Governance Measurements for Conflict and Fragility: A Comparative Inventory

United Nations Development Programme


This publication aims to provide a representative catalogue of governance assessments and measurement initiatives conducted in conflict/fragile countries and territories over the last decade (2000-2010). It covers initiatives that operate at different levels (global, regional, national or local), have distinct objectives, apply a variety of data collection and analysis methodologies, and use the data in varied ways.

Key lessons that can be extracted from these initiatives are summarised below.

A necessary first step in doing no harm and ensuring that the process of conducting a governance assessment is not derailed is to understand the particular challenges of a conflict and fragile situation. Solid analysis to understand the complex environment and existing power relations and potential scenarios can mitigate the risks associated with participation and dissemination of results. One-size-fits-all assessments that follow a standardised methodology and indicators are increasingly making way for more contextualized approaches. While the methodology and data collection processes may be standardised to a certain extent, focus areas and indicators must reflect local realities and priorities.

Investing in a participatory process, which requires time and commitment, can help in building broad-based ownership of the assessment and its findings. Such a process will only be successful, however, if stakeholders are involved in all stages. Assessments are more likely to be accepted in-country if they aim to: provide evidence on governance to both international and national stakeholders; or to facilitate comparison over time within the same country, rather than between countries. However, stakeholder participation in governance assessments continues to be very limited. It can be particularly difficult and contentious in conflict/fragile settings.

Approaches that use mixed methods and multiple sources of data are more likely to yield valid results that are taken seriously by all stakeholders. Similarly, methodological techniques (e.g. triangulation of data sources and sampling methods) can lessen some of the constraints regarding selection of indicators and data.

It is often women and the poor who bear the brunt of a conflict. A handful of assessments have gender or poverty issues at their core, but most of the governance assessments included in this inventory are not explicitly gender-sensitive or pro-poor. It is critical that governance assessments identify vulnerable groups and include them as stakeholders. A gender and poverty focus must be reflected not only in the choice of focus areas and appropriate indicators and data collection methods, but also in the involvement of women and of poorer, marginalised stakeholder groups in the design or implementation of the assessment.


United Nations Development Programme, 2012, 'Governance Measurements for Conflict and Fragility: A Comparative Inventory', Oslo: Oslo Governance Centre, United Nations Development Programme