Fragile Settings

Where we work

Jordan. Elie Gardner/RI
syria-fragile-settings-content-220819-1-e1566494781153.jpg

What is a fragile setting?

Fragile settings are defined by the overlapping, interconnected challenges people living there face.

Measuring fragility cannot be readily boiled down to a single factor, such as a community’s water shortage or an underperforming education system. Fragility is multidimensional. It occurs over a spectrum of intensity that can ebb and flow as natural disasters hit, conflicts flare up, and poverty levels rise.

It’s a consequence of multiple challenges converging and each bringing its own set of risks. When these risks accumulate, there can be a collapse of services. The result is that people living in fragile settings cannot access the basic necessities they need to survive and thrive.

People in fragile settings cope with risks that can include one or more of the following:

  • Severely limited access to healthcare, education, sanitation, and other essentials
  • Barriers to economic development such as lack of roads, public and private transportation, and access to information services such as the radio or Internet
  • Poverty caused by environmental or political shocks
  • Civil war, instability, and violence that create even more barriers to progress
  • Chronic and acute environmental event (floods, droughts, earthquakes, etc.) and climate change impacts
  • A weak private sector and non-functioning local markets
  • Government that struggles to mobilize domestic and international resources to invest at adequate levels in social welfare programs
  • Municipalities that lack the domestic resources, both human and financial, to invest in basic services
  • Large number of forcibly displaced people, leading to the breaking of community safety nets and intense competition for scarce resources between displaced populations and local host communities

 

At a glance

Where are fragile settings?

Some countries are fragile in their entirety; others are stable nations with pockets of risk.

Examples of Fragile Settings

The aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut. Lynzy Billing/RI

Though these solid middle-income countries enjoy prosperity, frequent typhoons and earthquakes constantly set back the country’s infrastructure. The unpredictability of natural shocks make it nearly impossible for the government and communities to prepare for or mitigate against the risks entirely.

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A massive influx of refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring countries has created pockets of extreme fragility in otherwise thriving countries like Turkey and Bangladesh.

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As one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, Myanmar has many achievements in development. Yet abject poverty in remote and isolated rural communities has led to extreme fragility for about a third of the population, and climate risks are exacerbating this problem.

south-sudan-fragile-settings-220819.jpg

Some countries are indeed fragile in their entirety.  These are the countries most at risk from instability stemming from climate change, political and economic shocks, and the limited capacity of governments to respond and manage such cases.

The aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut. Lynzy Billing/RI

Though these solid middle-income countries enjoy prosperity, frequent typhoons and earthquakes constantly set back the country’s infrastructure. The unpredictability of natural shocks make it nearly impossible for the government and communities to prepare for or mitigate against the risks entirely.

turkey-fragile-settings-content-220819-2.jpg

A massive influx of refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring countries has created pockets of extreme fragility in otherwise thriving countries like Turkey and Bangladesh.

myanmar-fragile-settings-content-220819-3.jpg

As one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, Myanmar has many achievements in development. Yet abject poverty in remote and isolated rural communities has led to extreme fragility for about a third of the population, and climate risks are exacerbating this problem.

south-sudan-fragile-settings-220819.jpg

Some countries are indeed fragile in their entirety.  These are the countries most at risk from instability stemming from climate change, political and economic shocks, and the limited capacity of governments to respond and manage such cases.

Key figures

Fragile settings in numbers

85%
of all people in extreme poverty live in fragile settings
71M
people are forcibly displaced worldwide, the burden for which falls disproportionately on fragile settings
30%
of children in Syria, Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and South Sudan do not attend school
1K
children die each day from diseases linked to poor water and sanitation
fragile-settings-impact-220819-718x1024-final.png

How we deliver solutions for fragile settings

As an organization that specializes in fragile settings, we channel our efforts into programs that target the key sectors of health and nutrition; education; economic opportunity; and water, sanitation, and hygiene. These areas are critical for helping develop better governance and institutions.

We make these investments over the long-term. In 11 of the 17 countries where we operate, we have been present for 10 years or more. Our long-term commitment enhances the effectiveness of development principles and reduces the kind of volatility that can undermine progress when tackling overlapping risks.

Our work is multi-sector and integrated, using a systems approach. That means we support solutions that reinforce and improve upon existing in-country systems. Where such systems do not exist or are chronically underperforming, our response lays the foundation for long-term, sustainable change.

Relief International’s work is most effective when we partner with communities, national governments, peer international organizations, local civil society, public institutions and the private sector. Collaboration enables us to harness complementary expertise and networks that ensures the people we serve receive the best solutions available.

Stories of hope from fragile settings

Real-life examples from our clients and staff living and working in fragile settings.

South Sudan

Gentil Hospital: A Safe Place for Quality Care in a Tense Border Region

Relief International began providing medical care at Gentil Hospital in 2016. Since then, no mothers’ lives have been lost during childbirth.

READ MORE

Jordan

“We educate women because it changes the world.”

One in every three marriages between Syrian refugees in Jordan involve a child under the age of 18. Rima is one of these women. This is her story.

READ MORE

Philippines

Typhoons in the Philippines: 30 Years of Relief

With over 30 years experience working in the Philippines, Relief International’s teams were able to respond immediately to Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded.

READ MORE
South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI

South Sudan

Gentil Hospital: A Safe Place for Quality Care in a Tense Border Region

Jordan. Elie Gardner/RI

Jordan

“We educate women because it changes the world.”

RI Staff/RI

Philippines

Typhoons in the Philippines: 30 Years of Relief

South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI
Jordan. Elie Gardner/RI
RI Staff/RI
South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI

Gentil Hospital: A Safe Place for Quality Care in a Tense Border Region

Jordan. Elie Gardner/RI

“We educate women because it changes the world.”

RI Staff/RI

Typhoons in the Philippines: 30 Years of Relief

Lebanon. Elie Gardner/RI

The Fragile States Index

Each year, the Fund for Peace, an independent research and educational organization, publishes The Fragile States Index. Use the index to explore the indicators of fragility and risk in the countries where Relief International works.

Donate to Relief International

Make a difference in fragile settings

With a gift to Relief International, you can help deliver safe drinking water. You can help provide healthcare to displaced families, far from home. You can help ensure girls and boys alike receive an education, which in turn creates paths towards employment. This all starts with you.

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