and Participatory Development Expert, Institute for State Effectiveness (ISE)
  • Rasoul Rasouli, CDD Operations Advisor, ISE and former Director General of the Citizens’ Charter program in Afghanistan
  • Nelly Mecklenburg, Senior Program Officer, ISE

Communities Take Charge of Their Own Development  

Community-driven, or community-led, development (CDD/CLD) is “a development approach that enables communities to identify, prioritize, and implement their development needs and manage resources by themselves,” explained Mr. Rasouli. In such programs, citizens are key assets and stakeholders within the communities, making development more inclusive and cost-effective than top-down programs. In CDD/CLD, people monitor and maintain development projects themselves, fostering “demand-driven approaches” with a strong sense of ownership among communities. Multilateral organizations, such as the World Bank, are increasingly utilizing the platform of CDD/CLD programs to deliver key services to people around the world. Consequently, the CDD/CLD approach also contributes to improved governance with engaged citizens deliberating about and maintaining projects.

As part of an introduction of The Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program in Afghanistan, Mr. Rasouli outlined how the processes of community-driven development strive to take soft components to a transformative scale by applying resources towards community mobilization and capacity building. As COVID-19 stretches the limits of government services in Afghanistan, the Citizens’ Charter is playing a key role in providing critical services to citizens and responding to humanitarian needs. Mr. Rasouli emphasized the implementation and monitoring processes that community members partake in, especially because CDD and CLD encourage “programmatic, bottom-up and inclusive development approaches through increased community participation.” Rural communities gain the opportunity to strive for self-reliance as they take ownership of their own development. The Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program is one example of CLD implementation at the national level.

Lessons from Afghanistan: People are Assets

Started in 2017, the Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program (CCNPP) in Afghanistan has reached 12,213 communities and is a cross-ministerial program, including line ministries such as the Ministries of Education, Public Health, and Rural Rehabilitation and Development. The Citizens’ Charter has the capacity to disperse $300 million USD per year in grants to communities in 123 districts across every province – one-third of the entire country. Citizens’ Charter programs are chosen and maintained by locally-elected Community Development Councils (CDCs), made up of members from the community.

Mr. Habib described the first phase of three-phases that the Citizens’ Charter program has planned. In this phase, nine participatory learning and action (PLA) tools including resource maps, women’s mobility maps, and gap analysis are used to understand existing gaps in the community’s health, education, and infrastructure. In social mapping exercises, community members physically map the neighborhoods in their village to determine election units, making sure there are representatives from each neighborhood on the CDC. Women’s participation in CDCs is around 50% and is intentionally brought into the decision-making processes for development projects and PLA tools.

Not only do these PLA tools allow for an analysis of a community’s assets, but also improve the inclusion of marginalized groups and help prevent elite capture, where more well-off members of the community reap most of the benefits of development projects. To ensure these exercises reflect the whole community, 60% of community members must be present during participatory processes. To collaborate with governments and ensure that community members are treated as productive partners in programming and decision-making, CCNPP has created a policy to coordinate with district governments and delegate projects; this policy creates partnerships to ensure sustainability. 

The Citizens’ Charter maintains minimum service standards (MSS) across all their communities, including access to clean drinking water and a menu of rural infrastructure projects (roads, electricity, irrigation, etc.). Additionally, the Citizens’ Charter maintains specific health and education standards for the community, such as mandated clinic hours and staff capacity and a minimum level of training for teachers, which are overseen by their respective line ministries.

In its design, the Citizens’ Charter is intentionally structured to link wider sub-national governance systems and policies. To prevent overlapping systems, CDCs are utilized as a gateway to governance interventions for the community, with clear roles and responsibilities for engagement with district and provincial governors. The program also hosts grievance redressal mechanisms to ensure monitoring from the community is acted upon by the government. Through these mechanisms, the Citizens’ Charter seeks to act as a sustainable and effective program into the future, which has clear linkages and roles within formal government structures.

