Aid in Conflict

Susanna Campbell, Michael Findley, and Haley J. Swedlund

Book Summary

Aid in Conflict is the first comprehensive study of donor aid allocation behavior in conflict-affected countries. Over the past three decades, conflict-affected countries have become the largest recipients of foreign aid. While these unstable contexts were once a side business of aid, they are now the main business. Donors have pledged not only to give large amounts of aid to these contexts but to do so in a responsive way that builds peace and reduces violence. Despite this commitment to do things differently, Aid in Conflict explains why aid is unlikely to solve the challenge of violent conflict. 

Aid in Conflict argues that donors’ two main reasons for giving aid—to advance their foreign policies and to achieve good aid outcomes—are in conflict. As a result, all aid fails to achieve at least one of its core objectives. Based on subnational statistical analysis of donor aid allocation patterns across more than 70 donors operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nepal, South Sudan, and Sudan (1990 to 2016), as well as 165 elite interviews, Aid in Conflict shows that how donors engage with conflict-affected countries is shaped by two key characteristics: their relative prioritization of the country and the degree of authority that donors give to their country offices. The result is an ever-expanding and diverse set of donors pursuing divergent aid allocation strategies and jockeying for influence and impact, to the detriment of recipient countries.

Aid in Conflict shows that donors are aware of this reality and are themselves conflicted about how to approach instability and whether their aid makes a long-term difference to the lives of conflict-affected populations. By examining the behavior of all donors operating in four protracted conflicts, the book shows that traditional scholarly classifications of donors as Western, non-Western, multilateral, or bilateral overlook crucial differences in their aid allocation structure and the implications for aid to conflict-affected countries. Aid in Conflict argues that only by understanding how donors allocate aid can we understand how aid can influence conflict or peace

Chapter List

  1. Introduction
  2. Aid to Conflict-Affected Countries
  3. The Aid Paradox in Conflict-Affected Contexts
  4. Research Design & Methodology
  5. The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Disaster, Diamonds, and Development
  6. Sudan and South Sudan: Statebuilding and Suberfuge
  7. Nepal: From Informed to Blind Aid
  8. Aid in Conflict: An Uneasy Path