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Chronic poverty and violent conflict: fragile states and the social compact

Briefing/policy papers

    *  Violent conflict drives people into chronic poverty, as they lose assets and access to markets, and as public provision of social spending falls.

    * Policies to reduce chronic poverty and inequality may help lessen the potential for violent conflict. Persistent poverty can be a factor in the outbreak of conflict, if it leads to increased social discontent, or if organised violence offers some of the poor a better livelihood than peace.

    * The chronically poor are very often the victims of violence, especially women, children and the elderly, and people suffering ill-health or impairment. Using anti-poverty policy to prevent conflict may lead to a focus on the needs of young men, as potential combatants; but other groups should not be forgotten.

    * Post-war recovery may benefit many of the poor just below the poverty line if they are able to secure and build their assets; but the chronically poor may see little in the way of recovery when they lack assets and human capital. Social protection programmes are important to help them exit poverty.

    * Post-conflict growth can be narrow in its benefits, and post-conflict states correspondingly fragile. A good fiscal system is necessary to mobilise the revenue created by growth, convert it into pro-poor public spending, and build a social compact based on mutual obligations between citizen and state.

Tony Addison and Tim Braunholtz-Speight