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Integrating conflict prevention and civil society participation into national development strategies.

Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda


The Horn of Africa is gravely affected by widespread and protracted violent conflicts, with interlinked regional, national and local dimensions. These conflicts often involve disputes over access to natural resources (including water, grazing land and oil) and are frequently cross-border in nature. Undemocratic and exclusive political systems, and weak and unaccountable security forces, further limit the capacity to resolve disputes peacefully and contribute to chronic insecurity.

Peace and security are fundamental to sustainable development and poverty reduction in the region. Conflict and insecurity severely constrain development efforts, destroying infrastructure, disrupting trade and markets, and diverting resources to security forces. Conflict imposes huge economic and social costs, including displacement, violation of basic rights, human suffering and the destruction of livelihoods. These costs disproportionately affect poor and marginalised groups, including women and children.

Given the prevalence and high risk of conflict in the Horn of Africa and the clear link between conflict and poverty, conflict prevention should be a key priority for development and poverty reduction strategies. Furthermore, greater involvement of civil society in establishing programming priorities will be critical to addressing the root causes of poverty and conflict in the region.

The European Union (EU) and the World Bank are both major international donors in the Horn of Africa. The Cotonou Partnership Agreement, the trade and aid agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, provides the framework for EU development co-operation and is implemented through Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) that identify the strategic priorities for EU assistance in each country. World Bank assistance is implemented through Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), which similarly outline a country's policies, programmes and priorities for poverty reduction.

Both the Cotonou Agreement and the World Bank recognise the importance of involving civil society in the development of programming priorities. Likewise, both acknowledge the damaging impact of conflict on development and the importance of conflict prevention. This study aims to assess the extent to which these commitments to conflict prevention and civil society participation are implemented in practice.

This study analyses the PRSPs and CSPs of three countries in the Horn of Africa: Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. It assesses the extent to which civil society actively participated in formulating the PRSPs and CSPs and the degree to which these strategies address violent conflict.

The study finds that conflict prevention is not comprehensively addressed in the PRSPs and CSPs in Kenya and Ethiopia. The exception is Uganda, where the issue of peace and security is one of the pillars of the government's Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), which the World Bank has accepted as the PRSP. In all three countries, further steps are required to mainstream conflict prevention into all sectoral policies and programmes, not just those that specifically relate to conflict and security issues. Furthermore, although there is some effort to address conflict risks in CSPs, conflict-related activities have not been given priority in spending allocations.
With regard to civil society participation, the study finds that civil society organisations in all three countries actively participated in aspects of the PRSP and CSP processes. However, dialogue between the government and civil society in Kenya and Uganda was much more open and transparent than in Ethiopia. The ability of civil society to influence policy outcomes was limited to varying degrees in the three countries due to factors such as the weakness of systems and processes for co-ordinating participation, the lack of capacity (at all levels, including government, civil society and donors), and mistrust between government and civil society.

The study recommends that conflict prevention should be mainstreamed into national development frameworks and that development priorities should always be informed by a conflict analysis in order to ensure that sectoral policies and programmes are conflict-sensitive and maximise their potential to prevent conflict. It also recommends a number of measures to improve dialogue between government and civil society in the PRSP and CSP processes, including capacity-building, developing transparent structures and processes for consultation and participation, and harmonising the PRSP and CSP processes.

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Date: August 2005
Author: Dr Mulugetta Eteffa
Publisher: Africa Peace Forum, InterAfrica Group, Saferworld
Language: English
Region: Africa
Country: Kenya

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