Almost 80 per cent of fragile states in Africa have experienced armed conflict in the last 20 years. Over the last 60 years, up to 60 percent of internal armed conflicts have been linked to natural resources.
Natural resources have contributed to the cause or financing of at least 14 conflicts in fragile states in Africa.[i]
Competing claims over scarce resources such as land, grazing areas and water have given rise to localized conflicts in many fragile states. Moreover, conflict in one country can reduce the annual rate of growth in a neighboring country by 0.5 per cent.[ii] The neighboring countries may receive an influx of refugees, experience disrupted trade, get involved in the arms race, provide a haven for rebels, and in turn themselves become a theatre of a new war.
Land and natural resource-based conflicts commonly become violent when linked to wider processes of exclusion, social discrimination, economic marginalization, and the perception that peaceful action is no longer an effective strategy for change.[iii]
The sound and effective management of land and natural-resource sectors can aid recovery in post-conflict situations.[iv] It supports the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process in many ways.[v]
Land and natural resources are critical assets in humanitarian operations that provide food, water, construction materials, and renewable energy. They also support coping strategies and basic survival in the absence of sustainable livelihoods. Moreover, natural resource and land management offers distinct entry points for immediate post-conflict income generation and creation of sustainable employment during reintegration and recovery process.
Delays in the effective management of natural resources following the end of conflict may allow former members and commanders of armed groups to continue profiting from the exploitation of natural resources and even lead to the creation of organized crime syndicates.[vi]
Extremist groups seize the chance to capitalize on this sense of hopelessness – ISIS, al-Shabaab and Boko Haram highlight potential opportunities as part of their recruitment campaigns.[vii]
[i]ADB (2016): From Fragility to Resilience. Managing Natural Resources in Fragile Situations in Africa, Summary report, p. 10-11 with further references.
[ii] ADB et al (2012): African Economic Outlook 2012, p. 101, Box 6.1 with further references.
[iii] United Nations Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action ( 2012): Land and Conflict. Toolkit and guidance for preventing and managing land and natural resources conflict, p. 8.
[iv] USAID (2005): Land and conflict. A toolkit for intervention, p. 6.
[v] UNEP/UNPD(2013): The Role of Natural Resources in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration -Addressing Risks and Seizing Opportunities, p. 36.