Re­port: Con­flicts in East Africa are costly, de­rail­ing growth

The East African - - OUT­LOOK -

By FRED OLUOCH

IF EAST Africa were able to pre­vent con­flict, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity would save up to $70 bil­lion an­nu­ally in hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance and peace­keep­ing in­ter­ven­tions, re­searchers say.

The re­searchers from the Canada-based re­search firm Global Cen­tre for Plu­ral­ism, sup­ported by the United Nations and the World Bank, also found that coun­tries bor­der­ing a high-in­ten­sity con­flict area ex­pe­ri­ence an an­nual de­cline of 1.4 per­cent­age points in GDP and an in­crease of 1.7 points in in­fla­tion.

“It is cheaper to pre­vent con­flicts than deal with the high costs of a post-con­flict scenario,” said Alexan­der Marc of the World Bank, who led the group.

Dr Marck was speak­ing re­cently in Nairobi at the launch of the re­port, to Rwan­dan and Ugan­dan traders whose goods were looted or de­stroyed. The gov­ern­ment has also spent bil­lions of dol­lars to com­pen­sate 500,000 peo­ple who were in­ter­nally dis­placed. This money, the re­port says, could have been rein­vested in re­duc­ing poverty and boost­ing pub­lic wel­fare.

The re­port fur­ther notes that there is a grow­ing con­cern that more coun­tries are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­ter­nal vi­o­lent con­flict than at any time in nearly 30 years, and that mid­dle in­come coun­tries are in­creas­ingly be­ing sucked in.

“This surge in violence calls into ques­tion the long-stand­ing as­sump­tion that peace will ac­com­pany in­come growth and the ex­pec­ta­tions of steady so­cial, eco­nomic, and po­lit­i­cal ad­vance­ment,” notes the re­port.

The costs as­so­ci­ated with the eco­nomic losses caused by con­flict, have, for ex­am­ple, put a se­vere strain on Afghanistan's per capita in­come which re­mains at its 1970s level.

In So­ma­lia, the coun­try's per capita in­come has dropped by more than 40 per cent over the same pe­riod due to con­tin­ued war.

Shu­vai Busuman Ny­oni of the African Lead­er­ship Cen­tre — who was one of the pan­el­lists at the launch — said in­ter-gen­er­a­tional dialogue and po­lit­i­cal in­clu­sion are key fac­tors in con­flict preven­tion.

Dr Marck said that global systems for con­flict preven­tion are un­der stress, es­pe­cially in Africa, due to lack of in­sti­tu­tions that en­sure eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial in­clu­siv­ity, and the ten­dency to con­cen­trate on politi­cians with­out in­clud­ing the pri­vate sec­tor, civil so­ci­ety and religious groups.

Pic­ture: Has­san Isilow / Anadolu Agency

Mem­bers of the Oromo com­mu­nity and the Ogaden re­gion liv­ing in South Africa take part in a demon­stra­tion against the Ethiopian gov­ern­ment over al­leged hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in Ethiopia.

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