Fragile States

DAI’s Fragile States work builds on our global reputation for innovative post-crisis assistance to support political transition, ensure short-term stability operations, prevent and counter violent extremism (P/CVE), and lay the foundation for long-term development in fragile, crisis-stricken states.

Countering Extremism

Mitigating the threat from—and strengthening resilience to—violent extremism is a multifaceted commitment that requires all the tools at our disposal: diplomatic, development, data, and defense. Well-versed in operating alongside complementary diplomatic and defense initiatives, DAI addresses violent extremism on multiple fronts, bringing to this task our full suite of expertise in good governance, job creation, community development, post-conflict stabilization, rule of law, citizen security, public financial management, trade and customs, and social development.

Our integrated approach builds the capacity of national governments, civil society, the private sector, and communities to become full partners with international actors in combating extremist ideologies. And while there is no “silver bullet” solution to the challenge of violent extremism, we know that exerting pressure on the recruitment, operations, and financing of terror organizations yields results:

Disrupting recruitment: The key to disrupting extremist groups’ ability to recruit is addressing the underlying disillusionment and disenfranchisement on which they feed—in turn exacerbated by weak or corrupt government, unemployment, citizen insecurity, poor service delivery, and a sense of helplessness—while providing an alternative vision of a better future through positive engagement in vulnerable communities. In Kenya and Pakistan, for example, DAI is implementing U.S.- and U.K.-funded programming that addresses citizen grievances by engaging people in improving their own communities, creating job opportunities—particularly for at-risk youth—and reducing government corruption and mismanagement.

Reducing areas of operations: International and regional military forces have significantly degraded terrorist networks such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Al Shabab by eliminating their ability to operate freely in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Kenya-Somali border. Key to the long-term success of these efforts was understanding that military operations alone were not sufficient; once an area was cleared of terrorist operations, holding it depended on investing in those communities to improve local governance, generate employment, and upgrade social services. DAI has worked around the world—from Afghanistan to Iraq to Pakistan to Somalia—to implement post-conflict stabilization programs that reduce potential areas of operations for these groups.

Preventing illicit financing: Terror groups are often financed through the same criminal financial networks used by drug lords, human traffickers, illicit weapons dealers, and money launderers. One of the most effective ways of disabling these networks is by improving public financial management, particularly through improved tax and customs regimes and improved banking regulation, because criminals often exploit weak country systems. Modernized financial systems also generate data on the movement of money, goods, and people, which supports improved intelligence. In Jordan, the Philippines, and El Salvador, DAI created national taxpayer and customs databases that led directly to the identification and disruption of smuggling and criminal financing operations.

Our Experts

Arthur Carlson is an international development practitioner with 28 years of experience leading complex projects in emergency response, governance, refugee assistance, countering violent extremism, peacebuilding, and institutional system strengthening.

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Kevin Casey is an advisor with experience bringing innovative methodologies to research in conflict, transitional, and stabilization contexts.

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Phelps Feeley has more than 10 years of experience in program design, leadership and management for political transition, governance, stabilization, peacebuilding, research, media, and civil society strengthening projects.

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Vishalini Lawrence is the Senior Director of DAI’s Resilience and Stability practice. Vishalini brings 15 years of experience leading peacebuilding, resilience, stabilization, and governance programs in Cambodia, Kenya, Malaysia, and Somalia.

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Lindsay North is a Principal Specialist in the Resilience and Stability practice with more than 13 years of experience in design, research, monitoring, evaluation, and learning for peacebuilding, governance, and stabilization programs.

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Dr. David Pottebaum is a Senior Advisor and Development Economist, serving as a resource for project management and implementation; democracy and governance; conflict mitigation and recovery; monitoring, evaluation, and learning; research; and data analysis initiatives.

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John Sampson has more than 17 years of experience leading complex, high-speed programs in conflict, post-conflict, and fragile environments, including stability and transition, countering violent extremism, governance, climate-related conflict, natural resource management, emergency assistance, crisis management, infrastructure, and civil-military coordination programs.

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Bruce Spake is Vice President for Field Engagement.

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Our Projects



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Developments is DAI’s newsletter. News and feature articles, opinion pieces, and interviews highlight DAI projects and offer insight into global development issues of the day.

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