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Social Service Delivery in Violent Contexts: Achieving Results against the Odds


A report from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal


This report provides a new approach to service delivery that is specific to countries affected by violence.

As many countries today are riven by conflict and internal division, some familiar procedures may be inadequate to deal with the mounting humanitarian and development challenges posed by complex conflict situations, where affected people need access to social services.

This raises dilemmas about the ethical and political judgments and trade-offs that development actors frequently have to make.

A key challenge is whether development actors can adapt their procedures and become less risk-averse while preserving their financial accountability and ensuring aid effectiveness.

Key Findings and Recommendations 

Based on research in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, the report explores how the delivery of social services is affected by violent conflict and what factors are critical to successful delivery.

The research shows clearly that successful delivery requires compromises and trade-offs that often necessitate negotiation between service providers, local communities and insurgents on the ground and challenge our orthodox assumptions about ‘good governance’.

Specifically, the report outlines five major recommendations:

  1. think and work in a more politically savvy manner;
  2. tailor social service delivery to different forms of violence, especially at the subnational level;
  3. take elites, and bargains between them, more seriously in program design and implementation;
  4. rethink donor rules and incentives to align to these new realities; and,
  5. push the frontiers of research to develop new fit-for-purpose models of service delivery in violent contexts. 

While difficult to put into practice, these recommendations cannot be ignored, as progress to provide basic services in violence-affected contexts will affect efforts to end poverty and increase shared prosperity over the coming decades.

Last Updated: Jun 19, 2017



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