Life after conflict
Surprising opportunities for poor people to escape
The World Bank launched the fourth book in the critically acclaimed
Moving out of poverty series, which provides bottom up perspectives on
poverty and local realities by over 60,000 people living in 500
communities in 15 countries. The latest publication focuses on seven
conflict-affected countries and urges a rethinking of post-conflict
strategies to rebuild states from below.
Entitled Moving Out of Poverty: Rising from the Ashes of Conflict,
the new study found that despite high levels of reported corruption
among Government officials, post-conflict assistance provides surprising
opportunities for poor people and poor communities to move out of
poverty. Overall, there was no significant difference in mobility levels
between peaceful and conflict-affected communities of the study. In some
countries-like Indonesia, the Philippines, Colombia, and Sri
Lanka-communities in conflict had higher mobility rates than peaceful
The book argues that while conflicts unleash horror and suffering,
they also destabilize old ways of doing things and create new openings
for poor people to get ahead. However, there is a narrow window of
opportunity in the aftermath of conflict before old barriers begin to
resurface. Development agencies should seize quickly on this window to
create local economic opportunities and markets when providing
assistance to such countries.
“Since the inception, the Moving Out of Poverty project has put an
all-important human face on poverty and has provided tremendous insight
into the problems faced by the poor, problems that statistics often
miss,” said Washington DC, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies, Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International
Political Economy, Francis Fukuyama. “This volume examines the social,
political, and economic institutions facing poor people in post-conflict
environments and it concludes with important policy recommendations,” he
“The immediate priority of people soon after conflict is to get on
with their lives and their own economic recovery so they can ensure the
future of their families and communities,” said Deepa Narayan. High
quality assistance that moves quickly to provide better permanent
housing when people return to devastated communities and homes helps in
letting go of the deep wounds of war and gives peace a chance. Instead,
in many contexts, people report small and unpredictable assistance, weak
local economies, the near absence of private sector jobs, and little
assistance to connect with local markets.
Social changes resulting from conflict were more promising than
economic and political trends, and offer opportunities for government
and aid agencies. People from conflict-affected communities perceived
declines in social divisiveness and inequality, and reported a 121
percent increase in the number of local associations.
“The processes of post-conflict rebuilding efforts should focus in
particular on the construction of a national identity beyond religious
or ethnic identities,” advises Patti Petesch, lead author of the study
in Sri Lanka. The study highlights actions by local leaders and the
design of assistance programs that ease distrust and tensions, including
by actively ensuring that resources and program reach across religious
and ethnic divides.
The study also found important differences between
middle-and-low-income countries. The chances of moving out of poverty
after conflict are high among middle income countries with a strong
democratic State that has the will and sufficient economic and military
resources to reclaim and rebuild conflict-affected peripheral areas.
The authors of the book argue that if the State capacity is low,
international assistance to governments and civil society should be
designed to fill this void in the following ways:
* Post-conflict assistance should prioritize local economic recovery
and support poor people with grants, skills training and advice to
connect to markets. Small amounts of microcredit without business
assistance can help cope but keep people hovering in and out of poverty.
* People returning to their communities after conflict should be
provided with direct transfers of funds to help them rebuild their
houses and signal a return to normalcy. Having a house brings security,
dignity and a higher stake in maintaining peace. For this, aid agencies
and NGO’s should collaborate closely to ensure such funds are quickly
and fairly distributed among everyone.
* To restore services and local infrastructure, aid agencies should
focus primarily on community based, bottom-up approaches channelled
through government. Community participation should be institutionalized
and local leaders held accountable for delivering local projects.
* Programs should be proactive and reach across previously warring
groups to address core political, economic, and social inequities
between social groups-neutrality is not enough.
* Since societal change takes time, aid programs should also take a
India can be solar energy leader
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid out ambitious plans to make
his country a global leader in solar power on Monday as he launched a
government initiative to boost use of the technology.
Solar can help secure India’s energy independence and tackle climate
change, Singh said, as well as offering new opportunities for industry
in a country with a crippling shortage of power.
The National Solar Mission, launched Monday, could “establish India
as a global leader in solar energy” in the areas of power generation and
technology production, Singh told business leaders and government
“The rapid spread of solar lighting systems, solar water pumps and
other solar power-based rural applications can change the face of our
rural energy sector,” he said.
The Solar Mission has the goal of increasing solar energy capacity
exponentially to reach 20,000 megawatts for the year 2022, reducing
reliance on fossil fuels.
That amount would provide enough power for 20 million homes, with
each receiving one kilowatt of power.
Government figures show approximately 80,000 impoverished Indian
villages have no access to grid electricity.
NEW DELHI, AFP
Carbon tax wrong way to tackle climate
Incoming European Union trade chief Karel De Gucht on Tuesday ruled
out pursuing French-led calls to impose a carbon tax at the EU’s
borders, warning that such ideas risk triggering trade wars.
“In terms of border adjustments, I’m against it,” De Gucht told
lawmakers in response to a question during a European parliamentary
confirmation hearing in Brussels.
“I don’t see that as the right approach — it’s one that will lead to
lots of practical problems.
“We’ve seen it in the past. The big risk is that it will also lead to
an escalating trade war on a global level.
“It is clear that we need to take account in our trade policy of what
is happening in terms of preserving our environment and climate. “But I
think we have to take other approaches, (and find) strong policies which
are in tune with market laws,” he stressed.
France and Germany in September called for the United Nations to
support a carbon tax.