African Development Report 2008-2009, Focus on Conflict Resolution, Peace And Reconstruction in Africa

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Dakar, 10 May 2009 – “In the second half of the 20th Century, the African continent, more than any other part of the world has suffered enormously from violent conflict within and between States”, says the African Development Report 2008-2009 released on Sunday, 10 May 2009 in Dakar Senegal.

The Report, prepared by African Development Bank (AfDB) experts and published by Oxford University Press, examines the economic and social cost of conflicts across the continent and provides cogent suggestions on how to resolve them, usher peace and pave the way for reconstruction.

“Violent conflict has exacted a heavy toll in terms of human suffering and lost development opportunities in Africa,” the flagship report says noting that between 1990 and 2005, the continent accounted for about half of the world’s battle deaths — the number of people killed in battle.

Citing several African countries currently grappling with various forms of conflict, it notes that many more people die from disease, starvation, malnutrition, and the breakdown of health services in situations of conflict than from battle, in addition to other troubles such as income loss, destruction of infrastructure, as well as human and financial capital flight.

Neighboring countries also bear substantial costs through conflict spillovers, pre-emptive defense expenditures, and catering for refugees, says the Report launched ahead of the 2009 Annual Meetings of the Bank Group taking place from 13 to 14 May in the Senegalese capital.

The publication notes that although violent conflicts have declined in Africa and the rest of the world in recent years (6 African countries in 2009 compared to 14 in 1990s), the challenges of consolidating peace, rebuilding state institutions and re-launching economic activities remain daunting.

Chapter one of the 102-page report surveys available evidence of the causes of violent conflict and examines trigger factors that actually ignite conflict. The second chapter deals with the social and economic consequences of conflict while chapter three assesses and recommends policies for conflict prevention and resolution, and peace building in post-conflict societies. Chapter four recommends policies for promoting post conflict reconstruction and development while chapter five concludes with a focus on the African Development Bank’s support to conflict-affected countries.  

“The report emphasizes the critical role of sound economic policies for promoting post-conflict recovery and consolidating peace,’ notes AfDB Group President, Donald Kaberuka in his foreword on the publication.

“It [the report] underlines the importance of building strong national institutions for effective economic policymaking and peace building,” Mr. Kaberuka added, noting that state building must feature prominently in international efforts to help conflict-affected countries achieve lasting political stability and sustainable development.

In 2008, the Bank Group rolled out a Strategy for Enhanced Engagement in Fragile States designed to enable the institution to respond in a more efficient, effective and timely manner to the needs of fragile states and propose a set of solutions to some of their pressing problems. The Strategy focuses on helping such countries transit out of fragility, prevent the risk of slippage and assist countries in post-crisis and post-conflict transition move towards more stable political and economic development.