Introduction – Making Fragile Systems more Robust

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)

Stages of Fragility—Impacts on Infrastructure and Regulatory Capacity (Stages of Fragility, G7+ Fragility Spectrum)

  1. Crises
  2. Rebuild & Reform
  3. Transition
  4. Transformation
  5. Resilience

The use of the Fragility Taxonomy provides a common language and appreciation for the challenges facing post-FCV environments.  By responding to the self-assessment survey in advance, one will come with a more complete understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of his/her situations.

A country is in a launch situation when a regulatory system is effectively absent, perhaps because the country has never systematically developed such a system, or because a recent conflict has dismantled whatever institutional arrangements in place. A county is in a revitalizing situation when a regulatory agency is in place, but its effectiveness within the regulatory system has been severely damaged, perhaps by conflict or because circumstances have changed significantly, making the existing system badly out of alignment with the current situation and needs.

Key Characteristics

  • Economic Environment
    • Crisis – NGOs provide most formal employment opportunities; Inability to pay for basic infrastructure services; Difficulty in collecting revenues/taxes
    • Rebuild & Reform – High unemployment; affordability is a major issues; Collections are improving; Limited institutional capacity
  • Political Environment
    • Crisis – Lack of political dialogue among different groups; Political agreements are quickly broken; Community unaware of how political processes affect infrastructure access; Lack of checks and balances within government
    • Rebuild & Reform – Evidence of initiatives toward political dialogue to resolve political differences; System lacks proper frameworks for consultations between groups; Elected officials are weakly accountable
  • Social Cohesion
    • Crisis – Governance neither inclusive nor participatory; Absence of basic law and order; Lack of strong civil society organizations; Low public confidence in institutions
    • Rebuild & Reform – Weak institutions deliver infrastructure services sporadically; Extreme power struggles between parties reflecting geography or group affiliation; Lack of credible leaders in civil society, conflicts of interest in questioned
  • Laws & Governance
    • Crisis – The state is not present throughout the country; Traditional systems of governance have broken down; Progress and promotions dependent on allegiances rather than merit
    • Rebuild & Reform – Service delivery by government expanding beyond the capital; Accountability mechanisms are still weak; Ethno-regional/political imbalances; Civil service poorly remunerated and politicized; Corruption and nepotism are present
  • Institutions for Security & Justice
    • Crisis – Continuous conflict and non-governed spaces damaged infrastructure networks; Justice institutions only at national level and politically driven; Weak public finance management; Systematic erosion of state institutions and systems of regulation – rent-seeking activities ensure regime survival
    • Reform & Rebuild – Intensity of conflict and political violence is manageable relative to past; Justice institutions are present but relatively ineffective; Agencies have problems following budgets; Relevant policies being developed and significant progress in the delivery of basic services, although still largely donor funded
  • Infrastructure Performance
    • Crisis – Roads and power supplies either do not exist or are severely damaged; Widespread lack of access to necessary basic services; Service availability is highly irregular; Information systems are rudimentary or non-existent
    • Rebuild & Reform – Basic infrastructure networks are being put in place; Significant inequalities and regional imbalances in service delivery; Intermittent service availability; Data are collected by information silos limit the relevance and utilization of such information

Ten Regulatory Functions

  1. Issue licenses: certificates of use, siting approval, contractual arrangements
  2. Set performance standards: service quality has implications for cost, price, environmental quality, & health
  3. Monitor the performance of regulated firms: collect and analyze data on costs, revenues, and performance (benchmarking)
  4. Establish the price level and the structure of tariffs: enable recovery of prudently incurred costs via a transparent process yielding “just and reasonable” and coherent prices
  5. Establish a Uniform Accounting System: income statements, balance sheets, statements of cash flows, and operating statistics
  6. Arbitrate disputes among stakeholders: ensure that facts are well documented and that different interests are well represented.
  7. Perform management audits and/or Evaluate Business Plans (often via independent consultancy): Are goals being met? Can targets be met with current prices and financial conditions?
  8. Develop human resources: staff training and competitive compensation policy for recruitment and retention of infrastructure professionals.
  9. Coordinate Activities with Other Agencies: Water often involves multiple authorities, including water resource agency and environmental protection agency. Agencies are in a position to make recommendations to the Legislature:
    1. pro-active? or
    2. reactive?
  10. Report sector performance and agency activities to appropriate government authorities:
    1. providing clarity in regulatory priorities,
    2. transparency for sector stakeholders, and
    3. accountability to political structures (via clear appeals procedures and inter-governmental coordination)

Additional Resources:  Frequently Asked Questions