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Conflict and poverty, welfare and social justice Julie Litchfield University of Sussex
Scope • Conflict definition is narrow • Violent mass conflict • Poverty definition is broad • Absolute, relative, chronic, income, assets, nutrition, marginalised, vulnerable • Causality • Role of poverty in onset and duration of conflict • Impact of conflict on poverty and the poor • Attempt to model conflict as endogenous, not a “shock”
From Poverty to Conflict • State of the art: conflict not caused by deprivation but by greed (Collier and Hoeffler, 2004, OEP) • Murshed &Tadjoeddin (2007) challenge this on (at least) two grounds: • Conceptual : “agency” • Interpretation: primary commodity dependency • M&T point to strong evidence from eg Frances Stewart on role of grievances: relative deprivation and horizontal inequalities • But they highlight also that grievances are not a sufficient condition for conflict to occur. • Emphasis is on breakdown of the social contract
What does our research say about the role of grievances, greed and the social contract? • Lecoutere et al (2010) field experiment with water users in Tanzania on responses to water scarcity: • Poor, marginalised, “dis-socialised” more likely to engage in conflict behaviour in face of water scarcity • Litchfield , Douarin and Sabates-Wheeler (in progress) examines perceptions of fairness of land reform in Kyrgyzstan • Land shares varied significantly in size and timing, but perceptions of fairness were not influenced by either absolute or relative amount of land but to participation in social and legal processes concerning land reform. • Thaler (2011), Seekings and Thaler (2011) examine participation in violence against women and strangers in Cape Town • find that socio-economic disadvantage important in understanding violence against family members and strangers but more important was the extent of “norms” around violence to others
From Conflict to Poverty • Framework guided by Justino (2007, 2009, 2010) • Two key points: • Conflict has direct and indirect effects: • Changes in HH composition, loss of productivity, damage/destruction of assets • Weakening of social networks, institutions etc, tightening of poverty traps, new poverty traps, impacts via lower investment, growth, employment opportunities, price volatility • Conflict is not always a shock: onset, intensity and duration may be related to the same processes that drive grievances and poverty • Poses greater methodological problems for researchers: need to understand the factors associated with exposure to conflict in order to be able to identify the impact of conflict
What does our research find on impact of conflict on poverty? • Ibañez and Moya (2009, MICROCON WP9) Colombia: • Direct effects via displacement and asset loss: most households unable to recoup their previous assets (eg land) • Indirect effects via tightening of poverty traps: even those that did acquire land saw little improvement in welfare • Justino and Verwimp (2007, MICROCON WP4) on Rwanda: • Direct effects of loss of assets had much more significant effect than loss of household labour • Douarin, Litchfield and Sabates-Wheeler (2010, MICROCON WP 37) on Kosovo: • Direct effects on livelihood choices but also on returns to different activities. • Indirect effects via possible new poverty traps among those relatively well endowed with land, unable to sell asset, and unable to produce/trade: welfare significantly lower than other strategies
What do we learn from this? • Poverty, relative deprivation, inequality are important for understanding why violent conflict happens • But key is how differences are mediated • Formal institutions for dispute resolution around NRs (land, water) • Informal institutions around socially acceptable behaviour • Post-conflict policy needs to recognise these grievances • but may require interventions that are not the most obvious • Effects of conflict can be surprising • How should policy interventions be targeted? • Broader, indirect, impacts on poverty via eg employment effects, price effects are issues we still need to resolve.