Report: 15 Countries at Risk of Becoming Failed States

At-risk countries listed in this year’s Global Trends report. Click on the map for a larger version.

Every four years, after the U.S. president is elected, the National Intelligence Council comes out with an outlook on the world’s changing dynamics — both good and bad — and how they might impact our lives.

For instance, by 2030, middle classes in the developing world are expected to balloon, while the tools of war, including cyber and biological weapons, are predicted to become more readily available. Climate change is destined to make wet places wetter, and dry places more arid. And new communication technologies are described as a “double-edged sword.”

Also included in the 140-page outlook is a list of 15 countries deemed most in danger of becoming failed states within the next 18 years because of their potential for conflict and environmental ills. If they look familiar, it’s because they’re the same countries listed in 2008 — except in a different order.

We list the countries here, in the report’s order of most likely to fail, and provide background reports on each:


Kenyan troops were drawn into a civil war in Somalia between the government and al-Shabab militants as refugees fled to Ethiopia to escape violence and famine. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reported from a refugee camp near Dolo, on the Ethiopian border with Somalia:


In Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, a new approach to small-scale farming has spread to more than 100,000 families in just four years:


Dozens of people were killed in Yemen while pro-regime forces cracked down on protesters demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government’s ouster. Christopher Boucek of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace spoke with Ray Suarez about the political uncertainty and escalating violence:


A rehabilitation center in Gulu, Uganda, provides a haven for former child soldiers abducted into the Lord’s Resistance Army. Tom Bearden reports:


While the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches, the death toll for foreign troops is on the rise. Judy Woodruff spoke with Ret. Lt. Gen. John Nagl and Johns Hopkins University’s Vali Nasr:


Malawi’s Muslim Communities Embrace Family Planning — Report from GlobalPost

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst place on Earth to be a woman, according to the United Nations. Regional war and rape leave an estimated 1,000 or more women assaulted everyday. One organization, HEAL Africa, helps women manage their traumatic injuries:


Kenya’s Coast Province boasts of wealth of opportunity, but for locals in the picturesque city of Mombasa, it’s hardly a paradise. According to Human Rights Watch, the vast majority of Coast Province’s nearly 2.5 million residents support a secessionist organization known as the Mombasa Republican Council:


Two journalists investigate the challenges of bringing the most basic necessity to the people of Ghana and Nigeria: clean, safe water:


Eight West African countries are suffering from drought and famine. Our Food for 9 Billion series took a closer look at how Niger is preparing for its crisis:


Pakistan agreed to open key supply routes to Afghanistan, but questions lingered over the nature of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Jeff Brown spoke to retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and Vali Nasr, dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University:


An Extra report for students and teachers explored how armed conflicts in some African countries have drawn in others, including Chad.


Ten months after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, the Caribbean island suffered a public health epidemic: cholera. Since then, the epidemic has made 600,000 Haitians ill and killed 7,500. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the challenges to treat a disease not seen in Haiti for more than 100 years:


A controversial resettlement program in Ethiopia is the latest battleground in the global race to secure prized farmland and water:


Bangladesh has one of the fastest growing apparel industries with exports estimated to triple by 2020, reaching as much as $42 billion. Hari Sreenivasan talked to Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times about why safety conditions are not improving for workers even as profits increase in nations such as Bangladesh and Pakistan:

The list of countries at risk comes from Sandia National Laboratories, the research arm of the U.S. Energy Department, and its Human Resilience Index calculated from factors including population growth rate, population density, caloric intake per capita, renewable fresh water and arable land, median age and population health.

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