State Fragility and Rural Development

The linkages between state fragility and (deficient) rural development are not well understood. Existing studies and policy documents which touch on the dynamic have not been subject to any systematic examination.

This project for the GIZ considers the specific challenges posed by state fragility in a number of the agency’s partner countries to inform their development cooperation strategy. The aim is to develop a conceptual framework for analyzing the relationship between state fragility and (deficient) rural development, and to build an empirical base for understanding the relationship in a group of selected countries (Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Nepal and Bolivia).

The project team is led by Dr Markus Schultze-Kraft, IDS Governance Fellow, working closely with Dr Martin Rew at the University of Birmingham.

The work is divided into two studies: 

How state fragility affects rural development

The project team will provide an overview of the degree and situation of fragility in each of the selected country cases using the best available data and will consider why and how rural development is negatively affected by state fragility.

The analysis will focus on:

  • the deficits of the state with respect to extending its authority to significant rural parts of the national territory and the existence of significant political and/or criminal violence affecting rural areas
  • the exclusion of significant groups of the rural population from power and the violation of their human rights
  • the failure to provide adequate access to health services, basic education and employment opportunities in rural areas

With respect to rural development the work will focus on rural poverty, service delivery and violence against women. Building on the above framework, the study will analyse for each of the selected country cases how the three dimensions of fragility (authority, legitimacy and capacity) negatively affect poverty, service delivery and violence against women in rural areas. 

What works for rural development in fragile states?

The project will review the extensive donor and academic literature that exits on rural development programmes in the selected countries in order to analyse areas of ‘success’. It appears that effective rural development in fragile states and settings hinges on several factors, including:

  • rural development programmes and projects are multi-faceted and concerned with developing effective partnerships between different economic players at the local level;
  • rural producers are empowered through the strengthening of community managed grass-root organisations;
  • access to productive assets, technology and markets is increased;
  • more effective, responsive and accountable service organisations are established at the local level.

The comparative analysis of the selected country cases will help to identify the factors that play a role in achieving rural development goals in fragile states and settings.

Project details

start date
28 June 2013


In partnership with
University of Birmingham


Recent work


How does state fragility affect rural development?

International development agencies are focusing increasingly on fragile and conflict-affected states and the challenges they are facing in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

1 May 2014