Global economic crisis could lead to further conflict in Africa, experts warn

Research from the University of Birmingham has revealed that the global financial crisis could lead to more conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa is already the most conflict-ridden continent in the world, and decreasing income streams could even push some previously stable countries towards fragility, according to the research investigators Shiv Bakrania and Brian Lucas of the University’s International Development Department.

Many countries in the region are dependent on foreign finance inflows and on commodity based exports.

The combination of decreases in real wages, unemployment and decelerating remittances are putting a severe strain on poor households, who are affected by the increased cost of living.

When large numbers of young men are unemployed, there is a risk that this could trigger violence.

Shiv Bakrania explains: “The risks are accentuated in fragile states because of their inherent vulnerability to exogenous shocks such as financial crisis and their exceptionally poor performance in all the core aspects of state functioning.

In fragile states violence, criminality, public unrest stemming from increased unemployment, rising costs of living, increased government repressiveness and the inability of governments to provide basic goods and services could lead to a further eroding of confidence in already weak governments.”

The researchers have called for a close collaboration between donors and national governments to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

“This will only be effective if donors harmonise amongst themselves rather than providing conflicting goals and aims to national governments,” Brian Lucas stresses. “This should also reduce administrative pressure on governments in terms of servicing donor requirements.”

Supporting social budgeting and protection, investing in research including monitoring and evaluation systems, and targeting vulnerable groups such as women and children are some other recommendations that the researchers say could help prevent further crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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