Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rules for Re-Building A Post Conflict Nation

Long conflict can wreck a country, leaving behind poverty and chaos. But what's the right way to help war-torn countries rebuild? In a 2009 TED talk at the US State department, Paul Collier explains the problems with current post-conflict aid plans, and suggests 3 ideas for a better approach.

Paul Collier is certainly persuasive in his arguments. His focus on the triangle of the interdependence between security, donor aid, and post-conflict government coordination is critical. 
What is interesting is the primary focus on economic reform and inclusion. As he mentions, the traditional approach is first get a political settlement, meanwhile get the security situation under control so peacekeepers can be withdrawn as quickly possible, and move immediately to elections. From this it is hoped that economic growth will follow. Generally this strategy has not been successful.

His prescription to reverse these elements is striking. His consideration to only put energy into a few critical arenas strike home in all development efforts. His argument that the first priority should be jobs, especially infrastructure construction is telling. First get people working, then move to basic service provision especially health care and sanitation. His criticism that donors often bypass corrupt governments to go directly to NGOs does not solve the problem. His innovative suggestion of "independent service authorities" is a form of compromise - however, it is not clear whether any of these have been established (and worked) in practice.

Only after these two areas are in place (jobs and health services), should the energy shift to creating what he calls "clean government" - by using donor technical assistance as a means to both provide funds and track their use closely. This implies that security forces and donor's need to have a decade long agenda. Elections, which always imply winners and losers, follow the success in the first two initiatives.

Certainly food for thought, both with post-conflict development as well as with support for transitioning societies.

Further information about Dr. Collier is linked here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Protecting Aid Workers in Conflict Zones

According to the Aid Worker Security Database (AWSD), 184 international and national aid workers were killed in 2010, an increase from the 162 workers killed in 2009, which itself was a sharp rise from the 53 reportedly killed in 2000.

But Oliver Behn, the European Interagency Security Forum coordinator, maintains that it’s difficult to assess an overall rise in aggression against aid workers, as the Aid Worker Security Database reveals several countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo – where the vast majority of attacks on workers occur.

“You have to be careful to place it in a larger picture because if you removed these countries from the picture, there would be a very different overall conclusion,” he said.

A recent issued report from the AWSD (Aug 2011) - link here - included these top findings:

The past two years show a downturn in violence
against aid workers that spiked in a small
number of conflict contexts beginning in 2006
and peaking in 2008.

 The recent decline in attacks is mainly due to
the shrinking presence of international aid
agencies in the most violent settings, Somalia
in particular, rather than improving security

 The incidence of aid worker kidnappings
continues to rise dramatically, and the use of
major explosives has emerged as a tactic of
violence in a small number of settings.

 Despite overall improvements in aid agencies’
security risk management, national aid workers
perceive continued inequities in security
support compared with their international

 National aid workers, while less subject to major
attacks per capita than international aid
workers, nevertheless form the majority of
victims, and their specific security needs
require more attention.

Many of the larger aid agencies such as IRC, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, through a new initiative called Saving Lives Together as discussed in a recent article (here) by Amy Lieberman for Devex.