Fragile States

DAI’s fragile states work, led by the Center for Secure and Stable States, 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.

Peace-Building and Political Transition

Peace-building and political transition are fundamentally “endogenous” processes, meaning that local people will drive the ultimate outcome. As an external partner, we help them succeed by enhancing broad participation in the transition, providing financial and technical assistance, and promoting best-fit approaches.

Because constructive state-society relations are critical to building legitimate states that deliver for their citizens and promote long-term peace, we support solutions that empower the state, when appropriate, and encourage state-society relations. We work with local partners to achieve five interrelated objectives that strengthen state-society relations:

  • Addressing the root causes of violent conflict
  • Supporting local conflict management mechanisms
  • Promoting inclusive political processes
  • Improving the core functions of responsible states
  • Responding to public expectations and needs

Our work depends upon the level of fragility that prevails within the state and its institutions—ranging from corruption and deteriorating governance to ongoing violent conflict, post-conflict or political transition, and gradual improvement. We analyze the factors—across all sectors—that generate conflict and map the interplay among power brokers, civil society, and the private sector. We examine the potential drivers of instability such as the proliferation of small arms, human trafficking, land tenure issues, competition for natural resources, and unequal access to political power. We analyze the trajectory of a transition and the internal and external stresses. We seek to understand the level of institutional capacity, accountability, and inclusion, and how key stakeholders can build confidence and transform institutions. We identify disincentives to stability and potential spoilers.

We then translate this analysis into solutions through participatory planning and community decision-making tools that help local partners prioritize needs and solve problems. We propose pragmatic options, rather than conventional best-practice solutions that may not suit local dynamics. We consider the long-term impact that short-term activities may have on state-building and development prospects, balancing the need to deliver visible benefits with the need to lay the foundation for durable peace.

Our Experts

Brenda Barrett has supported political stabilization and peace-building programs in more than 20 countries, and brings 25 years of experience.

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Peter Dimitroff holds more than 20 years of international development and project management experience, primarily in the Middle East and Afghanistan and focusing on anti-corruption, budget transparency, legislative strengthening, and women’s empowerment.

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Nandi Hall is a Principal Project Manager with more than 15 years of experience working in international development in both the private and nongovernmental sector.

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Tine Knott is the Vice President of the Center for Secure and Stable States where she provides strategic leadership of DAI’s work in fragile states.

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Our Projects


Musharikat supports USAID Afghanistan’s investments in women’s rights groups and activists.

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Honduras—Unidos por la Justicia (United for Justice)

The Unidos por la Justicia (United for Justice) program works with local partners to improve citizen engagement with the security and justice sectors; enhance the efficiency of the judicial system; and increase the effectiveness of community police.

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Liberia—Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI)

The Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative is improving the citizen-state relationship in Liberia by supporting coalitions and advocacy campaigns that promote public sector accountability.

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Nigeria—Accountable, Responsive, and Capable Government

The U.K. Department for International Development Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn is a five-year programme that supports governments, citizens, and evidence-based advocacy. PERL helps governments develop and implement policy by assisting them in tracking and accounting for how policies, plans, and budgets are used in delivering public goods and services to promote growth and reduce poverty. It supports citizens to engage with these processes.

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Zimbabwe—Transparency, Responsiveness, Accountability, and Citizen Engagement (TRACE)

Now might be the time for Zimbabwe improve on its record of access to justice, human rights, and responsiveness to citizens’ needs.

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DAI Selected as Top Innovator in Global Poll of International Development Professionals

DAI has been named a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator, one of only 10 consulting firms so honored globally. The award was based on a poll of 100,000 Devex members, who comprise the world’s largest network of aid and international development professionals.

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