Violent conflict drives people into chronic poverty, as they lose assets and access to markets, and as public provision of social spending falls. Policies to reduce chronic poverty and inequality may help lessen the potential for violent conflict. Persistent poverty can be a factor in the outbreak of conflict, if it leads to increased social discontent, or if organised violence offers some of the poor a better livelihood than peace.
The chronically poor are also very often the victims of violence, especially women, children and the elderly, and people suffering ill-health or impairment. Using anti-poverty policy to prevent conflict may lead to a focus on the needs of young men, as potential combatants; but other groups should not be forgotten.
Post-war recovery may benefit many of the poor just below the poverty line if they are able to secure and build their assets; but the chronically poor may see little in the way of recovery when they lack assets and human capital. Social protection programmes are important to help them exit poverty. Post-conflict growth can be narrow in its benefits, and post-conflict states correspondingly fragile. A good fiscal system is necessary to mobilise the revenue created by growth, convert it into pro-poor public spending, and build a social compact based on mutual obligations between citizen and state.
CPRC Policy Brief No. 7, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, 6 pp.