The Conflict-Development Nexus : A Survey of Armed Conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa 1980-2005
This paper surveys the nexus between development and armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa from 1980 to 2005. It focuses on war trends, impact of war on development, socio-economic structures as war risks, and policy responses. Several findings emerge that challenge widely held state-centric assumptions that underpin contemporary analyses, data collection and policy priorities. These wars defy conventional analytical frameworks as they commingle state and non-state actors and political with economic and private motives. As the findings illustrate, the state is not a sufficient unit of analysis: more research, data collection and policy attention should be directed to non-state actors and wars and sub-national and cross-border impacts. War is development in reverse, yet in many of these wars, the national economy continued to grow and social indicators improved. At the same time, the destructive impacts were localised, implying that development gaps and horizontal inequalities worsened. Structural risk factors – horizontal inequalities, youth bulge and unemployment, environmental pressure and natural resource dependence – have played a causal or perpetuating role in the wars surveyed. Economic, social and governance reform policies can play a role in conflict prevention by addressing these risk factors, yet at present national and international policy priorities do not systematically address these risks.