The Indonesia Story: Focus on Making Women Visible

Pekka, the Female-Headed Household Empowerment Program, has reached almost 70,000 people across 87 districts of Indonesia. Ms. Zulminarni explained how Pekka emerged to change how women are viewed within Indonesian communities and heighten support for widows. It originated in 2001 to both better support widows, particularly in conflict areas such as Aceh, who were demanding access to resources, and in response to identified gaps in the government’s World Bank-funded Kecamatan Development Program (KDP) CDD program, which was not reaching “the poorest of the poor.”

Ms. Zulimanarni described the program as a unique paradigm. On one hand, Pekka is a traditional development program that seeks to provide greater access to money and other resources to impoverished communities, while on the other hand, seeks to directly address the power relations between men and women within their communities and fight the traditional stigmatization of widows. Prior to releasing direct cash transfer as part of the KDP program, Pekka organizes women in the community to discuss how they can address the problems of corruption in gaining access to the money, where widows have historically been forced to pay “taxes” to receive the grants.

Pekka has continued to focus on the visibility of women-headed families, aiming to fill gaps that governments have left first in KDP, then its successor program PNPM, and now in the Village Law program. It focuses on access to resources and access to justice, particularly on issues regarding legal identity. Through the association of women-headed families, Pekka also builds women’s grassroots capacity by training women to be facilitators and community organizers in their own villages, actively engaging with public decision making. In some cases, women have become parliament members and heads of the village.

The organizers seek to empower women to take full advantage of Village Law No. 6, which devolves powers to village governments to make decisions on issues of development and elect village heads. So far, the association of women-headed families has reached over 69,000 beneficiaries across 20 provinces in Indonesia. Ms. Zulminarni emphasized that the empowerment program was, and continues to be, intended to “reach the most marginalized and vulnerable groups.”

Uzbekistan: Starting New Projects for Poverty Reduction

Ms. Tlepova talked about Uzbekistan’s recent effort to empower citizens through the Obod Qishloq State Program (Prosperous Villages). This program is Uzbekistan’s first-ever CDD program, launched in 2018, with the goal of establishing a presence in over 300 villages in five regions of the country. The Prosperous Villages program is a portion of the government’s wider reform efforts to move towards a market economy, increase transparency with citizens, and prepare Uzbekistan’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy in partnership with the World Bank. Historically, speaking of poverty in Uzbekistan was a taboo topic. Ms. Tlepova noted there has been a distinct shift in the thinking on governance in Uzbekistan, saying that citizens are no longer being asked how they can serve state institutions, but asking how state institutions can serve the people.

Aiding the Prosperous Villages program is the Rural Infrastructure Development Project (RIDP), which is working to make the program more inclusive and participatory for rural citizens, who make up the vast majority of impoverished Uzbeks. During the door-to-door needs assessment for the Prosperous Villages programs, key gaps emerged. These issues included an overdependence on Mahallas – formal and informal local communities – for governance administration and a distinct lack of representation of women and the poor in the Mahallas’ leadership. The assessment also determined that villages close to urban areas were more often chosen to be part of the program and that there were complaints of forced labor among citizens.   Due to COVID-19, the Prosperous Villages program has paused operation and the RIDP has moved along as a standalone project to meet these identified gaps.

The RIDP is targeting over 300 villages across 21 districts in Uzbekistan. The government has allocated approximately $500,000 USD per village and is implementing the RIDP through its Ministry of Economic Empowerment and Poverty Reduction. Working with existing local governance structures, the government will form Mahalla Development Units (MDUs) as the key decision-making authority for the RIDP. MDU members cannot be part of existing Mahalla leadership and, similar to the Citizens’ Charter in Afghanistan, must be composed of members from all neighborhoods in a community and be 50% women. MDUs also host sub-committees focused on young men and women. Trained facilitators – half from NGOs and half direct hires by the government – will facilitate the formation of the MDUs and lead communities through the participatory deliberation and monitoring processes.

A key challenge for the RIDP has been overcoming the highly centralized and bureaucratic nature of the government’s administrative system, where state programs have often been planned in an ad hoc and reactionary fashion. To address the issue, the RIDP is working to build constituencies and support outside of the government. The program is also learning about the tradeoffs of working with versus work through government systems at the local level, where the capacity for outreach and mobilization, especially among vulnerable groups, is still very low. A pilot of the RIDP program, starting with health and wellbeing analyses, is currently ongoing in rural Sokhil village.

