Paradoxes in livelihood interventions: A synthesis of evidence from selected conflict-affected areas in Africa and Asia

Vagisha Gunasekara

Type: Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Working Paper

Full summary

This synthesis paper is a product of a long-term research commitment to generate a body of evidence on the changing nature of people’s livelihoods in conflict- affected areas. It knits together findings from eight case studies conducted in Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda. These case studies, conducted using primarily qualitative research methods, are further juxtaposed with findings of the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) panel surveys conducted in Nepal, Pakistan and Uganda.


The case studies reveal that war and armed conflict significantly alter the organisation and structure of
rural livelihoods. Violence and destruction of public infrastructure weaken the capacity of governments to ensure security, provide basic services and collect taxes. Conflicts disrupt production patterns, at times inducing a forced seizure of land from communities, displacing them from existing arrangements. Conditions of war and conflict also modify the functioning of socio-cultural structures upon which local economies are built, creating conditions in which assets are transferred to power brokers and their allies in a given locality. These dynamic factors, particularly in the absence of law and enforcement of property rights, disrupt trade and local markets, and change power relations at the local level.