After the Shooting Stops—Rebuilding Infrastructure

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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.

But that would be a mistake. Where there was chaos lie opportunities. And all over the world, partnerships between governments, international donors, and the private sector are making them happen. The latest edition of Handshake, IFC’s quarterly journal on public-private partnerships (PPPs), shows how this is being done in places as diverse as earthquake-shattered Haiti and war-torn Afghanistan.

In Liberia, for example, power plants and electrical distribution systems were looted and destroyed. But with help from donors, notably USAID, a rudimentary power system was put in place and the lights came back on. Today, a PPP is helping reconstruct the country’s main hydropower plant and expand the network for residents and businesses alike.

Other tools, such as political risk insurance, are giving investors much-needed comfort for participating in PPPs in post-conflict or post-disaster countries. As a result, Ivory Coast is seeing a critical toll bridge being built, Afghanistan’s mobile phone and internet sectors are growing, and Haiti’s earthquake-damaged flour mill and animal feed facility are being reconstructed.

Why is this important? Rebuilding post-conflict economies has a powerful impact on poverty reduction. It provides greater economic security, helps stabilize societies, and reduces the chances for conflict to resume. We need good models for involving the private sector in post-conflict countries—demand for them will only grow. Already, 25 percent of the world is affected by violent conflict, and 30 percent of people in conflict countries live on $1 per day.  Governments’ reconstruction strategies are much more likely to be successful when they have the backing of international donors and can tap into the private sector’s expertise and resources.

Learn more about the role of the private sector in rebuilding post-conflict (and post-disaster) economies in Handshake: Reconstruction PPPs (issue #9) or get a free subscription.


David Lawrence

International Development Consultant

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