The mental landscape of post-conflict life in northern Uganda: Part 5 – Rethinking idleness, risk‐taking and agency

Suleiman Amanela, Tracy Flora Ayee, Stephanie Buell, Alice Escande, Tony Quinlan, Anouk S. Rigterink, Mareike Schomerus, Samuel Sharp and Sarah Swanson

Type: Uganda, Working Paper

Date: 24/07/2020

Full summary

The violent conflict in northern Uganda between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) ended well over a decade ago. Life today in northern Uganda has a huge number of challenges but is without question better than when attacks were common and most of the population lived in internal displacement camps. Yet, for many, the idea of a post-conflict ‘recovery’ is illusory. Northern Ugandans continue to live with a sense of loss, injustice, neglect and a widespread sentiment that post- conflict life has not lived up to its promise.


The mental landscape of post-conflict life in northern Uganda is a series made up of seven reports, of which this is Part 5. The report series uses behavioural insights to think differently about what we call the mental landscape of post-conflict life. The series seeks to fill a research and policy gap in understanding the mechanisms that connect perceptions, decisions and behaviour as they relate to situations of violent conflict.


Part 5 – Rethinking idleness, risk-taking and agency – makes the argument that to understand idleness requires insights into how individuals weigh their options, what payoff they expect in the future from choices made today, how they experience the passing of time and how this links to changes they see in their lives. All reports in this series use findings from this multi-method research design.