In my previous post, I gave an overview of Fund for Peace’s methodology for the Failed States Index and offered some brief thoughts on how the index may or may not be useful. This post will focus on how Africa (scoped to exclude Egypt and South Sudan for reasons mentioned in the previous post) fares in the 2012 Failed States Index.
Recall that Failed States Index scores range between 0.0 and 120.0 (least failed to most failed), and the Fund for Peace categorizes the Failed States Index scores by quartiles: Alert (scores of 90-120), Warning (scores of 60-89.9), Moderate (scores of 30-59.9), and Sustainable (scores of 0-29.9). In 2012, 20 African countries were in the Alert category, 31 were in the Warning category, and one was in the Moderate category. Africa’s 2012 Failed States Index scores, rankings, and categories are on this table:
|2||Democratic Republic of the Congo||111.2|
|6||Central African Republic||103.8|
|20||Republic of the Congo||90.1|
|46||São Tomé and Príncipe||73.9|
On a map, the 2012 Failed States Index categories look like this:
(Okay, I’ll admit that the graphics on Fund for Peace’s website are much better!)
Anyway, in 2012, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Chad and Zimbabwe are the top five countries on the Failed States Index (both for Africa and globally). Yet, this actually doesn’t give us very much information, as it is not surprising that these countries rank how they do on the index. One of the things I mentioned in my last post is that the Failed States Index can be useful if you look at how scores change over time. (For previous Failed States Index scores, see Fund for Peace’s website.)
Between 2007 and 2012, 14 countries’ scores have improved: Seychelles, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sudan, Malawi, Côte d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, and Namibia (in order of most improved scores).
On the other side of the scale, 38 countries’ scores got worse during this timeframe. Not all of these countries are necessarily the weakest on the continent, but some may be weakening at such a rate that they may be increasingly vulnerable to catalysts (i.e., coup, natural disaster, mass population displacement) that could send them “over the edge.” According to Failed States Index data, the five countries on the continent that have weakened at the most rapid rates since 2007 are Libya, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, and Guinea-Bissau.
- Libya has been categorized as a Warning country since 2007, but its score was 18.41% higher (indicating relative state weakening) in 2012 than it was in 2007.
- Senegal has been categorized as a Warning country since 2007, but its score was 15.59% higher in 2012 than it was in 2007. (Note that the the time lag in Fund for Peace’s data collection as described in their methodology does not account for possible improvements in Senegal due to former President Abdoulaye Wade standing down in favor of Macky Sall in 2012, which would not have been covered by Failed States Index data collected in 2011.)
- South Africa was categorized as a Sustainable country in 2007, but its score was 14.2% higher in 2012 than it was in 2007. Since 2008, it has been categorized as a Moderate country.
- Tunisia has been categorized as a Warning country since 2007, but its score was 11.65% higher in 2012 than it was in 2007.
- Guinea-Bissau has been categorized as an Alert country since 2007, but its score was 10.48% higher in 2012 than it was in 2007.
Note that two of those countries – Libya and Tunisia – are “Arab Spring” countries that did not display indications of such rapid weakening in the 2011 Failed States index. They thus displaced two countries – Benin and Eritrea – that would have also made it on to the list of the five countries that are weakening at the most rapid rates:
- Benin has been categorized as a Warning country since 2007, but its score was 8.43% higher in 2012 than it was in 2007.
- Eritrea was categorized as a Warning country in 2007, but its score was 9.52% higher in 2012 than it was in 2007. Since 2009, it has been categorized as an Alert country.
The takeaway from this level of analysis of the Failed States Index is not that countries like Senegal and South Africa are failing, but that countries like Guinea-Bissau and Eritrea, which are already starting from a relatively compromised position, and deteriorating at a considerable pace year-to-year. At least that’s one way I see the index potentially being useful.
Thus ends my brief analysis of the 2012 Failed States Index and what it may or may not tell us. Take from it what you will.