Evaluation: Finland has reached good results in fragile countries and in conflict-ridden environments

Finland’s country strategies are of varying importance in fragile countries and circumstances but they provide opportunities for strengthening the internal and external policy coherence for development.

As a rule, Finland’s support meets well the needs of beneficiaries and key stakeholders in fragile countries and regions affected by conflict. An evaluation report dealing with the suitability of the Foreign Ministry’s country strategies to development policy and development cooperation in fragile countries and environments affected by conflict was presented at a Webinar on 7 May 2020. The Webinar was attended by approximately 150 participants representing different stakeholder groups. The results were commented by Ambassador Sirpa Mäenpää, Ambassador Riikka Laatu and Senior Adviser Eeva Alarcón, followed by an active general discussion.

The Webinar’s keynote speech was held by a representative of the g7+, which is an inter-governmental organisation of fragile countries. Deputy General Secretary of the g7+ Secretariat Habib Ur Rehman Mayar noted that there is no development without peace and peace cannot be achieved without development. He said that, above all, he hopes that donors would coordinate their work and use local systems, because the creation of sustainable systems of government takes time and requires perseverance, management skills and flexible support from the part of donors.

Mayar acknowledged the significant support given by Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto during the early stages of the g7+ and thanked him for the continued close cooperation.

Good reputation could be used more widely

The evaluation was launched in March 2019 and it is based on an analysis of the results-based management used in country strategies, stakeholder interviews, a quantitative analysis of assistance, and an analysis of documents from 64 projects.  Evaluation data was also collected during field trips to Afghanistan, Lebanon (relating to the Syria-Iraq programme), Myanmar, the Occupied Palestinian territory, and Somalia.

The five example cases that were evaluated — four countries and one region – differ from each other in terms of both the root causes and sources of fragility and the impacts of fragility. What is common to all of them is that the conditions are extremely volatile and vulnerable.

In fragile countries and regions, Finland channels its assistance via multilateral organisations and international development finance institutions. According to the evaluation report, this procedure is correct and best suited for the operating environment. However, Finland could use its good name as a principled and neutral party also in connection with the development of government structures and peacebuilding at bilateral level because, based on the report, Finland has succeeded in achieving the good results that it has set for political dialogue with the partner countries.

The evaluators note that even if valuable results have been achieved in the implementation of the country strategies in developing countries, the results do not constitute a coherent whole, and they did not identify a clear objective to reduce instability that would have guided the activities. With regard to Finland’s cross-cutting objectives, the results focused mainly on women’s and girls’ participation at project level.

The evaluation report and its abstract are available on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.