Conflict pool: impact

Impact

A video made by DFID about one of the projects that the Conflict Pool has been used successfully to fund.

Every day the terrible effects of armed conflict are felt by ordinary people around the world. The UN estimates that 90 per cent of conflict victims are civilians.

There are compelling political, humanitarian and practical reasons for taking steps to resolve and prevent violent conflict. The international community as a whole has a responsibility to seek to provide the global security and stability which will minimise the human suffering and reduce the economic devastation that can result from violent conflict. We believe the Conflict Pool has huge potential to be instrumental in going some way to limit conflict around the globe. With your help the success of this campaign will allow the Conflict Pool to fulfill its potential and play a significant part in nonviolent conflict prevention.

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Impact of the Conflict Pool: Examples

Pakistan

Pakistan has been at the forefront of the ‘War on Terror’, its remote and mountainous border with Afghanistan allows the Taliban and other extremist militants to engage in conflict on both sides of the border. Pakistan’s tempestuous relationship with India also always has the capacity to inflame into conflict, and needs to be monitored and aided to ensure peace. The funding allocation was £13 million for 2010-11, giving an average project size of around £250,000. Just over half of the projects are below £100,000 in size, with about 50 different individual activities being conducted at the time.

These examples are particularly useful in showing that the Conflict Pool is clearly a vital tool in delivering conflict prevention, but is also still burdened with significant weaknesses.

Strengths

  • After the Mumbai attacks in 2008, the Conflict Pool funded NGOs and think tanks to encourage unofficial dialogue among community leaders and members of parliament in the two countries. Official language broke down after the attacks but the swift action taken by the Conflict Pool undoubtedly contributed to the maintenance of stable and peaceful relations between opposing sides, at relatively modest expense for the Conflict Pool.
  • The Conflict Pool has helped fund electoral reforms. It helped to prepare a new electoral register while improving the electoral process.
  • Conflict Pool funded community based organisations that promote and develop a variety of different skills; human rights training, good governance, quality of local services, resolving land disputes, providing sporting and cultural opportunities and working with communities to end forced marriage for girls.

Weaknesses

  • Promoting moderate voices in the media was also part of the strategy on India-Pakistan relations; this however was not particularly successful due to the continued dominance of radical voices, with the funds needed to challenge these voices nowhere near what the Pool could provide.
  • Problems of purpose in Pakistan as the MoD and UK government were more interested in stability without consideration for the Human Rights of Pakistani people.

The activities funded by the Conflict Pool in Pakistan are clearly of significant worth. Strategically however, these are conducted at too small a scale to have major impact. The diverse set of activities conducted also does not provide a focused impact for the funding.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

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The Democratic Republic of Congo has been a theatre for conflict for decades, the human cost being vast. Conservative estimates state that 2.5 million people died in the Second Congo War, other estimates being closer to 5 million between 1998 and 2003. The overwhelming majority of these fatalities were non-combatants.

The Pool’s Regional Conflict Prevention Strategy for Central and East Africa defines one of its objectives as: “armed conflict definitely resolved and security significantly improved in Eastern DRC”. The CP allocation for DRC was reduced £2.8 million to £800,000 in 2011-12.

Weaknesses

  • The CP was part of integrating 95% of the DRC soldiers into the payroll of the national Government rather than being independent mercenaries. It is not known whether funds actually reached soldiers, with other reforms such as improved training and codes of conduct introduced in the aim that this would attempt to guard against soldiers supporting themselves through predatory behavior on the local civilian population, . However, this initiative has not gone well due to a lack of effective monitoring and more worryingly, there has apparently been no improvement in the behavior of soldiers in Eastern DRC. There also needs to be a discussion of whether the CP should be funding such an initiative at all. The CP’s specific resume for conflict prevention does not sit well with this project, it is funding a government army that has previously violated human rights and continues to do so.
  • No less ambiguous for the CP is the funding of the UN mission MONUSCO’s work on demobilisation. Though the work that MONUSCO is carrying out is clearly conflict prevention, some 5,000 soldiers being demobilised between 2009 and 2011, there are still questions over the role of MONUSCO. MONUSCO is a military force with soldiers as personnel, and not completely appropriate to carry out conflict prevention work.
  • The CP’s work has had no observable impact, with conflict levels staying the same in pertinent areas. Further, the rebel groups are recruiting new fighters while making alliances with other rebel groups.
  • A lack of long term strategic thinking has also been a weakness in the CP’s DRC programmes. Attempting to reduce army abuses of the civilian population through improving garrisons, it did not make any provision for maintenance and thus the improved facilities quickly fell into disrepair. This lack of planning severely impedes any efforts by the CP in the DRC.

Conflict Analysis is used to identify potential negative effects of intervention in conflict areas, and programmes are tailored to avoid unintentional harm. That CP funded projects and interventions require no appraisal of such issues is worrying, and has lead possibly to harmful activities being funded by the Conflict Pool. The CP needs to analyse the best possible funding decisions before making such a decision, something which it seems to have no appropriate mechanism to do.

Overall, the Conflict Pool’s impact in the DRC is very uncertain, the DRC is an extremely challenging environment that even major aid contributors such as the EU struggle to work in, with natural resources, ethnic tensions, interfering states, and challenging mountainous and jungle terrain all important factors in the conflict. However this should not excuse the CP from its clear lack of impact. With its small budget the CP is right to contribute to larger international projects. Nonetheless its choices have been largely ineffective and the lack of pre-funding conflict analysis has led to resources not being directed in the most effective way.


Further Reading 

Pakistan

[1] Natalia Mirimanova (2009). ‘Mediation and Dialogue: Official and Unofficial Strands’, International Alert

[2] Independent Commission on Aid Impact, Evaluation of the Interdepartmental Conflict Pool, 2012

Congo

Richard Brennan and Anna Husarska (2006). ‘Inside Congo, An Unspeakable Toll (the Washington Post)’. http://www.rescue.org/news/inside-congo-unspeakable-toll-washington-post-4098

Roberts, L., 2000. Mortality in Eastern DRC: Results from Five Mortality Surveys. Bukavu/New York:International Rescue Committee

Regional Conflict Prevention Strategy for Central and East Africa (2008-11)

Africa Conflict Prevention Pool, 2008.

BBC News (2013). DR Congo: African leaders sign peace deal.

 


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