East Africa countries among world’s ‘most fragile’ again

Thursday June 18 2015

Soldiers stand near a house set on fire by protestors opposed to the Burundian president's bid to stand for a third term in Butagazwa, Mugongomanga, some 30km east of the capital Bujumbura, on June 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO | CARL DE SOUZA

Soldiers stand near a house set on fire by protestors opposed to the Burundian president's bid to stand for a third term in Butagazwa, Mugongomanga, some 30km east of the capital Bujumbura, on June 5, 2015. Threats of violence, executions and abductions "could tip an already extremely tense situation over the edge," UN chief says. AFP PHOTO | CARL DE SOUZA 

By KEVIN J KELLEY, TEA Special Correspondent

East and Central African countries have again topped a Washington think tank’s annual ranking of national instability.

The Fragile States Index rates South Sudan as the world’s most troubled country, followed by Somalia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Kenya is ranked 21st in the listing of 178 countries, three spots better than last year.

In the East Africa Community, among the much more stable countries is Tanzania, which however declined two places, from position 65 to 63 on the list of most fragile states globally. Rwanda follows at position 37, having improved three places.

Uganda moved one step down the stability ladder to 23rd place, while Burundi, which is rocked in violent protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, was ranked at position 18.

A country’s degree of fragility is based how it scores on 12 social, economic and political indicators, such as respect for human rights, demographic pressures, unevenness of economic development, quality of public services and “human flight and brain drain.”

Kenya fared most poorly on population pressures, ethnic tension and “factionalised elites.” It received its best score on “protecting human rights.”

Africa continues to account for most fragility, with the worst five African states grouped in “the very high alert” category.

Finland is the only state in the “very sustainable” category, while both United Kingdom and United States were termed “very stable.”

Countries with the worst scores generally show continued deterioration, while those given the best rankings are continuing to improve. This suggests that "fragility begets fragility, and stability begets stability," said the Washington-based Fund for Peace director JJ Messner.

Zimbabwe is rated as one of the four most improved countries in this year's index, along with Cuba, Georgia and Portugal.

Ukraine is said to have experienced the largest degree of deterioration in the past year, along with Libya, Syria, Russia and Mali.