Working Paper

IDS working papers;128

Conflict and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Assessment of the Issues and Evidence

Published on 1 January 2001

This Working Paper argues that armed conflicts have been the single most important determinant of poverty and human misery in Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting more than half the countries of the continent during the past two decades. Conflicts, however, cannot be separated neatly from peacetime development and often stem from the contradictions and failures of the latter.

Moreover, they have specific consequences for development which flow both from their direct impacts on lives and livelihoods of the poor, and from the ways they reconfigure the state and power relations, spill across national boundaries, create new economic incentive systems, and reorder social relations.

These basic realities, and the varying ways in which conflicts can create vested interests in the continuation of hostilities, need to be factored into development policy, as well as into conflict-resolution, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction, in order for them to succeed. Moreover, policies should be based on a differentiated, contextual understanding of particular conflicts and their history.

They should recognise both variations between different contexts and intra-national differences in how conflicts affect different regions, sectors and social groups. The paper makes an assessment of the existing evidence about the impacts of conflicts on poverty, inequality, population displacement, gender relations, health and education etc in SSA – whilst arguing that more disaggregated empirical data and analysis are needed.


Image of Robin Luckham

Robin Luckham

Emeritus Fellow

Publication details

published by
Luckham, R., Ahmed, I., Muggah, R. and White, S.
IDS Working Paper, issue 128
1 85864 355 4


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