Livelihoods, conflict and aid programming: Is the evidence base good enough?

Richard Mallett and Rachel Slater

Type: Journal

Organisation: ODI

Country: Global

Date: 08/10/2015

Full summary

In conflict-affected situations, aid-funded livelihood interventions are often tasked with a dual imperative: to generate material welfare benefits and to contribute to peacebuilding outcomes. There may be some logic to such a transformative agenda, but does the reality square with the rhetoric? Through a review of the effectiveness of a range of livelihood promotion interventions—from job creation to microfinance—this paper finds that high quality empirical evidence is hard to come by in conflict-affected situations. Many evaluations appear to conflate outputs with impacts and numerous studies fail to include adequate information on their methodologies and datasets, making it difficult to appraise the reliability of their conclusions. Given the primary purpose of this literature—to provide policy guidance on effective ways to promote livelihoods—this silence is particularly concerning. As such, there is a strong case to be made for a restrained and nuanced handling of such interventions in conflict-affected settings.


Mallett, R. and Slater, R. (2015), Livelihoods, conflict and aid programming: is the evidence base good enough?. Disasters. doi: 10.1111/disa.12142


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