Contribution to Guardian discussion on fragile states
DLP Research Fellow Dr Suda Perera was among the expert panellists for a live Q&A on approaches to development in conflict-affected states on The Guardian Development Professionals Network website.
Suda joined University of Birmingham colleague Siân Herbert (GSDRC) and other panellists from research institutes, NGOs and consultancy firms for the #globaldevlive Q&A on 6 November.
Responding to questions from development professionals around the world, they discussed the topic, After aid, how can development work in unstable states?
Suda's contributions to the debate drew on her recent field research in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She noted that this area has received 'a decade of humanitarian aid with virtually no development to show for it.'
'How can we focus on employment and education when people are starving and killing each other?' asked one of her interviewees in the DRC.
Yet, Suda suggested in the Q&A, 'the lack of employment and education may be one of the reasons that the latter is happening in the first place.'
In her opinion, 'thinking long-term and being willing to take risks in conflict zones is essential for improving aid effectiveness.'
She noted that an early comment in the discussion had been "Find peace first. Then you can start to build the future." She suggested looking at the issue the other way around: 'If you give people the opportunity to build their future and think long-term, then there might be a reason for striving towards peace.'
Suda's work examines non-state elites in conflict-affected states, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. She is currently researching armed groups and political inclusion in the DRC.