Within fragile, conflict-affected and post-conflict settings, employment-promotion programmes are often presented as a ‘silver bullet’ to development and peacebuilding. These programmes, ranging from promoting value chains for job creation to providing technical and vocational trainings, are not only designed as initiatives to reduce poverty levels or foster economic recovery, but are also frequently planned as an active means for reducing violence and building stability and peace.
Given the conflict context in the Horn of Africa, employment and related economic development programmes are often based on the rationale that increasing employment and improving economic development reduces levels of violence. While this offers an intuitive justification given concerns over youth bulges and high levels of unemployment in the region, there is little evidence of analysis of the assumptions underpinning the causal relationship between employment and peace.
Increasing numbers of analysts and practitioners have challenged this purported causality at different levels and highlight that the drivers that trigger, perpetuate or escalate violent conflict are more complex and cannot be reduced to merely a lack of employment opportunities. Economic marginalisation is often closely linked to, and rooted in, systems and structures of political and social exclusion.
Based on these observations, International Alert has analysed the intervention logic of a series of economic development interventions in fragile and conflict-affected settings in the Horn of Africa, as well as if and how the principles of conflict sensitivity are integrated, in order to highlight evidence of what works (good practice) and what could be improved (risks, challenges and gaps) at different stages of the project cycle, with the aim of informing donors, policy-makers and practitioners.