The complex and reinforcing relationship between fragility/conflict and economic development is widely recognised, though not entirely understood. While trend observations suggest that low economic growth increases the risk of conflict and conflict reduces economic growth, this is not the case everywhere. Even where it does hold, the characteristics of economic growth and conflict differ widely across contexts.
Collier et al.’s (2009) opportunity-grievance-feasibility framework is generally considered useful for conceptualising the relationship between economic development and conflict, but opinions differ on which driving factors are most important and how they interact. The underlying causal mechanisms are disputed, as are the definitions of concepts (e.g. fragile and conflict-affected states) and the methods used to measure them (e.g. growth in GDP).
It is clear, however, that economic development and conflict interact at all levels throughout all stages of conflict and fragility in ways that have substantial, but diverse, effects on individuals, households, and private and public institutions. This guide explores theory and evidence of these interactions in various contexts.
Economic interventions in FCAS seek to address economic issues while contributing to wider statebuilding and peacebuilding objectives. Yet programme design is often based on assumptions that are not universally accepted or understood.
This Topic Guide draws on lessons from programmes and case studies to explore which types of economic development interventions can be effective in FCAS and which factors have contributed to successes and failures. It considers programmes spanning six economic development objectives:
- private sector development – business climate reform;
- private sector development – market development;
- job creation;
- natural resource management.
Key lessons identified by this review include the need for economic programming to: be conflict sensitive; acknowledge trade-offs between economic and peacebuilding/statebuilding objectives; focus on gender and horizontal group impacts; generate stronger evidence; and incorporate statebuilding and peacebuilding objectives into programme design and M&E frameworks. Tools for addressing these challenges are identified, as are key evidence gaps to inform further research.
This Topic Guide focuses on the most fragile countries and countries where there are pockets of fragility. It focuses in particular on Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
- Collier, P., Hoeffler, A., & Rohner, D. (2009). Beyond greed and grievance: Feasibility and civil war. Oxford Economic Papers, 61(1), 1-27. See document online