The term fragile state is used to describe a country whose government struggles to perform some of its most basic functions, due to a lack of either political will or capacity or a combination of the two. In these states one typically observes persistent deficiencies in the government’s authority, legitimacy (as perceived by its citizens), or its provision of services. Depending on the measure used, one can identify between 30 and 40 fragile states, which together contain around a billion people: a diverse group capturing a range of conditions, from postconflict environments to dysfunctional and corrupt regimes. They all present great development challenges, which raises the following question: Is scaling up under such circumstances possible?
This brief is one of series on scaling up in agriculture, rural development, and nutrition.