Q & A

CDD in Conflict Areas

Mr. Rasouli outlined previous experience from the National Solidarity Program (2003-2016), the precursor to the Citizens’ Charter, wherein community members showed the ability to negotiate for their program even in conflict. Communities negotiated directly with both the government and local armed groups to ensure the safety of the facilitating partners and staff. The government has also developed a high-risk implementation strategy to aid the rollout of CDD programs in insecure areas. Mr. Rasouli iterated that all of these measures are based on developing trust with all the involved stakeholders in the project. 

Infrastructure Meets Social Mobilization 

Though the CDD projects may appear as predominantly infrastructure-related projects, local civil society institutions are essential to their successful implementation. Mr. Rasouli described how the success of CDD programs is reliant on both a hard competence to build the infrastructure but also the soft competence of a truly engaged, organized, and informed community of citizens, NGOs, and CDCs to deliberate on and maintain services in their villages. The goal is not only the building of infrastructure but also the development of a community’s capacity to own such projects.

Combating Corruption on Cash Disbursals

Ms. Zulminarni explained how, unlike many World Bank programs, the KDP/PNPM programs do not require locals to raise 10% of the required funds. However, government agencies were placing illegal “taxes” for the grant dispersals for the programs. A key part of the Pekka program is mobilizing women around how to deal with these taxes and reporting the corruption to other government ministries and the World Bank. Ms. Zulminarni said that, due to their mobilization efforts, the  PNPM/Pekka programs were the only ones in the country not having to pay for the disbursal of funds.

Ensuring Good Facilitation While Scaling Up

A common issue with the scaling up of CDD programs to the national level is that the quality of facilitation – key for understanding the community’s needs and mobilizing citizens – suffers. Ms. Zulminarni described how in Indonesia, the Pekka program focused on grassroots training and mentorship to address this issue. In this way, the women in the communities themselves act as facilitating partners, with less need to rely on NGOs or the World Bank. The Pekka program is lobbying the government to implement this strategy at a larger level to ensure the facilitation of Indonesia’s CDD programs do not suffer as they grow. In Uzbekistan, Ms. Tlepova said the RIDP is focused on hiring high-quality facilitators and educating the government on the importance of facilitation and working with international partners like the World Bank to ensure they are hiring and investing in experienced facilitators. As a result, the government has agreed to allocate 9-10% of the RIDP’s budget for hiring and training facilitators.

Finally, Ms. Bode explained how Afghanistan’s Citizens’ Charter emphasized the importance of “holding a mirror” to the community, helping them understand what poverty looks like in their village, and showing the link between power structures and existing community resources. Citizens’ Charter Facilitating Partners completed several weeks of workshops learning the PLA tools used in the program’s facilitation process, including recording facilitators as they led community discussions so they can learn how their actions and body language impact the PLA activities. Ms. Bode also described how instead of “cascading” facilitation training across a number of Facilitating Partners, the Citizens’ Charter trained a core group of facilitators who then were shadowed by new Facilitating Partners as they worked on the job. After completing the facilitation process in 10 communities with their more senior counterparts, they were then allowed to lead the Citizens’ Charter facilitation on their own in new communities.

Final Reflections

Ms. Bode noted the incredible success of the Pekka program in training women to become grassroots organizers themselves, with some becoming village leaders and even members of parliament. In this sense, CDD programs are not only about building infrastructure for service delivery but also mobilizing and empowering citizens to become leaders themselves. 

Director and Co-Founder of the Institute for State Effectiveness Clare Lockhart gave a flash talk presentation on conflict resolution at The Pearson Global Forum 2020. The flash talk was shown on October 8, 2020.

A Citizens’ Charter facilitating partner training CDC members in Balkh Province, Afghanistan, 2018. Credit: World Bank


On Wednesday, October 14th, the International Peace Institute (IPI) together with Catalyst for Peace and the Institute for State Effectiveness, is cohosting a virtual policy forum on “Governance That Centers Communities: Lessons from Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.” This event is co-sponsored by the Government of Sierra Leone and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations. The event will focus on the practical steps and challenges involved in supporting people-centered peace and development efforts in both the short-term and the long-term.

