In post conflict countries, those who have made it out of the country are keenly aware that the livelihoods of those left behind vitally depend on remittance transfers. While concerns have been expressed about the possibility that remittances may stoke conflict, the majority view is that Diaspora support from abroad can contribute to democracy. It has been clearly established that private remittances are of central importance for restoring stability by enhancing human security in strife-torn societies. As in much of Sub-Saharan Africa, due to the predominantly informal nature of remittance delivery mechanisms, the magnitude of remittances to the economies of these regions has been under-estimated.
Browsing Facebook back in August, I was greeted with a stark photograph of a young man doing homework under the glow of a newly installed street light in the Liberian capital, Monrovia. I clicked on the next image: grinning children on a swing. Next: a policewoman shines out from her patrol on the Old Road; child soldiers hand in weapons in Tubmanburg; and the baby of a returning refugee is handed down from a truck. There were many more dramatic images on the slide show - shared on the social network by the United Nations Mission in Liberia. It was titled “10 years of Peace”. I “liked” it. It’s rare to see such images of peace. Each photograph illustrated a powerful back-story of recovery – and together they plotted a credible and inspiring path to peace. My knowledge of Liberia doubled in five minutes.
A month later on International Day of Peace those same images were the subject of discussion at The Centre of African Studies at Cambridge University. Now framed and hanging in the Centre, it was interesting to gauge people’s reactions. A small group had assembled and although many of them were African, they also confessed to having no prior knowledge of Liberia. One touching observation, “This shows Liberians path to peace by Liberians…it is African’s who have made peace here”. True - although the photographs had been taken by United Nations photographers, the presence of the UN was distinctly low key. We also had a discussion about images of so-called “peace” being used for propaganda purposes. As a self-confessed cynic, I fully sympathize, but these set of images felt far more than just PR for the United Nations.
A solid business environment can help fragile states rebuild (Credit: World Bank)
One and a half billion people live in areas affected by fragility, conflict or large-scale organized criminal violence. Their hope at a better life is often marred by the realities that exist around them. It is indeed a vicious cycle as one of the findings from the Word Bank’s World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development, confirms that lack of economic opportunities and high unemployment are key sources of fragility.
However, it is not completely hopeless in fragile states. Our work in the World Bank Group shows us daily that a favorable business environment in which entrepreneurs are enabled provides an opportunity for people to escape poverty. The key question is-- how can we build a solid business environment in fragile states to ensure strong private sector-led growth?
With as many as 12 million mobile phone users, mobile is booming in Afghanistan (Credit: USAID, Flickr Creative Commons)
Afghanistan has made significant progress in its development since 2001. Yet, these achievements remain fragile due to a volatile security situation and limited human capacity. Of an estimated 30 million inhabitants, 46 percent is under the age of 15 and with high population growth, the country is experiencing a classic youth bulge. In addition, literacy rates remain at extremely low levels (approximately 43% for men and 12% for women).
Local businesses can create jobs in Pakistan's conflict areas (Credit: Zerega, Flickr)
How can you effectively support areas shaken by years of regional instability? The Western border areas of Pakistan are one such region, where a 2009 insurgency and subsequent military operations in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) led to one of the worst crises in the country's history. More than 2 million people were forced to leave their homes and considerable damage was caused to physical and social infrastructure. The unprecedented floods of 2010 only made the situation worse.
Public-private partnerships can help rebuild post-conflict countries for future generations. (Credit: EU Humanitarian Aid, Flickr Creative Commons)
According to the numbers, the prospects for post-conflict countries are dim. Half of the world’s poor live in conflict-affected countries, a percentage expected to climb over 80 by 2025. They can also look forward to lower economic growth rates—a reduction of up to three percent for every year of conflict. And sustained peace is hardly a sure thing—a United Nations-World Bank report famously says that post-conflict countries have a 50 percent chance slipping back into war within 10 years. With stats like these, it’s tempting to write off the future of any country that’s had a shooting war in recent years.
For those who haven't yet seen, this Foreign Policy piece presents a detailed, highly nuanced plan for stabilization, reconstruction and post-conflict reconciliation and good governance - as applied to the world of Harry Potter after the (er, spoiler alert, I guess) defeat of Voldemort at the end of the last book.
I appreciate the section on good governance and the nod to public sphere issues in particular - media diversification (the Daily Prophet really could use some serious competition), involvement of new media, etc. Could use a bit more emphasis on the role of civil society in the wizarding world, both in holding the new Ministry of Magic leaders to account as well as in helping create a post-conflict consensus around the legitimacy of the transitional government. But, overall, it's a decent plan - and a nice refresher on some major post-conflict issues.
As part of the launch of the World Bank’s World Development Report, a distinguished panel (including MIGA’s own Edith Quintrell) convened at IFC to discuss the topic of Private Sector Growth and Job Creation. Jyrki Koskelo chaired the panel and asked for a lively and frank discussion. He got more than he bargained for.
In addition to Ms. Quintrell and Mr. Koskelo, the panel included:
- Arnold Ekpe, CEO of Eco
- Rosalind Kainyah, Vice President, External Affairs, Tullow Oil
- Justin Lin, senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank
- Jay Naidoo, World Development Report Advisory Council Member, and, most provocatively
- Mohamed Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
In my last blog post I wrote about the dangers of biased communication to a fair and level political playing field. In Western media systems the political polarization of media reporting (I hesitate to call it "news") is a somewhat recent phenomenon, but it's stark reality in countries where the media is owned by the government or a few influential political factions. Biased communication is not only problematic with regards to misinformation of the public.
In fragile states in particular biased communication can keep conflict alive, stir up unrest among the population, and endanger the formation of one unified idea of a nation. In fragile and post-conflict countries, communication, including the mass media, should ideally contribute to restoring a shared national identity and strengthen citizens' loyalty to their country. But consider the case of, for instance, Iraq: Ownership of private media is in the hands of competing political and ethnic factions. Their respective broadcasts reflect conflicting agendas, potentially widening the gap between Iraq’s communities, weakening a sense of national belonging and furthering the development of competing identities along sectarian lines, setting the country on a course of partition.