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Household Strategies for Navigating Violent Conflict: Livelihoods and Coping Philip Verwimp Ecares and Centre Emile Bernheim Brussels School of Economics.

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Presentation on theme: "Household Strategies for Navigating Violent Conflict: Livelihoods and Coping Philip Verwimp Ecares and Centre Emile Bernheim Brussels School of Economics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Household Strategies for Navigating Violent Conflict: Livelihoods and Coping Philip Verwimp Ecares and Centre Emile Bernheim Brussels School of Economics and Management Université Libre de Bruxelles Brighton, June 30-July 1, 2011

2 State-of-the-art (1) Title that is most appropriate as the dominant strategy during violent conflict is sitting on the fence, i.e.hoping that one does not become a victim and avoiding becoming a perpetrator. Most people in areas affected by violent conflict hope that this dreadful period soon comes to an end without them having to incur losses Remaining outside of the reach of warring parties may require a lot of skill and complex navigating behaviour: - forging a fake identity card (Rwanda) - hiding in the mountains to prevent being drafted (former Yugoslavia) - Pretending alliance to both sides - Pretending that one is a perpetrator in order to avoid worse - Selling assets for consumption but avoiding long-term poverty

3 State-of-the-art (2) Many people cannot escape and are caught in the midst of conflict e.g.: - Current situation in the province surrounding Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi (see map): people are forced to choose sides. Such a situation is at its worst when none of the parties has complete control over a given territory (Kalyvas, 2006) - The city of Misrata (Libya): beleaguered and concurred by forces loyal to Colonel Kadhafi as well as the rebel movement - Colombian peasants between the (para) militaries and the rebel movements Observed behavior: - altruistic: Helping friends from the other side, hiding them, buying food - Self-serving: Using the opportunity to enrich themselves, settling scores - behaviour guided by peer effects and peer pressure: under limited information do what others do.

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5 Key questions The degree/level of choice people have in conflict situations. The sheer complexity of human behaviour, far outspanning one discipline Difficulty of observing behavior in times of conflict The nature of scientific progress and the increasing demands on the methods used by scientists before ones work is recognized/accepted as a result of the revolution in experimental methods and impact evaluation How can research inform policy making ?

6 New insights from Microcon (1) Bundevoet (2009), Journal of Peace Research Using a nationwide household survey, he finds that older, wealthier and male Burundese citizens were more likely to be killed in the 1993 massacres. More killings in areas with incomplete control by one of the warring parties. Role of land scarcity. Voors et all (2011), American Economic Review Using a series of field experiments in rural Burundi they examine the impact of exposure to conflict on social-, risk- and time preferences. They find that individuals exposed to violence display more altruistic behavior towards their neighbors, are more risk seeking, and have higher discount rates. Justino, P. (2009, 2010), Journal of Peace Research and Handbook of the Economics of Peace and Conflict, Oxford University Press Existence of Poverty-Conflict traps that lock-in people over time. Depending on type of conflict and characteristics of the population different probabilities arise as to staying neutral, fleeing the scene or becoming a participant.

7 New insights from Microcon (2) Schindler and Brück (2010), Oxford Development Studies Focus on vulnerability during conflict and identifies the channels through which violent conflict affects the composition of households and the allocation of tasks over household members. Market participation versus farm and domestic work. Application to war widows. Brück et al (2010), advances in questionnaire design Need to capture as much aspects of a conflict as possible by individual and household level interviews in order to obtain detailed data. Who, what, were, when questions can be linked to asset, income, gender, employment, education and health information.

8 Relevance to Policy Research has it own logic (driven by scientific methodology and requirements) when may be far removed of the needs of a policy maker in search of applicable knowledge Need for differentiation during conflict What is an asset during times of peace, like an advanced degree, may be a liability in times of conflict. Woman and children may not be the only ones at risk Need to work with and in local existing realities, not with pre-existing frameworks. E.g. French soldiers in Opération Turquoise (Rwanda, 1994) were told that the Hutu population was in danger. At the least, biased and incomplete, in some areas completely wrong. Should address the real needs of people, not the presumed ones. If security around refugee camps is a big problem, this needs to be addressed, even when your mandate is the provision of clean water Should have an eye for the resilience of people and help to recover their assets as they are the source of future growth


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