October 14th, 2020 | 6:00am PST / 9:00am EST | View the livestream here
Opening Remarks

H.E. Ms. Francess Piagie Alghali, Minister of State for the Office of the Vice President, Government of Sierra Leone
H.E. Ms. Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the UN


Ms. Clare Lockhart, Director, Institute for State Effectiveness
Mr. Rasoul Rasouli, CDD Operations and Development Expert, Former Director General, Citizens’ Charter, Afghanistan
Mr. John Caulker, Executive Director, Fambul Tok International
Ms. Libby Hoffman, President, Catalyst for Peace


Ms. Jimena Leiva Roesch, IPI Senior Fellow and Head of Peace and Sustainable Development Program


The world is struggling with both a global pandemic that has challenged national capacities to respond and increasing pressures on funding from both governmental and nongovernmental donors. As a result, there has been increasing attention on the potential of community-owned and -led initiatives to address poverty, mobilize in crises, and increase security and well-being in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Engaged and organized communities are able to identify their priorities, work through conflicts, access and use existing resources efficiently, and identify creative and contextual solutions. Local solutions and capacity are especially relevant during times like these, when COVID-19 travel restrictions make local action especially important. However, there are many practical challenges when governments and organizations that are designed to deliver solutions shift their practices to make room for community ownership.

Sierra Leone and Afghanistan are two countries that have important experience with integrating community-centered initiatives into national government policy. They offer different contexts, solutions, and challenges that contribute to a growing body of knowledge on how policy can better support community-centered initiatives.

Sierra Leone is just a few years into determining how to scale up the Wan Fambul National Framework for Inclusive Governance and Local Development. This framework was founded following a decade of inviting communities to participate in their own peace and development through a process facilitated by the NGO Fambul Tok. Afghanistan is twenty years into implementing national community-driven development programming, first through the National Solidarity Program and now with the Citizen’s Charter National Priority Program. While Sierra Leone’s government is in the midst of designing and supporting the implementation of these initiatives, the government of Afghanistan has developed and refined structures and practices to support its programming. Each country also faces different realities with conflict as Sierra Leone consolidates peace in the aftermath of civil war while Afghanistan continues working towards peace in the midst of an ongoing conflict.

June 09, 2020 | 9:00 to 10:00 ET, 13:00 to 14:00 GMT

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the acute leadership challenges during shock events – decision-making, sequencing and strategy are made more challenging yet profoundly more critical. In periods of crisis – whether it be conflict, political transition, natural disaster or pandemic – leaders must make difficult decisions about what reforms to enact and when.

This event will combine insight from the Institute for State Effectiveness (ISE) and the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid (WLA-CdM) to examine how leaders at moments of crisis decide and sequence reforms.



Franck Bousquet, Senior Director, Fragility, Violence and Conflict (FCV), The World Bank

Boris Tadić, Former President, Republic of Serbia

Amat Al Alim Alsoswa, Former Minister of Human Rights, Yemen

Clare Lockhart, Director, Institute for State Effectiveness

Raj Kumar, President, Devex (moderator)

For more on ISE’s work on CDD/CLD see here

ISE is working with the Movement for Community Led Development, and community-led organizations globally to collate and share ways in which CLD and CDD have been responding to the primary and secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All over the world, we are reminded that communities are the first responders in any crisis. During this difficult time, they are coming together to share accurate information, detail precautionary measures, set up hand washing stations, and collect and distribute relief. In this way, they are supporting stretched government responses, building connections and taking collective action, and helping mitigate the social, economic, and health impacts of the crisis.

Sharing examples of the quick mobilization and innovation by communities and CLD/CDD organizations help showcase what can happen when communities are at the center of development and will allow people to learn from one another.

Please fill in an action you have supported or seen here.

Please fill one form per innovation/action/example.


Image courtesy of Movement for Community Led Development.