By Steven M. Radil, U.S. Air Force Academy, Olivier Walther, University of Florida, Nicholas Dorward, University of Bristol, Matthew Pflaum, University of Florida and Marie Trémolières, Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC), OECD
Political violence is moving away from cities in North and West Africa, even as urban populations continue to grow at an unprecedented pace in the region. More than half of the violent events observed in 2021 took place in rural areas, against 20% a decade ago. The emergence of Jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel and its southern peripheries explains this ruralisation of conflict that affects a growing number of civilians and border regions.
ByDr Diene Keita, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director (Programme), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Women are deliberately targeted in conflict
When conflict happens, the rule of law breaks down, freedom of movement is restricted, institutions and services are weakened, creating a lack of access to social services and information, and to food and livelihoods. This situation affects the entire population, but it disproportionately affects women. Research has shown that female-headed households are more vulnerable to stress and less capable of absorbing shocks, due to gender inequality, cultural restrictions and the feminisation of poverty. Conflict affects women and men differently and existing gender inequalities are compounded in times of conflict. Women and girls make up a large proportion of internally displaced populations (IDPs) and refugees. In Burkina Faso, 51% of IDPs are girls under the age of 14. Moreover, gender norms that associate masculinity with aggression make men more likely to perpetrate violence against those over whom they have power – usually women and children.
Les chocs économiques et sociaux liés à la pandémie ou en rapport avec le climat n’ont épargné aucun pays du monde en 2020, mais ils font peser une grave menace et frappent de manière disproportionnée les contextes fragiles ou touchés par un conflit. Déjà parmi les moins à même de faire face aux chocs, et dotés de capacités d’adaptation insuffisantes, ceux-ci sont aujourd’hui particulièrement exposés à ces risques. Ils ont besoin d’urgence de plus de soutien de la part de la communauté internationale, tant pour se relever à court terme que pour renforcer leur résilience face à de futurs chocs systémiques.
Every country has been affected by the concurrent climate, pandemic and economic shocks of 2020. But they pose a severe threat to fragile and conflict affected states with specific needs that must be addressed in 2021. Already the least able to cope, these states urgently require leadership and collective responses at scale to mitigate the multifaceted impact of systemic shocks and build pathways to sustainable peace and prosperity.
By Dominic Rohner, Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne), University of Lausanne and Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), and Alessandro Saia, Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne), University of Lausanne
Armed conflict is a major obstacle to human happiness and prosperity. The most visible consequence of warfare is, of course, the human death toll, leaving millions of families shattered. But below this surface, the grim consequences of fighting go further. The economic cost is very considerable, with the average war leading to a total loss of about 15% of GDP, human capital accumulation is slowed down, inter-group trust is threatened, and psychological suffering and trauma become widespread.1
While academic research on conflict has boomed in recent years, the lion’s share of contributions has focused on factors that are well-suited for statistical analysis but that are difficult to modify by policymakers. In particular, while we know that ethnic diversity, adverse weather shocks and natural resource discoveries play a role in the occurrence of conflict, there are not many obvious policies that can modulate these parameters.
Insecurity bears political, social and economic costs, depriving people of a life free of fear and want and diminishing their trust towards state institutions. By 2030, 62% of the global poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected states. People in these states are twice as likely to be undernourished as those living in other developing countries, while their children are twice more likely to die before the age of five. On the other hand, lack of representation, weak and unaccountable institutions, socioeconomic exclusion, and lack of access to basic services create fertile ground for violent conflict, organised crime and increased irregular migration flows. To break the vicious circle of conflict and low development, we need to adopt a different development approach, putting security at the top of the agenda. Continue reading “Breaking the vicious circle of conflict and fragility”