Fragility Index for a Differentiated Approach

Publication | August 2014

The fragility index can gauge the level, degree, and trend of fragility in a country. It can guide the allocation of limited resources and a differentiated approach in countries with fragile and conflict-affected situations.

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Fragility is a complex and dynamic issue that is very difficult to be captured in one quantitative measure. However, an indicator that can gauge the level, degree, and trend of fragility at a country level is needed as a basis for allocating limited resources and as a guide for a differentiated approach toward engagement in countries with fragile and conflict-affected situations.

ADB is developing a fragility index based on the key dimensions of fragility that has been made comparable across countries and time to ensure that evaluation and monitoring of fragility trends can be conducted to see if the fragility situation has improved or worsened. The index serves as a guide to ADB and other similar institutions for engaging in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

The initiative on developing the fragility index is part of the regional technical assistance project Enhancing ADB’s Engagement in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations (RETA 8065).


Fragility is complex and multidimensional, calling for a careful and differentiated approach to deal with the issues if the engagement is to be effective and addresses the problem. The latter requires a full understanding of the main source(s) of fragility that can sometimes be traced at the subnational level.

Enabling fragile countries to improve capacity through institutional and governance reforms, or at the very least creating no negative development impact, should be the central idea of a differentiated approach. In this context, it is important to note that reform, especially in governance, is a long process requiring extended systematic engagement. Even in the best-case scenario, a fragile country could need a generation of engagement to successfully achieve the desired institutional transformations.

ADB operations could draw benefits from the ADB Fragility Index (AFI) in three distinct ways. The first is in identifying fragile countries and the allocation of resources to these countries. The degree of fragility shown in the AFI is also a useful indicator to guide the depth of the operation. Second, the AFI enables ADB to trace the sources of fragility by individual dimensions and indicators to enable for more targeted and focused operations to address the issue. Third, the AFI trend should be used as a monitoring and evaluation tool to ensure that the engagement is addressing the problem and moving in the right direction, and is part of the solution.

Additional Details

  • Governance and public sector management
  • Fragile situations
  • ARM146739-2

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